The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada has been closely monitoring the deployment of the COVID-19 vaccine across Canada. Most provinces are prioritizing vaccinations for defined vulnerable populations including: Newfoundland & Labrador, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Ontario, Quebec, Alberta, Saskatchewan and British Columbia.
There is preliminary evidence (not peer reviewed) that suggests the immune response that occurs after the first dose of the vaccine in cancer patients is reduced when compared to the response in healthy individuals. That is why LLSC, together with Lymphoma Canada, Myeloma Canada and CLL Canada, have sent a letter to various health bodies and administrations across Canada to advocate on behalf of blood cancer patients regarding the prioritization and dose delays for the COVID-19 vaccine. These bodies include: Health Canada, National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI), provincial/territorial health ministers, chief medical officers, premiers, and cancer agencies.
In the letter, we have made three recommendations:
- Provincial and territorial ministries ensure that all blood cancer patients, cancer patients on active treatment, and immunocompromised survivors receive the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine according to the time supported by the product monograph indicated by clinical trial data (3 or 4 weeks) to ensure proper immune response
- The prioritization of all household caregivers or relatives of hematologic patients receiving immunosuppressive treatments to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. This will increase the protective environment for the patient against COVID-19 who may not be eligible to receive the vaccine due to treatment.
- Ensure a more rapid development of national guidelines and recommendations to include information for immunocompromised patients, including cancer patients, specific to cancer type and treatments, on the safety and efficacy of the vaccine based on new and available research.
The letter was endorsed by 27 clinicians on behalf of the six organizations listed at the top of this document. The following LLSC-Consulted Clinicians endorsed the letter:
Dr. Thai Hoa Tran, CHU Sainte Justine, Dr. Florian Kuchenbauer, BC Cancer Agency, & Dr. Jean-Sébastien Delisle, Hôpital Maisonneuve-Rosemont