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Background: Immunocompromised individuals are at increased risk of severe COVID-19 outcomes, underscoring the importance of COVID-19 vaccination in this population. The lack of comprehensive real-world data on vaccine uptake, effectiveness and safety in these individuals presents a critical knowledge gap, highlighting the urgency to better understand and address the unique challenges faced by immunocompromised individuals in the context of COVID-19 vaccination. Methods: We analysed data from 12,274,946 people in the UK aged > 12 years from 01/12/2020 to 11/04/2022. Of these, 583,541 (4.8%) were immunocompromised due to immunosuppressive drugs, organ transplants, dialysis or chemotherapy. We undertook a cohort analysis to determine COVID-19 vaccine uptake, nested case–control analyses adjusted for comorbidities and sociodemographic characteristics to determine effectiveness of vaccination against COVID-19 hospitalisation, ICU admission and death, and a self-controlled case series assessing vaccine safety for pre-specified adverse events of interest. Results: Overall, 93.7% of immunocompromised individuals received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, with 80.4% having received three or more doses. Uptake reduced with increasing deprivation (hazard ratio [HR] 0.78 [95%CI 0.77–0.79] in the most deprived quintile compared to the least deprived quintile for the first dose). Estimated vaccine effectiveness against COVID-19 hospitalisation 2–6 weeks after the second and third doses compared to unvaccinated was 78% (95%CI 72–83) and 91% (95%CI 88–93) in the immunocompromised population, versus 85% (95%CI 83–86) and 86% (95%CI 85–89), respectively, for the general population. Results showed COVID-19 vaccines were protective against intensive care unit (ICU) admission and death in both populations, with effectiveness of over 92% against COVID-19-related death and up to 95% in reducing ICU admissions for both populations following the third dose. COVID-19 vaccines were generally safe for immunocompromised individuals, though specific doses of ChAdOx1, mRNA-1273 and BNT162b2 raised risks of specific cardiovascular/neurological conditions. Conclusions: COVID-19 vaccine uptake is high in immunocompromised individuals on immunosuppressive drug therapy or who have undergone transplantation procedures, with documented disparities by deprivation. Findings suggest that COVID-19 vaccines are protective against severe COVID-19 outcomes in this vulnerable population, and show a similar safety profile in immunocompromised individuals and the general population, despite some increased risk of adverse events. These results underscore the importance of ongoing vaccination prioritisation for this clinically at-risk population to maximise protection against severe COVID-19 outcomes.

Original publication




Journal article


BMC Medicine

Publication Date