Hematologic Cancers Increase COVID-19 Risk

Colin Powell

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell

On Monday, former Secretary of State Colin Powell died of complications from COVID-19. He was 84.

Secretary of State Powell had been battling multiple myeloma, a form of blood cancer. Hematologic cancers, also known as blood cancer, begin in blood-forming tissue, such as the bone marrow, or in the cells of the immune system. Leukemia and lymphoma are two more commonly known types of blood cancers.

Secretary of State Powell was also fighting early-stage Parkinson’s disease. Given his age and condition, Powell was considered high risk and immunocompromised. While fully vaccinated against COVID-19, he was too ill to receive his booster shot.

Research has shown that COVID-19 vaccines aren’t as effective in people with hematologic cancers and they continue to be at risk despite full vaccination. However, it is critically important that they have their vaccine and the booster to try to optimize their protection. It is also important that they continue to practice caution and follow all social distancing guidelines.

The CDC and the FDA have both recommended and approved booster shots for high-risk groups.

All MD Anderson Cancer Center at Cooper patients who are healthy enough to do so are encouraged to receive their COVID-19 vaccines – including their booster shot.

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