HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - Cancer patients are among the many groups of people eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine under Phase 1b in Virginia. Hampton Roads oncologists are getting the word out about getting the shot.
“I tell them, 'Go get it whenever you can,'” Dr. Ligeng Tian of Virginia Oncology Associates told News 3.
Lately, Tian said some conversations with her patients have revolved around the vaccine.
“I think getting the cancer patients out there to get the vaccine, that's just part of the community,” she said.
“Cancer alone puts people at risk for severe complications from COVID-19 infection,” Tian added. “If they catch the infection, they're at a high risk of dying, so they should be better protected.”
She said getting the shot can protect patients to be able to come and get treatment.
“We do have patients who are very scared, for obvious reasons,” Tian said. “The pandemic, trying not to come out... and that does cause delay of care.”
Meanwhile, the American Cancer Society has resources for patients about the vaccine and a hotline to answer questions they may have.
The American Cancer Society's Cancer Helpline is 800-227-2345.
“Over 50% of our calls last year were COVID-19-related,” Domenick Casuccio, Communications Director for the American Cancer Society in Virginia, said.
ACS staff also recommend patients to talk with their doctor before getting the shot, especially if they’re on active treatment.
“It's really important for them to talk to their doctor and to see if it's safe for them to get the vaccine,” Casuccio said.
“If somebody is on chemotherapy for cure, I think that's crucial to stay on schedule,” Tian said. “Don't let the vaccine mess up your treatment plan.”
With new variants of the virus, Tian believes it's crucial to try and get as many people vaccinated as possible.
“We're in a race here,” she said. “We're really in a race here. We're really hoping to put the message out there to get our patients vaccinated to protect them.”