People across the Black Country and West Birmingham with severely weakened immune systems are being offered a third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Letters and text messages are being sent out to children aged 12 and over and adults who have a weakened immune system, inviting them to come forward for what is known as a “third primary dose” of the vaccine. This is to help increase the level of protection for those who find it hard to fight off infections or may not have generated a full immune response to the first two doses of the vaccine.

It is different from the booster vaccine, which is available to all people aged 40 and over who had their second dose at least six months ago.

Those eligible for a third primary dose include people who had or have blood cancer, an organ or bone marrow transplant, a condition that means they have a high risk of getting infections or a weakened immune system due to a treatment such as steroid medicine, biological therapy, chemotherapy or radiotherapy.

Anyone who has received a letter or text message to advise they need a third dose can book an appointment at their GP practice or walk in with their letter at a number of vaccination sites across the area including Tipton Sports Academy in Sandwell, The Saddlers Vaccination Centre in Walsall and the Cardiac Rehab Gym at City Hospital.

The third primary dose is part of the primary vaccination schedule and is separate from the booster programme. The third dose should be given eight weeks after the second dose however timings may vary for individuals based on any treatments they may be having. Those eligible may also require a booster jab.

Sally Roberts, Chief Nursing Officer for BCWB CCG, said: “If your immune system was severely weakened due to an underlying health condition or medical treatment, you may not have made an optimal immune response to the first two doses of COVID-19 vaccination.

“A third primary dose of the vaccine will help maximise levels of immunity and make sure these individuals have the highest level of protection against COVID-19, which is particularly important as we head into winter.

“We’re encouraging anyone who receives an invite for a third dose of the vaccine to come forward as soon as possible.”

Appointments can be booked via the National Booking Service or by calling 111.

You can find more information on the third primary dose and a full list of walk-in sites across the area here.