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Published on November 30, 2020
Doctor Shares Information on Vaccines for AML Patients
Several pharmaceutical companies have announced that they have a COVID vaccine ready. Will these vaccines be available or appropriate for acute myeloid leukemia (AML) patients?
Dr. Jessica Altman, Director of the Acute Myeloid Leukemia Program at Northwestern University and Katie Herricks, Nurse Practitioner at Northwestern University discuss who will be a candidate for the COVID vaccine and whether or not AML patients and care partners should be getting the flu vaccine and shingles vaccine this year.
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Transcript | Will a COVID Vaccine be Recommended for AML Patients?
Will AML Patients Be Able to Receive a COVID Vaccine?
Dr. Altman: So, there is an entire immunization schedule post-transplant and generally, that will occur when your T-cells, one of the immune system mediators, when the T-cells are adequate. And it is appropriate when ideally, patients are off immune suppression and don't have active graft-versus-host disease at the time of reimmunization.
I think the even more exciting question is who will get a COVID vaccine? Are the doctors going to recommend it? Are other healthcare providers going to recommend a COVID vaccine? I think all of us are very eager for this information. I don't yet know which vaccine will be first available and what data yet we will have in terms of safety, both for healthcare providers, patients, but we're eager to be able to review the clinical trial data. And I know at our institution, and I'm sure it's the same at all institutions, we'll be working closely with our infectious disease colleagues and determining recommendations within our center and listening to the CDC and other authorities.
I don't yet have enough information to say if my patients should be first in line. We really need to – just like we pore over the data for our clinical trials in leukemia, we will be very eager to review that data and work with our colleagues across our cancer center, across our hospital systems.
Do You Recommend the Flu Vaccine for Acute Myeloid Leukemia Patients?
So, regarding the flu vaccine, that's a very easy one. Yes, I would like every single person who is able to receive the seasonal flu vaccine to do so. And what I tell my patients is anyone who comes in contact with them should receive the flu vaccine as well. All their healthcare providers are receiving it and all their loved ones should.
Is the Shingles Vaccine Safe for AML Patients?
Katie Herricks: The new Shingrix vaccine would be okay, not the old vaccine – that was a live virus vaccine. But it would be okay. Not while patients are undergoing treatment, but once patients are in remission and have completed treatment.
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