'Cancer patients should receive their COVID 19 vaccination as a matter of urgency' - Irish Cancer Society CEO 

At the Irish Cancer Society, we believe that medically vulnerable patients including cancer patients, should receive their COVID 19 vaccination as a matter of urgency. While we welcome the discussions taking place regarding the reprioritisation of the COVID-19 vaccine list for those who are medically vulnerable, the decision to prioritise these at-risk patients is long overdue.

Medically vulnerable patients remain deeply fearful and anxious having listened for almost a year to the public health messaging that they are at increased risk should they be infected by COVID 19. The consequences of living a life in fear has resulted in many cocooning for considerable periods.

The international evidence indicates that not only are cancer patients more likely to die from COVID-19 infection, but that because the treatments patients are receiving are lifesaving, any interruption caused by possible COVID-19 exposure can lead to worse outcomes and an increased risk of dying from their cancer. A similar argument can be made for other chronic diseases and conditions. Carers of people in these groups, including the parents of children with cancer, should also be considered for priority vaccination.

Although the COVID-19 vaccine has given incredible hope to so many, its success will lie not only in stopping the spread of coronavirus, but in reducing preventable deaths amongst those at extremely high risk.

The Taoiseach has said that the Government believes those who are immunosuppressed or who have particular conditions should be prioritised, and it is now time to act on this. The cancer community are waiting with hope and expectation to hear the outcome of the discussions.

Conor King, Irish Cancer Society Acting CEO