Skip to Navigation Skip to Search Skip to Content
Search All Centers

Vaccine Recommendations for CLL

Read Transcript
View next

Published on August 15, 2018

Should chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) patients get preventative vaccinations? A panel of experts including Dr. Michael Keating, from The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, and Dr. Nicole Lamanna, from Columbia University Medical Center, discuss the risks and benefits of live vaccines, the flu shot and a new shingles vaccine, and share what is safely recommended for CLL patients to mitigate the risk of getting other infections. Watch now to learn more.

Provided by CLL Global Research Foundation, which received support from AbbVie Inc., Gilead Sciences, Inc.,Pharmacyclics LLC and TG Therapeutics. It is produced by Patient Power in collaboration with The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. These organizations have no editorial control. Patient Power is solely responsible for program content.

Featuring

Transcript | Vaccine Recommendations for CLL

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.

Jeff Folloder:

There are a lot of moving pieces in a CLL diagnosis, but there are also certain steps that patients can take to head off things. Vaccines. Should CLL patients get the flu shot? 

Dr. Lamanna:              

I say yes.

Jeff Folloder:               

What about you, Dr. Keating?

Dr. Lamanna:              

Not that it was very effective this year, but I say yes.

Dr. Keating:                 

I say yes, because if we don’t have a little sticker on our ID card, you won’t have to wear a mask, as though you’ve got leprosy. And, no, one of the problems we have with CLL is that CLL patients don’t respond as well to vaccines as normals. So, and there’s a general rule that when you give a vaccine, you get a little blip for a few weeks. But, if you get a second injection, you get a big blip.

So, that rather than having just one vaccine, I would actually talk to my CLL doctor or family practitioner, and say, I think I might need two.

Jeff Folloder:               

Okay.

Dr. Keating:                 

And, that might help out. So, the other is the live vaccine of, again, shingles. And, CLL and Hodgkin’s disease are two diseases that are intimately involved with shingles. But live vaccines are not usually recommended for CLL, because they can spread—the vaccine itself can spread. 

Jeff Folloder:               

But, isn’t there a new vaccine?

Dr. Keating:                 

Yes, there is, which is the killer vaccine, which is much, much better, called Shingrex, and unfortunately, the company I don’t think was ready for the success of it. 

So that a lot of insurance plans haven’t figured out whether they’re gonna cover it, or how they’re gonna cover it. So, there’s still a lot of uncertainties, but as soon as they can get access to it, I would have the—it’s usually a two-shot deal, and it covers things remarkably, so all of you who are on valacyclovir, or acyclovir, to prevent shingles, you’ll be able to stop that.

Jeff Folloder:               

Outstanding. When I heard the news about Shingrex, the first thing I did was fire off an email to you, asking, can I have this one?

Dr. Keating:                 

Did I ignore it? 

Jeff Folloder:               

No, your answer was, yes, if you can find it.

Dr. Lamanna:              

Yeah, that’s the problem.

Jeff Folloer:                 

So, it’s in a little, short supply right now. Not every pharmacy, and not every medical institution has it available in her pharmacy. So, keep asking for it, and keep on pounding on your insurance companies, to make sure we can get this covered.

I know that, from my perspective, getting shingles was not high up on my list of things that I wanted to do. And so, now that I can actually do something to mitigate that risk, as soon as it shows up, I’m all in. 

Dr. Lamanna:              

And, just wanna mention, the reason why we’re bringing up vaccines, for those who don’t, is that we’re trying to be—everything, again, is logical, when we talk about lifestyle, and health, and diet, and exercise, is trying to be preventative. We know your immune system is impaired, and with variable degrees. Some people, with CLL, their immune system isn’t that impaired, other people moreso. It depends. So, the point is, if we can get any leg up on trying to prevent—the most common things that most of our CLL folks face are sinopulmonary infections, and so, if we can try to prevent them, we’re just trying to see—again, these vaccines don’t always work, as we figured out with the flu shot this year. But, the goal is to try to prevent infections, if we can. 

And so, if there’s availability to do that, that’s why we recommend that you have these vaccines. We’re trying to think ahead, we’re trying to prevent you guys from getting sick. Or, if you get sick, and you get the flu, hopefully the shot might’ve lessened the severity of the illness. The whole goal is thinking about your immune system and trying to stay out of trouble. 

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.

View next