Ask the Doctor Question:
I am writing to ask for your advice regarding obtaining a third COVID vaccine dose. The “CDC recommends that people with moderately to severely compromised immune systems receive an additional dose of mRNA COVID-19 vaccine at least 28 days after a second dose of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.” However, my hematologist (here in Albany) informed me that I had to wait 8 months after my second shot in order to obtain my booster shot. She said that although CDC writes 28 days, the FDA recommendation is that this is only for severely immunocompromised, and I am only considered as such if I am currently in treatment.
Answer: You should absolutely get your booster asap. We wrote this official statement so that you could print it off and take it either to your local drugstore or your physician. Unfortunately, CLL is a rare blood cancer and even the CDC got their criteria wrong by making one of their qualifications “cancer patients in active treatment.” Most cancers don’t have a watch and wait period like we do, nor are all people with cancer immunocompromised by default like those with CLL are. So, this was a major oversight. That’s why we created this statement.
We have had anecdotal reports of many just walking into their local pharmacies and being able to get the booster with no questions asked. But we have had several also say that their non-CLL specialists are following the CDC criteria to a “T” and are telling them they are not qualified.
All of that to say, please advocate for yourself and get your booster asap. We are also hearing of many reports where CLL patients had zero antibody response to the first two vaccines, and with the booster they have had an incredibly successful response.
And last, but not least, please make sure you have a COVID Action Plan in place just in case you were to have known exposure or test positive at any point in the future. We created several checklists that you can fill out so you can be prepared. It’s important to figure out ahead of time where exactly you will go for early monoclonal antibody therapy as well as many other steps you would need to take. You can find the plan here and either print the documents out or keep them in a file on your computer.