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Booster shots for cancer patients? What you need to know

Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released their recommendation that certain immunocompromised people receive a supplemental dose of the COVID-19 vaccine — a “booster.” Here, we provide answers to a few common questions.
Who should receive a booster?
At this time, the recommendation only applies to those who received the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. The CDC is not currently recommending a booster for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
With very few exceptions, this recommendation only applies to those patients in active treatment for cancer. For a list of all diagnoses and treatments that would make you eligible for a booster dose, as well as additional frequently asked questions, click here.
The recommendation for a booster also only applies to patients 12 and older for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and 18 or older for the Moderna vaccine.
Where should I receive the booster?
If you fall into one of the groups listed above, you can self-attest as eligible for a booster dose and get it wherever COVID-19 vaccines are available by making an appointment through the California My Turn portal or, or by going to a local pharmacy. You do not need an order from your physician.
When should I receive the booster?
Your booster dose should be administered at least 28 days after your second vaccine dose.
Why do I need a booster?
In cancer patients, we hope that a third dose will boost the immune response, especially given that patients who are currently undergoing treatment may not have had a significant enough initial response to the vaccine.
Despite the booster of the vaccine, a significant number of patients may not mount a sufficient antibody response, and therefore should maintain masking, social distancing and other mitigation measures.
What if I’m not in active treatment?
A booster is not currently recommended for patients who are not in active treatment. If you have questions or concerns about that recommendation, reach out to your City of Hope care team.
Are pediatric patients eligible to receive the third vaccine dose?
The expanded guidance applies to patients 12 and older for the Pfizer vaccine and 18 or older for the Moderna vaccine.
Which vaccines can be used for a booster?
Only patients who completed the primary series with either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine can receive a third dose.
Mixing different vaccines (heterologous vaccination) is not recommended at this time.
The CDC has not made any recommendations for Johnson & Johnson-vaccinated individuals at this time.