The short answer is that we don’t have any solid data on the performance of Covid-19 among immunocompromised (IC) patients at this time because the large trials used to clear the available vaccines for FDA Emergency Use Authorization essentially excluded IC subjects (1,2).
However, despite a potentially blunted response, the immunogenicity of the Covid-19 vaccine may be sufficient to reduce the risk of serious disease. The CDC and the American Society of Clinical Oncologists support Covid-19 vaccination of IC patients as long as there are no contraindications and patients are counseled about the uncertainty in vaccine efficacy and safety in this particular population (3,4).
For patients undergoing treatment for cancer, the ASCO believes that Covid-19 vaccine may be offered in the absence of any contraindications. To reduce the risk of Covid-19 while retaining vaccine efficacy, it recommends that the vaccine be given between cycles of therapy and after “appropriate waiting periods” for those receiving stem cell transplants and immunoglobulin therapy (4).
Previous experience with pneumococcal and influenza vaccine in IC patients have reported frequent suboptimal immunological response (2). Concomitant treatment with infliximab or other immunomodulatory drugs have had a negative impact on seroconversion after influenza vaccination. Similarly, in patients with Crohn’s on immunosuppressives, immune response to polysaccharide pneumococcal vaccine has been blunted (2).
Nevertheless, the benefits of vaccination may still outweigh any risks of adverse events in this population. In fact, the CDC routine vaccination schedule for adults includes immunocompromised patients (5).
At this time, given the seriousness of the Covid-19 pandemic and higher risk of severe disease among many IC patients, offering Covid-19 vaccine to these patients (with aforementioned caveats) seems prudent.
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- Kumar A, Quraishi MN, Segal JP, et al. Covid-19 vaccinations in patients with inflammatory bowel disease. Lancet 2020;4:965-6. https://www.thelancet.com/journals/langas/article/PIIS2468-1253(20)30295-8/fulltext
- Polack FP, Thomas SJ, Ktichin N, et al. Safety and efficacy of the BNT162b2 mRNA Covid-19 vaccine. N Engl J Med 2020;383:2603-15. https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa2034577
- Interim clinical considerations for use of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines currently authorized in the United States. https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/covid-19/info-by-product/clinical-considerations.html. Accessed Feb 14, 2021.
- American Society of Clinical Oncologists. Covid-19 vaccine and patients with cancer.. https://www.asco.org/asco-coronavirus-resources/covid-19-patient-care-information/covid-19-vaccine-patients-cancer Accessed Feb 14, 2021
- CDC. Immunization schedules. https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules/hcp/imz/adult.html Accessed Feb 14, 2021.
Disclosures: The listed questions and answers are solely the responsibility of the author and do not necessarily represent the official views of Mercy healthcare centers, or its contributors. Although every effort has been made to provide accurate information, the author is far from being perfect. The reader is urged to verify the content of the material with other sources as deemed appropriate and exercise clinical judgment in the interpretation and application of the information provided herein. No responsibility for an adverse outcome or guarantees for a favorable clinical result is assumed by the author. Thank you!