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UCLA and more than 125 organizations send letter to Biden urging priority access to the COVID-19 vaccines for cancer patients and survivors

Cancer puts individuals at high risk for severe illness and death from COVID-19

Post Date:February 17, 2021 11:00 AM
Dr. Michael Teitell is director of the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center

Today, 127 organizations and cancer centers sent a letter to President Joseph R. Biden, key members of his administration, and leading public health officials at state health departments to underscore the importance of prioritizing patients with active cancer and survivors of cancer when administering the lifesaving COVID-19 vaccines. The broad spectrum of organizations that signed this letter represent laboratory, translational, and clinical researchers; health care professionals; millions of patients with cancer and survivors of cancer; and patient advocates from across the United States.

Recent research has shown that patients with cancer are at increased risk of severe illness and death if infected with the virus. Moreover, patients with cancer often receive frequent in-person care, which increases their risk of exposure to the virus. Certain survivors of cancer also have a higher probability of infection and COVID-related death compared to the general population.

While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recognizes that cancer places individuals at higher risk for severe COVID-19, many states are broadening and simplifying the groups eligible for COVID-19 vaccination to speed up distribution of the vaccines. The letter notes that while mass, rapid vaccination is a worthy goal, the currently limited supply of vaccines means that many who are at high risk for severe illness and death from COVID-19, including patients with cancer and survivors of cancer, may continue to wait in line for many months if high-risk groups are not provided with priority access.

The letter, initiated by the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), urges the Biden administration and public health officials at the state level to continue to prioritize patients with cancer and survivors of cancer in statewide vaccination plans.

Read the full letter.

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