Cancer Patients & The COVID-19 Vaccine
- In states such as Ohio, Colorado and West Virginia cancer patients are not being prioritized for receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.
- People fighting cancer may be in an immunocompromised state due to chemotherapy treatments, and thus more susceptible to contracting the virus.
- Despite the current climate, it’s important to safely continue cancer screenings such as mammograms and colonoscopies.
But in some states, under the current vaccine rollout plan, some cancer patients are ineligible to receive the vaccine along with people with other illnesses.Read More
Other states, such as West Virginia, are not including cancer patients for eligibility in the earliest tiers of the vaccines. While West Virginia has been praised widely for its vaccine rollout, having used 83 percent of its allotted vaccines by early February, many people are still out in the cold, including some cancer patients. The state’s current eligibility policy does not list cancer as a condition in its “high risk population with chronic medical conditions” tier.
Coloradoans, Nebraskans and residents of Maine are all facing similar challenges. In Colorado, people with cancer are not in the top tier eligibility for the vaccine. Cancer is considered a high-risk condition in Colorado, but to qualify for a vaccine in Phase 1B.3, Coloradoans must have “two or more” of the conditions listed.
Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts said Wednesday that the state will look to the medical community to identify appropriate patients who would qualify for early vaccination without regard to their age. He encouraged people with high risk conditions such as cancer to “register and work with their health care provider,” according to the Lincoln Journal Star, but did not provide a list of conditions covered.
As of Wednesday, Maine transitioned to a strictly age-based roll-out approach with no regard to high-risk medical conditions such as cancer.
In Washington state, cancer is not a qualifier for the vaccine. In the state’s Phase 1B Tier 3, people aged 50 and older with multiple health conditions will be eligible cancer is an eligible health condition, but only counts as one. This phase is predicted to begin in mid-April, reports King 5.
Staying Safe During COVID-19
People fighting cancer can be immunocompromised, depending on their treatment path. For people going through chemotherapy, or those who have previously undergone chemotherapy, they may be at a heightened risk for contracting the coronavirus, because chemotherapy treatments can impact the immune system.
Due to the heightened risk cancer patients face, it’s critical to practice COVID-19 safety precautions like maintaining social distance, washing your hands and wearing a mask.
Continuing Cancer Screenings During COVID1-19
Life has been upended in all ways possible due to the ongoing pandemic, but it’s important to maintain as much normalcy as possible in one area of life: Cancer screenings.
Continued screenings for cancers are of the utmost importance because early detection often means wider treatment options and in some cases, a better prognosis.
Screenings like mammograms, colonoscopies and pap smears should all continue at this time. Speak with your doctors to make sure you’re up-to-date on screening for various cancers.