March 29, 2021
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada is actively monitoring the prioritization of COVID-19 vaccinations for people affected by blood cancers. The situation is in flux as provinces are revisiting and, in some cases, amending their priority access recommendations for vulnerable populations.
Newfoundland & Labrador, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Ontario, Quebec, Alberta, Saskatchewan and British Columbia have prioritized vaccinations in the April – June timeframe for defined vulnerable populations. Given the evolving nature of this process across provincial health authorities, LLSC will continue to closely monitor changes in priority status as we enter into the next phase of vaccinations to ensure equitable access for all people affected by blood cancers across Canada.
While the COVID-19 vaccines are approved for general use, people with cancer and compromised immune systems were not included in the COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials. This vulnerable population is believed to be at greater risk of serious complications should they contract the virus which is why Health Canada advises that people affected by blood cancers consult with their attending physician before being vaccinated.
It’s essential for Canadians affected by a blood cancer and their caregivers to remain vigilant and follow appropriate precautions to minimize exposure risk as:
- they may not get optimal protection from the vaccines
- they may be more susceptible to COVID-19 infections after vaccination compared to the general public [see recent UK study here]
Until we can get the data necessary to determine which groups are affected, it is recommended that Canadians affected by a blood cancer and their caregivers:
- Continue to take preventive measures such as wearing masks, social distancing, and handwashing
- discuss recommended precautions with their oncologist or other healthcare providers
Moving forward, we are aligned with our US affiliate, the Leukemia and lymphoma Society’s (LLS), recently launched, National Patient Registry. The purpose of the registry is to improve understanding of how people with different blood cancers respond to COVID-19 and the vaccines. The data will be used to guide decisions regarding vaccination strategies and timing for optimal protection. We will share results as soon as they are available.
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada is committed to supporting and advocating for the blood cancer community and will continue to monitor the rollout of COVID-19 vaccinations.
If you received a stem cell transplant or CAR T cell therapy, read the position statement of Cell therapy transplant Canada here.