People who have cancer should still get vaccinated against Covid-19, health specialists say, urging patients to register for vaccination whether before, during or after cancer treatment.
”The Covid vaccines that are available can be given to people who are having cancer treatment,” says British healthcare charity Macmillan Cancer Support.
”Covid vaccines are not live vaccines, they cannot harm you when your immunity is reduced,” the charity says, adding, vaccines save lives and reduce the need for hospital stays from Covid-19.
”If you are due to start cancer treatment or have cancer surgery, your medical team may recommend that you have vaccinations before treatment begins.”
Having your vaccinations before your treatment will give you a better chance of protection, the charity says.
The advice comes as some worry what is best to do, as whether it is chemotherapy or radiation, cancer treatment can weaken your immune system.
That means if you catch the coronavirus or flu, for example, you may get a more severe bout, even in the period after cancer therapy.
But if you are due for treatment sooner than you can get a shot, then check whether you can have it during your treatment, says the German Cancer Research Centre (DKFZ).
It will depend on the type of Covid-19 vaccine on offer.
You can get a vector or mRNA vaccine against Covid-19 during your therapy.
These include the vaccines from AstraZeneca/Oxford and CanSino (viral vector), as well as Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna (mRNA), among others.
You can also get vaccinations with inactivated viruses during cancer treatment, which includes influenza or whooping cough jabs.
Consider the timing though, as the effectiveness of the vaccination may be lower depending on the strength of your immune system.
Ask your doctor for advice on when is the best time to get the shot.
During cancer treatment, there is only one group of vaccines that you should avoid and that is live vaccines, which includes jabs against mumps, measles and rubella (MMR), according to the DKFZ.
So if you are planning to update your live vaccine shots, wait until you end your course of therapy.
Ideally, wait a little longer too, to give your immune system a chance to recover after your cancer treatment.
If you are looking at an inactivated vaccine, it is best to wait three months, while it’s better to wait six months for a live vaccine, says the DKFZ. – dpa