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Statement on FDA Authorization of Third Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine for People with Weakened Immune Systems

As a science-based organization, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) applauds the recent Food and Drug Administration (FDA) decision to amend authorizations for the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines to allow the use of a third dose in certain immunocompromised individuals. 

Further, a new recommendation issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on August 13 is a critical step in ensuring that those most vulnerable to COVID-19, including patients with blood cancers, get as much protection as possible from COVID-19 vaccination. 

LLS has been a driving force behind making this decision happen. 

Thanks to citizen scientists who joined our National Patient Registry, we recently published the largest study to date in over 1,400 blood cancer patients showing that one in four of them fail to produce measurable antibodies to two doses of either Moderna or Pfizer vaccines. Our registry has been tracking antibody responses of over 40 patients who have already received a third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and we expect to share our results soon. 

Dr. Larry Saltzman, a blood cancer patient himself spoke at a pivotal meeting at the CDC to discuss the need for an additional vaccine dose for blood cancer patients. Dr. Gwen Nichols, LLS Chief Medical Officer also voiced support for a third vaccine dose on behalf of the 1.4 million people in the US living with or in remission from a blood cancer.

LLS is also providing funding support for a newly opened clinical trial at Montefiore Hospital that will measure booster antibody responses among patients with blood and other cancers who were seronegative after the standard vaccination schedule. Call 718-405-8404 for more information. 

Get Vaccinated, Act Unvaccinated.

Some blood cancer patients may not get optimal protection from the vaccines and may be more susceptible to infection after vaccination compared to the general public. Even after receiving a third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, patients with blood cancer should continue taking preventative precautions such as wearing a mask and social distancing.