My mother has cancer and is worried about getting the COVID vaccine. Is it safe for cancer patients to get the COVID-19 vaccine? "

Currently, many Australian and international cancer organisations recommend COVID-19 vaccinations for people with cancer because people with cancer are more at risk of contracting COVID-19 and of having a more severe infection. It is recommended that people with weaker immune systems such as people with cancer, be prioritised to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

There are no theoretical safety concerns for either of the COVID-19 vaccines currently available in Australia (Pfizer or AstraZeneca) for people with cancer based on the general understanding of the vaccine. Evidence from similar vaccines such as flu vaccinations suggests that the COVID-19 vaccinations are safe and effective for people with cancer. Nor is there any evidence that people with cancer who have the vaccine will experience different or worse potential side effects.

To date there have been no reports of any significant safety issues for people with cancer who have received the COVID-19 vaccines in other countries and this situation will continue to be monitored.

If you have cancer, the decision about whether to have the COVID-19 vaccination should be made in consultation with your healthcare team and will be based on what type of cancer you have, what treatment you are undergoing, your overall health and how your immune system is working.

If you do have the vaccine, it is still important to continue taking other measures to protect against COVID-19 such as practising good hygiene and physical distancing.

More detailed information about the COVID-19 vaccine for people with cancer is available from Cancer Australia.

For any concerns, consult your doctor.

Additional references

Medical Oncology Group of Australia

European Society for Medical Oncology