How Do These Vaccines Work
The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines contain messenger RNA , which is a type of genetic material. After a person receives the vaccine, the mRNA enters cells in the body and tells them to make copies of the COVID-19 viruss spike protein . This doesnt cause disease, but it does help teach the immune system to act against the virus if the body is exposed to it in the future.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine contains an adenovirus , which has been changed in the lab so that it contains the gene for the COVID-19 viruss spike protein. Once the adenovirus enters cells in the body, this gene tells the cells to make copies of the spike protein. This triggers the immune system to recognize and attack the COVID-19 virus if the body is exposed to it in the future. The adenovirus in this vaccine is not a live virus because it has been changed so that it can no longer reproduce in the body .
You cannot get COVID-19 from any of these vaccines, as they do not contain the virus that causes COVID-19.
Some vaccines for other diseases contain changed versions of the live viruses that cause the diseases. These live viruses dont cause problems in people with normal immune systems. But they might not be safe for people with weakened immune systems, so live virus vaccines typically are not recommended for cancer patients. However, the COVID-19 vaccines available in the US do not contain these types of live viruses.
Before Having Pneumococcal Vaccine
Before you are given pneumococcal vaccine, make sure your doctor knows:
- If you have been unwell recently, or if you have a high temperature .
- If you have previously had an allergic reaction to a vaccine or to any other medicine.
- If you have a condition that makes you bleed more than is normal, such as haemophilia.
- If you have a weakened immune system. This may be a result of an illness or taking medicines.
- If you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
- If you are taking any other medicines. This includes any medicines you are taking which are available to buy without a prescription, as well as herbal and complementary medicines.
Who Should Not Get The Vaccine
People should not get the vaccine if they have had a life threatening allergic reaction to a previous dose.
Additionally, a person should not undergo vaccination if they have had an allergic reaction to medication containing diphtheria toxoid or an earlier form of the pneumonia vaccination .
Lastly, people who are sick or have allergic reactions to any of the ingredients of the vaccine should talk to a doctor before getting the shot.
A pneumonia shot will not reduce pneumonia. However, it helps prevent invasive pneumococcal diseases, such as meningitis, endocarditis, empyema, and bacteremia, which is when bacteria enter the bloodstream.
Noninvasive pneumococcal disease includes sinusitis.
There are two types of pneumonia shots available. Which type a person gets depends on their age, whether or not they smoke, and the presence of any underlying medical conditions.
The two types are:
- Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine : Healthcare providers recommend this vaccine for young children, people with certain underlying conditions, and some people over the age of 65 years.
- Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine : Healthcare providers recommend this vaccine for anyone over 65 years of age, people with certain underlying conditions, and people who smoke.
According to the
- roughly 8 in 10 babies from invasive pneumococcal disease
- 45 in 100 adults 65 years or older against pneumococcal pneumonia
- 75 in 100 adults 65 years or older against invasive pneumococcal disease
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Can Other Medicines Lower Risk As Well
For people with moderately to severely weakened immune systems , the FDA has authorized a combination of the monoclonal antibodies tixagevimab and cilgavimab to help lower the risk of COVID-19 infection. These medicines can be used in people who do not have COVID-19 and who have not recently been exposed to the virus. Its important to note that they are meant to be given in addition to, not instead of getting the vaccine.
For more information, see Can other medicines lower the risk of COVID-19 infection? in Common Questions About the COVID-19 Outbreak.
If you are concerned about your risk of COVID-19 even after being fully vaccinated, its important to talk to your doctor about your immune status and if you should get additional doses of the vaccine, as well as what else you can do to help lower your risk of infection.
Is It Ok For Cancer Caregivers To Get The Vaccine
Yes. In fact, getting the vaccine can help lower the risk that the person youre caring for might get COVID-19.
Some vaccines for other diseases contain changed versions of the live viruses that cause the diseases. These types of live virus vaccines typically are not recommended for cancer caregivers because they might have unwanted effects on cancer patients. However, the available COVID-19 vaccines do not contain these types of live viruses, so getting one of these vaccines does not put you at risk for passing COVID-19 on to the person youre caring for.
Its important to know that if you do get a COVID-19 vaccine and are later exposed to the virus, its not yet clear if the vaccine will prevent you from infecting someone else .
For people who are fully vaccinated , the CDC has guidance on things you can now do , as well as what types of precautions you should still be taking. The CDC also has guidance on who might be eligible for a third dose or booster dose of the vaccines. This guidance is being updated regularly, so check the CDC website for details. The CDC guidance may not apply if you have a weakened immune system , so its important to talk a health care provider about which precautions you still need to take.
People getting the vaccine might not feel well for a few days after each shot, so it might make sense to have someone else available to help with caregiving during this time.
