Published Wednesday, April 7, 2021 10:51PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, April 8, 2021 3:10PM EDT
Citing preliminary research from the U.K., the Canadian Association of Pharmacy in Oncology (CAPhO) said in a statement Wednesday that cancer patients are significantly less protected by a single dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine than the general public.
“The study shows that three weeks after one dose of the vaccine an immune response was found in 39 per cent of people with a solid cancer and just 13 per cent of people with blood cancer,” Tina Crosbie, President of CAPhO, said in the statement. “An antibody response was found in 97 per cent of the healthy volunteers tested.”
Cancer patients and other immunocompromised people are significantly more likely to experience severe outcomes or die if they contract COVID-19, making it more critical that they receive protection from the vaccine.
CAPhO is calling for the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) to specify in their recommendations that cancer patients receive their second dose on schedule, and no later than three weeks after the first dose.
In order to get as many people their first shot as possible, NACI recommended in early March that the second dose be pushed back up to four months.
However, NACI revealed on Wednesday that recent data regarding the pace of the vaccine rollout indicates that the interval between the first and second dose will not be four months in most cases.
Most Canadians will likely receive their second dose within 1.5 to two months after the first, NACI said.
Responding to this news, the CAPhO said in a second statement that they join Canadians “in being relieved in the increased availability of vaccines arriving to our country.”
Crosbie told CTVNews.ca in an email that it is “a step in the right direction.”
However, CAPhO reiterated that cancer patients should be earmarked as a group in particular need of receiving their second dose of the vaccine on time.
“Increasing supply to our country is great news but delaying the second dose is still a delay of immune response for these vulnerable Canadians,” CAPhO stated.
“NACI and public health officials have been invaluable in identifying high risk groups throughout the vaccine rollout. CAPhO encourages NACI to include patients with cancer as another vulnerable population who require the second dose within three weeks.”