COVID-19 Resources and FAQs
The COVID-19 pandemic created additional challenges and concerns for blood cancer patients and caregivers, and we’re here to help. Below, you’ll find an overview of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s (LLS’s) COVID-19 resources, frequently asked questions (FAQs), and news and information specifically developed to meet the unique needs of people with leukemia, lymphoma, myeloma, or other blood cancers.
We have conducted our own COVID-19 research at LLS and have also provide study support to institutions that produce important data on how the COVID-19 virus and vaccines affect people with blood cancer. You’ll find the results of some of that work below.
Patients who have specific questions or concerns should, as always, speak directly with their oncologist and care team.
—Gwen Nichols, MD, LLS Chief Medical Officer
COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
(Information updated regularly based on public health information and guidance)
LLS has been advocating for vaccination policies that consider and serve the unique needs of blood cancer patients since the beginning of the pandemic. Here, you’ll find the latest information on COVID-19, vaccines, and other prevention strategies to help people with blood cancer and survivors protect themselves.
Last updated May 26, 2023
What does the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency mean for blood cancer patients? (May 19, 2023)
The U.S. Public Health Emergency (PHE) for COVID-19 has ended. The PHE was declared more than three years ago, on February 2, 2020, to allow the government to implement temporary measures to address the then-emerging pandemic.
At LLS, we understand that this change might concern people with a current or past blood cancer diagnosis, who may be at increased risk from COVID-19. While this is an administrative change, it signals a new stage in COVID-19, as it becomes an “established and ongoing health issue that no longer constitutes a public health emergency,” according to the World Health Organization.
The end of the PHE does not affect vaccine recommendations, which were recently updated to allow additional COVID-19 bivalent boosters for people with compromised immune systems, including those with blood cancer. The federal government will no longer be purchasing and distributing COVID-19 vaccines, but Americans will still be able to access vaccines at no cost, and COVID-19 treatments, such as Paxlovid, will continue to be widely accessible, but through health insurance instead of the government.
Other preventive measures, such as masking and social distancing regulations remain at the discretion of local governments, individual businesses and each of us. LLS encourages blood cancer patients to make personalized risk decisions in consultation with their oncology treatment team to stay safe from COVID while balancing engaging in activities important to their quality of life.
LLS will continue to ensure blood cancer patients’ interests are being heard, advocating for policies at the state and federal level to remove barriers to care for blood cancer patients.
COVID-19 ILLNESS IN PEOPLE WITH BLOOD CANCER AND SURVIVORS
Overall, blood cancer patients are at risk of more severe COVID outcomes—including hospitalization and death, but the risk is not the same across all types of blood cancer. LLS recommends that blood cancer patients and survivors protect themselves by getting vaccinated and encouraging those around them to get vaccinated as well. They should also continue to take other preventive precautions such as wearing masks, social distancing, hand washing and avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated indoor spaces.
I am a lymphoma patient on rituximab (Rituxan) or obinutuzumab (Gazyva). Am I at higher risk for severe COVID?
Taking CD-20 targeting agents such as rituximab and obinutuzumab has been tied to an increased risk of severe COVID-19 in lymphoma patients. Patients with lymphoma may develop immune deficiency due to their disease or due to treatment with these medications, which can lead to increased incidence and severity of infections.
I had COVID and continue testing positive although it has been several weeks. How will I know when it is safe, and I am no longer contagious?
People who are moderately to severely immunocompromised may remain infectious beyond 20 days. For these people, CDC recommends an isolation period of at least 20 days and ending isolation in conjunction with testing and consultation with an infectious disease specialist. To end isolation, you should have at least two negative COVID-19 tests taken at least 24 hours apart (this can be an at-home test or a laboratory-based PCR test) and you should have no fever for at least 24 hours without taking a fever-reducing medicine like Advil or Tylenol. If you test positive beyond 30 days, you should consult with an infectious disease specialist. If you also have ongoing symptoms, you may benefit from high-titer convalescent plasma. You can read more about this treatment in the "Treatment and Prevention of COVID-19" section of this FAQ.
COVID-19 VACCINATION FOR BLOOD CANCER PATIENTS AND SURVIVORS
Yes! COVID-19 vaccines are safe and offer protection to the majority of blood cancer patients and survivors. However, since not everyone will get full protection, LLS recommends that blood cancer patients and survivors get vaccinated plus layer on additional protections like wearing masks and social distancing.
