COVID-19 Vaccine and Myeloma
With the news that Australia now has access to COVID-19 vaccines, experts from the Haematology Society of Australia and New Zealand have collaborated with infectious disease specialists to write a document titled: COVID-19 Vaccination in Haematology Patients: An Australian and New Zealand Consensus Position Statement.
Here we have summarised the information relating to those with myeloma. The full document is available to view on our website in the Health Professionals section under the Position Statements tab. We stress that this document is written for health professionals, includes all blood disorders and is very technical. If you have any questions about the paper or the COVID-19 vaccine in general, please contact our experienced Myeloma Support Nurses via the contact details below.
Myeloma is a blood cancer of the plasma cells meaning part of the immune system in those with myeloma is not functioning properly. When the immune system is not as strong, there is a higher risk for COVID-19 infection but also for a more serious outcome from the infection such as needing to be admitted to hospital or the intensive care unit.
Studies have suggested that treatment for myeloma may increase the risk for contracting COVID-19. However, other factors are also important risks such as being older (over 60 years old), having active or progressive myeloma and being less able to perform daily activities. It has also been found that those with blood disorders such as myeloma can experience long-standing immune system problems after a COVID-19 infection.
Vaccination against COVID-19 is an important tool to help protect people with myeloma. In general, vaccination against COVID-19 has been shown to reduce the risk of developing symptomatic infection and severe disease. It is not a live vaccine so it is safe for people with myeloma. However, specific information about COVID-19 vaccination in patients with myeloma is limited as the large clinical trials so far have not included people with myeloma.
Therefore, this group of specialists have put together some recommendations for the care of people with blood cancers to provide some guidance.
- Prioritising vaccination of people with blood disorders and their health care workers.
- Where possible the vaccine should be given at least two weeks before treatment starts.
- For those currently on treatment, it is not always recommended to interrupt treatment to have the vaccine. Your doctor will advise what is best for you.
- In some circumstances it may be necessary to wait three months after treatment to have the vaccine. Your doctor will be able to explain if this is the case for you.
- Vaccination of family members and close contacts is important to form a protective circle around the person living with myeloma.
- It is unknown how well the COVID-19 vaccine will provide protection in those with myeloma. Therefore, it is still extremely important to continue to adhere to infection prevention strategies such as regular handwashing, social distancing and mask wearing where necessary.
- It remains important to keep up with other regular vaccines such as influenza and pneumococcus.
- It is important to have the COVID-19 vaccine even if you have already been exposed to the virus.
You can check your eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccine and search for a clinic in your area on the Australian Government’s Department of Health website by clicking here
The Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Melbourne have answered some frequently asked questions about the COVID-19 vaccine for those with cancer. You can view this information here
We encourage you to speak with your doctor about the availability and most suitable plan for you and the COVID-19 vaccine.