Categories: Oncology

Common concerns about covid 19 vaccine in cancer patients

The second COVID-19 wave brought with it a lot of fear, anxiety, anger, frustration, and helplessness. Though we may have won this battle, the war is still on. In this war, we lost far too many. The pandemic made us realize how fragile we are and the importance of a self-reliant and developed health care system. The only way we can win this war is by using our common sense and trusting modern science. Having cancer increases your risk of severe illness from COVID-19. Other factors which can increase your risk for severe illness from COVID-19, including a weakened immune system, older age, and other medical conditions. People with blood cancers may be at higher risk of prolonged infection and death from COVID-19 than people with solid tumours. That is because these patients often have abnormal or depleted levels of immune cells that produce antibodies against viruses. Vaccination is the only hope to fight against Corona.

What cancer do patients need to know about the COVID-19 vaccine?

Many people with cancer are wondering if it is safe to get one of the approved COVID-19 vaccines. The short answer is that for most adults with cancer or a history of cancer, vaccination against COVID-19 is recommended, but there are factors for people with cancer to consider first

What are the common side effects of COVID-19 vaccines?

The most common side effects include injection site pain. Other common side effects include fatigue, tiredness, muscle pain, chills, joint pain, and fever. These side effects are most commonly reported in younger vaccine recipients and following the second shot of the vaccine. Side effects typically resolve after one or two days.

Speak with your healthcare provider before getting vaccinated.

Your type of cancer and type of treatment will be a factor to be considered. Your healthcare provider will be able to discuss risks, benefits, timeline and what you should know before receiving your first dose of vaccine

Should cancer patients pre-medicate before the vaccine to reduce the vaccine-related side effects?

Premedication is not generally advised. For patients with a history of allergy, premedication may mask early symptoms of life-threatening hypersensitivity reaction and is therefore not routinely recommended.

Timing the vaccine and cancer treatment

If a vaccine is available to you, it may be appropriate to delay the start of some non-urgent cancer treatments until vaccination is completed. Most cancer treatments, however, should not be delayed because of vaccination.

For patients receiving chemotherapy or other immune-suppressing therapy

In general, receiving either vaccine during chemotherapy is recommended. Because the vaccine can cause a fever within the first 24 to 48 hours, it’s preferable to receive the vaccines at a time when your white blood counts are not expected to below. For patients receiving immunotherapy also, it’s fine to proceed with vaccination

For patients receiving radiotherapy

For most patients undergoing radiotherapy, it’s recommended to proceed with vaccination and radiation treatment need not be interrupted.

For patients planned for cancer surgery

Since fever can occur in the first 24 to 48 hours after vaccination, its best to avoid scheduling your vaccination with a few days of planned surgery as fever may result in a delay of surgery

For patients who have undergone stem cell transplantation

Patients who are within three months of stem cell transplantation should discuss with their healthcare providers the timing of vaccination. In addition, those with severe acute graft versus host disease and those with low B cell counts should discuss with their health care provider whether vaccination should be delayed.

For patients who are on follow up/post completion of cancer treatment

It is recommended that you get vaccination since there might be some lingering effect of cancer treatment in long term on your immune system and you might also make you susceptible to severe covid

For patients who have already had COVID-19

In general. Its recommended that you receive the COVID-19 vaccine even if you were already infected with a virus, although you may choose to wait three to six months after your illness

For family members of cancer patients

It’s very important to get vaccinated since it creates a protective barrier or herd immunity and reduces the chances of infection for other members.

Dr. Raajit Chanana | Consultant – Medical Oncology, Oncology | Dharamshila Narayana Superspeciality Hospital, Delhi

Narayana Health

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