The risk of serious illness from COVID-19 is higher for people with blood cancer, so unless you have a true medical contraindication for the vaccine, which is very rare, LLS encourages you to talk with your healthcare team about staying up to date with COVID-19 (and all other) vaccines.
Because bivalent vaccines offer the best protection, they are preferred over monovalent vaccines. Bivalent vaccines are made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. Novavax monovalent vaccine is an alternative for people who are unable or choose not to get an updated Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.
By “acting unvaccinated” we mean that in addition to getting vaccinated for COVID-19, blood cancer patients should continue to take preventive measures such as wearing masks, social distancing, hand washing, and avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated indoor spaces. This is especially important since some blood cancer patients may not get optimal protection from the vaccines and may be more susceptible to breakthrough infection after vaccination compared to the general public.
I am a cancer patient who has received lymphocyte-depleting therapy (e.g., rituximab, blinatumomab, anti-thymocyte globulin, alemtuzumab, etc.). When should I get vaccinated?
According to COVID-19 guidelines from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, for patients who have received lymphocyte-depleting therapy, it is reasonable to consider deferring vaccination until six months after completion of therapy or until there is evidence of recovery of lymphocyte numbers and function. However, if there is any opportunity to be vaccinated BEFORE therapy starts, this should be done. We encourage you to discuss specific questions or concerns with your medical team as every patient’s experience is unique.
I am a lymphoma patient on rituximab (Rituxan) or obinutuzumab (Gazyva). Will the COVID-19 vaccine still be effective for me?
Certain lymphoma therapies, particularly rituximab and obinutuzumab, impair antibody response to vaccines even after treatment discontinuation. This does not mean people being treated with these medications should not get vaccinated or that the vaccines will not offer them some protection. However, patients should consider themselves still at risk and remain vigilant even after vaccination.
Revaccination may be an option for patients who received one or more doses of the COVID-19 vaccine while undergoing treatment with these therapies. The CDC recommends that revaccination should start about six months after completion of therapy. However, a patient’s own healthcare team is best positioned to determine when and if revaccination is appropriate.
I am a CLL patient who has tested positive for COVID-19. Should I continue treatment with BTK inhibitors (BTKis) including ibrutinib and acalabrutinib?
Published reports suggest a possible benefit from BTKis (ibrutinib and acalabrutinib) in people with severe COVID-19 infection. While more rigorous studies are needed to confirm those results, the American Society of Hematology’s (ASH) recommendation is to continue BTKis in patients with CLL diagnosed with COVID-19.
Should COVID-19 vaccines be administered to hematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT) and CAR T-cell recipients?
People who have a stem cell transplant or who receive CAR T-cell treatment are often immunosuppressed for months following treatment due to maintenance therapies and immunosuppressive drugs, among other factors. Based on current evidence, COVID-19 vaccines could be offered as early as three months following HSCT or CAR T-cell therapies, although their effectiveness may be reduced compared to results in general populations.
It is very important to follow the vaccination schedule recommended by your healthcare team, and in the case of HSCT, your transplant team. Transplant teams in particular are very knowledgeable about when and how to go ahead with re-immunization following transplant.
And even after vaccination, LLS recommends that you continue to follow additional safety precautions, like masking.
COVID-19 vaccines offer at least some protection to the majority of blood cancer patients. The LLS National Patient Registry has shown that immune response to mRNA vaccination varies based on a patient’s type of blood cancer and treatment received. That’s why LLS recommends that all blood cancer patients and survivors get vaccinated, act unvaccinated.
Yes! The updated (bivalent) vaccine is designed to give better protection against currently circulating COVID-19 variants. Two recent studies, one in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) and the other in the CDC Weekly Report, report positive news about how the bivalent vaccine is performing as new COVID-19 variants emerge.
The first study reported that bivalent mRNA vaccines are significantly better than monovalent mRNA vaccines at protecting against severe illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19. The second study showed that the bivalent vaccine also reduced the likelihood of getting COVID-19 even as circulating virus strains changed.
