Cancer Australia releases multilingual FAQs on COVID-19 vaccines

Jolyon Attwooll

29/07/2021 5:25:31 PM

The organisation has compiled documents in 10 different languages to inform patients from diverse backgrounds about COVID-19 vaccines.

Screenshot of COVID-19 FAQ in Arabic.
Each document includes information on the safety, efficacy and risks of the different vaccines. (Image: Cancer Australia)

Questions surrounding COVID-19 vaccinations and cancer patients have now been answered – in 10 different languages.
Cancer Australia this week released a series of FAQ guides to inform people in culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities about their options for vaccination.
The languages are among the most commonly spoken in Australia and include Arabic, Chinese (simplified and traditional) Greek, Hindi, Italian, Korean, Spanish, Tagalog, and Vietnamese.
Among the queries addressed by the FAQs are whether vaccines impact cancer treatment such as mammograms, and how information will be collected about vaccines for people affected by cancer.
Each document also includes information on the safety, efficacy and risks of the different vaccines.
Associate Professor Joel Rhee, Chair of RACGP Specific Interests Cancer and Palliative Care, said he supports putting out timely information to multicultural communities and said the work offers more information and reassurance for people with cancer in diverse communities.
However, he says that with the rapidly evolving health advice for the vaccines – particularly with the backdrop of the Sydney outbreak translations could date fast.
‘I do have one word of caution – and that’s the resources contain really specific information about the various aspects of COVID-19 vaccination,’ he told newsGP.
‘That’s obviously subject to change, and we have seen significant changes in the last two weeks.’
Associate Professor Rhee pointed out that guidelines on using AstraZeneca in outbreak areas have changed and that the Therapeutic Goods Administration had given provisional approval for 12–15-year-olds to receive Pfizer (a change that has not yet been confirmed by ATAGI).
‘The FAQs could be useful but need to be accompanied by information from the GP as well,’ he said.
‘The GP could use the resource but would have to give [the patient] some briefing saying some of this information is different, just to give a little bit of context.’
A spokesperson for Cancer Australia told newsGP the information will be updated on a regular basis as new information emerged.
The FAQ documents published by Cancer Australia also stress that decisions about taking vaccines should be made in conjunction with patients’ healthcare teams.
Factors to consider include:

  • the type of cancer the person has/had
  • the type of treatment they are receiving/received
  • the timing of their treatment
  • the type of vaccine available
  • how their immune system is working.
Cancer Australia is a Federal Government agency formed in 2006 with the aim of improving outcomes for people affected by cancer, including by addressing disparities in care.
The organisation also produced FAQs in English about COVID-19 vaccines earlier this year.
‘It is important for GPs to note that people with compromised immune systems or pre-existing medical conditions, including cancer, are more vulnerable to COVID-19 and are at increased risk of severe infection,’ the CEO of Cancer Australia Professor Dorothy Keefe told newsGP at the time.
‘In particular, people with haematological malignancies and lung cancer are reported to be at increased risk of morbidity and mortality from COVID-19.
‘If a GP has a patient who is currently receiving treatment for cancer, they should discuss the timing of vaccination with the patient’s oncologist or cancer team.’
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