The COVID-19 vaccine rollout is a symbol of hope for people throughout the United States. Millions are receiving the vaccine daily, signaling that the end of the pandemic is closer and closer every day.
The topic of COVID-19 vaccination is especially important for mesothelioma patients.
Thousands of Americans are diagnosed each year with mesothelioma, an aggressive asbestos-caused cancer. This disease spreads quickly to vital organs, one of which is the lungs.
COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that affects the lungs. The combination of mesothelioma and COVID-19 can be deadly, and people with this cancer should be considered for the first few groups of vaccinations.
There are a few questions surrounding the COVID-19 vaccine for people with mesothelioma. We’ll answer the pressing ones. Most importantly, we urge all patients to speak with their doctor about receiving the COVID-19 vaccines approved or authorized by the FDA. As of this publication, the approved vaccines are Pfizer and Moderna.
All mentions of vaccines for the rest of this page reference those two vaccines. We do not recommend taking experimental, non-approved COVID-19 vaccines or other treatments.
Should People With Mesothelioma Get the Vaccine?
Yes. The vaccine can prevent people with mesothelioma from developing a severe form of COVID. Mesothelioma patients are at an especially high risk of a deadly COVID case, so the vaccine is vital.
Some worry that the vaccine will inhibit any immunotherapy treatment. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Opdivo and Yervoy as a front-line immunotherapy for many mesothelioma patients. Some may already have started the therapy.
The Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation urges people receiving mesothelioma immunotherapy to get vaccinated. So does the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer. Even patients receiving immunotherapy drugs still in the clinical trial phase should get vaccinated.
The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) issued thorough guidelines for cancer patients and the COVID-19 vaccine. The report says, “Immunization is recommended for all patients receiving active therapy, with the understanding that there are limited safety and efficacy data in these patients.”
NCCN recommends patients with solid tumors get the vaccine as soon as possible. Mesothelioma is a solid tumor. The only exception is surgery patients, who should get the vaccine at least a few days before or after their operation.
When Will People With Mesothelioma Be Able to Get the Vaccine?
If not already, then hopefully soon. Each state is handling the rollout and prioritizing who gets the vaccine first. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention simply provides suggestions.
The CDC recommended health care workers, residents of long-term care facilities and staff of these facilities to receive the vaccine first. This was labeled “1a.” The next group (1B) includes:
- Frontline essential workers
- People age 75 and older
Then there’s 1c:
- People age 65-74
- People age 16-64 with underlying health conditions (mesothelioma would apply)
- Other essential workers
Most people with mesothelioma are age 65 and up, so they’ll fall into 1b if they weren’t in 1a already.
Each state is handling the rollout for their residents and may detour from the CDC’s guidelines. For instance, in Florida, the senior population is prioritized higher than the recommendations.
You should check with your state’s rollout plan to see when you’d likely receive the vaccine, if you haven’t already.
Does the Vaccine Protect People From Getting COVID?
We’re not sure, but for now, assume the answer is “no.” The approved COVID-19 vaccines protect people from getting sick from the virus. There’s no evidence that the vaccines protect people from getting COVID itself.
The vaccines provide the immune system with antibodies to quickly fight and kill the virus. This leaves people asymptomatic.
Think of the vaccine like military defense. The vaccine isn’t the wall that prevents invaders from getting inside. Rather, it’s alarming troops and gathering the right troops on the other side of the wall, ready to defend the body immediately.
Can Vaccinated Mesothelioma Patients Resume Their Pre-COVID Lifestyle?
Not yet, no. Since there’s no evidence that the vaccine prevents COVID, a vaccinated person can still carry the virus. That means they can transmit it to someone else, possibly someone not vaccinated.
People with mesothelioma who aren’t vaccinated should remain extra cautious. Even a family member who has the vaccine can transmit the virus to you.
People should continue practicing social distancing, wearing masks, washing hands, and limiting face-to-face interaction as much as possible. The light at the end of the tunnel is getting bigger, but we aren’t there quite yet.
Sources & Author
- Meso Foundation recommends Covid-19 vaccine in mesothelioma patients receiving immunotherapy. Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation. Retrieved from: https://www.curemeso.org/2021/01/21/meso-foundation-recommends-covid-19-vaccine-in-mesothelioma-patients-receiving-immunotherapy/. Accessed: 02/03/2021.
- How Is The COVID-19 Vaccination Campaign Going In Your State? NPR. Retrieved from: https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2021/01/28/960901166/how-is-the-covid-19-vaccination-campaign-going-in-your-state. Accessed: 02/03/2021.
- COVID-19 Vaccines. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Retrieved from: https://www.fda.gov/emergency-preparedness-and-response/coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19/covid-19-vaccines. Accessed: 02/03/2021.
- Can you still transmit Covid-19 after vaccination? BBC. Retrieved from: https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20210203-why-vaccinated-people-may-still-be-able-to-spread-covid-19. Accessed: 02/03/2021.
- You Can Still Spread, Develop COVID-19 After Getting a Vaccine: What to Know. Healthline. Retrieved from: https://www.healthline.com/health-news/you-can-still-spread-develop-covid-19-after-getting-a-vaccine-what-to-know. Accessed: 02/03/2021.
- Preliminary Recommendations of the NCCN COVID-19 Vaccination Advisory Committee. National Comprehensive Cancer Network. Retrieve from: https://www.nccn.org/covid-19/pdf/COVID-19_Vaccination_Guidance_V1.0.pdf. Accessed: 02/04/2021.
Sources & Author