It is important to note that these studies were not completed in patients with blood cancer or other conditions that can suppress the immune systems. LLS encourages blood cancer patients to get all COVID-19 vaccines as recommended to maintain and boost their protection. Because blood cancer patients, especially those with B-cell malignancies that weaken the immune system, may have a suboptimal response to vaccines, they should continue to take additional precautions even when fully vaccinated, including masking and avoiding crowded indoor spaces.
The FDA is working with manufacturers to update COVID-19 vaccines periodically, much like influenza vaccines are updated yearly, to keep up with changes in circulating viruses. It is likely that, if needed, the next vaccine update will happen in the Fall of 2023.
I am a blood cancer patient who has been fully vaccinated and have a negative antibody response. What does this mean for me and what precautions should I be taking?
Some patients may have a diminished or even no antibody response due to their type of blood cancer or the type of treatment received. This does NOT mean that vaccination is futile. It is very important to continue receiving all COVID-19 vaccine doses as recommended.
Antibodies are just one piece of the puzzle and there are other ways our immune systems respond to vaccination that may provide protection. A study from the LLS National Patient Registry shows that some blood cancer patients without detectable antibodies after vaccination develop T-cells that are primed to attack the COVID-19 virus.
Should I be tested for antibodies to determine the effectiveness of the vaccine or before I get the bivalent vaccine?
Antibody testing does not need to be done unless recommended and prescribed by your healthcare provider. Antibody tests should be interpreted with caution. Having antibodies to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, appears to offer some degree of protection from getting sick and from having severe disease. However, having antibodies may not eliminate your risk of a COVID-19 breakthrough infection completely.
Vaccines are designed to get the body to develop protection against a disease without us having to get sick. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines use messenger RNA (mRNA) to instruct immune cells to make the so-called “spike protein” found on the surface of the COVID-19 virus. The Novavax vaccine includes harmless fragments of COVID-19 to trigger an immune response.
All three vaccines prepare your body to fight infection if you are exposed to the actual virus or to minimize its effects. The lightning speed at which the vaccines became available is truly remarkable, but they are built on decades of rigorous and thoroughly reviewed research.
VACCINE ELIGIBILITY, TIMING AND AUTHORIZATIONS
The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine (Comirnaty) and the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine (Spikevax) are FDA approved. The Novavax vaccine is authorized for use by the FDA.
Everyone 6 months and older should stay up to date with all COVID-19 vaccines as recommended by the CDC and in consultation with their own healthcare team. Specific vaccine products may be available for different age groups.
The J&J (Janssen) COVID-19 vaccine is no longer available or recommended in the United States.
Because the immune system is very complex, there is no simple answer to who is moderately to severely immunocompromised. The National Institutes of Health COVID-19 guidelines include all blood cancer patients who are on active treatment in this category as well blood cancer patients who may have sub-optimal responses to COVID-19 vaccines regardless of their treatment status, such as those with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
The immune system is also compromised in anyone who has had a stem cell transplant or who takes medicine to suppress their immune system. Blood cancer treatments that suppress the immune system include, but are not limited to: Bruton tyrosine kinase (BTK) inhibitors (e.g., Imbruvica, Calquence, Brukinsa), anti-CD20 antibody treatments (e.g., Rituxan, Gazyva) and certain CAR T-cell treatments (Breyanzi, Kymriah, Tecartus, Yescarta).
LLS strongly encourages all blood cancer patients, regardless of where they are in their treatment, remission or recovery (or “watch and wait” period, which is common for CLL patients), to talk with their blood cancer treatment team about the status of their immune system and whether additional bivalent COVID-19 vaccine doses are right for them.
As of April 19, 2023, vaccine dosing recommendations have been simplified for everyone age 6 years and older. People 6 and older should receive one bivalent COVID-19 vaccine (bivalent mRNA vaccines are made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna). Anyone who cannot or will not receive an mRNA vaccine can receive the two-dose Novavax primary vaccine series, however, for optimal protection a bivalent vaccine is still recommended two months after completion of the two-dose Novavax series.
For children under age 6, who still require multiple doses in their primary series, the same brand is preferred. If the same vaccine product is not available or is unknown, either mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna) may be administered.
