Medical experts recommend getting vaccinated as a precaution against contracting COVID-19. However, some people are still skeptical about whether the vaccine would be safe or not. Especially in the case of cancer patients or those with a history of cancer, is it safe to get vaccinated?
According to Dr Anil Heroor, Head-Surgical Oncology, Fortis Hospital, Mulund & Fortis Hiranandani Hospital, Vashi, every cancer patient has a different level of resistance and disease-fighting power.
“When India began its vaccination drive in January 2021, many expert medical groups recommended that most patients with cancer or a history of cancer should get vaccinated against COVID-19. This makes a lot of sense, as the sole purpose of vaccination is to improve immunity. Every person’s medical history, however, is unique, and every cancer patient has a different level of resistance and disease-fighting power,” he says.
Here’s what they should keep in mind:
People who are undergoing cancer treatment need to keep the following in mind, says Dr Heroor.
Patients who have undergone cancer surgery: Such patients should consult their doctors before getting vaccinated. One’s type of cancer and treatment determines the risk factors, benefits, timelines, and what one should know before receiving the first dose.
Patients receiving chemotherapy or the immune-suppressing treatment: These people should keep a gap of at five to seven days from their last session. It is important to take the vaccine at a time when your white blood counts (WBC) and blood platelets are not low. Therefore, a Complete Blood Count (CBC) needs to be done before getting vaccinated.
Patients with leukemia: It is recommended that they delay vaccination until after the completion of very intensive chemotherapy treatments such as those given as induction therapy for acute leukemia. They should consult their doctor before getting vaccinated.
Patients undergoing Stem Cell Therapy: Patients who are within three months of an Autologous Stem Cell Transplant, Allogeneic Stem Cell Transplant or CART Cell Therapy, should time their vaccination in consultation with their doctor. In addition, those with severe Graft versus Host Disease and those with low B-cell counts should discuss with their provider whether vaccination should be delayed.
Patients who have undergone breast cancer surgery: Vaccination is usually given on the left shoulder but if a person has undergone left breast removal, the vaccination should be taken on the right shoulder. If both breasts have been removed, then the vaccine shot should be either taken on the thigh or the hips.
Dr Heroor suggests that cancer survivors should take the vaccine as they are already on their path to recovery.