CNN’s John King Says, ‘I’m Immunocompromised. I Have Multiple Sclerosis. So, I’m Grateful You’re All Vaccinated;’ The Importance of Vaccines for People Who Are Immunocompromised

Published Oct 20, 2021

Anne McCarthy

King's MS & The COVID-19 Vaccine

  • CNN’s John King says he has MS and he’s immunocompromised; as a result, he’s grateful for those around him who choose to get vaccinated.
  • MS is a disease in which the immune system eats away at the protective covering of the body’s nerves.
  • People like King, who have a weakened immune system, are more susceptible to COVID-19. It is recommended that cancer patients receive a COVID vaccine series, booster and flu shot.

CNN’s national correspondent John King revealed this week that he has multiple sclerosis (MS) and that he’s immunocompromised.

King says that his immunocompromised state means he’s grateful that those around him are vaccinated. People with a compromised immune system are at a higher risk of contracting the COVID-19 virus. During an on-air discussion on Tuesday night centering around COVID-19 vaccine mandates on his “Inside Politics” show, King says, “I’m going to share a secret I’ve never spoken before. I’m immunocompromised. I have multiple sclerosis. So, I’m grateful you’re all vaccinated.”

King, who is 58, also says his 10-year-old son isn’t able to be vaccinated yet. As a result, he’s worried about his son bringing the virus home to him.

Understanding MS

Multiple sclerosis is a disease in which the immune system eats away at the protective covering of the body’s nerves. Essentially, the disease disrupts communication between the brain and the body. Symptoms of the disease can include vision loss, pain, fatigue, and impaired coordination.

Related: MS Fighter Selma Blair Celebrates Her 49th Birthday & Thanks Disability Advocates: ‘I Live a Better Life’

Some people use chemotherapy to treat their MS. Famously, actress Selma Blair, who has been outspoken and candid about her battle with MS, has used chemotherapy to treat her disease. Side effects of chemotherapy can include nausea, fatigue, hair loss, and loss of appetite.

Thanks to newer technologies, such as cooling caps, and newer drugs, some of these side effects can be mitigated.

Not Your Parents’ Chemotherapy: New Solutions for Nausea, Hair Loss, and Other Chemo Side Effects

The COVID-19 Vaccine for Cancer Fighters

Some treatments for cancer, such as chemotherapy, blunt the immune system, meaning you could be more likely to contract COVID-19. That’s why it’s important to get the COVID-19 vaccine, particularly if you’ve been diagnosed with cancer, or are immunocompromised like King is.

Related: Which COVID-19 Vaccine – Pfizer, Moderna or J&J – is Best For Cancer Patients?

Dr. Vincent Rajkumar, a doctor from the Mayo Clinic, spoke in an earlier interview about the importance of getting vaccinated if you have cancer. He also assures people of their safety, saying, “It is very safe and there is no increased risk to you just because you have cancer.”

“As long as you are feeling well, just go ahead with the vaccine whenever it’s offered to you. Sometimes even on the same day if you are going to the clinic to get a small dose of chemotherapy and they’re giving the vaccine, just get it, there’s really no major problem,” Dr. Rajkumar says.

“The only people for whom we are saying to delay by a month or two are patients who have had a stem cell transplant because we have wiped out [the patients’ immune system]. And so you want to wait until some of the recovery happens so when you give the vaccine, they have an immune response.”

Experts also tell SurvivorNet that cancer patients should receive the COVID-19 booster shot as well as the flu shot.

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, the booster should be administered 28 days or more after the second dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine. No identification or prescription will be required at the vaccine site when receiving the booster shot.

5 COVID-19 Vaccine Questions Answered by Expert Physician

Learn more about SurvivorNet's rigorous medical review process.