At Virginia Cancer Specialists, the health of our patients is always our priority. Whether you’re a patient, a caregiver, or are close to someone with cancer, you may have questions about COVID-19, also known as novel coronavirus.
Patients with compromised immune systems, including many cancer patients, are more susceptible to viruses, including COVID-19. Some cancer therapies, such as targeted drugs, steroids, as well as some cancer types, like blood cancers, can result in a weakened immune system.
Covid-19 Information for Virginia Cancer Specialists patients
All Patients – Very Important: Regardless of vaccination status. If you are experiencing a fever or cold-like like symptoms, which also include GI Symptoms and Diarrhea, you should contact your Virginia Cancer Specialists Advice Line before visiting our clinics for scheduled appointments. This includes symptoms of respiratory illness, such as coughing or difficulty breathing.
CDC recommends that people who are moderately to severely immunocompromised receive an additional dose of an mRNA COVID-19 Vaccine (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna) at least 28 days after the completion of the initial mRNA COVID-19 vaccine series. Available data show that these people don’t always build adequate levels of protection after an initial 2-dose primary mRNA COVID-19 vaccine series. The data also show that they may benefit from receiving an additional dose of an mRNA vaccine to develop as much protection as possible against COVID-19.
Currently, the CDC is recommending that moderately to severely immunocompromised people receive an additional dose. This includes people who have:
- Active treatment for solid tumor and hematologic malignancies.
- Receipt of solid-organ transplant and taking immunosuppressive therapy.
- Receipt of CAR-T-cell or hematopoietic stem cell transplant (within 2 years of transplantation or taking immunosuppression therapy).
- Moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency (e.g., DiGeorge syndrome, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome).
- Advanced or untreated HIV infection.
- Active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids (i.e., ≥20mg prednisone or equivalent per day), alkylating agents, antimetabolites, transplant-related immunosuppressive drugs, cancer chemotherapeutic agents classified as severely immunosuppressive, tumor-necrosis (TNF) blockers, and other biologic agents that are immunosuppressive or immunomodulatory.
- Patients will “self- attest” that they meet the above criteria and will NOT need a physician letter or prescription for the booster vaccine.
- Find a COVID-19 Vaccine: Search vaccines.gov, text your ZIP code to 438829, or call 1-800-232-0233 to find locations near you.
- Check your local pharmacy’s website to see if vaccination walk-ins or appointments are available.
- Contact your state or local health department for more information.
Check with facility that gave you your original COVID vaccine for availability
Learn more about COVID-19 vaccine news and resources in your area – please see the links below for more information. Please Note: Virginia Cancer Specialists will not be administering vaccine at the current time, see the links below for information on your status per the CDC and state guidelines, where to arrange for a vaccine and to schedule an appointment
- Virginia Department of Health and Maryland Department of health – patients can register online (exception FFX county).
UPDATE: CDC Currently recommends the following with regard to Face-masks: For your safety, you will be asked to use a mask, if you do not have one, a mask will be provided. If a person presents with a temperature, you will be asked to return home and further instructions will be given by your health care team. You must wear a face masks regardless of vaccination status in all health care facilities, including during your visits to any VCS office.
Masks with Exhalation Valves or Vents
The purpose of masks is to keep respiratory droplets from reaching others to aid with source control. Masks with one-way valves or vents allow exhaled air to be expelled out through holes in the material. This can allow exhaled respiratory droplets to reach others and potentially spread the COVID-19 virus. Therefore, CDC does not recommend using masks if they have an exhalation valve or vent.
A face shield is primarily used for eye protection for the person wearing it. At this time, it is not known what level of protection a face shield provides to people nearby from the spray of respiratory droplets from the wearer. There is currently not enough evidence to support the effectiveness of face shields for source control. Therefore, CDC does not currently recommend use of face shields as a substitute for masks.
UPDATE: Our new office hours are: Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., if you have an appointment scheduled for after hours, our office will be contacting you directly to reschedule. Thank you, Virginia Cancer Specialists
UPDATE: Please call your physician’s office before coming in for your appointment if you have symptoms of a cough, fever, or difficulty breathing; traveled to other areas impacted by the coronavirus (COVID-19) within the past 14 days; been in close contact with someone who has traveled outside the U.S. to one of the impacted countries; or may have been exposed to the coronavirus. For our patients protection, no visitors under 18 will be allowed in the offices, there is a limit one (1) visitor per patient if necessary. No visitors are allowed in the chemo infusion room
UPDATE: Effective immediately all in-person chemo classes will be cancelled as of today. Our Nurse Navigators or Nurse Practitioners will work with our patients in a brief one to one teaching visit for any patients scheduled from this day forward until further notice. There is an online version of our chemotherapy class here: https://virginiacancerspecialists.com/your-experience/chemotherapy-class/
Virginia Cancer Specialists is closely monitoring COVID-19, including the latest updates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The CDC-recommended protocols for healthcare providers regarding COVID-19 are aligned with Virginia Cancer Specialists existing protocols for flu season. During flu season, we emphasize an array of preventative measures that protect our patients and staff from exposure to illness. These include:
- Hand hygiene (washing hands with soap and/or alcohol-based sanitizers)
- Isolating patients who come into our locations exhibiting respiratory or flu-like symptoms.
- ALERT: Updated symptoms also include: GI symptoms of diarrhea and vomiting
Tests for (COVID-19) will not be completed at any Virginia Cancer Specialists office.
Patients – Very Important: If you have flu-like symptoms, which also include GI Symptoms and Diarrhea, you should contact Your Virginia Cancer Specialists Advice Line before visiting our clinics for scheduled appointments. This includes fever and symptoms of respiratory illness, such as coughing or difficulty breathing.
Also, we are permitting only one caregiver to accompany patients to our locations at this time.