IWMF COVID-19 News Brief – January 2021
While the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues to affect the global community, several vaccines have either been approved or are in trials for helping to head off the ill effects of the virus.
At this time, there are 3 commonly available vaccines available in the West – those produced by Pfizer, Moderna, and AstraZeneca, with China, Russia and India having other variants available (see: https://www.raps.org/news-and-articles/news-articles/2020/3/covid-19-vaccine-tracker).
Each country is developing its own vaccination rollout protocol (and even in the United States alone, each state can be different in terms of who gets vaccinated when), and it’s important to remain in touch with your country’s public health service, and your personal doctor and cancer specialist as to how best to proceed.
Generally, it is advisable to get the vaccine. (See our previous news message HERE.) Also, if possible, try to get all family members immunized in order to minimize the patient’s exposure.
A couple of points we’d like to clarify, based on questions that we’ve received from concerned patients and caregivers:
- While Pfizer’s and Moderna’s vaccines are both mRNA vaccines, they are NOT interchangeable with each other. The safety and efficacy of a mixed-product dosage has not been evaluated and should NOT be considered at this time.
- While AstraZeneca’s vaccine is a weakened version of a common cold virus (adenovirus) that causes infections in chimpanzees, it’s not made from a live virus, and it doesn’t replicate or cause disease in humans.
While you await your turn to receive the vaccine and until most of the population is vaccinated, it’s important to continue to adhere to social distancing and cleanliness guidelines:
- Wash your hands regularly for a full 20 seconds.
- Wear a face covering in indoor settings and anywhere else social distancing may be difficult – indoors or outdoors – where you may come into contact with others you do not normally interact with. Rule of thumb: if in doubt, wear a mask.
- Where possible, maintain 6 feet/2 meters of separation from people you do not live with.
- Follow your country/state/province guidelines throughout the pandemic during particular emergency situations.
- If you share your house with others, explain that you are particularly vulnerable due to your WM and impress upon them to closely follow all social distancing and cleanliness guidelines for your safety and wellbeing.
Again, the bottom line is, when asked whether WM patients should be vaccinated for COVID-19, every WM specialist contacted agreed that it would be prudent to do so but to consult with your cancer doctor first.