The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) has issued updated recommendations for COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters for immunosuppressed patients. The new recommendations also include information on the use of the recently approved bivalent COVID-19 booster vaccines, which protect against both the Omicron variant of the virus and the original SARS-CoV-2 virus.
COVID-19 Boosters for Immunosuppressed Patients
The updated guidelines feature new explanations for patients should be considered immunosuppressed. The guidelines state that a patient is considered immunosuppressed if they:
- Are receiving treatment for tumors or blood cancer or have had cancer treatment in the past year
- Have had an organ or stem cell transplant or take immune system suppressant medication for a different condition
- Have an immunodeficiency condition or an advanced or untreated HIV infection
- Take high-dose corticosteroids or other drugs that suppress immune system response
Immunosuppressed patients who have already received a two- or three-dose primary series can receive a bivalent booster if they are over 12 years old for Pfizer, and at least 18 years old for Moderna.
The bivalent boosters have been shown to increase immune response against the Omicron virus variant in those with full immune system capacity. However, the NCCN notes that they are still waiting for data on the effectiveness of the bivalent booster for immunosuppressed individuals.
COVID-19 Boosters for Immunosuppressed Pediatric Patients
For immunosuppressed patients between the ages of 6 months and 17 years old, the NCCN recommends the Moderna mRNA vaccine. The COVID-19 vaccine is recommended for anyone over the age of 6 months, especially if they are immunosuppressed. Immunosuppressed children who weigh under 90 pounds or who are younger than 12 years old cannot receive monoclonal antibody treatment. Therefore, it is equally important for family members and caregivers of immunosuppressed children to receive the COVID-19 vaccines and boosters as well.