Can I get the COVID-19 vaccine?
Vaccines work by stimulating the immune system to produce antibodies to fight a disease. If you’re immunosuppressed due to your cancer type or cancer treatment, talk to your healthcare team about if you should receive a COVID-19 vaccine. They will be able to determine if the benefits outweigh the risks for you.
Currently, the COVID-19 vaccine may be offered to people who are immunosuppressed and who meet the required age for use. But the vaccine may not be able to stimulate your immune system well enough to protect against COVID-19.1
How do I register to get vaccinated against COVID-19?
COVID-19 vaccines will help make the world safer for everyone – including people with cancer and survivors who may be at risk for more serious outcomes of the virus. For information on the vaccination rollout plans in your province or territory, please refer to your provincial or territorial website:2
Who can receive the vaccine?
According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, everyone who lives in Canada will have access to the vaccines. A phased approach to the delivery will be carried out due to the limited supply of the approved vaccines. Implementation of the vaccine roll out varies in different parts of the country based on the distribution of the vaccine, and priorities for vaccination in the different provinces and territories. This distribution will be expanded with the availability of more doses of the vaccines.3
Is the vaccine safe for cancer patients?
While initial studies testing the COVID-19 vaccines did not include those with cancer and those receiving treatment with immunosuppressive drugs or with a weak immune system, experts agree that the COVID-19 vaccine is safe and is recommended for people with cancer, cancer survivors, and those currently on cancer treatment, including chemotherapy and immunotherapy. The American Society of Clinical Oncology and Infectious Diseases Society of America recently held a “COVID-19 Vaccine & Patients with Cancer” webinar which discussed the importance of COVID-19 vaccination, and a panel of oncology and infectious disease experts agreed that the vaccines have been shown to be safe and effective for the general population and there was no evidence they would not be safe for most cancer patients. Although the COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for cancer patients, all COVID-19 precautions remain necessary, even after full vaccination. For patients with a history of allergies and anaphylactic reactions, please speak with your healthcare provider to discuss any risks or concerns.4
When can cancer patients receive the vaccine?
The National Committee on Immunization (NACI) has provided recommendations to ensure the efficient and equitable allocation of the COVID-19 vaccines. The Ontario Vaccine Clinical Advisory Group (VCAG) released updated guidance on COVID-19 vaccines on Mar 26, 2021, recommending that the interval between the first and second dose should be as per manufacturer protocol for those with immunocompromising conditions and immunosuppressive therapies. This includes cancer patients on active treatment with chemotherapy, targeted therapies, and immunotherapy.5
Helpful Links and References6
NACI will continue to carefully monitor the evidence related to COVID-19 and COVID-19 vaccine(s) and will update recommendations as evidence evolves. NACI will conduct a comprehensive, transparent review of authorized COVID-19 vaccines, including evidence on efficacy and safety in clinical trial populations once available, and provide timely evidence-informed recommendations on the use of COVID-19 vaccines as soon as possible
The objectives of this report are to:
- List ongoing clinical trials regarding COVID-19 mRNA vaccines for which patients with cancer or who are immunocompromized are eligible for inclusion
- Identify national vaccine prioritization criteria that mention patients with cancer or those with compromised immune systems
- Identify statements made by clinical or cancer societies and organizations regarding the safety, status, or prioritization of COVID-19 vaccinations for people with cancer.
CCSN & LHF Webinar
The Canadian Cancer Survivor Network and the Lung Health Foundation have collaborated to organize a webinar to address concerns that cancer patients and other immunocompromised populations may have about the COVID-19 vaccine. Our panel, which consists of an oncologist and infectious disease and vaccine experts, will discuss themes including: vaccine safety, efficacy, prioritization, and next steps.
1 2 Canadian Cancer Society
3 4 5 6 Lung Cancer Canada