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Vaccination Of Infants Children And Adults 65 Years Or Older
CDC recommends routine administration of pneumococcal conjugate vaccine for all children younger than 2 years of age:
- Give PCV13 to infants as a series of 4 doses, one dose at each of these ages: 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, and 12 through 15 months.
- Children who miss their shots or start the series later should still get the vaccine. The number of doses recommended and the intervals between doses will depend on the childs age when vaccination begins.
CDC recommends routine administration of pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine for all adults 65 years or older. In addition, CDC recommends PCV13 based on shared clinical decision-making for adults 65 years or older who do not have an immunocompromising condition, cerebrospinal fluid leak, or cochlear implant and have never received a dose of PCV13. Clinicians should consider discussing PCV13 vaccination with these patients to decide if vaccination might be appropriate. See Pneumococcal Vaccination: Summary of Who and When to Vaccinate for CDC guidance for shared clinical decision-making.
Date Released: 01/31/2020
When To See A Doctor
A person who is over 65 years of age should talk to their doctor about which pneumonia vaccine may be best for them. The doctor can help determine whether they should get the vaccination, which vaccination to get, and when to get it.
Parents and caregivers of young children should talk to a pediatrician about the schedule for the pneumonia vaccination. The pediatrician can also address any questions or concerns about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccination.
A person does not need to see a doctor for mild reactions to the vaccine, such as tenderness at the injection site, fever, or fatigue.
However, if a person experiences any life threatening side effects, they should seek emergency help immediately.
Signs and symptoms of allergic reactions in children may include:
- respiratory distress, such as wheezing
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Do I Have To Get The Same Vaccine For My Booster Dose
No, not necessarily. For people 18 years of age or older, the CDC allows for mixing and matching of vaccine doses for booster shots.
If you are concerned about your risk of COVID-19 even after being fully vaccinated, its important to talk to your doctor about whether you should get additional doses of the vaccine, as well as what else you can do to help lower your risk of infection.
What Can I Do To Avoid Getting Covid
Three vaccines have received emergency use authorization from the FDA, and one of those has received formal FDA approval for ages 16 and up. Data collection from clinical trials to test the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines are still ongoing. These trials will give scientists valuable information that can help patients and the general public in the long run. If you would like to participate in a COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial, ClinicalTrials.gov has a full listing of available studies.
The most important way to protect yourself is to be vaccinated against COVID-19. If you are not vaccinated, stay at home as much as possible and avoid areas where people gather. Follow guidance on travel restrictions issued by the CDC or the World Health Organization .
On December 8, 2021, the FDA issued an emergency use authorization to Evusheld, a monoclonal antibody treatment containing tixagevimab and cilgavimab, for the prevention of COVID-19. Evusheld is for use in children 12 and older and adults who are in a high-risk category. This authorization only applies to individuals who are not currently infected by the virus and have not been recently exposed to someone who tested positive. This drug is authorized for people who have:
- a moderate to severely compromised immune system, or
- a history of severe adverse reaction to a COVID-19 vaccine and who are unable to receive the complete vaccination series
In addition to washing your hands frequently, its important to:
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Flu Shots For Older Adults
Some older adults may have a weaker immune response to flu vaccines. This can make them more likely to get sick with flu or flu complications even when vaccinated.
Two vaccines are designed to create a stronger immune response in people who are 65 or older
- The high-dose flu vaccine contains four times the amount of antigen as the regular flu shot.
- The adjuvanted flu vaccine contains an additive that can create a stronger immune response to vaccination.
Hospital Acquired Infections And Mrsa
When you are going through cancer treatment, it’s also helpful to be aware of hospital-acquired infections. Check out these tips for preventing hospital-acquired infections to avoid being one of the 1.7 million Americans who are affected by these infections each year. And if you’re scratching your head wondering why you’ve been asked a dozen times if you have MRSA, learn about what a MRSA infection really is.
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Who Else Should Get The Pneumococcal Vaccination
For adults, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends pneumococcal vaccination for:
Anyone 65 years of age and older
Adults with any of these health conditions:
Chronic illnesses such as lung, heart, liver or kidney disease asthma diabetes or alcoholism
Conditions that weaken the immune system cochlear implants or cerebro-spinal fluid leaks asplenia
Adults who smoke cigarettes
Are There Any Treatments Available For Covid
There are no cures for COVID-19. Scientists continue to work hard to develop and test treatments for COVID-19. Clinical trials are research studies that involve people. Clinical trials for potential COVID-19 treatments are now open in many locations in the United States and in other countries. If you have been diagnosed with the coronavirus disease and you join a clinical trial for patients with COVID-19, you may be able to receive these medications. Also, by joining a clinical trial, your participation will help scientists find the most effective and safe treatment for the illness. The NCI COVID-19 in Cancer Patients Study and a study at Stanford, for example, are designed to collect symptoms from people who may have COVID-19 to help researchers learn the course of the disease and help find a treatment.