Yes. Any COVID-19 vaccine can be given with other vaccines without regard to timing, but it’s always best to check with your healthcare provider. This includes getting vaccines like flu and COVID-19 on the same day, as long as the shots are given in different limbs, or if in the same limb, at least 1 inch or more apart.
As a blood cancer patient or survivor, should I worry about when I get vaccinated relative to whether I am in a “watch and wait” period, am currently on treatment or have recently stopped treatment?
These are extremely important questions. Since the situation for every person is different, LLS recommends discussing the timing of your COVID-19 vaccination with your oncology healthcare team. Generally, it is best to vaccinate before cancer treatment as the immune response to the vaccine may be impaired in patients receiving treatments that affect the immune system.
However, if you are already undergoing treatment, that does not mean you should forego vaccination. Even if your immune system does not respond fully to vaccination, some protection is better than none, especially for a disease as serious as COVID-19, which tends to strike cancer patients harder. For this reason, it is advisable for patients with blood cancer to encourage family, friends and others they come in close contact with to get vaccinated too.
VACCINE SIDE EFFECTS AND SAFETY
Nearly 700 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in the United States including to more than 31 million children.
LLS collected real world data from blood cancer patients and survivors through the LLS National Patient Registry. We found that the vaccine side effect profile is very similar in blood cancer patients and survivors compared to the general public. Read more about the results here.
Clinicals trials showed an increased risk of myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) and pericarditis (inflammation of the tissue surrounding the heart) following administration of Novavax COVID-19 vaccine, but these events were exceptionally rare and there was insufficient evidence to conclude that the vaccine caused them. Safety and tolerability of the two mRNA vaccines (Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna) are similar to each other.
I have experienced severe allergic reactions to vaccines or injectable drugs in the past. Can I still get the COVID-19 vaccine?
Severe allergy to specific components of any COVID-19 vaccine is rare but is a contraindication to vaccination. Please discuss your specific risk with your healthcare provider.
Some people receiving a COVID-19 vaccine have reported swollen lymph nodes on the underside of the arm where the vaccine was administered 2-4 days after receiving the vaccine. Lymph node swelling can be a common reaction, or side effect, to any vaccine and those who have reported swollen lymph nodes usually have them return to normal within four weeks. In most cases, no additional imaging tests are needed for swollen lymph nodes after recent vaccinations unless the swelling persists or there are other symptoms. Understandably, for cancer patients who have had lymph node enlargement as a sign of their cancer, any enlargement may be of concern. You should contact your healthcare team to determine how to follow up if you have post-vaccine lymph node enlargement.
STAYING SAFE AFTER VACCINATION
COVID-19, RSV and the flu are all respiratory viruses. While there are differences in how they spread, the precautions common in the early days of COVID can help protect against all three. This includes social distancing, masking, frequent handwashing, disinfecting surfaces and avoiding others when they are sick.
COVID spreads primarily through sneezing, coughing and expelling respiratory droplets, making masks and social distancing extremely important in stopping its transmission. RSV spreads much more through contaminated surfaces, making handwashing and cleaning surfaces more critical with RSV than with COVID. Flu is somewhere in the middle—it can spread through respiratory droplets from sneezing and coughing, but also from touching contaminated surfaces and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes.
The most important thing each one of us can do is get our COVID and influenza vaccines as soon as we are eligible. COVID and influenza vaccines can be given at the same visit, either in different arms or at least 1 inch apart in the same arm. In May 2023, the FDA approved the first RSV vaccine for people 60 and older. The vaccine is expected to be available by Fall 2023. LLS strongly encourages blood cancer patients and survivors to get vaccinated (and encourage vaccination in those around them), wear masks in indoor settings and crowded outdoor events, wash hands frequently and disinfect surfaces—and even so, avoid touching your face unless you washed your hand very recently.
I am a blood cancer patient who has been fully vaccinated. Can I stop wearing my mask and resume “normal” activities such as going to sporting events and concerts?
Even when fully vaccinated against COVID-19, CDC and LLS recommend that blood cancer patients and survivors should continue wearing a mask and taking other precautions to avoid infection. This is especially important since some blood cancer patients may not get optimal protection from the vaccines and may be more susceptible to infection and severe outcomes of COVID-19 after vaccination compared to the general public.
I am a blood cancer patient who is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, including with two bivalent vaccines. Can I resume travel?
