At a time when several countries, including India, have started the Covid vaccination drive, cancer patients who are one of the vulnerable groups, are waiting to hear if they can also take the injection.
However, according to doctors, this can be done only with safe and effective vaccines along with the coordinated global vaccination program.
Over more than 200 vaccines have been developed across the world out of which three vaccines are indigenously produced in India and all these vaccines are intended to provide immunity against the SARS-CoV2 infection.
Dr. Mandeep S Malhotra, the HOD, Head, Neck & Breast Oncoplasty at Fortis Hospital, Vasant Kunj answered some common questions asked on the internet about cancer patients and coronavirus vaccines:
Patients with cancer are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19. Should cancer patients be first in line for Covid vaccine shots?
Dr. Mandeep said, “If somebody has cancer, there is a derailment of the immune mechanism. That person is vulnerable to complications if he or she gets covid-19. Therefore, Cancer patients with solid tumors like mouth cancer, breast cancer or ovarian cancer, or cervical cancer should be given vaccines, but patients who have blood cancer and if their immune system has gone wrong or having any other complications like a decrease in the white blood counts, that person has to get clearance from the Hematologists before getting the jab”
Are Covid vaccines safe for cancer patients?
“About 70 percent of the cancer patients have either mouth cancer, cervical cancer or breast cancer. If somebody is diagnosed with cancer or somebody has undergone a surgery or is under the process of surgery, they are safe to get Covid-19 vaccines. But they should go for a check-up to their physician before getting the jab,” said Dr. Malhotra.
Dr. Malhotra added, “People getting the radiation therapy can also get the vaccine, but if someone is undergoing chemotherapy or targeted therapy, it is important to take into account several factors such as patient’s blood counts or hemoglobin counts before advising them to get the vaccine.”
Should cancer survivors get the vaccine?
“90 per cent of the complications with cancer survivors can happen within the first two years. Somebody, who has survived cancers for five or six years, is like normal individual,” says Dr. Malhotra.
What do you want to say to those patients who are afraid that adding one more thing during treatment may not be good?
Dr. Malhotra says, “Cancer patients with solid tumor who are in the stage of surgery or radiation, they are more likely to have Vaccine-related complications than normal individuals. But if they are not undertaking any chemotherapy, then they must get the vaccine shot. However, they should always take it under proper supervision.”