Dear A-T Families,
We wanted to share with you some expert advice we have received about the vaccinations that our families should receive.
The flu season is coming, and now is the time to get the flu vaccine. Howard Lederman, MD, PhD – an immunologist and the Director of the A-T Clinical Center at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland – recommends that all people with A-T receive the injected (killed) influenza (flu) vaccine every fall. (Please note that the nasal spray flu vaccine contains live virus and should not be used for people with A-T but can be used for other members of the household.) Dr. Lederman recommends the flu vaccine even for people receiving gamma globulin therapy, because 1) the flu strains change from year to year, 2) there isn’t always a large amount of antibody to a circulating strain in gamma globulin, and 3) the vaccine may stimulate the production of antibody or another part of the immune system.
Everyone with A-T should receive an initial 2-shot series of an mRNA vaccine to COVID-19 and an annual booster vaccine. (COVID-19 vaccine should not be given within 3 to 4 months of a COVID-19 infection.) The COVID-19 vaccine should even be given to people receiving gamma globulin therapy because the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines may cause the production of antibody even in people who do not respond to other vaccines. In addition, the mRNA vaccines are an effective way to immunize T cells.
Dr. Lederman does not think that young children with A-T are at increased risk for RSV disease and therefore does not recommend RSV vaccine in this age group unless a child has another risk factor for severe disease. The one exception is that RSV vaccines may be considered for people with A-T of any age who have severe lung disease.
An important part of influenza and COVID-19 prevention is limiting exposure to those viruses. For that reason, all members of the household and other frequent contacts should be immunized to influenza and COVID-19. It is safe to get the COVID-19 booster and influenza vaccine at the same time. If you have any questions or concerns about this, please consult with your doctor.
We hope everyone stays healthy this flu season. As always, please let us or the doctors at the A-T Clinical Center know if you have questions.
All the best,
Jennifer Thornton, Executive Director