COVID vaccines and cancer patients

Paul Hayes

10/03/2021 2:40:58 PM

Cancer Australia has developed a set of frequently asked questions designed to help address patient concerns.

Man receiving chemotherapy
People with cancer are more vulnerable to contracting COVID-19 and are at an increased risk of more severe infection.

Professor Dorothy Keefe understands that people with cancer might have concerns regarding a COVID vaccine.
‘Cancer patients were not included in the clinical trials, so there is limited evidence about whether the COVID-19 vaccines are safe for people with cancer or people who are immunocompromised because of cancer or cancer treatments,’ the Cancer Australia CEO said.
And after examining ‘the latest evidence and guidance from around the world’, her organisation has worked with the Department of Health and the others in Australia’s cancer community to develop a set of 25 frequently asked questions (FAQs).
‘We have developed these [FAQs] to address questions and concerns about the vaccines for people affected by cancer in Australia,’ she said.
The FAQs, which are described as the first evidence-based information about COVID vaccines for people affected by cancer in Australia, fall under a series of categories:

  • Getting the COVID-19 vaccines – for people with cancer
  • Safety and effectiveness
  • Risks and side effects
  • Impacts and interactions
  • Collecting information about the use of the COVID-19 vaccines in people affected by cancer
Professor Keefe is keen emphasise that the decision to receive a vaccine should be made by the person affected by cancer, in consultation with healthcare professionals.
‘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,’ she told newsGP. ‘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.’
The FAQs will be made available in 10 additional languages to support culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) populations. These include Arabic, simplified and traditional Chinese, Greek, Hindi, Italian, Korean, Spanish, Tagalog, and Vietnamese.
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Cancer Australia COVID vaccines

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