COVID-19 FAQ #30: Should myeloma patients check their COVID-19 antibody levels post vaccination?
How Can Testing for COVID-19 Antibodies Help Myeloma Patients Stay Safe?
Continuing his COVID-19 FAQ, myeloma expert Dr. Brian G.M. Durie discusses if patients should consider getting an antibody test to understand their level of protection against COVID-19.
The BOTTOM LINE:
Being aware of your COVID-19 antibody level can help you make informed decisions regarding your safety. Coordinate your antibody testing with your doctor. Continue regular safety precautions.
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This week’s “Ask Dr. Durie” is a very timely question from a patient who wants to know “is it worthwhile for me to check the antibody levels in my blood after getting the COVID-19 vaccination?”
Now, this is a test which is not available for every patient but there are definitely centers across the country where this type of antibody testing can be done to get testing for example, two to three weeks after the second dose of the vaccine.
This is something very reasonable to check. As we know, because of the disease and the ongoing treatment, myeloma patients may not get the full antibody response to the COVID-19 vaccine. And so, it is reasonable to check and see what are the levels of the antibodies to see are they at a really good level? Or, perhaps, at a reduced level, maybe at about a half level, which might be achieved in a normal person.
So, to be aware, even those lower levels do provide significant protection. But it is worthwhile to know if the antibody levels are relatively low.
I think that, at the present time, it important because normal protections should continue. If your antibody levels are low, you should continue to wear your mask and be cautious whenever you venture out into community settings.
The BOTTOM LINE here is if you have it available to you, please go ahead and get your antibody levels checked and see what the status is. Coordinate it with your doctor. But the main thing for me is to be sure that no matter what you should take the precautions that you need. Particularly, continuing to wear a mask at the present time when you are meeting individuals. Particularly younger people right now, who may be more likely to be infected when you are in community settings.
Dr. Brian G.M. Durie serves as Chairman of the International Myeloma Foundation and serves on its Scientific Advisory Board. Additionally, he is Chairman of the IMF's International Myeloma Working Group, a consortium of nearly 200 myeloma experts from around the world. Dr. Durie also leads the IMF’s Black Swan Research Initiative®.