Vaccination efforts around the world have picked up steam, but questions remain over the safety of COVID-19 vaccines, and, in particular, whether they are safe for cancer patients. According to a Turkish doctor, COVID-19 vaccines do not pose risks for patients with cancer, especially in Turkey as it has chosen to administer Sinovac’s CoronaVac vaccine.
Professor Timuçin Çil, a research associate at the Medical Oncology Clinic of the Adana Training and Research Hospital in southern Adana province, said that cancer patients are among the high-risk groups from COVID-19 and that they can and should be safely vaccinated. Çil urged cancer patients to protect themselves as much as possible by getting vaccinated, as recent research shows cancer patients are more vulnerable than others to COVID-19.
“Cancer patients can safely get the inactivated vaccine. It is very safe and does not pose a risk to them. Its implementation is clearly recommended by all guidelines around the world,” Çil said, adding: “CoronaVac vaccine can be used safely. The flu vaccines we use are also inactivated vaccines. They pose no risk to cancer patients.”
However, some research has cast doubt around the safety of mRNA vaccines for cancer patients. Doctors recommend consulting oncologists before getting vaccinated.
Çil noted that the CoronaVac vaccine, which Turkey has opted for, was developed by using the inactivated virus method. “We know that it is a suitable vaccination method for cancer patients. We now know that the American Cancer Society, the European Society for Medical Oncology and Turkish Society of Medical Oncology clearly suggest vaccination. All cancer patients should get vaccinated,” he said.
He also underlined that there are two groups of cancer patients. The first is the patients who are not receiving any active treatment. Çil said that these patients must be vaccinated immediately when their turn comes.
The second patient group is of those who receive active treatment, such as surgery, chemotherapy, immunotherapy or radiotherapy. “These patients also need to get vaccinated, but when the immune system is suppressed during chemotherapy, their oncologists’ opinion has to be taken into consideration before the vaccination,” Çil said.
Çil stated that cancer patients over the age of 85 are already being vaccinated in line with the Health Ministry’s vaccination program.