Blood cancer patients should remain cautious about travel. While all of us are anxious to get back to normal, travel increases your chances of getting infected and spreading COVID-19. Before considering travel, talk to your cancer care team about whether there are any additional precautions you should take. Always continue to social distance, wear a mask, wash your hand frequently, and avoid crowds and poorly ventilated indoor spaces.
What do I tell my friends and family that do not understand why I need to be cautious even though I am fully vaccinated?
While vaccines offer at least some protection to most blood cancer patients, some will not get optimal protection and will be more susceptible to infection and severe outcomes of COVID-19 after vaccination compared to the general public. LLS encourages everyone to respect and protect blood cancer patients and others with weakened immune systems that put them at increased risk from COVID.19.
Vaccination for everyone, including friends and family is important. By getting vaccinated, those with normal immunity can reduce the risk that they transmit COVID-19 to those whose immunity is impaired.
TREATMENT AND PREVENTION OF COVID-19
The National Institutes of Health COVID-19 expert panel recommends prompt treatment with antiviral medications for non-hospitalized patients with mild to moderate COVID-19 who are immunocompromised.
The FDA has approved or authorized several antiviral medications to treat patients with COVID who are at increased risk of serious outcomes of the infection, such as blood cancer patients and survivors. To be effective, these treatments must be started as quickly as possible after a positive COVID-19 test or the onset of symptoms. There is also an infusion called high titer convalescent plasma that may be helpful in certain patients. Monoclonal antibody treatments are no longer recommended because they are not active against currently circulating strains.
Not at this time.
Evusheld, a monoclonal antibody that was used in addition to vaccines eventually lost its effectiveness at preventing infection with newer COVID-19 variants. The company that made Evusheld is researching a new formulation designed to be more broadly active against COVID-19 variants. There is a clinical trial testing the new treatment that is open to people with weaker immune systems. Patients and caregivers can learn more about joining the trial here.
Yes, you will need a prescription to receive any COVID-19 treatment. Physicians, advanced practice registered nurses and physician assistants may prescribe these medications as authorized under individual state laws. You do not need a prescription to receive vaccines.
COVID-19 antivirals work by disrupting the replication of the virus inside the body. This lowers the amount of virus in the body (also called the viral load), which can help reduce the severity of COVID-19 symptoms and shorten the length of the illness. To be effective, antiviral medicines generally need to be taken very soon after a positive COVID-19 test or the onset of symptoms.
There are three antiviral medicines available to treat COVID-19 in people who are at high risk of progression to severe infection and outcomes, such as blood cancer patients. Paxlovid (ritonavir-boosted nirmatrelvir, for people 12 and older) and Lagevrio (molnupiravir, for people 18 and older) are oral medicines for use only in non-hospitalized patients; both are taken for five days. Veklury (remdesivir), which can be used in adults and pediatric patients as young as 28 days of age, is given by IV or injection at a healthcare facility for three days. c
Effective February 1, 2023, FDA removed a requirement for a positive COVID-19 test in order to receive treatment with an oral antiviral (Paxlovid or Lagevrio). This is because, in rare instances, individuals who were recently exposed to someone with COVID-19 and who develop symptoms consistent with COVID-19 may be diagnosed with the infection even before they test positive. It is important to seek care immediately if you have COVID-19 symptoms or test positive as these medications are most effective when started early.
COVID-19 rebound has been reported to occur in a small percentage of patients between 2 and 8 days after initial recovery from COVID and usually includes recurrent but milder symptoms and a positive COVID test after having tested negative. On May 24, 2023, CDC reported no serious disease in patients who have rebounded after treatment with Paxlovid and has made no changes to this report in the months since.
Paxlovid is one of the most effective treatments available for people with mild-to-moderate COVID, lowering the risk of hospitalization or death significantly.
Because Paxlovid is the only highly effective oral antiviral for the treatment of COVID-19, the expert panel at the National Institutes of Health recommends that when drug interactions can be safely managed, they should not prevent use of Paxlovid.
However, Paxlovid should not be used at the same time as medications that interact strongly with the same liver enzyme Paxlovid relies on to be cleared from the body. The are no commonly used blood cancer drugs that are contraindicated for use at the same time as Paxlovid, however, there are many that have at least some interaction with this liver enzyme.
