Patients who have or have had cancer may have questions about getting the COVID-19 vaccine.
Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe for cancer patients?
Based on best available information, the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines available for use in the U.S. are safe for use in cancer patients or those with weakened immune systems. The side effects these patients experience should be the same as those experienced in healthy people.
When to Get Vaccinated or Receive a Booster
Patients with cancer or a weakened immune system are often more at risk for getting viruses like COVID-19 or having worse outcomes than healthy people. For most patients with cancer, we encourage getting the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible. However, in some cases, a cancer patient’s body may not be able to use the vaccine the way patients who do not have cancer would, not giving the patient the same protection against COVID-19. In those situations, doctors may recommend delaying vaccination or to change timing based on treatment.
Check With Your Oncologist
Patients with the following cancer situations should check with their oncologist before getting their COVID-19 vaccine:
- Patients who have received CAR-T cell therapy in the last 3 months
- Patients who have received a stem cell transplant within the past 3 months
- Patients who are being treated for graft versus host disease or on medications to prevent it
- Patients who are currently receiving antibody therapy (generic drug name ending in “mab”) or have received it in the last 3 months
It may still be recommended that you get the vaccine based on your specific history and treatment.
Other patients with cancer or previously treated for cancer may get the vaccine without contacting their oncologist. This includes cancer patients who are receiving hormonal therapy only, radiation therapy or surgery.
If you have any concerns about receiving the COVID-19 vaccine or are not sure if you fall into one of these categories, please call your clinic. We are happy to help you.