Significant revisions to the NCCN: Cancer and COVID-19 Vaccination recommendations were announced today by the National Comprehensive Cancer Network® (NCCN®), a nonprofit collaboration of leading cancer centers.
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This is the fourth edition of the NCCN’s COVID-19 vaccination guidance, which includes the most up-to-date information as well as FDA and CDC clearances for a third mRNA vaccine dose for immunocompromised patients.
The NCCN COVID-19 Vaccination Advisory Committee is made up of interdisciplinary physicians with experience in infectious diseases, vaccine development and delivery, cancer management, and medical ethics from across NCCN’s Member Institutions. During the COVID-19 pandemic, cancer care clinicians all over the world used the guidelines to make management decisions based on all available information and expert consensus.
Based on the most recent FDA/CDC rulings, the following groups should be deemed eligible for a third dose of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccination immediately away, according to the NCCN recommendations:
- Patients with solid tumors (new or recurring) are treated within a year of receiving their first vaccine dose, regardless of the type of cancer therapy they are receiving.
- Patients with active hematologic malignancies, whether or not they are getting cancer treatment.
- Anyone who has had a stem cell transplant (SCT) or engineered cellular therapy (e.g. CAR T-cells) in the last two years is at risk.
- Any allogeneic SCT recipients who are on immunosuppressive medication or have a history of graft-versus-host disease (GvHD), regardless of transplant timing.
- Anyone who has an extra immunosuppressive condition (such as HIV) or is using immunosuppressive drugs that aren’t related to their cancer treatment.
The CDC recommends that people wait at least four weeks between the second and third doses, according to the report. Patients who develop COVID-19 despite initial immunization should not receive a third dose unless the virus has been verified as cleared.
The NCCN COVID-19 Vaccination Advisory Committee’s recommendations are aimed at doctors and other health-care professionals. The organisation also publishes a non-medical version for patients and caregivers; in the coming days, that guidance will be revised to incorporate information on the third dose. During the COVID-19 pandemic, cancer care clinicians around the world have used the guidelines to make management decisions based on all available information and expert consensus.
According to the panel, people who live in the same residence as immunocompromised people should obtain a third dose as soon as it becomes available. It’s better to obtain the same type of vaccine as the first two doses, but a different mRNA vaccine is also acceptable, according to the committee. To reduce their risk of exposure to the general population, immunocompromised patients should aim to receive their third dose in a health care delivery setting rather than a drugstore or public vaccination clinic if possible.
“That implies that even after receiving the third dose of vaccination, immunocompromised people—such as those undergoing cancer treatment—should remain careful, wear masks, and avoid big group meetings, especially around those who have not been vaccinated. To protect people around us from avoidable misery, we should all do our share to restrict the spread of COVID-19 and be vaccinated.”
The NCCN COVID-19 Vaccination Advisory Committee’s recommendations are aimed at doctors and other healthcare professionals. The organization also publishes a non-medical version for patients and caregivers; in the coming days, that guidance will be revised to incorporate information on the third dose.
Both versions of the vaccination recommendations, as well as a statement supporting COVID-19 vaccine mandates for the healthcare workforce and other free resources on cancer treatment during the pandemic, are available at NCCN.org/covid-19.
The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to fighting cancer.