As the government rolls out the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to New Zealanders, here are some key messages from Te Aho o te Kahu Cancer Control Agency, Ministry of Health and our Harbour Cancer specialists.
Are people with cancer more vulnerable to COVID-19 than the general population?
People with cancer are at an increased risk of getting COVID-19 and have a greater risk of serious infection if they do get COVID-19.
Should I get the COVID-19 vaccine if I am currently receiving cancer treatment?
We recommend that all our patients on treatment, including those on immunotherapy, have the vaccine and the booster.
You can also talk to your specialist as, depending on what treatment you are on, they may want to time the vaccine to be delivered at a certain point in your treatment cycle.
What are the side effects of the vaccine for people with cancer?
The most commonly reported reactions are pain at the injection site, a headache, flu-like symptoms or feeling tired or fatigued. Serious allergic reactions do happen but are extremely rare.
There is no evidence that people with cancer experience different or worse side effects than the general population.
Will the COVID-19 vaccine or booster affect or interact with cancer treatments?
No. Our current information suggests that the COVID-19 vaccine does not interact with cancer treatments.
Decisions around timing of the vaccine are about maximising the effectiveness of the vaccine, rather than concerns around interactions with cancer treatments.
Talk to your Harbour Cancer specialist or your GP if you have questions or concerns