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COVID-19: Q&A for Texas Oncology Patients and Caregivers

July 10, 2020

At Texas Oncology, 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 coronavirus. 

As a cancer patient, should I receive the COVID-19 vaccine?

Texas Oncology agrees with leading infectious disease experts that all people should be vaccinated against COVID-19, including cancer patients. The COVID-19 vaccine reduces individual risk and slows the spread of the virus. Our COVID-19 task force, which includes physician leaders, nurses, and pharmacists dedicated to the health and safety of our patients, caregivers, and staff during the pandemic, strongly urges cancer patients and their families to get vaccinated as soon as possible.

As a cancer patient, am I at additional risk for catching COVID-19?

Patients with underlying medical conditions, like heart or lung disease or diabetes, or 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.

As a cancer patient, if I am at higher risk, how can I protect myself?

You, your caregivers, and close contacts can take proactive measures to protect yourselves and those around you from COVID-19, including:

  • Get vaccinated when authorized COVID-19 vaccines become available to you.
  • Wear a face mask whenever you are around others.
  • Practice social distancing. Stay a minimum six feet apart in all encounters with anyone who is not a member of your household and keep a safe distance from anyone who has been in contact with others outside of your home.
  • Avoid crowds. Stay home if at all possible. Do not venture out if you do not feel well.
  • Avoid close contact with sick people.
  • Wash hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds and frequently. If soap and water are unavailable, use alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Disinfect frequently touched surfaces with household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Call Texas Oncology first if you have questions or concerns.

Should I wear a facemask?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends covering your mouth and nose with a face covering when around others and in public. All patients and visitors are required to wear a mask in Texas Oncology clinics. Face masks with valves are not permitted.

What precautions is Texas Oncology taking in light of the COVID-19 situation?

Texas Oncology is closely monitoring COVID-19, including the latest updates from the CDC. 

To reduce risk of exposure, we have implemented the following protocols and changes to how we operate, including: 

  • Pre-screening patients by phone prior to appointments
  • Urging patients with fever, cough, shortness of breath, or other concerning symptoms to call before coming to scheduled appointments
  • Screening patients for symptoms at entrances to our locations
  • Postponing non-urgent appointments and offering expanded telemedicine appointments and telepharmacy services when clinically appropriate
  • Providing information for patients who may need COVID-19 testing
  • Reinforcing guidelines for use of personal protective equipment, (e.g., face masks, gowns, gloves)
  • Isolating patients who come into our locations exhibiting respiratory symptoms
  •  Limiting or prohibiting visitors to our locations

What should I do if my caregiver has recently traveled, participated in an event with a large crowd, or engaged in other potentially risky activities?

You should be mindful of potential exposure risk in your contact with anyone, including a caregiver. To the extent possible, you should limit extended, direct contact. It is essential that you and caregivers and close contacts wear face coverings.

If your caregiver or close contact is sick, encourage them to seek medical attention, and avoid contact with them until they are well, e.g., free from fever for at least 72 hours. The CDC regularly posts updated recommendations on travel, face masks, and other safety measures at www.cdc.gov/coronavirus.

Where can I get more information?

Texas Oncology continues to keep our staff and patients updated as the COVID-19 situation evolves. For more information on COVID-19, Texas Oncology recommends the following resources:

Latest Update: 6/1/2021

For upcoming webinars visit www.TexasOncologyFoundation.org.