Cancer treatment can affect the immune system, which can leave patients susceptible to infections.
Many medical groups recommend most cancer patients and survivors receive the COVID-19 vaccine, but there are some questions about the effectiveness of the shot for this group.
Researchers at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center have launched a study to understand how the vaccine impacts those patients.
“There are some patients where we’re not measuring as good an antibody response as what we would like to see,” says Dr. Peter Shields who is leading the study. “However, we have no idea whether or not that’s still sufficiently protective. So, there may very well be a subset of patients who need to get boosters more often. This is what we’re trying to figure out.”
Vaccinated patients with and without cancer have been enrolled in the study. Participants provide weekly saliva samples to test for COVID and blood samples to measure immune response.
Dave Hill is taking part in the research. “This is one thing that came in that allowed me to participate and pay back to those people who helped me and who are helping others,” he said.
Even before the pandemic, the 63-year-old had to isolate himself after receiving intense chemotherapy and then a stem cell transplant for lymphoma.
“I’ve been doing this since mid-2018. And I said, so if you think your stir crazy, you should be in my shoes,” Hill says.
The stakes got even higher when COVID hit.
“There was an extremely high anxiety about any kind of infection. I just had to continue to be very diligent,” Hill said.
He hopes the vaccine protects him and everybody else.