How Efficient Are Vaccines
Vaccines can make a real difference when it comes to providing protection against foreign infections. For most infectious diseases, vaccinations have been very effective and save millions of lives every year9. Many people have received vaccines for common diseases like polio, influenza, BCG, pox, measles and hepatitis among others. If we look at the statistics, we can see that there has been a great drop in the rates of infectious diseases following the introduction of vaccines to them9.
In most cases, vaccines can protect us from the infectious disease for months to years or even life.
Were People With Cancer Included In The Initial Clinical Trials For The Covid
People with cancer were not included in the initial clinical trials for the COVID-19 vaccines. This is because clinical trials typically need to see whether the vaccines will work in people with healthy immune systems.27 However, data on the safety and effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccines for people affected by cancer is being collected from studies and vaccination programs in Australia and internationally. Cancer Australia is monitoring this data and regularly updates these FAQs as new information and evidence emerges.
Getting An Additional Dose Of The Vaccine
After getting the initial series, getting another dose of vaccine might help people with a weakened immune system to build up a stronger immune response against the virus that causes COVID-19 .
Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines
The CDC recommends a third dose of the mRNA vaccines for people with moderately to severely weakened immune systems. This includes, for example, people who have:
- Been getting active cancer treatment
- Received a stem cell transplant or CAR T-cell therapy within the last 2 years or are taking medicine to suppress the immune system
- Been getting active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids or other drugs that may suppress the immune response
The third dose of vaccine should be given at least 4 weeks after the second dose. Whenever possible, the same mRNA vaccine should be used for the third dose, according to the CDC. If the same vaccine isnt available , then either mRNA vaccine may be given for the third dose.
People who receive this third dose are also eligible for a booster dose of vaccine, according to the CDC. This should be given at least 6 months after the third dose.
Johnson & Johnson vaccine
While the CDC does not recommend an additional dose at this time for immunocompromised people who initially received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, they do recommend getting a booster shot at least 2 months after the initial dose. Any of the three available vaccines can be given for this booster dose.
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How Do You See The Approach To Vaccination And Booster Shots Changing Over The Coming Months And Years
We know that immunity to coronaviruses, including SARS-CoV-2, wane over time. Additionally, viral variants like Omicron have emerged which are better able to escape our immune responses. For these reasons, I think that yearly boosters may be needed. Further research into the frequency and timing of additional boosters is ongoing, as are studies looking at more variant-specific boosters.
- March 8, 2022
If you would like to reproduce some or all of this content, see Reuse of NCI Information for guidance about copyright and permissions. In the case of permitted digital reproduction, please credit the National Cancer Institute as the source and link to the original NCI product using the original product’s title e.g., COVID-19 Vaccines and People with Cancer: A Q& A with Dr. Steven Pergam was originally published by the National Cancer Institute.
Fda Authorizes Evusheld To Protect Immunocompromised Individuals
The United States Food and Drug Administration gave emergency use authorization to Evusheld for use in preventing COVID in individuals with weakened immune systems who do not mount an effective immune response to vaccination. Evusheld is a long-acting monoclonal antibody developed by AstraZeneca that can stay active for months which should offer longer-lasting protection compared to the other currently monoclonal antibody treatments that are given to high-risk people already sick with Covid.
Thousands of individuals with compromised immune systems are at increased risk from COVID because they are unable to mount an effective immune response to vaccination against SARS-CoV2. Those are greatest risk are individuals with blood cancers, those on immunosuppressive cancer therapy, transplant recipients and individuals with other immune mediated disorders.
Evusheld is given via an intramuscular injection and has been shown to be strongly effective at preventing COVID in a clinical trial, reducing the risk of developing a symptomatic infection by 83%. The F.D.A. approval is for individuals with blood cancer, transplant recipients and people taking drugs that suppress their immune system.
Additional data from an independent study conducted by investigators at the Food and Drug Administration show that the long-acting antibody therapy Evusheld retains neutralizing activity against the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant .45
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Vaccines To Treat Cancer
Like viruses, cancer cells also have antigens on their surface. However, immune cells do not usually have the right receptors to bind to them.
Vaccines to treat cancer tend to work by helping the immune system find, bind to, and destroy cancer cells.
Vaccines for cancer treatment can:
- prevent cancer from returning
- kill cancer cells that have remained in the body following treatment
- prevent a tumor from growing or spreading
Doctors can use vaccines alongside other cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy.
November Experts React To Covid
Like most of us, Cancer Research UK-funded experts have been following the news closely and have called the progress exceptional.
News of an effective COVID vaccine is great to hear. Having a vaccine will make the world safer, which means it will be safer for people with cancer too and it will become much easier for cancer treatments to continue.
We look forward to getting a better understanding of the best time to give the vaccine to cancer patients to give them the best level of protection.
Martin Ledwick, Cancer Research UKs head information nurse
Normal drug or vaccine development would take in the range of 5-10 years, sometimes much longer, so these developments have been extraordinary.
