What to know about leukemia and COVID-19 vaccinations

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Leukemia is a bone marrow and blood malignancy that affects the immune cells in the blood. This can make people more vulnerable to infections and raise questions regarding COVID-19 vaccines. Vaccination against COVID-19 is recommended for persons with leukemia because the risks of COVID-19 considerably outweigh the risks of vaccinations. Leukemia refers to malignancies of the blood cells as a whole. It is most frequent in persons over the age of 55, but it is also the most common cancer in youngsters under the age of 15. The National Cancer Institute projects that more than 61,000 people will be diagnosed with leukemia in 2021, according to the National Cancer Institute. White blood cells, which are cells that play an important part in the body’s immune system, are found in abundance in people with leukemia. These leukemic cells, however, are young and aberrant, making them inefficient in battling infections. As a result, people with leukemia are more susceptible to infections and are more prone to develop problems from them. Because leukemia patients are more prone to develop serious consequences, Experts urge that people get vaccinated against COVID-19 and continue to take preventive precautions like wearing face masks, following physical distance requirements, and thoroughly washing their hands.

Should people with leukemia get the vaccine?

A person living with leukemia receiving a COVID-19 vaccination.

Leukemia impairs the immune system, making people more vulnerable to diseases like SARS-CoV-2. A report to be published in 2020 People with hematologic malignancies (blood cancers), such as leukaemia, are also at a higher risk of COVID-19-related complications, according to Trusted Source. People with leukaemia should have a COVID-19 vaccine because of the elevated risk, according to the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). People with compromised immune systems, such as those with leukaemia, should also acquire the COVID-19 vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)Trusted Source. The only persons who should not get a COVID-19 vaccine, according to the ASCO and the CDC, are those who have a contraindication to it. A contraindication is a situation or event that makes it impossible to undergo a specific medical therapy due to the risk of harm. People with leukaemia, on the other hand, may have a reduced reaction to the vaccine. Despite this, the immunisation is anticipated to give advantages and lower COVID-19 risk or severity. People with leukaemia may be a higher priority for vaccination due to the danger of COVID-19 consequences, allowing them to acquire a vaccine as soon as possible. In addition, the CDCTrusted Source now recommends that persons who are undergoing cancer treatment, particularly blood cancer treatment, receive a third vaccine dose. People should speak with a doctor about their vaccination options. If they’re on immunosuppressive medication, they might want to wait a time before taking the vaccine to enhance their chances of acquiring immunity and avoid any consequences. The medical community’s understanding of the efficacy and safety of COVID-19 vaccines for patients with weaker immune systems will improve as the medical community learns more about the vaccine’s efficacy and safety. For example, the National Patient Registry of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) recently reported findings related to leukaemia.

Leukemia and vaccine efficacy

COVID-19 vaccinations may be less effective in persons with cancer, particularly those with blood malignancies, according to evidence. According to a study published in 2021, after receiving two doses of mRNA vaccines, 94 percent of cancer patients showed seroconversion and antibody responses, however the haematological malignancy group produced much lower levels of antibodies. According to a study published in 2021, about 75% of persons with hematologic malignancies still develop antibodies to the SARS-CoV-2 mRNA vaccinations. According to the same study, those with acute myeloid leukaemia, acute lymphocytic leukaemia, or chronic myeloid leukaemia have higher rates of seropositivity following vaccination than people with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL). Other studies have found that persons with CLL are less likely than healthy people to develop SARS-CoV-2 antibodies, with responses being especially low in those who are actively getting treatment. In comparison to patients receiving treatment, persons with CLL in remission and those who had not received any treatment responded favourably to the vaccine, according to the study. In addition, according to a study published in 2021 by Trusted Source, vaccination efficacy is decreased in people who are getting CLL-directed therapy. This underscores the fact that antibody responses in persons with blood cancer might vary based on their current treatment, and that those who are not receiving treatment create more antibodies. This means that vaccine timing is a crucial factor to consider and should be discussed with a doctor.

Leukemia and vaccine safety

According to a recent survey conducted by the LLS National Patient Registry, COVID-19 vaccination safety and tolerability are comparable among people with blood cancer, blood cancer survivors, and the general population. Although there is minimal information, current evidence from the CDCTrusted Source indicates that receiving the COVID-19 vaccination is both safe and advisable for those with underlying medical disorders, particularly those with compromised immune systems.

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