Many things can influence a patient’s response to the COVID-19 vaccine, such as their treatments or whether they have a higher tumor burden.
The COVID-19 vaccines been one of the most talked about topics in recent years. It’s a moving target, with lots of information based on studies of the general population. So it is important for patients with multiple myeloma to understand what some of the uncertainties mean for them. In this special issue of CURE®, we learn more about how patients with multiple myeloma are responding to the COVID‐19 vaccines and why their immune system’s response might not be as great as those without cancer.
Many patients with multiple myeloma are immunosuppressed because of faulty immunoglobulin production. This affects both cellular (specialized immune cells that recognize foreign antigens) and humoral (antibody‐based) immunity, causing a higher risk of bacterial infections and viral infections such as COVID‐19.
One way to fight the risk of contracting an infection such as COVID‐19 is to receive a vaccine, but is it as effective in patients with multiple myeloma?
Some patients may not make the same amount and quality of antibodies as people who don’t have cancer. But there is a wide spectrum of how immunosuppressed patients are and how they respond to a vaccine.
At this point we don’t know who will fully respond to the vaccine and who won’t. Many things can influence a patient’s response, such as their treatments or whether they have a higher tumor burden. We recommend these patients get vaccinated, first checking with their doctor about when the best time to do so is, depending on their treatment cycle.
As the omicron variant spread, we learned that although it is more transmissible, it is not as virulent. This means all of us are more susceptible to the variant and may have to take more precautions to protect ourselves against it, but if infected we are less likely to have a severe case of COVID‐19.
We recommend that patients with multiple myeloma get the standard vaccines and boosters for COVID‐19. Remember, even if you don’t get full immunity, some immunity is better than none.
For more news on cancer updates, research and education, don’t forget to, subscribe to CURE®’s Newsletters here.