What Should Cancer Patients Know About the Coronavirus Vaccines?

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) attacks the lungs and respiratory system and is especially dangerous for people with compromised immune systems, including cancer patients. Many cancer patients may wonder if they should get vaccinated and have concerns about safety. While every cancer patient must first consult with their oncologist about whether or not the COVID-19 vaccine is right for them, it is not a live vaccine and should be generally safe to take, even for those in active cancer therapy.

Are Vaccines Currently Available?

From the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a rush to develop a vaccine. Currently, the United States has three vaccines approved under emergency use authorization (EUA). All three are highly effective against the original strain of COVID-19, with different rates of efficacy against new variants of the virus.

All vaccines work by providing the immune system with antibodies to quickly fight and kill the virus. Some vaccines contain changed versions of live viruses that cause diseases; however, none of the COVID-19 vaccines contain live viruses, which could be unsafe for cancer patients and others with weakened immune systems.

These three vaccines use different methods to build immunity to COVID-19. One vaccine uses an adenovirus to deliver a piece of DNA from the COVID-19 spike protein into the body. The presence of the DNA segment causes cells to make harmless versions of the spike protein, inducing the body’s immune response. As with any vaccine, a vaccinated person is now ready and able to fight future exposure to the virus. By contrast, the other two vaccines work using messenger RNA. This molecule contains instructions for making harmless versions of the spike protein. Once vaccinated, the body’s cells make copies of the fake spike protein, which triggers the immune response.

A person with a compromised immune system such as someone with cancer may not have as strong a response as someone with an intact immune system.

Are There Side Effects of the COVID-19 Vaccines?

Common side effects of the COVID-19 vaccines may include:

  • Soreness, redness, or swelling at the injection site
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle aches or joint pain
  • Headaches
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Swollen lymph nodes

Many people report these symptoms after their second dose of the vaccine, and typically, they subside after a few days. It is important for cancer patients to be aware of the possibility of enlarged lymph nodes in the neck or underarm regions after vaccination so that they do not mistake this side effect for a sign of cancerous growth. Swollen or enlarged lymph nodes may feel sore for several weeks but usually resolve on their own. Anyone with swollen lymph nodes who does not see improvement three to four weeks after the second dose of vaccine should consult a doctor.

Which Vaccine Should I Get?

Most experts recommend that patients with cancer get whichever vaccine is available to them. While there is no data yet to show how vaccines affect cancer treatment, it is anticipated that the arrival of the one-dose vaccine could be a boon for cancer patients. The one dose delivery provides immunity faster and eliminates the possibility of the second dose conflicting with cancer treatment schedules. A patient awaiting chemotherapy or surgery might have to delay treatment in order to have two vaccine doses 21 or 28 days apart.

What if I Have Mesothelioma?

People with mesothelioma are at risk for developing a severe form of COVID-19, so it is important that they get vaccinated after checking with their medical provider. Even patients undergoing treatment are advised to get vaccinated. According to the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation, people receiving mesothelioma immunotherapy should get vaccinated as should those who are receiving immunotherapy drugs that are still in the clinical trial phase.

Mesothelioma is a solid tumor, and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) recommends that patients with solid tumors get vaccinated as soon as possible. Surgery patients should plan to get the vaccine for a few days before or after any operation.

What Should I Do After I am Vaccinated?

After being vaccinated, safety precautions, such as mask wearing and frequent handwashing, still need to be practiced diligently. To stay safe, everybody should continue to reduce face-to-face interaction, wear masks, wash hands frequently, and practice social distancing.

If one was recently diagnosed with mesothelioma, they may have legal options available to them. A lawyer will help with their client’s asbestos exposure history and determine if they are eligible for compensation.

Georgetown Mesothelioma Lawyers at Jacobs & Crumplar, P.A. Help Clients After Asbestos Exposure

The COVID-19 vaccines are recommended for mesothelioma patients, but victims may need legal recourse for recovery. If you have mesothelioma, a Georgetown mesothelioma lawyer at Jacobs & Crumplar, P.A. can help you. This type of complex litigation needs a dedicated legal team who will thoroughly investigate your claim to get you the compensation you deserve. Call us at 302-656-5445 or contact us online for a free consultation. We have offices in Wilmington and Millsboro, Delaware, and we proudly serve clients throughout Dover, New Castle County, and Sussex County.