Cancer patients or cancer survivors in Broward, Miami, Monroe or Palm Beach County, likely have a lot of questions about when and if they should get the Coronavirus vaccine.
Here are some answers to common questions compiled by our team at The CyberKnife Center of Miami, South Florida’s state-of-the-art center for targeted radiation therapy for cancer patients.
What do Cancer Patients and Survivors Need to Know about the Coronavirus Vaccine?
The very best answer to this question is simple: Every cancer patient and cancer diagnosis is different. Every patient has different issues and different treatment protocols.
Dr. Mark Pomper, Radiation Oncologist and CyberKnife Miami’s Medical Director says, “In general I think it is very important for cancer patients to get the vaccine if they are otherwise healthy. However, if they are in a certain state, with a weakened immune system wherein one might be compromised so much, I do not recommend it. Cancer patients should speak with their Medical Oncologist concerning the COVID vaccine. It is definitely an issue that should be addressed.”
In late December, the American Association for Cancer Research COVID-19 and Cancer Task Force recommended that patients with cancer should receive priority access to the COVID-19 vaccine because of their increased risk of death from the virus if they get infected with it.
Cancer patients specifically aren’t mentioned by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the research is very limited on cancer patients, but the CDC does say immunocompromised individuals may get the COVID-19 vaccination if they don’t have any contraindications to the vaccine.
However, if you are currently undergoing cancer treatment, such as chemotherapy, which weakens the immune system, guidance could be different. According to the American Cancer Society, other than the yearly flu shot, it’s NOT recommended that vaccines be given during radiation, chemotherapy or immunotherapy treatments.
That’s because in general, you need a healthy immune system for your body to respond to a vaccine. The response may not be as good if you are undergoing cancer treatment and your immune system is suppressed in any way.
Because information about the COVID-19 vaccination is new, limited and constantly changing patients must discuss the COVID-19 vaccine with their Medical Oncologist.
What Coronavirus Vaccines Are Currently Available in Miami, Broward and Palm Beach Counties and Where?
The current vaccines available include both the Pfizer-Biotech vaccine and the Moderna vaccine.
They have both been given emergency use authorization by the Food and Drug Administration.
The Pfizer-Biotech vaccine is given in two doses, which are administered three weeks apart. This vaccine is authorized for those 16 and older.
The Moderna vaccine is given in two doses, four weeks apart and is authorized for those 18 and older.
In clinical trials, both vaccines were shown to be more than 95% effective at preventing the COVID-19 infection in those who get both recommended doses.
Each county – Miami, Broward, Palm Beach and Monroe has different information for coronavirus vaccine distribution, and information changes rapidly. You can check with your city and county health department, your doctor’s office or local hospitals for the latest information on vaccine availability.
The list is continuously updated to keep up with the vaccine location changes and availability.
Has the Coronavirus Vaccine been Tested in Cancer Patients Yet?
According to the American Cancer Society, the clinical trials for the two vaccines currently did not include patients being treated with drugs that can suppress the immune system, like chemotherapy.
The clinical trials also did not include those with weakened immune systems for other reasons.
Studies needed to be completed first in people with healthy immune systems to see how they respond to the shots.
Because the vaccines haven’t been tested in an immunocompromised patient population, it’s not clear how effective they might be in this group or complications they may cause.
How Can The CyberKnife Center of Miami Help Guide Cancer Patients with Coronavirus Vaccine Questions?
At CyberKnife Miami, we are here for our patients for all their questions at any time. We know that questions about the coronavirus vaccine are no different. That’s why if you have any questions, you can call us and ask.
We pride ourselves on helping our patients make informed choices.
Dr. Pomper adds, “We talk to each patient on a case-by-case basis and answer any questions about the coronavirus vaccine. We know that every patient has different concerns and different treatment plans, and we are here to help any way we can.”
CyberKnife Miami uses cutting-edge radiation technology also known as stereotactic body radiation therapy or SBRT, to kill cancer tumors with precision while leaving the surrounding healthy tissue alone.
We treat many types of cancer including breast, prostate, lymph node, head, neck, kidney, liver and lung cancers. We also treat other disorders where precision radiation may benefit patient outcomes such as Trigeminal Neuralgia and Arteriovenous Malformations (AVM’s), which is an abnormal tangle of blood vessels connecting arteries and veins disrupting normal blood flow.
If you are interested in learning more about CyberKnife Miami or you have questions concerning your treatment and COVID-19 call us at
305-279-2900 or go to our website now at www.cyberknifemiami.com.