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Minimizing Hazards Associated With Live-Virus Immunotherapeutic Cancer Vaccines

Sheri McMahon
CJON 2016, 20(6), 602-604 DOI: 10.1188/16.CJON.602-604

Therapeutic cancer vaccines that use attenuated vaccinia viruses as delivery vectors are undergoing clinical trials at dozens of sites internationally. Even in an attenuated form, these live viruses can cause severe illness if they are accidentally transmitted to immunocompromised people, pregnant women, or people with certain skin conditions. Oncology nurses should become familiar with how to manage patients’ vaccine injection sites to minimize these risks to patients’ close contacts and the community at large.

At a Glance

  • Immunotherapeutic vaccines in clinical trials show promise in oncology treatments.
  • Viral vector vaccines are generally safe for those working with them, and precautions needed are similar to those of other biohazardous materials, such as chemotherapy.
  • Staff and patient education are important and necessary to minimize potential risks and hazards associated with the administration of immunotherapeutic vaccines.

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