By Jennifer Ahlstrom | Posted - May 26th, 2020





ASCO 2020: Are Myeloma Patients Getting the Right Vaccinations?

Vaccines are the first line of prevention for infectious diseases. This is key for myeloma patients because infection is a major cause of death in myeloma. Multiple myeloma patients are more at risk for infection due to the disease itself and potentially due to a depresssed immune system because of myeloma treatment.

Michael Thompson, MD, PhD of Advocate Aurora Health in collaboration with the Myeloma Crowd and the HealthTree platform published data at the ASCO 2020 conference showing real world data of up to 500 myeloma patients. Patients were asked about their vaccination status for a variety of vaccines. 

Have you ever been vaccinated in the last 5 years with a pneumococcal vaccine (PV)?


After you began myeloma treatment, did you ever receive the anti-Varicella Zoster Virus (VZV, shingles) vaccine?


In the last 3 flu seasons, have you received the influenza vaccine (FV)?


Were you (or are you currently) treated with anti-viral drugs?


Were you (or are you currently) treated with antibiotic bactrim?


Were you (or are you currently) treated with levofloxacin prior to stem cell transplant or at the beginning of your MM therapy?

Dr. Thompson found that myeloma patients in HealthTree had high use of the flu and pneumonia vaccines when compared to healthy individuals in a large system and global registry

The majority of myeloma patients did not receive a shingles vaccine, which was surprising. A few patients recieved the live shingles vaccine (which is not recommended for myeloma patients). Patients should ask their doctor if they should receive the dead version of the shingles vaccine. 

The antibiotic levofloxacin was used in a minority of patients. 

The use of anti-viral medications was common, but not universal.

Dr. Thompson notes that using an online portal like HealthTree can help investigators learn from real-world data in the patient community and result in the development of new hypotheses and research questions. 

First Author: Michael A. Thompson, MD, PhD, FASCO

Meeting: 2020 ASCO Virtual Scientific Program

Session Title: Publication Only: Hematologic Malignancies—Plasma Cell Dyscrasia

Track: Hematologic Malignancies—Plasma Cell Dyscrasia, Subtrack: Multiple Myeloma, Abstract #: e20567

Citation: J Clin Oncol 38: 2020 (suppl; abstr e20567), DOI: 10.1200/JCO.2020.38.15_suppl.e20567

Jennifer Ahlstrom
About the Author

Jennifer Ahlstrom - Myeloma survivor, patient advocate, wife, mom of 6. Believer that patients can help accelerate a cure by weighing in and participating in clinical research. Founder of Myeloma Crowd by HealthTree and the HealthTree Foundation.


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dj - Dave accidentially took the shingrix shot this year tho he's been on acyclovir for 7 yrs. Had a bad reaction! Wish this article would have explained more about who and why should patients take bactrim and what are anti viral drugs? Also why not just get the shingrix shot and NOT have to continuously take acyclovir?

Reply from Jennifer - These are very good questions. I will send them to our HealthTree University team who is building a curriculum on vaccinations for that course. We now have over 66 MM docs who have contributed to these cl***es and it's an amazing resource. (



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