Dr Steven Pergam Explains NCCN COVID-19 Update

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Steven Pergam, MD, MPH, director of infection prevention at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance and infectious disease physician at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, explains the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) update on COVID-19 vaccines and prevention.

Steven Pergam, MD, MPH, director of infection prevention at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance and infectious disease physician at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, explains the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) update on COVID-19 vaccines and prevention.

Transcript:

What are the most important takeaways from NCCN’s update on COVID-19 vaccines and prevention?

Yes, so there's a lot. Things change quite a bit and we hadn't had an update in a little while. A couple of changes were specifically addressing some of the vaccine changes that have come along in the past few months. One of those was that there is now a recommendation for an additional booster after the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. So we've made some updates specifically to address that. We've also addressed some questions around antibody testing, and whether or not to antibody test patients who are going through the vaccine process. We updated the new recommendations for children to get vaccinated in the lower age ranges, and we discussed an important aspect, which is this mix and match approach that was approved by the FDA and others where you don't necessarily have to get the same vaccine. We really were encouraging people to make sure that they're getting vaccinated and, if they had received the Johnson & Johnson or Pfizer, that it was possible to get another vaccine to complete your series.

Finally, the biggest news in CDC land was really sort of approving or sort of pushing that the mRNA vaccines are the primary selection, and that's primarily what we're recommending as the first choice of vaccines if it is possible for patients. The new addition that we added was related to a monoclonal antibody prevention, which is a new drug called Evusheld, which is made by AstraZeneca. It's a prophylaxis agent, so it's given for pre-exposure prophylaxis in really high-risk immunosuppressed patients. That's a drug that's like other monoclonals that have been given for treatment, but instead, it has a longer half-life—at least it’s reported to have a longer half-life—where patients can get this who might not respond as well to vaccines and are probably more protected against COVID-19 during that period after dosing. So we made some specific recommendations about groups that should be targeted for that particular therapy, and that's consistent with [National Institutes of Health] guidelines, which were recently just published.