Cancer Australia has today released tailored evidence-based information, answers to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and an animated video about COVID-19 vaccines for First Peoples affected by cancer. The resources were developed in collaboration and in consultation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and health experts.
Every year, approximately 1,400 Indigenous Australians are diagnosed with cancer.
“People who have been diagnosed with cancer and are going through cancer treatments can have weaker immune systems; they can be more vulnerable to COVID-19 and are at an increased risk of more severe infection,” said Professor Dorothy Keefe, CEO Cancer Australia.
As part of the Australian Government's COVID-19 vaccine national roll-out strategy, many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with cancer are now eligible to receive a free COVID-19 vaccine. Additionally, all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 50 years and over, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander healthcare workers, are eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine now.
“Getting a COVID-19 vaccine is a safe and effective way to protect against getting really sick from COVID-19. The vaccine will help to protect cancer patients, their families and the community against COVID-19,” continued Professor Keefe.
All people in Australia will need two doses of the COVID-19 vaccines; however, it is especially important for people with cancer to have the second dose at the recommended time because the vaccines may be less effective for people who have a weaker immune system.
Answers to FAQs have also been developed for healthcare professionals, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers, Health Practitioners and Hospital Liaison Officers.
For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people affected by cancer, the decision about vaccination should be made on an individual basis by the person affected by cancer, in consultation with their healthcare team.
It is important for people affected by cancer in Australia, and their close contacts, to continue taking other protective measures against COVID-19, including practising good hygiene, and maintaining physical distancing.
The FAQs are based on information and evidence currently available in Australia and internationally and will be updated as new information emerges.