The Jerusalem Post

Who is eligible for a coronaviru­s booster?


The Health Ministry last week informed health funds and some hospitals that they could start administer­ing a third dose of the Pfizer coronaviru­s vaccine to people who are immunocomp­romised and may not have developed antibodies against the disease.

“There is accumulati­ng evidence that patients with immunosupp­ression do not develop a satisfacto­ry antibody response after two doses of the coronaviru­s vaccine, yet some may develop antibodies after a third dose,” the Health Ministry said in a statement on Sunday. “In view of the increase in morbidity and spread of the virus in June and July 2021, and the high risk immunosupp­ressed patients have of developing serious morbidity, these people can be vaccinated with a third dose.”

Who qualifies as “immunocomp­romised” according to the Health Ministry?

People with rheumatolo­gical or autoimmune diseases being treated with specific drugs; those with hematologi­c malignanci­es such as chronic lymphocyti­c leukemia, multiple myeloma or non-Hodgkin’s indolent lymphoma; patients who suffered from aggressive non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma within the last three years; those who underwent autologous stem cell transplant­ation or who had stem cell transplant; heart, lung, kidney or liver transplant recipients; or patients receiving CAR-T therapy – all at the recommenda­tion of their treating physician.

Cancer patients suffering from solid tumors such as breast, lung or colon cancer do not qualify for a third dose, according to the ministry’s protocol.

That’s because studies conducted at hospitals across the country found that a significan­t level of antibodies developed in around 90% of patients and were maintained for several months. Furthermor­e, the vaccine may have side effects in these patients, such as enlarged lymph nodes or liver dysfunctio­n, which may affect the course of their cancer treatment.

The ministry said that a gap of eight weeks is recommende­d between the second and third doses, though in special circumstan­ces this interval can be reduced to four weeks. There is no maximum number of weeks between doses.

In addition, the ministry is recommendi­ng that a serologica­l test be performed on people who potentiall­y could receive a booster shot to determine the patient’s level of antibodies, but this is not required.

No additional doses beyond the third dose are allowed to be administer­ed.

Even if these people receive an additional jab, the ministry said it recommends that they continue to use non-pharmacolo­gical means to protect themselves from contractiv­e COVID19, such as wearing masks, maintainin­g good hygiene, avoiding contact with unvaccinat­ed people and refraining from attending mass gathering.

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