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Oncologist shares his advice to chemotherapy patients looking to get COVID-19 vaccine

Dr. Schreeder says, “I tell my patients, uniformly, ‘take it’... people who are on active chemotherapy are going to have to time the vaccine with the treatment..."

HUNTSVILLE, Ala — Experts are still trying to learn as much as they can about COVID-19, and oncologists are keeping up with the latest research to know what the possible risks are for cancer patients on chemotherapy. 

Now, doctors are trying to steer their patients in the right direction when it comes to getting the vaccine.

We met up with Dr. Marshall Schreeder, a medical oncologist with Clearview Cancer Institute in Huntsville. Dr. Schreeder says, “I tell my patients, uniformly, ‘take it’. There’s no reason not to. Granted, people who are on active chemotherapy are going to have to time the vaccine with the treatment. But, that’s okay, we can do that.” 

Dr. Schreeder tells us patients on chemotherapy should be sure to consult their doctors before taking the vaccine. He explains, “If you’re on active therapy and you are offered the vaccine, we would like to have some input on to what week you actually get that. So, generally speaking, if you’re on aggressive therapy, we would prefer to have it completed. If it can’t be completed, we would prefer to have it between treatments.” 

And if you have lymph disorders, like lymphoma or leukemia, Dr. Schreeder adds, “We’d have to have a little bit more input in regards to timing and the treatment in order to optimize the response.” 

Dr. Schreeder shares that the pandemic has been hard. He tells our reporter, “I’ve actually already lost several patients from complications from COVID…” 

He knows some may be wary about taking the vaccine. But after looking into the vaccine’s development, he says, “There’s no shortcut in safety testing and there was no shortcut in efficacy testing. Truly, I think it’s one of the purest, most safe vaccines recently developed.”

Dr. Schreeder says the vaccine is an opportunity to get his patients, and us all, to a safer tomorrow. 

Dr. Schreeder says, “Our patients are really experiencing the same thing that everybody else is. That’s feelings of isolation, not being able to be with their loved ones. When you have malignants you’re kind of more acutely aware of the fact that time is a factor. That’s why I say, if you’re given the opportunity to take the vaccine, take it.” He adds, “It’s highly efficacious. We truly don’t know how long it lasts-- that’s all true. But, we all need to get back to life. This is the best way to do so.”

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