The majority of U.S. states did not prioritize cancer patients when it came to COVID-19 vaccine rollouts.

According to a research study presented today at the annual meeting of Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) nearly two-thirds of U.S. States failed to prioritize cancer patients for COVID-19 vaccinations despite the advice of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

COVID-19 is particularly harmful for cancer patients. Both the disease and treatment such as radiation therapy and chemotherapy can leave their immune systems in a weak condition.

Although vaccines are extremely effective, initial supply constraints caused the CDC’s Advisory Council on Immunization Practices (CDC) to make difficult decisions regarding patients’ prioritization. The final phase of the first phase included patients aged 16-64 with high-risk illnesses. This group comprised more than 129 million people and led many states to prioritize.

Researchers wanted to find out what percentage of states were following CDC recommendations for the upcoming study. They used keywords-based searches on the internet to identify every state’s COVID vaccination website , and then began to search for details on vaccinations for cancer patients.

While 43 states have included cancer as a condition for vaccination, only 17 states granted cancer patients the same priority in vaccination as patients who are aged 65-74, and only eight states have a qualifying cancer diagnosis.

The CDC recommended that states consider those with serious medical conditions to have the same priority in vaccination as those over 65 years old. However, almost two-thirds (63%) of states did not provide the same priority to patients suffering from breast cancer.

Rahul Prasad M.D., Study Author The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center, Columbus, Ohio

Forty-two states did not clearly define the requirements for cancer patients to receive priority vaccination. This inconsistency is a major issue, Dr. Prasad noted, due to the wide range of variations within the cancer patient population.

“You could have someone diagnosed with breast cancer at age 40 who is now in remission, and wondering if they’re eligible,” Dr. Prasad said. “On the other end of the spectrum, a person newly diagnosed with low-risk prostate cancer may not be particularly immunocompromised if they haven’t started treatment yet.”

Of the eight states that have defined a qualifying cancer diagnosis for prioritization of vaccines, six limited the eligibility of patients who are currently receiving treatment.

Dr. Prasad stated that the CDC recommendations are not being adhered to by all states. This is partly due to efforts to streamline vaccination efforts.

He stated that he did not believe that anyone was trying to push people into a corner. “The efforts were well-intentioned, but what actually transpired was that the CDC ruling body’s definition of high risk medical conditions was too broad.”

The CDC approved a booster shot to seniors and people at high risk in the fall. Dr. Prasad said that these booster shots provide a chance to lessen the gaps in access to vaccines.

Dr. Prasad stated that it was particularly important this time to ensure that the most vulnerable patients receive their boosters on time.

Content Source:

Gemma Wilson

Gemma is a journalism graduate with keen interest in covering business news – specifically startups. She has as a keen eye for technologies and has predicted quite a few successful startups over the last couple of years.

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