Explained: Covid vaccines in cancer patients

By Dr. Dhaneshwor Naorem
May 25, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic, continues to impact many people, including cancer patients, their families, and caregivers.Vaccines help a person’s immune system to recognize and protect the body against infections. COVID-19 vaccines have been found to significantly lower the risk of getting infected with COVID-19, lower the risk of having severe disease, being hospitalized, or dying from COVID-19 if one gets infected. 

Here we’ll discuss some frequently asked questions by people with cancer or a history of previous cancer have about the COVID-19 vaccines.

1) Should cancer patients and survivors take the COVID-19 vaccine?

Patients with cancer or a history of cancer should get the COVID -19 vaccine whenever available. Many expert medical groups recommend patients with a recent cancer diagnosis and those on treatment should be given the highest priority. This is because cancer and its treatment can weaken the immune system putting such patients at risk for severe COVID-19 disease. Caregivers and household members of cancer patients should also be immunized whenever possible.

2) Is it safe for cancer patients to receive the COVID-19 vaccine?

At present, there is a lack of data regarding the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccination in cancer patients. Numerous studies have shown that cancer patients are at higher risk for more severe COVID-19 disease and complications. There are no reports of increased risk for side effects of the vaccine in cancer patients. The risks of COVID-19 for cancer patients outweigh the very low risk of vaccination. Because of these, oncology groups including the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), the American Society of Hematology (ASH), and the American Society for Radiation Oncology have all recommended patients with cancer get vaccinated.

3) Is there any specific approved COVID-19 vaccine for cancer patients?

At this time, no major medical organizations have recommended getting one type of COVID vaccine over another, either for cancer patients or for other people. Health experts believe that getting the vaccine once it becomes available, whichever one it is, is most important, rather than waiting to get a specific vaccine. 

4) What are the side effects of the vaccines?

Common side effects that have been reported after getting the vaccines to include:
• Pain, redness, or swelling at the injection site
• Feeling tired
• Headache
• Fever
• Chills
• Muscle and joint pain
• Nausea

The incidence or the nature of side effects in cancer patients and survivors had been reported to be similar to with the general population. 

Some people (16%) might develop swelling or pain under the vaccinated arm. This is often a normal response by the body’s immune system to the vaccine. A swollen lymph node under the arm might cause concern since this can also be a sign of breast cancer spread.

Oncologists recommend that patients with breast cancer or a history of breast cancer get the vaccine in the arm on the unaffected side.

5) Are there any exceptions for COVID-19 vaccination among cancer patients?

There are few exceptions:

a) Vaccination should be delayed for at least 3 months following bone marrow transplantation and engineered cellular therapy to maximize vaccine efficacy.

b) Vaccination in patients undergoing intensive chemotherapy should be delayed until neutrophil count recovery.

c) Patients undergoing major surgery for cancer should have a gap of few days in-between.

In patients undergoing chemotherapy, the optimum timing for vaccination about the chemotherapy cycle is still unclear. The difference in the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine in terms of its immunogenic potential i.e. ability to generate antibodies against coronavirus- SARS-COV-2, when administered along with chemotherapy versus mid-cycle, is still unknown. In absence of robust data, the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) for now recommends vaccination when available.

6) Will vaccination affect my cancer-related tests and scans?

Getting a COVID-19 vaccine might result in swollen lymph nodes under the arm in which the injection was given. Swollen lymph nodes might show up on a CT Scan or mammogram is done for breast cancer or other cancers, causing concern and confusion. It is important to communicate with your doctor if you are scheduled to get an imaging test (such as an MRI or CT scan) in the weeks after getting a COVID vaccine. 

7) Do I still need to take precautions if I get the COVID-19 vaccine?

While the vaccine can lower the risk of getting a serious disease from COVID, it doesn’t completely rule out the possibility of getting infected by the virus. It is also not yet clear how well vaccines can prevent the spread of the virus to others. Here it will be appropriate to mention that data tracking the immune response in patients with cancer who have been vaccinated are still evolving. Therefore, even after vaccination, it is advised that everyone continue to follow all COVID-19 prevention protocols.

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News Network
October 8,2021

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Kabul, Oct 8: An explosion went off Friday among Shiite Muslim worshippers at a mosque in northern Afghanistan, killing or wounding at least 100 people, a Taliban police official said.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast, which took place in Kunduz, the capital of Kunduz province, but militants from the Islamic State group have a long history of attacking Afghanistan's Shiite Muslim minority.

