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Vaccine likely less effective in cancer patients

Posted at 6:34 PM, Aug 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-18 18:34:56-04

Some of the most vulnerable people are doing what they can to protect themselves from COVID- 19, like getting the vaccine.

But research has found that the vaccine might not be as effective in some cancer patients.

That is why doctors are still urging those patients to keep up their guard even after being vaccinated.

“One of the best things about taking care of cancer patients is they’re very resilient,” said Dr. Robert Klafter, the Medical Director of Oncology for Cleveland Clinic Martin Health.

The American Cancer Society reports, “Some cancer treatments like chemotherapy, radiation, stem cell or bone marrow transplant, or immunotherapy can affect the immune system, which might make the vaccine less effective. People with certain types of cancers, like leukemias or lymphomas, can also have weakened immune systems which might make the vaccine less effective.”

Dr. Klafter is following the research. “It’s supposed to be 95% effective, but cancer patients are maybe 80% effective. Some groups of cancer patients probably don’t get immune, but probably they get protected,” Dr. Klafter said.

“The vaccine has moved it from a potentially life threatening experience to a less serious disease,” said Dr. Klafter.

A Martin County woman undergoing chemotherapy told WPTV she took an antibody test two months after being double-vaccinated. She did not want to be identified but shared her antibody test results.

The report said no antibodies were detected. However, the report states that the clinical significance of a negative antibody result for individuals that have received a COVID-19 vaccine is unknown.

“If you’re at more risk than the average person, be a little more careful than the average person,” Dr. Klafter advises.

He recommends patients discuss with their doctors whether they have concerns about their level of immunity from the vaccine.

“I recommend it for all of my patients,” said Dr. Klafter.