Our own Chief Medical Officer and Executive VP, Dr. Brian Koffman, was one of the experts interviewed for an article published in Canada through the National Post’s family of newspapers.
The reporter was researching the concerns of cancer patients related to Canada’s decision to delay (for sixteen weeks or more) the administration of the second COVID-19 vaccine for essentially all Canadians in order to get the jab into more people’s arms faster.
While it is a smart public health policy to get as many people vaccinated as soon as possible, here are some strong arguments to make for an exception to that delay and to instead fully vaccinate the vulnerable “on-label” after three to four weeks as recommended by the manufacturers:
- The primary purpose of the vaccine is not to prevent all infections, but to prevent severe infections and deaths from COVID-19. Blood cancer patients are much more likely to have severe disease and die if infected.
- Blood cancer patients are more likely to become long-haulers. This is not only a strain on those affected, but also for those patients who require greater medical resources and are the probable source of some of the more dangerous mutant strains that can only evolve when replicating in a host.
- Protection after a single dose for immunocompromised patients in general, and especially in blood cancer patients, is markedly impaired.
- Protection improves significantly after the second dose in this vulnerable population, even if it does not reach the same level of protection as seen in the immune-competent community.
Asking vulnerable Canadians, especially CLL patients, to wait sixteen weeks between doses is not in the interest of those patients or the Canadian community at large. It is instead courting tragic results during the present surge just north of the US border.
Here is the news story as published in the Ottawa Citizen on April 21, 2021.