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Household members of people with blood cancer should be a priority for vaccines

20th Jan 2021

Today we call on the Government to protect people with blood cancer from the coronavirus by prioritising the vaccine for adults who live with them.

At the moment, household members of the 200,000 people with blood cancer who are clinically extremely vulnerable are not on the priority list. This is because there is not yet good data on whether the vaccines prevent transmission, and so we can't be sure that vaccinating members of a household will help protect the people they live with.

But one of the reasons the Government is prioritising healthcare workers is the hope that this will help prevent them passing the virus on to their vulnerable patients.

Today we have written to Health Secretary Matt Hancock and Vaccine Deployment Minister Nadhim Zahawi to make the case for taking the same approach to household members of people with blood cancer, and called for them to be added to the priority list.

Why is this so important?

Blood cancer (which includes leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma) increases risk from the coronavirus by more than almost any other health condition.

People with blood cancer often have compromised immune systems, and vaccines do not usually work as well on people with weaker immune systems.

That's why vaccinating adults who live with people with blood cancer could be an important way of protecting them.

Gemma Peters, Chief Executive for Blood Cancer UK, said: “We are not suggesting adults living with someone with blood cancer should be as high a priority as healthcare workers. But it is clearly wrong that a 40-year-old who lives with someone with leukaemia is no higher a priority than a 40-year-old who lives on their own.

“We know that people with blood cancer are extremely vulnerable to the coronavirus, and that one of the big risks to them is members of their household bringing it into the home. While we are not yet certain that vaccinating household members will protect people with blood cancer, there is enough reason to hope that they will for us to act now to change the priority list.

“So until the Government changes the priority list to make household members of people with blood cancer a higher priority, it could be putting many people with blood cancer at unnecessary risk even after they have had the vaccine.”

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