COVID-19 Vaccine and Myeloma Update
– ATAGI 4th dose (booster) recommendation and what to do if you have symptoms
The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) have now provided updated information that recommends individuals who are immunocompromised (low immune system) and have received 3 primary doses of COVID-19 vaccine now, have a 4th dose of COVID-19 vaccine which is also referred to as a booster. For those aged over 18 who are not immunocompromised, it is recommended to have a 3rd dose or booster of COVID-19 vaccine.
You can read the full statement from ATAGI here
Please note: The video above relates to information available when the third dose of COVID-19 vaccine was recommended. The broad messages remain relevant today.
AM I ELIGIBLE FOR A 4th DOSE OF VACCINE IF I HAVE MYELOMA?
As previously recommended with the third dose of vaccine, those with an active haematological malignancy are eligible for the booster. This applies to anyone who has a diagnosis of smouldering myeloma or myeloma whether you are currently having treatment or not. Myeloma and its treatments suppress the immune system, meaning that people living with myeloma will be more susceptible to all infections, including COVID-19 and will not achieve the same level of protection from three doses of the COVID-19 vaccine when compared to someone with a healthy immune system. Receiving a 4th dose of vaccine will reduce the chance of becoming very unwell and requiring hospitalisation should you be exposed to COVID-19.
WHICH VACCINE SHOULD I RECEIVE FOR MY 4th DOSE OF COVID-19 VACCINE?
The guidelines recommend receiving an mRNA vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna) for the fourth dose unless there was a significant adverse reaction to the first doses of mRNA vaccine. In that case the AstraZeneca vaccine should be used for the fourth dose.
WHEN SHOULD I GET THE 4th DOSE OF COVID-19 VACCINE?
It is recommended to have the fourth dose of COVID-19 vaccine 3 months after your third dose. If you are currently on treatment, speak to your treating team about the best time to have your fourth vaccine dose.
I HAVE HAD A STEM CELL TRANSPLANT OR CAR T-CELL THERAPY, WHAT SHOULD I DO?
It is recommended to wait 3-6 months after your transplant or CAR T-cell therapy to allow your immune system enough time to recover and have the best chance of achieving a response to the vaccines. You will need to have the full four doses regardless of whether you had already received three doses before transplant or CAR T-cell therapy, as any protection from previous vaccines will have been lost.
DO I NEED TO PROVIDE PROOF OF ELIGIBILITY WHEN ATTENDING MY APPOINTMENT?
You should not need to provide evidence of your myeloma diagnosis if you are receiving your 4th dose of vaccine at your GP clinic or a service who is familiar with your medical history. However, if you are attending a large vaccination hub, you may need to take with you a document that states you have myeloma.
HOW WILL I KNOW IF THE VACCINES HAVE BEEN EFFECTIVE?
Unfortunately, there is no reliable way to check the level of immunity achieved from the vaccines. The best way to protect yourself from COVID-19 is to have four doses of vaccine, encourage your close contacts to get vaccinated, wear a mask when necessary, follow good hand hygiene and get tested at the first sign of symptoms.
WHAT DO I DO IF I THINK I HAVE COVID-19?
There are some treatments available to treat COVID-19 but they are most effective when used early. If you have symptoms or think you have come into contact with someone who has COVID-19 you should be tested straight away and seek guidance from your treating team.
I’M UNSURE IF I SHOULD GET A FOURTH DOSE OF VACCINE, WHAT SHOULD I DO?
If you are unsure if it is appropriate for you to have a fourth dose of vaccine, please contact your GP or treating team for guidance. If you haven’t received the COVID-19 vaccine at all to date, you can still receive your first dose via your GP, pharmacist or local vaccination hub.
For more information about coronavirus, the COVID-19 vaccines and myeloma, please see below
Updated 29 January 2022