Dost Mohammad Obaida, the deputy police chief for Kunduz province, said that the “majority of them have been killed.” He said the attack may have been carried out by a suicide bomber who mingled among the worshippers.

“I assure our Shiite brothers that the Taliban are prepared to ensure their safety,” Obaida said, adding that an investigation was underway.

If confirmed, a death toll of dozens would be the highest since U.S. and NATO forces left Afghanistan at the end of August and the Taliban took control of the country. The Taliban have been targeted in a series of deadly IS attacks, including shooting ambushes and an explosion at a mosque in the capital of Kabul.

The explosion went off during the weekly Friday prayer service at the Gozar-e-Sayed Abad Mosque. The Friday noon prayer is the highlight of the Muslim religious week, and mosques are typically crowded. Witness Ali Reza said he was praying at the time of the explosion and reported seeing many casualties.

Photos and video from the scene showed rescuers carrying a body wrapped in a blanket from the mosque to an ambulance. The stairs at the entrance of the mosque were covered in blood.

Earlier Friday, the chief Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the Shiite mosque was the target and that a “large number” of worshippers were killed and wounded. He said Taliban special forces had arrived to the scene and were investigating the incident.

The Taliban leadership has been grappling with a growing threat from the local Islamic State affiliate, known as the Islamic State in Khorasan. IS militants have ramped up attacks to target their rivals, including two deadly bombings in Kabul.

IS has also targeted Afghanistan's religious minorities in attacks.

The local Islamic State affiliate claimed responsibility for the horrific Aug. 26 bombing that killed at least 169 Afghans and 13 U.S. military personnel outside the Kabul airport in the final days of the chaotic American pullout from Afghanistan.

Since the U.S. pullout, IS attacks have been mostly in eastern Afghanistan — the regional base for the IS affiliate — and in Kabul.

Ethnic Hazaras, who are mostly minority Shiite Muslims, make up about 6% of Kunduz's population of nearly 1 million people. The province also has a large ethnic Uzbek population that has been targeted for recruitment by the IS, which is closely aligned with the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan.

Friday's attack, if claimed by IS, will also be worrying for Afghanistan's northern Central Asian neighbours and Russia, which has been courting the Taliban for years as an ally against the creeping IS in the area. 

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News Network
October 4,2021

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A year after declaring bankruptcy to a UK court, the Pandora Papers report showed that Reliance ADAG chief Anil Ambani, along with his representatives, has at least 18 offshore companies located in Jersey, Cyprus and other companies, securing wealth in tax havens across the world.

The Indian Express, in a joint investigation led by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, reported that of these 18 companies set up between 2007 and 2010, seven have received loans from bank guaranteed by Reliance/Anil Ambani and invested nearly $1.3 billion.

Batiste Unlimited and Radium Unlimited, Ambani’s companies in Jersey, were incorporated between December 2007 and January 2008 and are owned by Reliance Innoventures Pvt Ltd.

Other Jersey companies Summerhill Ltd and Dulwich Ltd are owned by a “representative of Anil Ambani”. Laurence Mutual; Richard Equity Ltd and German Equity Ltd are also based in Jersey and linked to Ambani.

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News Network
October 3,2021

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Dubai, Oct 3: Tropical Cyclone Shaheen bore down on Oman on Sunday, killing at least three people, and authorities urged residents to evacuate coastal areas and delayed flights to and from the capital, Muscat.

A child who had been swept away by water was found dead, the state news agency said, and another person was missing. Two Asian workers were killed when a hill collapsed on their housing area in an industrial zone as a result of the cyclone, the state news agency reported.

The eye of the storm was about 60 km (40 miles) from Muscat and it was carrying top winds of 120 kph (75 mph) or more, a joint statement by the country's hazard, weather and civil aviation agencies said.

The storm's centre was expected to hit land during the late afternoon and evening, bringing very high winds and heavy rainfall, but the outer bands of the system were already being felt.

The national emergency committee said the power supply would be cut in al-Qurm, east of the capital, to avoid accidents. More than 2,700 people were put up in emergency shelters.

Most of the oil-exporting country's five million people live in and around Muscat. Roads in the capital would be open only to vehicles on emergency and humanitarian journeys until the storm dies down, authorities said. 

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