Individuals With Cancer Need COVID-19 Vaccination, Cancer Care Providers Can Help With Distribution

March 2, 2021

The Association for Clinical Oncology (ASCO), as part of the Cancer Leadership Council (CLC), sent a letter to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) offering the group’s perspective on progress to date in the effort to vaccinate people with cancer and other serious health concerns against COVID-19. The letter also made recommendations to accelerate the pace at which people with cancer receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

Underscoring the need for COVID-19 vaccination for people with cancer, the letter notes that “the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has identified cancer as one of several serious conditions that place adults of any age at increased risk of serious illness from the virus that causes COVID-19. This identification is consistent with the evidence regarding the increased risk of serious COVID-19 illness among cancer patients, with growing evidence of an especially significant risk for hematological cancer patients and lung cancer patients.”

Individuals with high-risk medical conditions such as cancer are recommended for vaccination in phase 1c of the vaccine program. To help ensure that individuals receiving the COVID-19 vaccine because of a cancer diagnosis truly qualify under phase 1c, CLC recommends that states be encouraged to distribute vaccines to cancer care providers, and for those providers to vaccinate their patients in situations where the practices are willing and able.

Engaging cancer care providers—which should remain voluntary for providers and practices—would ensure that cancer patients have a discussion with their care team about whether they should receive a COVID-19 vaccine. It would also address the challenge of how patients can demonstrate that they have a serious underlying health condition qualifying them for vaccination, in states where that is required.

Read the full letter.

Visit the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s Coronavirus Resources page or ASCO in Action for more.