Cancer patients undergoing active treatment were not included in the Pfizer and Moderna clinical trials.
Why should a patient with cancer get an mRNA vaccine if these patients were not in the clinical trials?
Patients with cancer, particularly those with hematologic or lung malignancies or those with metastatic disease from any primary, have been shown to have increased risk for developing severe COVID-19 symptoms.
COVID-19 can lead to significant delays in cancer treatment and surveillance.
Although evidence regarding use of these particular vaccines is limited, there is enough evidence to support COVID-19 vaccination in patients with cancer, including those receiving immunosuppressive therapy.
Are the COVID-19 virus mRNA vaccines safe for cancer patients?
There are theoretical concerns about the use of these vaccines in patients with hematologic malignancy, those who have undergone bone marrow transplant and those on checkpoint inhibitor therapy.
In light of our high community incidence of COVID-19 virus transmission and the risk for severe COVID-19 disease in patients with cancer, we consider that the benefits of vaccination outweigh any theoretical risks, based on currently available evidence.
There is a risk for allergic reaction to these vaccines in all populations. Anyone with a history of a severe immediate allergic reaction to any components of the vaccine should not be vaccinated. Please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for information regarding this issue.
Are these vaccines effective in cancer patients, particularly those on immunosuppression?
The underlying malignancy, the treatment regimen used and the timing of the vaccine in relation to treatment may all impair a cancer patient’s response to vaccination.
Patients with cancer should continue protective behaviors like physical distancing, attentive hand hygiene and masking, even after completing the vaccine series.
The optimal time to give a cancer patient a COVID-19 virus vaccine should be determined in conjunction with the treating oncologist.