In the Vaccine Scramble, Cancer Patients Are Left Behind

“This has been a complete — I won’t say disaster, but it’s been pretty close,” said Dr. Hanny Al-Samkari, hematologist and clinical investigator at the Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. Cancer patients are receiving “mixed messaging,” he said, and the guidance they get largely depends on their state. Every day he receives a deluge of messages from patients asking if they qualify to receive the vaccine yet (in his state, the answer is largely no). One drove four hours to find a vaccination site. “It’s the Wild West,” he said.

He urged cancer patients to consult with their doctors to coordinate the timing of the vaccine in line with their treatment, unless they are in remission, were treated a long time ago or are receiving only hormonal treatment for breast or prostate cancer, said Dr. Tomasz Beer, a professor at the Oregon Health and Science University’s School of Medicine and deputy director of the school’s Knight Cancer Institute.

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Answers to Your Vaccine Questions

Currently more than 150 million people — almost half the population — are eligible to be vaccinated. But each state makes the