Most Cancer Patients Can Get COVID-19 Vaccinated
The National Comprehensive Cancer Network® (NCCN) announced on January 22, 2021, new guidance for COVID-19 vaccinations in people with cancer. The nonprofit alliance of leading cancer centers created an NCCN COVID-19 Vaccine Committee that assists cancer care providers in making informed decisions on protecting their patients from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The NCCN committee's preliminary recommendations state that all people currently in active cancer treatment should get a COVID-19 vaccine, with some advice regarding immunosuppression and timing. Prioritize patients include those with active cancer on treatment (including hematopoietic and cellular therapy), those planned to start treatment, and those immediately (<6 months) posttreatment, except those receiving only hormonal therapy.
Furthermore, 'there are important gaps in knowledge on vaccine immunogenicity in specific patients with cancer and therapies.'
'The NCCN may learn that specific therapies limit vaccine efficacy and warrant vaccine delay. The durability of vaccine protection is being investigated in the general population and is expected to be attenuated in immunocompromised patients with cancer.'
"The medical community is rising to one of the biggest challenges we have ever faced," stated Robert W. Carlson, M.D., Chief Executive Officer, NCCN, in a press release. "The COVID-19 vaccines exemplify the heights of scientific achievement. Now we have to distribute them quickly, equitably, safely and, efficiently, using clearly defined and transparent principles."
The full document can be found at NCCN.org/covid-19, along with other vital information about the impact of COVID-19 on cancer care, says the NCCN.
Previously, the American Cancer Society (ACS) stated: 'the initial studies testing the COVID-19 vaccines did not include people getting treatment with drugs that suppress the immune system, like chemotherapy, or people who have weakened immune systems for other reasons. This is because the studies needed to see first if the vaccines work in people with healthy immune systems.'
'The situation for every person who has (or has had) cancer is different, so it is best to discuss the risks and benefits of getting the COVID-19 vaccine with your cancer doctor. They can advise you about if and when you should receive it,' concluded the ACS.