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.

Comments

Add new comment

  • Coastaldigest.com reserves the right to delete or block any comments.
  • Coastaldigset.com is not responsible for its readers’ comments.
  • Comments that are abusive, incendiary or irrelevant are strictly prohibited.
  • Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name to avoid reject.
News Network
September 18,2021

The US military has admitted killing 10 Afghan civilians, including seven children, in a drone strike last month. Washington has previously claimed that those who killed were terrorists.

The Pentagon had maintained the August 29 strike targeted a Daesh-K terrorist who posed an imminent threat to American troops at the Kabul airport, with Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs Gen. Mark Milley calling it a "righteous strike.”  

But on Friday, General Frank McKenzie, the top general of US Central Command, announced at the Pentagon that the military investigation has found it killed 10 civilians and the driver and that the vehicle targeted was not a threat associated with Daesh-K, a shadowy terrorist group that emerged following the last month bomb blast at the Kabul airport.  The attack killed scores of Afghans and over a dozen Americans.

McKenzie told reporters that the US military drone strike was a "mistake" and offered an apology.

"This strike was taken in the earnest belief that it would prevent an imminent threat to our forces and the evacuees at the airport, but it was a mistake and I offer my sincere apology," he said.

McKenzie added that he is "fully responsible for this strike and this tragic outcome."

Some media outlets had reported that the US drone strike apparently targeted the wrong man, killing an innocent Afghan aid worker along with members of his family, but the top US general described the attack as "righteous".

"At the time of the strike, I was confident that the strike had averted an imminent threat to our forces at the airport," McKenzie told reporters. "Our investigation now concludes that the strike was a tragic mistake."

Comments

Add new comment

  • Coastaldigest.com reserves the right to delete or block any comments.
  • Coastaldigset.com is not responsible for its readers’ comments.
  • Comments that are abusive, incendiary or irrelevant are strictly prohibited.
  • Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name to avoid reject.
News Network
September 15,2021

naseeruddin.jpg

Mumbai, Sept 15: Veteran actor Naseeruddin Shah has alleged that the government is encouraging Indian filmmakers to make propaganda films “lauding the efforts of our beloved leader”.

“They are being encouraged by the government to make pro-government films, to make films lauding the efforts of our beloved leader. They are also being financed, also promised a clean chit if they make movies which are propaganda, to put it bluntly,” Shah said in an interview.

He likened the situation to when top-class filmmakers were rounded up in Nazi Germany to make films propagating Nazi philosophy. “You will find the biggest guys giving in to this,” the actor said.

This comes days after a video of Shah went viral wherein he was condemning Indian Muslims who were celebrating the Taliban rule in Afghanistan.

The 71-year-old actor told the publication that he had no proof but it was obvious, adding that while there is no outright bigotry in the industry, actors are harassed if they speak out.

“They (the Khans) are worried because of the harassment they face. They have so much to lose. It is a question of their entire establishments getting harassed,” he said.

Noting that he never felt any discrimination in the industry, Shah said the only thing that matters in the industry is the revenue you generate.

Commenting on his remarks on the Taliban, he said that ‘celebration’ may not have been the right word but he said that his comments were “perfectly reasonable”.

On those who were offended by his comments, Shah said, “There is an atmosphere of bottled hate just waiting to be released. People are waiting to take offence to anything. If they had heard my statement, they would have realised there is nothing to get their knickers in a twist about.” 

Comments

Add new comment

  • Coastaldigest.com reserves the right to delete or block any comments.
  • Coastaldigset.com is not responsible for its readers’ comments.
  • Comments that are abusive, incendiary or irrelevant are strictly prohibited.
  • Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name to avoid reject.
News Network
September 13,2021

Thiruvananthapuram, Sept 13: An Air India Express flight which took off from Kerala for Sharjah, in the UAE, on Monday morning with 170 passengers was forced to turn back shortly after taking off due to a technical glitch.

The plane, which also had a crew of six, landed safely at Thiruvananthapuram airport and another flight was arranged for the passengers, including five infants, to travel to Sharjah, an Air India Express (AIE) spokesperson said.

According to an official of the airport, the incident occurred at around 7 am.

The AIE spokesperson said the pilots noticed the technical glitch around half an hour after take-off and immediately decided to turn back to Thiruvananthapuram.

Comments

Add new comment

  • Coastaldigest.com reserves the right to delete or block any comments.
  • Coastaldigset.com is not responsible for its readers’ comments.
  • Comments that are abusive, incendiary or irrelevant are strictly prohibited.
  • Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name to avoid reject.