Important: COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Update

Texas Oncology agrees with the recent recommendation from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that certain immunocompromised people, including some cancer patients, may be advised to get a vaccine booster shot.

The currently FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccines are a new type of vaccine that does not use the live virus that causes COVID-19. Therefore, they can be safely administered to immunocompromised people, including some cancer patients, people with immunocompromising conditions, or people who take medications or therapies that suppress the immune system.

Texas Oncology’s view is that the potential benefits of the vaccines, including a vaccine booster shot in appropriate cases, far outweigh uncertainties about overall effectiveness in immunocompromised people.

I have cancer and I am vaccinated against COVID-19. What should I do about getting a vaccine booster?

Discuss your situation with your clinical team at your next scheduled appointment. Depending on when you were vaccinated, the current status of your cancer and its treatment, and other factors, it may be advisable for you to get a vaccine booster.

Does this mean every cancer patient should get a vaccine booster shot?

No. The FDA guidance suggests certain immunocompromised individuals, specifically, solid organ transplant recipients or those who are diagnosed with conditions that are considered to have an equivalent level of immunocompromise. Your clinical team can clarify your status at your next scheduled appointment.

How do I know if I am immunocompromised, and therefore in need of a vaccine booster?

If you are on immune suppressing therapy, you should talk to your doctor at your next regularly scheduled clinic visit to determine if this is right for you.  As the CDC’s advisory committee on immunization practices continues to meet on this issue, guidance may change over time.

Do the COVID-19 vaccines work the same for cancer patients as for others?

More research is needed to address this question. There is data that indicates the vaccines may be less effective in some immunocompromised people, including patients receiving chemotherapy for cancer, patients with blood cancers such as chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), people receiving stem cells or organ transplants, and patients using certain medications, including some cancer medications that may reduce the immune response to vaccination.

To be clear, we strongly recommend that our patients and their close contacts get vaccinated against COVID-19. Further, in light of new FDA and CDC guidance, and on a case by case basis, we may advise some of our cancer patients to get a vaccine booster shot.

Please note that all cancer patients should continue to take steps to reduce risk of exposure to COVID-19, including wearing a face mask around anyone outside your home, practicing social distancing, and avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated indoor spaces.