The Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders, which serves 12,000 patients a year in North Texas, is now offering their patients and caregivers the COVID-19 vaccine.
The Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders, which serves 12,000 patients a year in North Texas, is now offering their patients and caregivers the COVID-19 vaccine, according to a press release by the center.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused over 533,057 deaths in the United States alone, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Total cases in the United States surpass 29 million. So far, the FDA has approved 3 COVID-19 vaccines by Moderna, Pfizer Inc., and Johnson & Johnson. So far, over 110,000,000 vaccines have been administered, according to the CDC. However, patients with cancer have not tended to be in the first groups of people vaccinated.
The Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders, which is a partner of OneOncology, plans to distribute the Moderna vaccine to its patients and caregivers using a drive-through process at their clinic. So far, the center has secured 1500 doses of the vaccine. Patients can make appointments for themselves and a caregiver by using an online portal.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused major interruptions to cancer care. In the early days of the pandemic, screenings were postponed or canceled outright, many routine check-ins had to be done remotely, and many surgeries and chemotherapy sessions were postponed. Additionally, many clinical trials were interrupted by the pandemic. Many care providers are worried that there will be an uptick in later-stage cancers and increased mortality in the coming years, which has already begun to be seen, due to the disruption in clinical trials and screenings and treatment interruptions.
As the vaccine rollout begins, advocacy and professional organizations have raised concerns that patients with cancer, who are at an increased risk of severe COVID-19, are being bumped to lower-risk vaccine groups. The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) and the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) released a joint statement in February urging state governments to prioritize patients with cancer in their vaccine rollout, citing states like Florida, where the most emphasis has been placed on people 65 and older, moving many younger patients with high-risk conditions, like cancer, to lower tiers.
The odds ratio for an individual with cancer or a history of cancer of developing severe COVID-19 disease or death is 1.35, which is 2.31-times higher than those with no cancer history. The 2 organizations cited a lack of a unified distribution plan as well as availability concerns for the uneven vaccine distribution.
However, availability isn’t the only challenge facing patients with cancer. Concerns also surround the willingness of patients with cancer to receive the vaccine now that it is available. A recent survey by the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society found that 1 in 3 patients with cancer are unlikely or unsure about getting a vaccine for COVID-19. Most of the patients with cancer polled said that concerns about safety and proper testing were the reasons behind their hesitancy.
"We appreciate the deep concern for cancer patients our state and county public health have shown by working with us to ensure vulnerable cancer patients are prioritized to receive a COVID-19 vaccine," said Barry Russo, CEO of the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders, in a press release. "We're excited to be the first cancer center in the country to be able to offer patients access to these vaccines."
In addition to the 1500 doses of the Moderna vaccine, the State of Texas allocated 100 doses of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine as well.