13 July 2021

Many patients with blood cancers are likely to find new-found freedoms restricted when COVID rules are lifted this month, a charity has warned.

Blood Cancer UK’s warnings come amid concern that vaccination is not as effective for patients with weakened immune systems as other people.

Yesterday it issued a message, referring to 19 July and stating: “It will be the day that it feels like freedoms are being taken away from them. We know the next few weeks will be difficult for lots of people in our community. We want to do everything we can to support you through it.”

The charity said many patients had enjoyed recent liftings of restrictions and reopening of hospitality venues, adding: “The reason many of you have felt able to do this is that the people around you have been keeping their distance and wearing masks. If people aren’t doing these after the rules are lifted, then July 19 won’t be freedom day for some people with blood cancer in England.”

The charity has warned that many patients have not been told that the COVID vaccine may not work for them. In a survey of more than 1,000 people, most said they had not received specific guidance about the interaction of the vaccine with their condition.

Chief executive Gemma Peters said: “Over the last few months of research that we have funded, we have shown that many blood cancers and treatments have a significant impact on vaccine response. So, I am really worried that many people with blood cancer have not yet been told this, and so cannot make informed decisions to better protect themselves even after their second jab.

“The Government needs to communicate with every immunocompromised person to tell them that they are at risk, and to make this lifesaving message a key part of its communications. Given the rising infection rate, failing to act quickly could result in unnecessary deaths.”

The charity’s views were backed by Professor Adele Fielding, president of the British Society for Haematology.

Professor Fielding said: “Vaccines are often less effective in patients with blood cancers, due to both their disease or their treatment. The COVID vaccines are no exception. They may offer much more limited protection to some patients with blood cancers and it is important that there is widespread awareness of this among patients, their families, and their healthcare teams.”

Source: Blood Cancer UK


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