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COVID-19 vaccinations

If you’re living with blood cancer, or your family member has been diagnosed, we know you’ve got questions.

We’re having urgent discussions behind the scenes with authorities to seek absolute clarity on how and when people living with blood cancer will receive the vaccine.

We wholeheartedly support the positions of HSANZ and ANZTCT and will provide updates and information here as soon as it becomes available.

Who will get the vaccine first?

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) advises the Minister for Health on the National Immunisation Program (NIP) and other immunisation issues. ATAGI has provided advice on which groups should be prioritised for the first doses for COVID-19 vaccination in Australia.

The roll out of the vaccination program in Australia will be in stages, starting with priority groups who would be most affected if infected with COVID-19 and those most likely to be exposed, such as frontline health workers. They are also more likely to transmit the virus to vulnerable people through their work in hospitals and aged care facilities.

How do I know the vaccine is safe?

There is no widespread evidence of strong safety risks in having the vaccine.  It has been identified that the benefit of being vaccinated far outweighs the risk of being infected with COVID-19.

Do I still need to follow usual public health advice (hand hygiene, social distancing, mask wearing)?

Yes, you will still need to follow the current guidelines until a sufficient number of Australians have been vaccinated.

I have allergies to medications; can I have the vaccine?

The vaccine will always be administered in a safe, medically supervised environment to monitor for any signs of a reaction.

Before proceeding with the vaccine, you should seek medical advice from your treatment team.

 I have been advised not to have live vaccines

The current COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in Australia are inactivated and not live.

Should blood cancer patients have priority?

The group most at risk of exposure to COVID-19 like health care workers and aged care residents and staff have been prioritised first in order to prevent any chance of exposure by other groups (such as blood cancer patients with hospital appointments).

The Leukaemia Foundation is working closely with haematologist and research colleagues, including members of the Blood Cancer Taskforce, to seek advice regarding priority access to COVID-19 vaccines for people living with blood cancer.

Advice from the Haematological Society of Australia and New Zealand (HSANZ) recommends vaccination for people living with blood cancer and healthcare workers should be prioritised. Read the full statement released by HSANZ on 27 January 2021.

The Leukaemia Foundation will continue to work with experts in the blood cancer community and seek advice from the Federal Department of Health on how and when people with blood cancer can access a COVID 19 vaccine. We will make this available on our public channels as soon as possible.

Is it safe to have the vaccine if I am under ‘watch and wait’ treatment?

You should seek medical advice from your treatment team but recommendations are that it is safe for people under watch and wait treatments to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

When should I have the vaccine if I have had a transplant?

The Australia and New Zealand Transplant and Cellular Therapies society are regularly reviewing and updating their advice and position statement as further data in relation to the vaccine and transplant patients emerge. Read the full statement here.

Further questions?

For all the latest advice from the Department of Health in relation to COVID-19 vaccines visit www.health.gov.au/initiatives-and-programs/covid-19-vaccines

Last edited and reviewed by The Leukaemia Foundation – 12 February 2021

Sources

Australian Government; Cancer Australia . (n.d.). COVID-19 vaccines and cancer. Retrieved from https://www.canceraustralia.gov.au/affected-cancer/information-about-cancer-and-covid-19/health-professionals/covid-19-vaccines-and-cancer

Australian Government; Department of Health. (2021, February 2). Who will get the vaccines. Retrieved from Priority groups can expect to receive a vaccination from early 2021: https://www.health.gov.au/initiatives-and-programs/covid-19-vaccines/getting-vaccinated-for-covid-19/who-will-get-the-vaccines#priority-groups-can-expect-to-receive-a-vaccination-from-early-2021

Blood Cancer UK . (2021, 01 14). Ask the Experts: Blood Cancer and COVID-19 Vaccines. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?app=desktop&v=OLiWWHb5fXA&list=PLVSrftu85WMMZYeCrA702aHzwXoo5mb7z

CancerNetwork. (2021, 01 26). NCCN Releases Initial Guidance for COVID-19 Vaccine Administration in Patients With Cancer. Retrieved from https://www.cancernetwork.com/view/nccn-releases-initial-guidance-for-covid-19-vaccine-administration-in-patients-with-cancer?utm_source=sfmc&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=01292021_CN_eNL_EXA-20-OND0334_ExactSciences_Webinar_INTL&eKey=d3Jpb3JkYW5AbGV1a2Fl

Haematology Society of Australia and New Zealand (HSANZ). (2021, Feb 2). Vaccination in Haematology patients position statement. Retrieved from https://www.hsanz.org.au/news/10054698