CDC chief urged to extend COVID-19 vaccine boosters to caregivers of patients with cancer
American Association for Cancer Research urged the CDC to expand availability of COVID-19 booster vaccinations to caregivers and other individuals who share a home with patients with cancer.
“While it is crucial that patients with cancer and the health care professionals who care for them have access to additional COVID-19 vaccinations to increase immunity, for many of these patients, residing in a home where other members or caregivers may not be eligible for COVID-19 boosters is still a threat to their health,” AACR President David A. Tuveson, MD, PhD, FAACR, Past President Antoni Ribas, MD, PhD, FAACR, and CEO Margaret Foti, PhD, MD (hc), wrote Monday in a letter to CDC Director Rochelle P. Walensky, MD, MPH.
The AACR leaders thanked Walensky for recommending that patients with cancer and people who work in high-risk occupational and institutional settings receive booster vaccinations. Extending booster access to caregivers and household members could increase protection against COVID-19 for patients with cancer, who often have weakened immune systems that increase their risk for severe disease and death due to the virus, the letter stated.
Patients with hematologic malignancies are most in need of additional protection, the AACR leaders wrote, citing studies that showed these patients may not achieve sufficient immune response to repeated vaccination.
“Gen. Colin Powell’s death from COVID-19 sadly underscores the urgency to take such actions to reduce the risk that patients with cancer face from the virus,” the letter stated. Reports indicated Powell, who died Monday due to COVID-19 complications, was fully vaccinated against the virus but had multiple myeloma, a type of blood cancer that suppresses the body’s immune response.
“It also is important to consider that prolonged COVID‐19 infection in immunocompromised individuals such as patients with blood cancer creates opportunities for evolution of viral variants,” the letter stated. “Therefore, boosting immunity of those sharing households with patients with cancer would help stonewall new viral variants from spreading among the general population.
AACR sends letter to CDC director urging boosters for caregivers and household members to protect patients with cancer. Available at: www.aacr.org/about-the-aacr/newsroom/news-releases/aacr-sends-letter-to-cdc-director-urging-boosters-for-caregivers-and-household-members-to-protect-patients-with-cancer/. Published Oct. 18, 2021. Accessed Oct. 18, 2021.
AACR letter to CDC Director Rochelle P. Walensky, MD, MPH. Available at: www.aacr.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Letter_to_CDC_Director_Walensky_101821.pdf. Published Oct. 18, 2021. Accessed Oct. 18, 2021.
CNBC. Colin Powell was vaccinated against COVID, but suffered from a cancer that makes the shots less effective. Available at: www.cnbc.com/2021/10/18/colin-powell-suffered-from-a-cancer-that-makes-covid-vaccine-less-effective.html. Accessed Oct. 18, 2021.