As the COVID-19 vaccine continues to be distributed in the United States, a new directive is getting a lot of attention online because it affects so many women.
It does not have to do with the risk of catching COVID-19 from the doctor’s office but because of a common side effect of the vaccine.
To verify, we checked with the Society of Breast Imaging (SBI) and consulted with Dr. Pooja Voria, a board-certified radiologist with a focus on mammograms.
In January, the SBI issued an advisory for providers not to schedule women for mammograms for “4 to 6 weeks following the second dose of a COVID-19 vaccination.”
A common side effect of the COVID-19 vaccine is that the closest lymph node to the injection site will swell.
“Most people are getting their vaccine in their shoulder, and the closest lymph nodes to the shoulder are in your axilla or underarm,” explained Voria.
Detecting a swollen lymph node in your underarm can be mistaken for breast cancer during a mammogram.
“We're trying to avoid people coming in for extra testing, multiple ultrasound visits, things like that," said Voria. “We don't want women to get unnecessarily scared.”
Voria stressed this only applies to regularly scheduled mammograms.
“If you have a lump or an area of concern in your breasts, don't delay anything,” said Voria. “Please go see your doctor and come in for your mammogram.”
So, we can verify that once vaccinated women should wait 4-6 weeks before getting a routine mammogram.