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.