A third dose of COVID-19 vaccine has been recommended for people who are severely immunocompromised.

The recommendation comes from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunsations (ATAGI), which advises the Australian Government on immunisations.

Because scleroderma is a condition that affects immunity, scleroderma patients may be among those who are eligible to get the third jab.

As members of the Australian scleroderma community, we welcome this recommendation of a third dose to help keep people with scleroderma safe.

While scleroderma can cause people to be severely immunocompromised, scleroderma patients should check with their doctors about whether a third dose is right for them.

Read on to learn more about the ATAGI recommendation.

Third dose for people who are severely immunocompromised

A third dose of COVID-19 vaccine is recommended for people who are severely immunocompromised due to a medical condition or a treatment they are undergoing.

For people who are severely immunocompromised, two doses might not be enough to protect against serious illness from COVID-19. This is why a third dose is recommended.

With a third dose, people who are severely immunocompromised can boost their immunity to more closely match the level of protection of the general population after just two doses.

This ATAGI recommendation is for people aged 12 years or older.

Pfizer and Moderna are preferred

For this third dose, ATAGI recommends an mRNA vaccine such as Pfizer or Moderna because these give the best protection.

However, a third dose of AstraZeneca still provides good protection, and can be given if your first two doses were AstraZeneca and you didn’t have any issues with it.

You might get AstraZeneca for your third dose if you had a reaction to an mRNA vaccine, but these reactions are extremely rare.

Frequently asked questions

Here’s a summary of ATAGI advice to answer your questions.

Will I need more than 3 doses?

So far, ATAGI does not recommend any more than three doses. This is because patients who don’t respond to three doses may not respond to additional doses.

Will a third dose give me the same protection as everyone else?

It’s possible that even after three doses, people who are severely immunocompromised may still have lower immunity to COVID-19 compared with the general population.

This is why it’s a good idea to continue protecting yourself against COVID-19 by wearing a mask and social distancing, even after a third dose.

How long will my immunity last after the third dose?

ATAGI will continue to look at how long immunity lasts for people who are severely immunocompromised.

If it becomes evident that protection lessens over time, or if there are increased risks for COVID variants, ATAGI may recommend booster doses in the future.

When should I get my third dose?

Get your third dose between two and six months after the second dose.

If it has been six months or more since your second dose, get a third dose as soon as you can.

The minimum recommended wait time is four weeks after your second dose, but this will only be used in special circumstances.

Want to read the ATAGI recommendation in full?

Go to ATAGI statement on the use of a third primary dose of COVID-19 vaccine in individuals who are severely immunocompromised.