30th November 2020 // Laura Kerby
Over the weekend, we saw the good news that myeloma patients have been moved up the current priority list for a COVID-19 vaccine. Myeloma patients, as part of the clinically extremely vulnerable group who were asked to shield, are now at the same priority as people aged 70 and over.
On 24 November, I wrote to the UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock MP calling for myeloma patients to be given greater priority; highlighting the anomaly that younger myeloma patients were lower priority than the over 65 general population, who were not classed as being at even moderate risk.
We are glad that the UK Government has listened to our arguments and taken action to give myeloma patients higher priority.
This definitely feels like progress and it’s good to know that our ‘seat at the table’ is helping to make your voice count – but we’re still some way off from having the whole picture.
Crucially, we are still waiting for vaccines to be approved and, as our earlier blog set out, we still don’t know how safe and effective vaccines will be for myeloma patients.
We’re therefore pleased that adults living with myeloma patients will also get priority for a vaccine. This is another route to protecting myeloma and other clinically extremely vulnerable patients, while we continue to look for answers about how well vaccines work in people with compromised immune systems. We have been saying from the start of the pandemic that myeloma patients do not live their lives in isolation, so it’s good to see that message hit home.
Along with other cancer charities, we meet with the NHS England senior management team every few weeks to input on the strategy for tackling the pandemic. We are glad to be able to work in partnership with other blood cancer charities and through the Blood Cancer Alliance we feed into the NHS England Cancer Recovery Task Force, making sure that senior decision makers have the facts and understanding they need. We have similar links with Government in place within the devolved nations to make sure that we are having an impact across the UK.
The development and delivery of COVID-19 vaccines is a fluid and fast-moving situation and we will keep doing all we can, every step of the way, to keep you up to speed and make sure your needs are met.