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What Cancer Patients Should Know About the COVID-19 Vaccine

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By    |   Tuesday, 05 January 2021 10:27 AM

Experts say that most cancer patients should benefit from the getting the COVID-19 vaccine. Whether they are currently undergoing treatment for their disease or in remission, a leading oncologist says that COVID-19 and its complications can be deadly for those with cancer so the benefits of getting inoculated far outweigh the risks of feeling temporarily ill from the vaccine.

Cancer patients have twice the risk of dying from COVID-19, The Philadelphia Inquirer reports. The American Association for Cancer Research and Cancer Task Force recommends that patients with cancer should be considered for priority access to COVID-19 vaccines because of their increased risk of mortality caused by the disease.

Cancer patients were not included in the clinical trials of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines that were given emergency use authorization by the Food and Drug Administration, so the safety and efficacy data for this population is not available. However, Dr. Tracey L. Evans, an oncologist at Main Line Health in Philadelphia, told the Inquirer that although certain forms of cancer treatment, such as chemotherapy and radiation, affect a person’s immune system, the new vaccines do not contain the virus and use genetic coding to prime the immune system, so the risks of getting vaccinated “are negligible.”

The expert added that because cancer patients may be already weak, the short-lived, flu-like side effects that some have experienced from the vaccines may be more pronounced and can increase their risk of pneumonia. Evans told the Inquirer that since we do not have research on how efficient the vaccine is in cancer patients, there is no guarantee of full immunity against COVID-19.

But she said we do have scientific evidence that the flu shot does reduce the likelihood of serious illness among cancer patients so having some protection is better than none. This analogy may reflect the benefits of the COVID-19 vaccine for this group of people. Even for people in remission, whose immune systems have been compromised by treatment, Dr. Evans says that the COVID-19 vaccine is recommended.

“I would urge anyone with a history of cancer to get vaccinated against COVID-19,” she told the Inquirer.

The American Cancer Society says that since every person is different and every cancer case is unique, it is best to discuss the risks and benefits of COVID-19 vaccines with your oncologist. He or she is the best resource to advise you if and when you can receive it.

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Experts say that most cancer patients should benefit from the getting the COVID-19 vaccine. Whether they are currently undergoing treatment for their disease or in remission, a leading oncologist says that COVID-19...
cancer, coronavirus, vaccine
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2021-27-05
Tuesday, 05 January 2021 10:27 AM
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