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Patients With CLL Concerned About COVID-19 Vaccine Efficacy

Patients With CLL Concerned About COVID-19 Vaccine Efficacy
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Published on August 4, 2021

COVID-19 Vaccine Response in Patients With CLL

Despite being vaccinated against COVID-19, patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) continue to worry about their level of protection, according to a recent Patient Power survey. The survey was deployed via email on Friday, July 30. It was sent to attendees of “The Future of CLL Combination Therapies,” a live program hosted by Patient Power co-founder and CLL patient Andrew Schorr and Julie Vose, MD, MBA, a hematologist-oncologist at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha.

Data indicates that CLL patients are less likely than others to have an antibody response following vaccination, due to the nature of the disease and its treatment. Most recently, a study from the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society found that 36% of fully vaccinated people with CLL did not have an antibody response.

Here are a few key findings from the survey:

  • Of 71 survey respondents, 97% had been vaccinated against COVID-19.
  • More than 80% said they were “worried” or “very worried” about their level of immunity.
  • Of those who were vaccinated, 56% received the Pfizer vaccine and 41% received the Moderna vaccine.

While most survey respondents said they were worried about the risks of the novel coronavirus, they reported handling their concerns in different ways. From staying home to returning to normal activities, here are a few of their approaches:

  • “I’m learning not to assume any immunity despite full vaccination.”
  • “I am very worried about the general public response and try to mitigate the danger by masking and minimizing interactions.”
  • “I avoid the public and children in the extended family who are not vaccinated. I never eat indoors with the public and seldom with extended family.”
  • “I just finished my treatment last week. So, I am no longer taking ibrutinib. I still need to be careful and wear a mask in public and be mindful of close contacts.”
  • “I am very worried, but I still need to live my life and spend time with my family, especially my grandchildren. Even if they are little Petri dishes full of nasty bugs!”

With the rapidly changing COVID-19 landscape, patients with cancer rely on reputable sources to get the latest information about mask guidance, antibody testing, and more. Schorr said he wants to not only educate patients about CLL and other types of cancer; he wants to help them take action, too.

“What’s important today is to give people the latest information from credible expert sources,” Schorr said. “We’re gratified that patients say we do that, and they use it to take action to improve their health.”

To register for an upcoming program, visit the Patient Power events page.

~Suzanne Mooney

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