Got cancer? Get vaccinated is a collaborative initiative driven by leading Victorian oncologists, cancer health professionals and patient advocates concerned by the prevalence of vaccine hesitancy and confusion about the safety, risks and benefits of the vaccine.
As COVID-19 cases return to the community, widespread reporting of misinformation could be putting people with cancer at even greater risk. The campaign focuses on communicating clear, direct, evidence-based messages to provide assurance and motivation.
The stark set of figures revealed one in four people with cancer who contract COVID-19 die from the virus. That figure rises to one in three for people with blood cancers or lung cancer.
In addition, people with cancer are twice as likely to develop critical symptoms of the virus, leading to hospitalisation, ICU admissions and ventilation.
Vaccination is safe and recommended for the vast majority of people with cancer, including people on active treatment and people with blood cancers. There is no evidence that people with cancer are at greater risk of side effects from the vaccine than anyone else.
The vaccines are effective at both reducing the chances of contracting the disease and reducing the severity if it is contracted.
Even people who may have a lower immune response to the vaccine due to their cancer treatments are encouraged to be vaccinated.
Professor Grant McArthur, Co-Chair of the Victorian COVID-19 Cancer Taskforce and Executive Director of the Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre Alliance, said cancer experts are strongly encouraging people with cancer to get vaccinated as soon as possible.
“Protection for people with cancer is essential against this dangerous virus,” Prof McArthur said.
“The benefits far outweigh any small risk from potential vaccination side effects.”
Vaccination is vital for all Victorians but especially people – including those with cancer – who are at higher risk of severe disease or death if they were to contract the virus.
Prof McArthur, a cancer survivor himself, implored those affected by cancer to protect themselves and their families by getting vaccinated.
“Until people get vaccinated, COVID-19 will remain a ticking time bomb for our community, especially for people affected by cancer,” he said.
“As a cancer doctor and someone affected by cancer personally, I cannot emphasise the importance of this message enough. If you have got cancer, get vaccinated.”
All people with cancer of all ages are eligible for vaccination now.
People on active treatment for cancer should consult with their doctor to discuss optimal timing for vaccination in relation to treatment cycles and any other individual considerations.
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