But experts have been keen to emphasise that the rapid turnaround of the COVID-19 vaccines isnt because standards have dropped. In fact, the COVID-19 trials have involved more people than standard vaccine trials and have been able to draw on cutting-edge developments in technology and data analysis.
The extraordinary progress is in part because scientists, governments, industry and academic institutes around the world have turned their focus to this one goal. And to further accelerate development, different phases of vaccine trials and production have overlapped.
Copy this link and share our graphic. Credit: Cancer Research UK.
You can read more about the various COVID-19 vaccines in this piece by journalistTom Chivers, whos taking part inthe Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine trial.
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Vaccinations And Cancer: What You Need To Know
There have been many myths about vaccinations that were spread over the internet and, in some cases, even in local publications. This has caused a significant number of people to be unsure whether they should obtain immunization against the common flu, as well as other infectious diseases that might be spreading in the local area. Parents also often become concerned when such myths are being reported, unsure as to whether or not they should get a vaccine for their child.
Currently, when it comes to vaccinations and cancer, the good news is that being immunized against a specific virus or other types of infectious disease has not been associated an increased risk of cancer.
This is not where the good news stops, however. Below, we are going to take a closer look at a couple of studies that have been done on vaccinations – what you will notice is another reason why being vaccinated is so important. There are several studies that have now confirmed that being vaccinated could ultimately help to reduce the risk of certain cancers, instead of causing a cancer-related scare for the person being immunized.
What Is A Covid
The COVID-19 vaccines strengthen a persons immune system by training it to recognise and fight something that is specific to COVID-19. For most of the COVID-19 vaccines, this specific thing is the coronavirus spike protein.
The spike protein is not the virus itself – it is the pointy bit of the coronavirus cell which helps the virus enter peoples bodies. The COVID-19 vaccines that are available in Australia train our immune system to recognise this spike protein as foreign and produce long-lasting immune cells and antibodies to fight it.
None of the COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in Australia use the live or whole virus that causes COVID-19.1 The COVID-19 vaccines cannot give you COVID-19.
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Is Any Data Being Collected About Covid
Data about the use of the COVID-19 vaccines can help us better understand the COVID-19 vaccination rates for people affected by cancer.
45 and Up COVID Insights rapid online survey results – COVID-19 vaccination rate in people with cancer
Cancer Australia is delighted to have had the opportunity to include questions about cancer patients and carers in the Sax Institute’s recent 45 and Up COVID Insights rapid online survey, to understand more about the COVID-19 vaccine experiences in Australian cancer patients and their carers. 45 and Up COVID Insights is funded through a NSW Health COVID-19 Research Grant.
The 45 and Up Study is Australias largest ongoing study of health and ageing, following over 250,000 participants in NSW aged 45 and over since 2006. The 45 and Up COVID Insights is a series of rapid online surveys of a subgroup of 32,117 participants in the 45 and Up Study. The series of five surveys commenced in November 2020 and continues until early 2022 exploring the health and social impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The third survey was completed from 10 June to 1 September 2021, with a total of 27,016 participants.
25% of respondents in the survey reported ever having a cancer diagnosis . Of these, 31% had received cancer treatment in the last 12 months. The main treatment was surgery . Other treatments include radiotherapy , chemotherapy and immunotherapy .
Can Other Medicines Lower Risk As Well
For people with moderately to severely weakened immune systems , the FDA has authorized a combination of the monoclonal antibodies tixagevimab and cilgavimab to help lower the risk of COVID-19 infection. These medicines can be used in people who do not have COVID-19 and who have not recently been exposed to the virus. Its important to note that they are meant to be given in addition to, not instead of getting the vaccine.
For more information, see Can other medicines lower the risk of COVID-19 infection? in Common Questions About the COVID-19 Outbreak.
If you are concerned about your risk of COVID-19 even after being fully vaccinated, its important to talk to your doctor about your immune status and if you should get additional doses of the vaccine, as well as what else you can do to help lower your risk of infection.
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March Shielding For Clinically Extremely Vulnerable To End In April
From 1 April, those consideredclinically extremely vulnerablewho have been followingshieldingadvice during the pandemicwill no longer be advised to shield.
Anyone affected will receive letters from today with updated guidance on stepsthey can take to reduce their risk of getting COVID-19, including maintaining strict social distancing and working from home where possible.
Following the Governments COVID-19 Response Spring 2021 roadmap, letters and emails will be sent out to more than 3.79 million people who can begin to follow the national lockdown restrictions.
The update comes alongside the news that more than 9 in 10 people who are considered clinically extremely vulnerable have received a first dose of a vaccine.
Food Of Animal Origin
In some studies it has been found that feeding with a high meat content could be associated with an increased risk of gastric cancer. It is particularly important to avoid meats prepared with nitrites. These foods should be consumed only occasionally and accompanied by vitamin C to alleviate the effects of nitrosamines. Several studies have shown that high consumption of red meat increases mortality in patients with lung cancer, colorectal, prostate and breast cancers.
Epidemiological studies indicate that populations that consume diets rich in smoked, salted and marinated foods have a higher incidence of esophageal and stomach cancer, at least in part due to its content in polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. There is evidence that preservatives in meats and fish increase the risk of colorectal cancer.
