130 organizations urge Biden, states to prioritize people with cancer for COVID-19 vaccination
A group of 130 cancer centers, organizations and other entities today sent a letter to President Joe Biden urging that people diagnosed with cancer be prioritized for COVID-19 vaccines.
“We fully support your COVID-19 vaccination plan that calls for broadening access and vaccinating as many Americans as rapidly as possible,” the letter stated. “However, we are compelled to underscore the urgency of prioritizing access to a COVID-19 vaccine for patients with active cancer and survivors of cancer.”
The letter — initiated by American Association for Cancer Research — highlighted the increasing evidence that people with cancer are at higher risk for severe illness or death if they contract the novel coronavirus.
One study showed patients with cancer diagnosed with COVID-19 are twice as likely as those without cancer to require hospitalization. Another literature review showed COVID-19 fatality rates were double among people with cancer.
“Patients with cancer who are in treatment often receive frequent in-person clinical care, which has the potential to increase their risk of exposure to the virus,” the letter stated. “Furthermore, certain patients with cancer are vulnerable to infection because of their weakened immune status, which is attributable to their cancers and/or their treatments. Clearly, vaccinating patients with cancer who are in treatment offers the best protection against the threat of contracting the virus.”
The letter urged Biden and officials in his administration to emphasize to all state public health departments that people with active cancer and cancer survivors be provided priority access to COVID-19 vaccines.
Last month, National Comprehensive Cancer Network’s Vaccination Advisory Committee recommended people with active cancer, as well as their caregivers and household contacts, be prioritized for COVID-19 vaccination.
The full letter is available here.