For people with cancer and COVID-19 that is not severe, monoclonal antibodies may be helpful in reducing the chances that the illness becomes severe and reducing the need for hospitalization. The combination of casirivimab and imdevimab was given FDA emergency use authorization in November 2020. The combination of bamlanivimab and etesevimab , another intravenous monoclonal antibody therapy, was also originally given emergency use authorization for the treatment of mild to moderate COVID-19.
However, the authorizations for both combinations were modified in January 2022 to prohibit their use in the United States because of their ineffectiveness against the omicron variant.
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Are There Special Precautions That People With Cancer Should Take
People with cancer, people who are in active cancer treatment, older patients, and people with other serious chronic medical conditions, such as lung disease, diabetes, or heart disease, are at higher risk for the more severe form of COVID-19 that could lead to death. Studies have shown that people with active or progressing cancer may be at higher risk than those whose cancer is in remission. The same rules apply for people with cancer as for those without cancer: Be sure to wash your hands well. Avoid touching your face, and avoid close contact with people who are sick.
People who are at higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19 should think carefully about non-essential travel during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially if the travel will involve areas with high or increasing rates of COVID-19. This is especially important for people who have not yet been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. If you are not vaccinated, stay at home to reduce your exposure to the virus, practice physical distancing, and avoid social gatherings, including smaller gatherings with family or friends who don’t live with you. Wear a face covering or mask, and make your trip out as brief as possible. If you have been vaccinated and live in an area with low COVID-19 transmission rates, you are able to return to normal activities. In places with high or increasing rates of COVID-19, masking is still important. Always follow local government guidelines for masking and social distancing.
What Vaccinations Should Blood Cancer Patients Have
The most beneficial vaccinations for immunocompromised patients are against the influenza virus , Streptococcus pneumoniae and hepatitis B virus. For all patients who are not on active treatment, the yearly flu vaccine is recommended.
If youre travelling abroad at any point, then you may be required to have other vaccinations. It is important that you speak with your medical term before receiving any to make sure that it is safe for you to have them, or if there is an alternative.
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How The Vaccine Is Given
- Before you are given the vaccine, ask to read the manufacturer’s printed information leaflet. The manufacturer’s leaflet will give you more information about the vaccine and will tell you about any side-effects which you may experience from having it. If you have any questions about the vaccine, ask your doctor or nurse for advice.
- You will be given one dose of the vaccine. It may be given at the same time as some other vaccines, such as the flu vaccine, but it will be given as a separate injection.
- Most adults over 65 will be given a single, one-off dose of pneumococcal vaccine. Some people with kidney problems or immune system problems may need a ‘booster’ dose every five years. Your doctor will advise you on this.
- The vaccine is given by injection into a muscle, or as an injection underneath your skin.
What If I Have Breast Cancer Or A History Of Breast Cancer
Some people who get a COVID-19 vaccine might have swollen lymph nodes under the arm in which the injection was given . Because a swollen lymph node under the arm can also be a sign of breast cancer spread, most doctors recommend that people with breast cancer or a history of breast cancer get the injection in the arm on the opposite side of your breast cancer. For example, if your breast cancer/breast surgery was in the left breast, it is probably best to get the injection in the right arm. If you have had surgery on both breasts, its best to talk with your doctor about the best place on your body to get the injection.
Swollen lymph nodes after a vaccine injection might also have an effect on your mammogram results.
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Should Cancer Patients And Survivors Get The Vaccine
Many expert medical groups recommend that most people with cancer or a history of cancer get the COVID-19 vaccine once its available to them. This includes people who have already had COVID-19.
The main concern about getting the vaccine is not whether its safe for people with cancer, but about how effective it will be, especially in people with weakened immune systems. Some cancer treatments like chemotherapy , radiation, stem cell or bone marrow transplant, or immunotherapy can affect the immune system, which might make the vaccine less effective. People with certain types of cancers, like leukemias or lymphomas, can also have weakened immune systems which might make the vaccine less effective.
Although we dont have specific information yet on how effective the vaccines might be in people being treated for cancer, its possible that the vaccines might not be as effective in people with weakened immune systems as compared to people with healthy immune systems. Despite this, experts still recommend that most cancer patients get the vaccine because those with a fragile immune system are at risk for severe COVID-19 disease, so getting even some protection from the vaccine is better than not having any protection. For people with a weakened immune system who are fully vaccinated , the CDC also has recommendations on getting an additional dose of COVID-19 vaccine. See Should I get a COVID-19 vaccine booster?