The Public Health Commission has approved the administration of an additional dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to certain severely immunosuppressed people, in whom there is a high risk of an inadequate immune response to the conventional vaccination schedule.
In particular, the additional dose to complete the vaccination schedule is indicated for people with solid organ transplants, haematopoietic stem cell transplant recipients and people on anti-CD20 drugs.
The Public Health Commission, in which all Regional Governments and the Ministry for Health are represented, has thus followed the recommendations of the Vaccines Committee and the COVID-19 Technical Working Group on Vaccination (TWG), which have been studying the possible need to complete the vaccination schedule in certain groups with an additional dose for weeks.
Both bodies stipulate that inoculation with this dose should take place at least 28 days after the previous dose has been received.
For people being treated with anti-CD20 drugs - including rituximab or veltuzumab, among others - it should be administered six months after the end of therapy. In all these cases, an mRNA vaccine should be administered, preferably the same type of vaccine as previously administered.
The Vaccines Task Force and the TWG also recommend continuing to review the evidence of the benefits of an additional dose in other immunosuppression situations, such as oncohaematological patients undergoing chemo-radiotherapy and those with underlying pathologies requiring immunosuppressive treatment.
However, both organisations have pointed out that there is currently no robust data to support the use of a booster dose in the general population.
In addition, they have stressed that there is still no vaccine available that indicates booster doses in its data sheet.
Back to school
In addition, the Public Health Commission has approved the update of the Guidelines for action in the event of Covid-19 cases in educational establishments, updated in line with the latest version of the Strategy for the early detection, monitoring and control of Covid-19.
It states that close contacts (students, faculty and other school staff) who have been fully vaccinated and/or have had a PDIA-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection in the 180 days prior to the last contact with the case are exempted from quarantine. The assessment of vaccination status or recovery from the disease should be made on an individual basis.
However, such vaccinated and quarantine-exempted people will be advised to avoid contact with vulnerable people. They will also be instructed to wear face masks when interacting socially, not to attend large events and to be vigilant for the possible appearance of compatible symptoms.
Exceptions to this recommendation are contacts of cases linked to outbreaks caused by a variant of the virus that escapes vaccine-generated immunity and immunocompromised people.