Veterans with mesothelioma may be at a higher risk for developing COVID-19 complications due to weakened immune systems from certain cancer treatments, as well as advanced age. Veterans with mesothelioma are advised to get the COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available. However, it is important to consult with a doctor, as vaccine booster shots may be necessary in some cases.
Can Veterans With Mesothelioma Receive the COVID-19 Vaccine?
Veterans fighting mesothelioma can get the vaccine, but it is important to talk to your doctor to determine if the vaccine is safe for you.
Most medical officials are encouraging mesothelioma patients on immunotherapy drugs to get vaccinated.
According to the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC), all cancer patients receiving approved or investigational immunotherapy for their treatment regimen should receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
With the passage of the SAVE LIVES Act on March 24, 2021, the VA can vaccinate all veterans. In most states, all a veteran needs is a form of identification, such as a drivers’ license, in order to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
The COVID-19 vaccine is administered in:
- Doctor’s offices
- Local/regional medical centers
- State/private hospitals
- Supermarkets/department stores
- VA facilities
Check with your local doctor to determine your best options for vaccination.
Are COVID-19 Vaccines Safe for Mesothelioma Patients?
Yes, but some people may require more booster vaccines if they are immunosuppressed.
Here are health recommendations from the SITC:
- The only known relevant contraindications based on available data are patient age as described within Emergency Use Authorizations (EUAs) and/or history of anaphylaxis to similar vaccine components.
- SITC does not recommend non-approved COVID vaccination for patients being treated with immunotherapy.
- Immunosuppressed patients, such as those receiving corticosteroids or TNF blockers, patients with hematologic malignancies, and patients with B cell deficiencies may require additional booster vaccinations.
It is important to understand that the COVID-19 vaccine has been thoroughly tested by medical professionals and is considered both safe and effective. In virtually all cases, the COVID-19 vaccine has proven highly effective at preventing severe cases, hospitalization, and death.
For extremely vulnerable populations, receiving the COVID-19 vaccine can mean the difference between an immune system fighting off the virus and having a severe case that requires hospitalization.
Can I Get Vaccinated at the VA?
Yes, veterans with mesothelioma can get vaccinated at the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA). The VA is keeping in contact with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and making it a priority to get all veterans vaccinated.
According to the VA, more than 1 million veterans have at least one vaccine shot, and 400,000 have already received both doses.
Every veteran is now eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine thanks to the SAVE LIVES Act. This act allows the VA to vaccinate any veteran. Previous restrictions related to VA health care enrollment and a veteran’s disability level have been waived. Spouses and caregivers are also eligible.
If you or your loved one currently receives health care through the VA, you can contact your local VA facility to set up an appointment for a vaccine.
COVID-19 Risks for Veterans With Mesothelioma
Mesothelioma patients may be at a higher risk of experiencing complications from COVID-19 due to age and weakened immune systems.
Veterans with mesothelioma are a particularly vulnerable population. These veterans tend to be older since a large percentage of asbestos exposure in the Armed Forces took place several decades ago.
Over 80% of COVID-19 deaths are in the aged 65 and over demographic, according to federal officials.
Veterans with mesothelioma are also more likely to have compromised immune systems, from both cancer treatments and the effects of mesothelioma on the body. Weakened immune systems leave mesothelioma patients susceptible to contracting COVID-19 and experiencing complications.
Because veterans with mesothelioma may be at a higher risk than the general population for contracting COVID-19 and having an adverse reaction to the viral infection, it is imperative that patients seek out their doctor’s medical opinion on vaccination.
How to Protect Yourself From COVID-19 Until You Are Vaccinated
Here are some tips on how to protect yourself from the virus until you have the opportunity to get vaccinated at the VA or from other health care providers.
- Stay home, wash your hands, social distance, and wear a mask.
- Speak with doctors to come up with a plan on how to treat your mesothelioma during the pandemic, whether it be at home or in a health care setting.
- Stay connected with the VA and your health care team for updates on vaccination availability in your area.
If you have any questions about COVID-19 or the vaccine, contact your primary care doctor or the VA. They can help answer any of your questions and make sure that you or your loved one gets an appointment for vaccination.