Introduction/Background*India experienced a deadly second wave of COVID-19 pandemic starting mid-February 2021 with test positivity rate of 25-45 % suggesting high community transmission. Indian COVID-19 vaccination program for 60 years + and above 45 years with co-morbidities began on 1st March 2021. As per COVIDsurg collaborative data, between 0.6% and 1.6% of patients develop COVID-19 infection after elective surgery. Even after use of mitigation measures like pre-surgery RT/PCR and COVID free surgical pathways, COVID-19 is a significant nosocomial infection with 4- and 8-fold increased risk of death in the 30 days following surgery. Our aim was to study vaccine compliance in patients counselled to be vaccinated before surgery, pre-surgery RT/PCR positivity rate, 30-day post-operative SARS Cov-2 rate and peri-operative outcomes.
Methodology In this prospective observational study, patients waitlisted for major gynaecological cancer surgeries who were also eligible for COVID-19 vaccination were enrolled. Patients were counselled to get atleast one dose vaccinated 2 weeks before elective surgery. In cases of neo-adjuvant chemotherapy, vaccination was advised atleast 2 weeks after the last dose of chemotherapy. Patients vaccinated with atleast 1 dose - 2 weeks prior to surgery or those with both doses vaccinated atleast a week prior to surgery were eligible for study. Mitigation measures of negative pre-surgery RT/PCR (within 24 hours prior to surgery) and COVID free surgical pathway were used.
Result(s)*In the overall cohort of 53 patients, 34 got vaccinated suggesting compliance of 64%. In the unvaccinated cohort, 52.6% were pře-surgery RT/PCR +ve against 5.8% vaccinated patients (p = 0.0001). Thirty- day post-operative SARS Cov-2 rate was 44.4% and 0% in the unvaccinated and vaccinated cohort respectively (p = 0.0001). No cases of severe COVID-19 requiring hospitalisation were seen in the vaccinated cohort. There was no 30-day post-operative mortality in either cohorts.
Conclusion*Counselling regarding COVID-19 vaccination prior to surgery should be an essential part of pre-operative work up. COVID-19 vaccination prior to surgery has two-fold advantage. It prevents the postponement of elective cancer surgeries which are time bound. There is a significant decreased risk of severe COVID-19 infection and related morbidity post-operatively in the vaccinated population.
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