As the effectiveness of a two-dose messenger RNA (mRNA) severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) vaccine regimen decreases with time, a third dose has been recommended. Here, we assessed immunogenicity, vaccine effectiveness and safety of the third BNT162b2 vaccine dose in a prospective cohort study of 12,413 healthcare workers (HCWs).

Anti-RBD immunoglobulin G (IgG) levels were increased 1.7-fold after a third dose compared with following the second dose. Increased avidity from 61.1% (95% confidence interval (CI), 56.1–66.7) to 96.3% (95% CI, 94.2–98.5) resulted in a 6.1-fold increase in neutralization titer. Peri-infection humoral markers of 13 third-dose Delta variant of concern (VOC) breakthrough cases were lower compared with 52 matched controls. Vaccine effectiveness of the third dose relative to two doses was 85.6% (95% CI, 79.2–90.1). No serious adverse effects were reported. These results suggest that the third dose is superior to the second dose in both quantity and quality of IgG antibodies and safely boosts protection from infection.