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When Should Patients On Immunosuppressive Therapy By Vaccinated
Vaccination is recommended at least 2-4 weeks prior to the planned immunosuppressive therapy, transplant or splenectomy. If the patient is receiving or has received immunosuppressive therapy, consider vaccination 6 months after the patient has been taken off therapy to increase the likelihood of developing immunity. After hematopoietic cell transplantation vaccines are generally started after 3-6 months.
Developing And Testing Personalized Mrna Cancer Vaccines
For more than a decade, cancer researchers have been developing a type of treatment known as a personalized cancer vaccine using various technologies, including mRNA and protein fragments, or peptides.
The investigational mRNA vaccines are manufactured for individuals based on the specific molecular features of their tumors. It takes 1 to 2 months to produce a personalized mRNA cancer vaccine after tissue samples have been collected from a patient.
Speed is especially important for individualized cancer vaccination, said Mathias Vormehr, Ph.D., codirector of Cancer Vaccines at BioNTech. A highly individualized vaccine combination must be designed and produced within weeks of taking a tumor biopsy.
With this approach, researchers try to elicit an immune response against abnormal proteins, or neoantigens, produced by cancer cells. Because these proteins are not found on normal cells, they are promising targets for vaccine-induced immune responses.
Personalized cancer vaccines may teach the immune system how cancer cells are different from the rest of the body, said Julie Bauman, M.D., deputy director of the University of Arizona Cancer Center.
Dr. Bauman is co-leading a clinical trial testing a personalized mRNA vaccine in combination with an immune checkpoint inhibitor in patients with advanced head and neck cancer. The study initially included patients with colorectal cancer, but this group did not appear to benefit from the therapy.
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February Uk Regulator Confirms Covid
Data published by the UKs independent drugs regulator, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency , has confirmed that both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccinesare extremely safe.
The MHRA assessed safety reports from nearly 7 million doses of the vaccine given up to 24 January the majority of which were the Pfizer-BioNTech jab.
Results found that approximately 22,820 suspected reactions were reported, the equivalent to approximately 3 in every 1,000 people vaccinated.
Almost all cases were mild and include sore arms, headaches and chills. These aftereffects are not the disease itself, butare caused bythe bodys response to the vaccine.
Is Any Data Being Collected About The Safety And Effectiveness Of The Covid
Data about the use of the COVID-19 vaccines can help us better understand the safety and effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccines for people affected by cancer.
Cancer Australia has established an important clinical study to better understand the safety and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccines in people with cancer, including in people with solid tumours and blood malignancies. Monash Health, Victoria have been engaged to develop and implement an Australian clinical trial based on the US National Cancer Institute Serological Sciences Network for COVID-19 framework, which uses innovative technology to examine the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines in cancer patients. The study has been called SerOzNET to highlight the unique population it will study.
The study is currently recruiting people with cancer aged 5 years and older across six sites, including:
- Monash Health, VIC
- Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick, NSW
- The Children’s Hospital, Westmead, NSW
- St Vincent’s Hospital, Darlinghurst, NSW
- Royal Perth Hospital, WA
The study is now also monitoring eligible patients following their third primary dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Rapid implementation of this study will allow timely information to be provided to the Australian cancer community about the safety and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccines in people with cancer.
For more information about the SerOzNET study, visit www.canceraustralia.gov.au/SerOzNET-Study.
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Questions To Ask Your Health Care Team
If you want to learn more about joining a cancer treatment vaccine clinical trial, talk with your health care team. You may want to ask these questions:
Is there a clinical trial testing a vaccine for my type and stage of cancer?
Where is the clinical trial located?
What is the vaccine and how does it work?
How is the vaccine made? Will I need blood cells or tumor tissue removed to make the vaccine? How will you remove it?
How will I receive the vaccine and how often?
How long will I need the vaccine?
What side effects could occur?
Can I receive the vaccine with other treatments such as radiation therapy or chemotherapy?
What are the other treatment options for this cancer?
How Effective Are The Mrna Vaccines
Both vaccines appear highly effective resulting in a measurable immune response in over 94% of vaccinated individuals by seven days after getting the second dose. Because it takes your body about two weeks to make enough antibodies to mount a response to the virus an immune response is evident as early as 14 days after the first dose, but the effectiveness was only about 50%.1-3
The Food and Drug Administration has expanded the Emergency Use Authorization for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine to include adolescents 12 to 15 years of age. Previously, the vaccine had only been authorized to prevent COVID-19 in patients 16 years of age and older.22
As for effectiveness, analysis of immunogenicity data showed that immune responses to the vaccine in the adolescent group were non-inferior to those observed in older participants . Additionally, a review of COVID-19 cases that occurred 7 days after the second dose among 12 to 15 year olds without evidence of prior SARS-CoV-2 infection demonstrated that the vaccine was 100% effective in preventing COVID-19. No cases occurred among the 1005 participants who received the vaccine, while 16 were reported among the 978 placebo recipients.
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