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Screening Mammogram Guidance for Patients Receiving COVID-19 Vaccine

Importance of Screening Mammograms

Screening mammograms are an important part of every woman’s health and wellness. Roughly one in eight women will develop breast cancer at some point in their lives. Early detection is key to treating it, which is why mammograms and monthly self-breast exams are so important. Screening mammography is the first line of defense against this disease, and it is recommended that all women schedule a mammogram once a year when they turn 40 (or sooner if recommended by their doctor based on their risk factors).

COVID-19 Vaccines and Mammograms – What You Need to Know

For women receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, special considerations apply when scheduling their annual screening mammogram. The Society of Breast Imaging (SBI) recommends COVID-19 vaccinations and screening mammograms be spaced out in one of the two ways below:

  1. Get your screening mammogram before your COVID-19 vaccination, OR
  2. Get your screening mammogram 6 weeks after your final dose of COVID-19 vaccine

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine only requires a single dose. The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines each require two doses. Screening mammograms may be scheduled 6 weeks after your single dose of Johnson & Johnson vaccine, or 6 weeks after yoursecond dose of Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine.

Why Do They Need to Be Separated?

Some women who receive the COVID-19 vaccine develop swollen lymph nodes under their arm on the same side as their vaccine injection. This is the normal immune reaction to a vaccine, and has rarely been reported with other vaccines, including influenza and HPV vaccinations. However, higher rates of swollen lymph nodes have been reported with the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines, and more recently with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. These swollen lymph nodes usually return to normal on their own in a few days or weeks.

Breast radiologists look closely for any changes on your mammogram. Swollen lymph nodes under one arm can be seen on a mammogram and can be a rare sign of breast cancer. To avoid confusing a reaction to the COVID-19 vaccine with swollen lymph nodes from another cause, patients are asked to separate their vaccination and screening mammogram in the manner described above.

What if My Vaccination Appointment is Already Scheduled?

You should keep your vaccination appointment. Vaccination is a critical step in stopping the spread of COVID-19 and ensuring you stay healthy. If you already have a vaccination appointment, please take the following information into consideration regarding scheduling of screening vs. diagnostic mammograms:

Screening Mammograms: Consider rescheduling your annual screening mammogram to a date before your vaccine if possible. Our team can assist you with rescheduling your appointment. Or, wait until 6 weeks after your final dose of vaccine to schedule your screening mammogram.

Diagnostic Mammograms: If you have a symptom or a concern (lump, pain, or any change in your breast you are concerned about), please do not delay; we encourage you to schedule a diagnostic mammogram immediately even if you have recently received the vaccine. A diagnostic mammogram is a problem-solving mammogram used to evaluate the cause of these symptoms.

Additional Resources for Patients: SBI Screening Mammography Recommendations for Women Receiving the COVID-19 Vaccine

Questions?

Please call 540-536-7310 to speak with a member of our team who can answer questions and assist you with scheduling your mammogram at the Valley Health imaging facility that is most convenient for you.

Usted puede llamar a Valley Health con la asistencia de un intérprete si realiza estos pasos:
  1. Llame al 855-857-4423 para comunicarse con un intérprete.
  2. Brinde al intérprete el número 1-540-536-7310 y dígale que le ayude a conectarse para hacer su cita.
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