Who should receive the COVID-19 vaccine?
We recommend the COVID-19 vaccine for virtually all lung cancer patients, with the exception of those with a known severe reaction to polyethylene glycol or polysorbate. Medical and professional societies, such as American Association for Cancer Research, American Society of Clinical Oncology, American Cancer Society, Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer, and European Society for Medical Oncology, recommend that cancer patients receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Also, the COVID-Lung Cancer Consortium (CLCC) strongly recommends that lung cancer needs to be prioritized for vaccination. The ultimate decision may also be influenced by the patient’s health status as well as type and timing of their cancer treatment.
How can you receive the COVID-19 vaccine?
Patients and their caregivers should speak with their cancer physician or primary care provider about how to receive the vaccine.
Currently, two COVID-19 vaccines are approved for use in the United States – the Pfizer vaccine and the Moderna vaccine. Is one better than the other?
As of now, the two vaccines seem to work equally well. The main difference is the temperature of the cold-storage requirement.
Will the vaccine provide complete protection?
Currently, the science shows that the vaccines are highly effective in preventing people from getting seriously ill from COVID-19, but no vaccine is 100% effective. To ensure complete protection, continued safety measures, such as wearing a mask, social distancing, and washing your hands often, are strongly recommended.
Should I get the COVID-19 vaccine if I have already tested positive for the COVID-19 virus?
Experts recommend people get vaccinated even if they have had COVID-19. People who get COVID-19 do develop antibodies that provide some protection against getting infected again. However, it is not known exactly how long antibodies last after a person recovers.
Is the vaccine safe?
Both vaccines are considered to be safe. People who have had a history of developing severe allergic reactions to other vaccines or medicines for any reason or who are known to have a history of anaphylaxis (a severe, potentially life-threatening allergic reaction) should discuss whether to get the vaccine with their physician.
How did COVID 19 vaccines get developed so quickly when vaccines usually take years to develop?
Several agencies within the federal government coordinated an effort to accelerate vaccine development by pharmaceutical companies to allow clinical trials to proceed more quickly than in the past. The technology underlying development of the Pfizer and Moderna RNA vaccines existed prior to COVID19 and was rapidly deployed to help fight the pandemic. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will not and has not approved a vaccine unless there are data to show that the vaccine is safe for use following a series of randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trials in thousands of people as well as effective at preventing the disease and proven to be produced or manufactured consistently, safely, and at a high quality.
Why are two shots of the vaccine needed?
You need two shots of the vaccine because the first shot helps the immune system create a response against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, while the second shot further boosts the immune response to ensure long-lasting protection.
Will the vaccine interfere with my cancer treatment?
As of now, we do not have any reason to believe that the vaccines may interfere with cancer treatment. If a patient is in active treatment and is receiving chemotherapy or radiation therapy, it is advisable to discuss COVID-19 vaccination with their doctor. This is because an active immune system is needed for the vaccine to work. Chemotherapy or radiation therapy can dampen the immune response and make the vaccine less effective.
Should caregivers receive the COVID-19 vaccine?
If your caregiver(s) is/are eligible to receive the vaccine, we strongly recommend they receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
Still have questions? Be sure to continue to check our full list of COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs for the latest information.