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COVID-19 Vaccine For Cancer Patients: Here Are Dos and Don’ts Before and After The Jab

  • May 06
  • COVID-19 Resources

The COVID-19 pandemic has adversely affected all sections of society but patients suffering from serious health conditions like cancer are facing larger wrath of this contagious virus. Cancer of any type, unfortunately, throws in various challenges for the patients and their caregivers, and the current scenario is all the more distressing and disheartening.

We at Fortis Health Care are receiving several questions and concerns that are being raised by the cancer patients and their family members with regards to the vaccination, side effects that might incur, the efficacy of these shots, etc. As doctors and health care providers committed to the safety of our patients at the Department of Oncology (Fortis Cancer Institute), Fortis Health Care - we too are equally concerned about the health of everyone and that’s why we urge you to get vaccinated!

Few patients are inadvertently drawing comparisons between the potential similar side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine and cancer treatment and are avoiding inoculation.

Dr Niti Raizada, the Director of Medical Oncology and Hemato Oncology and Transplant Physician at Fortis Hospital, Bannerghatta Road says that side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine should not discourage the patients from getting their shot. “The benefits of COVID-19 vaccine are enormous especially in case of cancer patients currently under active treatment. The pandemic can be at its peak now, but the cancer treatment cannot pause for most patients. Cancer patients require regular consultations and visits to the hospital which increases their exposure to the virus and the compromised immunity makes them even more vulnerable. We are strongly advising not only our patients but also their caregivers and cancer survivors to get vaccinated on priority.”

The specialist assures that the benefits of the vaccine would surpass all short-term and long-term risks faced by cancer patients due to the virus. Here are answers to the FAQs raised by cancer patients with regards to vaccination.

 

Should patients undergoing active treatment like chemotherapy take the COVID-19 vaccine?

Yes! They should get immunized as the benefits of vaccines are a lot more when compared to the potential risks they might incur if exposed to the virus. Talk to your oncologist for knowing the right time to get vaccinated based on the therapy you are undergoing like chemotherapy, radiation, immunotherapy, stem cell transplant, surgery, etc.

 

I am a cancer patient and already survived COVID-19 last year. Should I take the vaccine?

Yes! Cancer patients with a previous history of COVID-19 too require a vaccine for preventing the risk of reinfection after they have completed the quarantine period.

 

Which vaccine is best for Cancer Patients?

Both vaccines currently available in India – Covishield, and Covaxin are absolutely safe. We must wait and see if a booster dose would be necessary for the future.

 

Can patients undergo intensive chemotherapy sessions for leukemia take vaccine?

It is advisable to delay vaccine for the patients currently under induction therapy for acute leukemia, till the completion of treatment. Talk to your oncologist to know what is right for you. Patients with chronic leukemia can take the vaccination.

 

Should patients who already underwent surgery for cancer need a vaccine?

If you were already operated upon for cancer, take the vaccine after talking to your doctor. Patients scheduled for surgery, better wait till it is done.

 

Are there any prior tests to be done for the cancer patients before taking the vaccine shot?

Cancer patients currently under chemotherapy, radiation, and immune-suppressing treatment should get their complete blood count tested before going for the vaccine. Do not take the vaccine if your WBC and platelet counts are low.

 

What about the patients undergoing stem cell therapy?

Patients with a history of Autologous Stem Cell Transplant, Allogenic Stem Cell Transplant in the last three months should take vaccine only after consulting their doctor.

 

Is vaccine advised for breast cancer patients and survivors?

Yes. However, the patients need to take a vaccine on the arm opposite where cancer has been located. For instance, if cancer appeared in the left breast, the shot should be on the right arm and vice versa.

 

What Should A Cancer Patient Do, If Tested Positive?

  • Do not press the panic button. Please don’t rush to the hospital.
  • Call your health care provider. Fortis has arranged for a special line to counsel, assist and support cancer patients and survivors diagnosed with coronavirus infection.
  • Self-isolate. Remember, the immunity of a cancer patient is already compromised. Meeting people means more risk.
  • Keep checking regularly for vitals like oxygen saturation, blood pressure.
  • In case of difficulty in breathing and oxygen saturation going below 95, reach out to your doctor immediately.
  • Eat healthy and nutritious. Keep up with your treatment schedule. Do not ever skip prescribed medications.
  • Stay positive. We shall all fight it together!

About Fortis

With 56 hospitals across the nation and over 10,000 beds, Fortis Healthcare Limited is a leading integrated healthcare delivery service provider in India. For over 26 years, Fortis Hospitals have been committed to the cause of getting people back to their lives faster and stronger.

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