ESMO releases twenty-three new statements on COVID-19 vaccination in people with cancer

Based on current knowledge available, they address key questions on safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines, their interference with anticancer treatment, and advocate for a global strategy for the booster dose 

One year after the European Union kicked off the first COVID-19 vaccination campaign, ESMO takes stock of the current scientific knowledge available and releases twenty-three statements addressing key questions on the administration of vaccines targeting the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) to people with cancer. The statements stem from an in-depth review conducted by a group of 19 ESMO representatives of all data published throughout 2021 on safety, efficacy and non-interference of COVID-19 vaccines with anticancer treatment in cancer population.

Mounting evidence highlights that vaccination is absolutely essential to protect all patients with cancer who are at variably higher risk of severe COVID-19 as opposed to the general population (Ann Hematol. 2021 Feb;100(2):383-393The Lancet 2020; 395 (10241):1907-1918). Despite this, at least 1 in 10 people with a diagnosis of cancer is still hesitant about vaccination in Europe (Annals of Oncology 2021; 32: S1145-S1146Annals of Oncology 2021; 32: S1161Annals of Oncology 2021; 32: S1144-S1145Annals of Oncology 2021; 32: S1146).

With its new statements, ESMO stands by the side of medical oncologists in reassuring patients that COVID-19 vaccines are both safe and effective, with no specific recommendation on one vaccine option over others.

Also, the Society advocates for a global strategy for vaccine booster administration which takes into consideration the scientific and logistical aspects including the difficulty of identifying patients with insufficient or waning immunity, vaccine availability and accessibility, vaccination progress and the evolving pandemic scenario. At the time, the booster dose is offered three to six months after completion of the initial mRNA vaccination or sooner after the monodosic vaccines in EU countries.

Finally, ESMO urges for the reinforcement of solidarity mechanisms to secure immediate and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines for all vulnerable patients worldwide.

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