Opinion post. Please note this post is about the author and should not be considered a recommendation for you to get the COVID-19 vaccine. It’s based on my own research, my own condition and my own decision derived from my own analysis of any perceived risks to my own situation.
I’m confident the independent UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has met strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness, the UK is known for its thoroughness (as are many other countries). In UK, any coronavirus vaccine that is approved must go through all the clinical trials and safety checks all other licensed medicines go through. The MHRA follows international standards of safety. Moderna’s and Pfizer’s are mRNA vaccines, and AstraZeneca’s and Johnson & Johnson’s are non-replicating vectored vaccines, i.e. they are not live vaccines. There are others.
Cleary there cannot be a separate trial of every single vaccine focused on every single type of cancer or indeed, every single medical condition. Nor can there be separate clinical trials for every single vaccine just to assess contraindications for every single drug, the approvals process would never end, and nothing would be approved. What I do know is that the clinical trial and those vaccinated to date come from a wide range of people in the population across the world – young (16+), old, some with serious medical conditions.
If you look at the flu vaccine, the side effects are known and the limits on who should get the flu vaccine are also well known. To date, the side effects of the approved vaccine are said to be like the flu vaccine and there is caution cited in those who have a history of allergic reactions, in the same way as it is for the flu vaccine.
I’m receiving many messages and many people are asking unanswerable questions on my social media including my private Facebook group. Please do not ask me or any of my members if it’s OK for you to get the vaccine; or if it’s OK to take alongside a particular medication. We simply don’t know about YOU, and you should not expect us to. Even if we had doctors in the group, they would not be aware of your entire medical history and may not be aware of previous vaccine reactions and such like, so you cannot expect them to give definitive advice either. These questions should be directed at your own doctors as they are familiar with your entire medical history and will have a much greater understanding of these concerns.
I’m hoping the various scientific NET organisations UKINETS/ENETS/NANETS etc) will soon make statements to reassure and/or guide NET patients accordingly (Edit: see NANETS position statement above). In the absence of any clarity, I’m currently following the Cancer Research UK science blog here. US patients may find this NCCN document useful.
I’m a metastatic cancer patient diagnosed in 2010. The only anti-cancer treatment I currently receive is Somatuline Autogel (Lanreotide) and I’m in generally good health with few comorbidities.
It’s right that people ask questions but it’s clear that certain questions cannot be 100% answered until after vaccines are widely distributed, e.g. How long will the vaccine take to create immunity? How long will the immunity last? Is a vaccinated person still able to transmit the virus? How will I know the vaccine works for me? This is why we all need to remain vigilant after receiving the vaccine and life may not get back to normal until most of us have had it and scientists are able to assess the effect of mass vaccination in terms of longer-term efficacy and safety. I know they are working on this daily.
One thing I’m quite clear about, based on my own situation, I’m currently more likely to die from the effects of coronavirus than I am from my cancer. To me, that benefit outweighs any small risk. For that reason, I’ll be getting the vaccine as soon as I’m called forward in my turn on the UK priority lists.
Finally, you may wish to read the words of Dr Mark Lewis, an Oncologist and NET patient (with MEN1) and see him getting his vaccine – click here.
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Thanks for reading.
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