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Cancer patients should receive COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible

Cancer patients should receive COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible

The Cancer Society is urging people with cancer to get vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as they are eligible.

The organisation has released a video with a leading UK lung oncologist about vaccines and the pandemic to highlight the importance of protecting people with cancer. 

“Overseas experience supports the majority of cancer patients receiving the vaccine as soon as possible,” says Cancer Society Medical Director Chris Jackson. “The vaccine is low risk, while COVID remains a higher risk.” 

In the video, UK oncologist Sanjay Popat says the vaccine is frequently given to cancer patients at the same time as cancer treatment, such as receiving a CT scan, in order to minimise hospital visits. It is not given at the same time as chemotherapy, although patients receiving chemotherapy can be vaccinated. 

Popat says there have been “no major concerns” around the safety or side effects from the COVID-19 vaccines given out in the UK. 

The Government yesterday announced it has secured enough of the Pfizer vaccine to have every New Zealander vaccinated by the end of this year. The Ministry of Health says those who are ‘immuno-compromised’ will be given priority for the vaccine but has not specified cancer patients. 

Jackson says New Zealand is in the privileged position of being able to learn from countries like the UK. “That experience points to making cancer patients a priority group.” 

It’s understandable that some people might be hesitant about a vaccine while undergoing other treatment, but for the overwhelming majority of people with cancer or on treatment for cancer, having a vaccination will be the right thing to do says Jackson.

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