These drugs include but are not limited to ibrutinib and other BTK inhibitors, venetoclax, vinblastine and vincristine. In these cases, it is best to consult with your physician because he or she may be able to adjust medication dosages for safe administration. Most of the interaction potential for Paxlovid resolves within 2 to 3 days of when the last dose was taken, but may take longer in older persons.
Immunosuppressed patients should speak with their oncology healthcare team about whether getting a repeat PCR test to be sure they have cleared the virus is warranted. If the virus is not cleared after Paxlovid treatment, additional treatment such as convalescent plasma may need to be prescribed.
A monoclonal antibody is a lab-made version of the antibodies your body makes naturally to help fight off infections. As of January 26, 2023, there are no monoclonal antibodies authorized for use in the U.S. to prevent or treat COVID-19 because they are not effective against currently circulating strains.
The company that made Evusheld, a monoclonal antibody that eventually lost effectiveness against newer COVID-19 variants, is researching a new formulation designed to be more broadly active against COVID-19 variants. There is a clinical trial testing the new treatment that is open to people with weaker immune systems. Patients and caregivers can learn more about joining the trial here.
High titer COVID-19 convalescent plasma (CCP) is collected from blood donors who have recovered from COVID-19 infection. Plasma from donors who have not only recovered from COVID, but who also are vaccinated (sometimes called VaxCCP), has extremely high levels of antibodies that so far have been shown to neutralize all known COVID variants. CCP use is recommended for immunocompromised patients by several medical societies, including the Infectious Disease Society of America. It should be given within 8 days of symptom onset. CCP evolves with the virus because recently collected plasma contains antibodies to recently circulating viruses.
Treatment with high titer convalescent plasma is an effective option in situations where other therapies are either not available or no longer effective or cannot be used due to drug interactions. Several recent studies have shown the effectiveness of high-titer plasma in treating immunosuppressed patients (including blood cancer patients) who have had breakthrough infection despite vaccination, and in whom monoclonal antibody and antiviral treatment have not been effective in clearing the virus.
Immunosuppressed patients may benefit from high titer convalescent plasma. Immunosuppressed patients may have breakthrough infection despite appropriate treatment, and this can lead to illness in the affected patient and continued risk of spreading the virus to others. Prolonged infection may also give the virus an opportunity to create variants that can then spread to others.
Talk to your healthcare team if you believe high-titer convalescent plasma is right for you. The U.S. FDA has authorized its use for the treatment of COVID-19 in patients with immunosuppression due to disease or receiving immunosuppressive treatment, either in the outpatient or inpatient setting.
COVID-19 convalescent plasma needs to be ordered by a healthcare professional from a blood bank. If high-titer convalescent plasma is not available locally, your healthcare provider may be able to work with the local blood center to obtain it through the Blood Center of America. Two additional resources for learning about CCP and to help physicians order CCP for their patients are: USCovidPlasma.org and CCPP19.org.
The National Institutes of Health expert panel responsible for developing COVID-19 treatment guidelines has reviewed results from many studies, clinical trials and analyses on vitamin D. At this time, there is insufficient evidence to recommend either for or against the use of vitamin D for the prevention or treatment of COVID-19.
Most of the current studies have significant limitations—such as very small numbers of enrolled patients, lack of consistency in the types of patients studied (for example, with a range of COVID-19 severities), or use of many different medications simultaneously that can alter individual outcomes.
Some observational studies (these types of studies cannot determine whether a medication can cause, prevent or treat an illness) suggest that low vitamin D levels can increase the risk of COVID infection or COVID-related death, but there is no clear evidence that taking vitamin D protects against infection or death.
LLS encourages patients to talk with their healthcare team about their vitamin D levels and whether they should take vitamin D supplements.
LLS COVID-19 PROGRAMS, RESOURCES AND RESEARCH
Through its National Patient Registry, LLS teamed with over 10,000 blood cancer patients to develop the largest data pool providing information about how COVID-19 vaccines work for people with all type of blood cancer. Our results helped policy makers, physicians and patients alike to make better informed decisions about vaccination.
