August 13, 2021

Should I get the COVID-19 vaccine?

The IMF strongly recommends that patients with multiple myeloma (MM), smoldering multiple myeloma (SMM), or monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS) receive a COVID-19 vaccination with the Pfizer or MODERNA vaccines, whichever is available. These vaccines offer excellent benefits, and in general, have very limited and brief side effects or toxicities. As of now, the efficacy of these vaccines far outweighs any toxicity concerns.

*The IMF is very pleased to note the full approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. This reflects what has been both remarkable efficacy plus and an excellent safety profile. This full approval versus versus the prior Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) will encourage those with vaccine hesitancy to proceed with vaccination. In addition, doctors now have flexibility to prescribe booster shots as appropriate. In the workplace, many more vaccine mandates are now anticipated which can definitely improve safety overall. 

How should I make a decision about getting the vaccine?

The decision to take the COVID-19 vaccine is best made with your doctor. PLEASE discuss the planning for vaccination with your doctor. It is possible your doctor may have additional questions or concerns depending upon your exact situation.

Do I have to get the same vaccine for both shots?

Generally speaking, most people will indeed receive the planned two-step dosing for their vaccination with the Pfizer or MODERNA vaccines. If it is feasible to take the same brand of the vaccine for both doses, then do so. If not, a slight delay to wait for the same brand of vaccine for your second dose is acceptable. Finally, the use of alternate brand of vaccine can be considered if availability is an issue, but please discuss this with your doctor.

In short, ask about your second dose when you get the first shot.

Be aware that additional, different vaccines will also become available in the coming months. (For example, the AstraZeneca vaccine is currently being used in the UK and elsewhere.)

Has the Johnson & Johnson vaccine become available again?

The Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine is again available with now a special warning about very rare serious blood clotting problems in younger women. The first cases were in women ages 18-48. The blood clotting problems occurred within the first two weeks following vaccination. The J&J vaccine has the advantage of being a single shot as well as being highly effective in reducing serious disease complications.

Should myeloma patients receive a third booster shot?

The CDC federal advisory panel voted unanimously to recommend an additional dose of coronavirus vaccines for some immunocompromised individuals (including patients with myeloma) enabling those in this category to get another dose of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines. See Dr. Durie’s blog on the topic.

How effective are the current vaccines against the COVID-19 variants?

The current Pfizer and MODERNA two-dose vaccines are very effective against new COVID-19 variants including the Delta variant. Severe illness and hospitalization are prevented at the same level of benefit. However, there is some risk of milder infection with the highly infectious Delta variant. Therefore, full protections are still recommended even for the fully vaccinated when and where community levels of the Delta variant are high to stay safe.

The Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine has produced excellent results in trials to reduce severe disease and hospitalizations.Currently, more data are required to assess the benefit of the J&J vaccine against the Delta variant.

Further reading

Let's All Stay Safe Over the Fourth of July Weekend - IMF Chairman Dr. Brian G.M. Durie urges myeloma patients to continue to take precautions as cases of the COVID-19 Delta variant rise.

Read this blog by IMF’s Vice President, Support Groups Robin Tuohy on the “Fireside Chat with Dr. Fauci at ASH." As always, follow our Myeloma Patient Safety and the Coronavirus page and Dr. Durie’s blogs on the subject, in particular:

Optimism for an Uncertain 2021

Looking Ahead to a Brighter 2021

Staying Positive and Strong in Times of Crisis: A Prescription for Resilience

If you have questions, contact the IMF’s InfoLine by email at [email protected] or at 1-800-452-CURE (2873) in the U.S. and Canada or worldwide at 1-818-487-7455.



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