People who are severely immunocompromised can now receive the Covid-19 vaccine, said the Expert Committee on Covid-19 Vaccination yesterday.
Updating its recommendation for this group, the committee said data has shown vaccination is safe and can protect immunocompromised people - who face greater risk of complications from Covid-19 - against infection and severe disease.
In a statement, the committee also recommended that people who have recovered from Covid-19 receive one dose of a vaccine under the national vaccination programme at least three months after the date of infection.
This is sooner than the six months previously.
The Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty shots - both mRNA vaccines - are offered under the national programme.
Immunocompromised patients should obtain a memo on their suitability to receive a jab from their doctor before getting vaccinated, the committee added. They are:
- Patients with active cancer on treatment (chemotherapy, immunotherapy or radiotherapy), who have received treatment in the last three months, or are planning to get treatment in the next two months.
- Patients who have undergone an organ or stem cell transplant within the past three months.
- Patients on aggressive immunotherapy for non-cancer conditions.
The expert committee added that people living with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) can also be vaccinated without needing to show a memo, regardless of their CD4 count. CD4 is a type of white blood cells, called T-cells, which help to destroy bacteria, viruses and other invading germs in the body. HIV attacks the CD4 cells in a patient's blood.
These immunocompromised individuals can be vaccinated in a hospital or at a community vaccination site, with the committee adding that the effectiveness of vaccines in such persons may be reduced. "As such, it is important for them to take precautions against infection, including avoiding crowded places and practising good hand hygiene. Household members and persons around immunocompromised persons are urged to be vaccinated to reduce the risk of being infected and transmitting Covid-19 to them."
The committee noted that more vulnerable people can now get vaccinated with the change in recommendations. It urged all who are eligible to get their jabs, especially given the current surge in local Covid-19 cases.