DIPG and Vaccination

The COVID-19 vaccine is here! In December, the first COVID-19 vaccine was approved by the FDA.  Pfizer and Moderna were the first two-dose vaccines to be approved and have been rolled out to every state in the US. These two vaccines are made with mRNA which means that they need to be refrigerated at extremely cold temperatures (around 2 ℃).  The Johnson and Johnson vaccine was also recently approved and is a one-time dose. This is a vaccine made with DNA and so it only needs to be stored at typical refrigerator temperatures (around 20 ℃).  All of these vaccines have been through an extensive period of testing and create antibodies against the COVID-19 virus. These are all exciting options for immunity and have great efficacy rates! They are highly effective and have very limited side effects.

With the promise of vaccination, the US population is beginning to remember what life used to look like.  It takes about 2 weeks to gain top immunity after the last injection and world health organizations believe that it is safe for small groups of fully vaccinated individuals to be in the same space together without masks! Every state has different eligibility requirements for the vaccine, but we are slowly seeing elderly individuals, frontline workers, and those with chronic health conditions being protected.  After this group, different people will become eligible based on their age and occupation.  Hopefully, we will begin to see local health officials changing policies and reopening schools and businesses.  Travel restrictions and mask mandates are still very important and in place for everyone’s health and safety.  Hope can be seen in the future and soon we might be able to hug our family and friends again!

DIPG typically affects children.  The scientists who have created this vaccine are amazing and have made an immense contribution to society with this discovery.  They have performed many trials to ensure the vaccine is safe.  Currently, the vaccine is safe for people 16 years of age and older.  The vaccine has not been tested yet in children.  There are currently clinical trials that are testing the efficacy and safety for children younger than 16.  The good news is that children are one of the lowest risk groups. They have the lowest chance of contracting COVID-19 and the highest rates of recovery if they do get the virus.  State and federal government officials have revealed goals for opening schools this Spring and in the Fall.  Although kids may have to wear masks, in-person school and summer camps are a real possibility in the near future.

Treatment for DIPG includes radiation and clinical trials.  This is something that may concern people who are thinking about vaccination.  Scientists and doctors have said that the COVID-19 vaccine is safe for most people receiving cancer treatment.  If you have DIPG or another type of cancer, you can likely still get the vaccine safely.  It may be even more important for these individuals! When you are immunocompromised, the COVID-19 virus can have more detrimental effects than for those with stronger immune systems.  Your body’s immune system is not able to effectively fight the infection and it can lead to more serious symptoms including respiratory issues.  Caretakers, parents, and guardians of kids going through DIPG or cancer treatment should also receive the COVID-19 vaccine when possible.  You can protect your child from contracting COVID-19 by significantly reducing your chance of getting the virus.

*A physician should be contacted with any questions or concerns about the COVID-19 vaccine and potential risks.

By Grace Ison

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