Living with cancer can be confusing, complex and challenging. Living with cancer in a pandemic can elevate this as uncertainty is compounded by constantly changing risks and advice for you and your loved ones.
To help address questions and concerns, here is what we currently know about COVID-19 vaccines and immunosuppressed people:
The Pfizer vaccine is safe for immunosuppressed and immunocompromised people.
A large study was completed in the US in July 2021 showing the real world clinical effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccination in solid organ transplant recipients, with an almost 80% reduction in the incidence of symptomatic COVID-19 compared with unvaccinated solid organ transplant recipients during the same time.
While immunosuppressed people are less likely to produce the same level of immune response once they receive their vaccination, compared to people who are not immunocompromised, the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine has been proven effective and safe.
Scientists are just looking into if it is necessary for those with weaker immune systems to have an additional booster, for added protection. This research is ongoing and trials are currently being done.
Once you get vaccinated, it is particularly important for people with compromised immune systems to act like they have not. In other words, continue to practice precautions for added safety.
This means you should continue to practice good hand hygiene, physical distancing, staying away from big crowds in small spaces, staying away from people who are unwell, and wearing a mask whenever possible.
It is completely understandable to be cautious and feel hesitant about COVID-19 vaccines. There is a lot of misleading information circulating. That is why it is important to arm yourself with advice from trusted sources like the Australian Government, World Health Organisation, peak and reputable health bodies, and your local GP or medical clinic.