Ask The Nurse // 5th August 2022
With summer in full swing and more opportunities for socialising, many people are looking for ways to strike the right balance between protecting themselves from COVID-19 and looking after their mental wellbeing.
We have created a roundup of the myeloma-specific COVID-19 support available to you to ensure you have the latest information and advice about COVID-19 and to help you live life to the fullest.
Five COVID-19 vaccine doses for myeloma patients or people with weakened immune systems
You can still get vaccinated even though the spring booster programme has ended.
Myeloma patients, and people with weakened immune systems, so far, should have received a total of five vaccinations:
- Three primary doses of COVID-19 vaccines.
- A first booster at least three months after receiving the third primary dose.
- A second booster (spring booster) three to six months after receiving the first booster.
If you are a myeloma patient or someone with a weakened immune system, have had fewer than five doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, and it’s been more than three months since your previous dose, you should have another.
Contact your GP or healthcare team, or call 119 to arrange your booster vaccine appointment.
The autumn 2022 COVID-19 booster programme is just around the corner
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation has published its final recommendations for the autumn 2022 COVID-19 vaccine programme.
Under the advice, those eligible for a further booster in the autumn will include:
- All adults over 50.
- People aged 5 to 49 years in a clinical risk group, including.
- People with myeloma and related conditions..
- People who have received high-dose therapy and stem cell transplantation (HDT-SCT) in the past 24 months.
- People on treatments that weaken their immune system.
- People aged 5 to 49 years who live with a myeloma patient or someone with a weakened immune system.
For myeloma patients and people with weakened immune systems, this will be their third booster (sixth dose).
The NHS has not yet announced when and how people will be able to book appointments for their next booster.
The autumn booster programme is expected to begin in September 2022. We continue to monitor the guidance and will provide updated advice when further information is available.
COVID-19 treatments available for myeloma, smouldering myeloma, and AL amyloidosis patients
Myeloma and smouldering myeloma patients can access COVID-19 treatments if they test positive for COVID-19.
AL amyloidosis patients who are either receiving treatment or recovering from high-dose therapy and stem cell transplantation will also have the option to access these treatments if they test positive for COVID-19.
If you struggle to access COVID-19 treatments, you can give your healthcare team our letter to inform them of your eligibility for COVID-19 treatments.
Read our interview with Ellen Watters, Myeloma Information Specialist, in Ask the Expert: how to access COVID-19 treatments at home to find out more information on eligibility and accessing treatments.
Deciding what is right for you
There is no right or wrong way to manage the risk of COVID-19, and some people will find it easier than others to know what they are comfortable doing. Here are our top tips to help you decide what is right for you:
Focus on what you can control – you can control your routine, who you see and what you do, and small changes to these can make a big difference to your wellbeing.
Plan ahead – you are in control of where and when you go somewhere and who you meet. You can plan to meet at quieter times or in more open, outdoor places.
Understand your level of risk – every patient will have a different level of risk depending on their health, the stage of their myeloma and their vaccination status. Talk to your healthcare team about your level of risk and if there are any reasons you should be particularly careful.
Get back to basics – make sure you are getting vaccines when offered, washing your hands regularly, and opening windows and doors if you are meeting people indoors. You could also wear a facemask if it makes you feel more comfortable.
Considering your options at work
If you are worried about your health or safety at work, your employer should carry out a workplace risk assessment. Following this, they should make the necessary adjustments to your workplace to protect you.
In the UK, by law, your employer must look after your health and safety.
As someone with myeloma or a related condition, you are protected by disability and discrimination laws, even if you are in remission.
If you are worried about going to work, try speaking to your occupational health service, health and safety representative or human resources team. You can also get advice from your workplace union, Citizen’s Advice, or ACAS.
Need to talk? We’re here for you
Check out our COVID-19 information hub to learn more about COVID-19 and myeloma.