Follow CDC and prioritize cancer patients for COVID-19 shots, states urged

States should follow the CDC's recommendation to include cancer patients as a priority group in their COVID-19 vaccine distribution plans, the Association for Clinical Oncology and the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network said in a joint letter to governors issued Feb. 17. 

"Unfortunately, some states have chosen not to use CDC guidelines in implementing their vaccine distribution plans and some have indicated that cancer patients will be moved to lower priority tiers," the letter reads. "This is of particular concern because of the compelling data that shows worse COVID-19 outcomes for people in active treatment for cancer." 

The letter also references research that found those with a history of cancer have a higher risk of developing severe COVID-19 compared to the general population. 

"While we understand that vaccine supplies are limited, we're calling on every governor to thoughtfully consider prioritizing individuals with cancer as states continue to manage their COVID-19 vaccine distribution plans," said Monica Bertagnolli, MD, chair of the ASCO board.

In December, the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices released nonbinding recommendations that cancer patients be included in phase 1c vaccine distribution.

As of Feb. 17, most states were not yet widely vaccinating those with high-risk medical conditions, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation analysis. 

To read the full letter, click here. 


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