LLS is invested in the work of world-class researchers across the globe to provide answers about how COVID-19 and COVID-19 vaccines impact blood cancer patients. For example, LLS-funded researchers are looking at how the course of COVID illness differs in immunocompromised blood cancer patients and whether they would benefit from targeted prevention and treatment options compared to those with normal immune systems.
Because blood cancer patients were not included in the clinical studies leading to authorization of COVID-19 vaccines, LLS is focused on funding research to understand how vaccines work in people with all types of blood cancer. LLS is helping to answer questions such as: Should blood cancer patients get their vaccines on a more compressed schedule? How does antibody response and activation of disease-fighting T-cells differ in people with different types of cancer after vaccination? You can read about current LLS grants for COVID-19 and other research topics here.
LLS is doing its part by ensuring blood cancer patients’ interests are being heard by policymakers involved in the country’s vaccine rollout. A summary of our efforts include the following:
LLS – along with other partner organizations –communicates to the Biden administration the strategies we believe will improve access to the vaccine. We’re also in touch with policymakers in state government.
Some blood cancer patients won’t produce COVID-19 antibodies even after receiving all COVID-19 vaccine doses, making it particularly important for those around them to be vaccinated. Public health measures like vaccine requirements play an important role in reducing the risk of COVID-19 to cancer patients, cancer survivors, and other immunocompromised people. LLS supports proven public health strategies like vaccine requirements, and it opposes policies that undermine vaccine requirements.
In response to concerns about access barriers some immigrants are facing regarding documentation requests prior to receiving COVID-19 vaccination and individuals inappropriately being sent bills for COVID-19 vaccine fees, Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) developed two fact sheets to help both patients and providers better understand their rights, which are available in English and Spanish.
You may or may not have out-of-pocket costs if you get tested for COVID-19 or if you need medicines or other care to treat it. You’ll need to check with your health insurance company about coverage. Here are some tips and resources to get you started:
- Call the toll-free number on the back of your insurance card
- Read about Medicare coverage of coronavirus-related needs
LLS News and Statements on COVID-19 Advancements and Study Results
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Presence at ASH Showcases Progress to Advance Cures and Care for Blood Cancer Patients
Study from The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Provides New Information on How Blood Cancer Patients Respond to COVID-19 Vaccines
Largest Study to Date Demonstrates Most Blood Cancer Patients Benefit From a Third Primary Dose of mRNA COVID-19 Vaccine
LLS Statement on the Death of Former Secretary of State Colin Powell
New Study Shows Most Blood Cancer Patients Benefit from an Additional COVID-19 Vaccine Dose
Every 180 Seconds, Someone in the U.S. is Diagnosed with a Blood Cancer; it’s Time to Make an Impact Together
New COVID-19 Staff Safety Policies at LLS
The LLS National Patient Registry, a project of the Michael J. Garil Patient Data Collective:
The LLS National Patient Registry gathers and studies information from patients diagnosed with blood cancers (past or present) to help researchers better understand outcomes and tailor treatments. Within six weeks of COVID vaccines becoming available in the U.S., LLS launched studies as part of the National Patient Registry to assess the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines in people with every type of blood cancer. The links below provide more details about our studies and their results.
Study from The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Provides New Information on How Blood Cancer Patients Respond to COVID-19 Vaccines (September 8, 2022)
Largest Study to Date Demonstrates Most Blood Cancer Patients Benefit From a Third Primary Dose of mRNA COVID-19 Vaccine (December 13, 2021)
COVID-19 Safety Among Blood Cancer Patients (Updated: October 8, 2021; Published: April 23, 2021)
New Study Shows Most Blood Cancer Patients Benefit from an Additional COVID-19 Vaccine Dose (September 13, 2021)
COVID-19 Vaccines Provide Protection to Most Blood Cancer Patients, but One in Four Have No Detectable Antibodies (July 22, 2021)
LLS National Patient Registry Begins T-cell Study in Blood Cancer Patients (July 15, 2021)
LLS launches the National Patient Registry to answer COVID-19 questions for blood cancer patients (February 17, 2021)
Learn more about the LLS National Patient Registry
The LLS National Patient Registry, a project of the Michael J. Garil Patient Data Collective, is a unique opportunity for blood cancer patients to become citizen scientists by joining with LLS to shape discoveries that can improve the quality of life and care for people living with blood cancer. Check back here to find out more about a new study opening soon.