Julia Louis-Dreyfus: An Advocate For Survivors
- Actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus, 61, was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer in 2017. She underwent six rounds of chemotherapy and a double mastectomy to treat the disease. Today, she remains cancer-free.
- Louis-Dreyfus tells SurvivorNet that one way to help people with breast cancer is to make sure you get your COVID-19 vaccine.
- The COVID-19 vaccines are now widely available for everyone 6 months and older, and the CDC recommends that everyone stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccines for their age group. It’s important to note that people who are moderately or severely immunocompromised – which includes some people with cancer – have different recommendations for COVID-19 vaccines, including boosters.
The actress we grew to love as Elaine from Seinfeld never fails to use her platform for causes she believes in. In a message shared on behalf of herself and the SurvivorNet family, Louis-Dreyfus made a point to urge people to get their vaccine. And if you have gotten it and need a booster you should get one.Read More
A cancer survivor herself, Louis-Dreyfus knows exactly what it means to be immunocompromised while fighting the disease.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ Breast Cancer Battle
Julia Louis-Dreyfus was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer in 2017.
“1 in 8 women get breast cancer. Today, I’m the one,” she posted in a tweet from Sept. 28, 2017. “The good news is that I have the most glorious group of supportive and caring family and friends, and fantastic insurance through my union. The bad news is that not all women are so lucky, so let’s fight all cancers and make universal health care a reality.”
After undergoing six rounds of chemotherapy and a double mastectomy for treatment, she announced she was cancer-free in October 2018. Since then, she’s been working on a lot of projects and taking in all the beautiful moments of life. In addition, she’s continuously used her platform to educate about breast cancer and advocate for cancer survivors.
“I’m completely back,” Louis-Dreyfus told Good Morning America in 2019. “I think I reached a lot of people. I was able to raise a lot of money for women who have had mastectomies, who need reconstruction but insurance doesn’t cover that, and I was really happy to be able to do that. The outpouring of support was quite overwhelming.”
Learning about the COVID-19 Vaccine
People who are fully vaccinated have lower risk of severe illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19. The COVID-19 vaccines are now widely available for everyone 6 months and older, and the CDC recommends that everyone stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccines for their age group. It’s important to note that people who are moderately or severely immunocompromised – which includes people who have been receiving active cancer treatment for tumors or cancers of the blood – have different recommendations for COVID-19 vaccines, including boosters.
Below are the four approved or authorized COVID-19 vaccines in the United States:
- Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are mRNA vaccines.
- Novavax COVID-19 vaccine is a protein subunit vaccine.
- Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen (J&J/Janssen) COVID-19 vaccine is a viral vector vaccine and can be given in some situations. (However, the CDC recommends that this particular vaccine only be considered in certain situations, due to safety concerns).
In addition, two COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers, Pfizer and Moderna, have developed updated (bivalent) COVID-19 boosters. These updated (bivalent) boosters protect against both the original virus that causes COVID-19 and the Omicron variant BA.4 and BA.5. Previous boosters are called “monovalent” because they were designed to protect against the original virus that causes COVID-19. They also provide some protection against Omicron, but not as much as the updated (bivalent) boosters.
The CDC recommends that people ages 12 years and older receive one updated (bivalent) booster if it has been at least 2 months since their last COVID-19 vaccine dose, whether that was their final primary series dose or an original (monovalent) booster. In addition, people who have had more than one original (monovalent) booster are also recommended to get an updated (bivalent) booster.
Below are some things you should know about cancer survivors and Covid-19:
- People living with cancer, particularly blood cancer, do have a higher risk of developing severe Covid-19. A weakened immune system (being immunocompromised), older age and other medical conditions also put people more at risk. Patients with blood cancer may be more at risk because they often have abnormal or low levels of immune cells that fight viruses.
- In addition, cancer survivors who are taking medicine to suppress the immune system, who have had an organ transplant, who had a stem-cell transplant within the last two years or cancer survivors who are taking high-dose corticosteroids or other immune-suppressing drugs are also more vulnerable to Covid-19 infections despite vaccination status.
- There are situations where a doctor may recommend a cancer patient wait to get a vaccine or booster.
- If they’ve just had Covid-19. “Many of our patients are getting infected with the new variant,” Dr. John Greene, chair of Moffitt Cancer Center’s Infectious Disease Program, previously told SurvivorNet. “And that immunity will give them protection from reinfection for at least 90 days. So after the 90 days are up, they can get a booster.”
- When a patient’s immune system has been so severely affected by treatment that it would simply not be beneficial to get them the vaccine “because their chance of mounting an immune response is zero to 20 percent,” Dr. Greene said.
Overall, the recommendation is for cancer survivors to get their Covid-19 vaccines. But if you have any questions about your covid-19 risk level, the appropriate timing for your vaccination or anything else covid-19 please consult your doctor and cancer care team.
In addition, remember that when people who are able to get the COVID-19 vaccine do so, they are not only protecting themselves but also protecting immunocompromised people who are not able to get a vaccine or the booster at this time.
Contributing: Laura Gesualdi-Gilmore and SurvivorNet Staff