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COVID-19 Vaccines: Safe for Immunocompromised Patients?

Coronavirus vaccines have become a reality, as they are now being approved and authorized for use in a growing number of countries including the United States. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has just issued emergency authorization for the use of the COVID-19 vaccine produced by Pfizer and BioNTech. Close behind is the vaccine developed by Moderna, which has also applied to the FDA for emergency authorization.

The efficacy of a two-dose administration of the vaccine has been pegged at 95.0%, and the FDA has said that the 95% credible interval for the vaccine efficacy was 90.3%-97.6%. But as with many initial clinical trials, whether for drugs or vaccines, not all populations were represented in the trial cohort, including individuals who are immunocompromised. At the current time, it is largely unknown how safe or effective the vaccine may be in this large population, many of whom are at high risk for serious COVID-19 complications.

At a special session held during the recent annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology, Anthony Fauci, MD, the nation's leading infectious disease expert, said that individuals with compromised immune systems, whether because of chemotherapy or a bone marrow transplant, should plan to be vaccinated when the opportunity arises.

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