Should Cancer Patients Get COVID-19 Vaccine?

In India, the COVID-19 vaccine was launched on 16th January, 2021. Still, many cancer patients have doubts in their mind that whether they should get the COVID-19 Vaccine or not? And if yes, then which COVID-19 vaccine is effective for them? Here we have answered all your questions.

Cancer patients are at an increased vulnerability of COVID-19 infections and mortality. Hence it is necessary to vaccinate cancer patients on a priority basis. Many oncologists from India recommended that cancer patients must be included in the priority list for the COVID-19 vaccine with certain guidelines.

Let’s look at the guidelines for vaccination for cancer patients:

  1. The National comprehensive cancer Network (NCCN) guidelines said, active cancer patients, who are yet to take treatment, can take the vaccine without any hesitation.
  2. Cancer survivors who are disease-free can take the vaccine.
  3. There are no such safety concerns about vaccination for cancer patients who are undergoing cancer treatment, but you should schedule your vaccination in co-ordination with your treatment plan by consulting your cancer specialist doctor.
  4. Experts say patients taking radiotherapy can take the vaccine. But, patients who are taking chemotherapy, should not take the vaccine immediately. As chemotherapy decreases immunity. They should wait for 4 weeks after chemotherapy at least and must consult their cancer specialist.
  5. Current or past breast cancer patients ask to receive the vaccine in the arm opposite of your breast cancer site. This will help support your immune response and lessen lymph node enlargement, as enlarged lymph nodes can falsely affect cancer screening and diagnostic imaging results up to 6 weeks after vaccination.
  6. Patients who have had their surgery recently should wait for 2 weeks to receive the vaccine.
  7. If you have received any other vaccination, do not take the COVID-19 vaccine for 14 days.
  8. If you have taken treatment for symptomatic COVID-19 with monoclonal antibody therapy or convalescent plasma, wait for 90 days to receive the vaccine.
  9. Patients receiving immunotherapy or targeted therapy can receive the Covid vaccine, without interrupting the treatment.
  10. Delay your diagnostic imaging exam that includes your axillary lymph nodes for 6- 10 weeks after receiving the vaccine. As your body’s immune response to the vaccine may cause temporary inflammation of your axillary nodes and interfere with your imaging exam.
  11. People with a history of allergic reactions should proceed with caution or avoid vaccination by consulting their cancer doctor.

Which COVID-19 vaccine cancer patients should take?

Oxford University-AstraZeneca’s Covishield vaccine, manufactured by Serum Institute of India, and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin are being used for the vaccination program.

A majority of the doctors recommended the Covishield vaccine for cancer patients.

Continue safe practices

Even after taking the vaccine, continue wearing a mask, maintaining social distancing, and washing your hands frequently.

If you still have any confusion about whether you should take the COVID-19 vaccine or not, contact Dr. Sumit Shah, a well-known oncologist in Pune.