Frequently Asked Questions About COVID-19 Vaccines and Boosters

Booster Shots are Recommended for All Cancer Patients and Caregivers

City of Hope supports the CDC’s recommendation of a second COVID-19 booster dose six months after the first booster for all immunocompromised patients and those in active treatment for cancer – that is, two original doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna vaccine (or one dose Johnson & Johnson) and two booster doses.

Recently the Food & Drug Administration also authorized a second COVID-19 booster for people 50 years and older. Current evidence suggests some waning of protection over time against serious outcomes from COVID-19 in older and immunocompromised individuals. Based on analysis of emerging data, a second booster dose of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine could help increase protection levels for higher-risk individuals. The second booster can represent either a third, fourth or fifth vaccination for you, depending on whether your initial series of vaccinations was one, two or three injections. City of Hope recommends the second booster dose for all cancer patients and their caregivers over age 50.

Please review the CDC’s recommendations for COVID-19 booster doses and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network COVID-19 Vaccination Guide for People With Cancer. If you have additional questions, please reach out to your care team.

Vaccine Boosters FAQs
Vaccine Boosters FAQs
Who Should Receive A Booster?
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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a supplemental dose (a third dose and, for some, a fourth dose) of the COVID-19 vaccine. We support the recommendation of a third dose (or booster shot) for everyone, which currently applies to Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson vaccine recipients. In addition, we recommend a fourth COVID-19 vaccine dose six months after a third dose (or booster shot) for all immunocompromised patients and those in active treatment for cancer. Please review the CDC’s recommendations for COVID-19 booster doses.

Please check out the National Comprehensive Cancer Network COVID-19 Vaccination Guide for People With Cancer if you have questions.

Where Should I Receive A Booster?
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If you qualify in one of the groups listed above, you can self-attest as eligible for a booster dose and get it wherever it is 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 A Booster?
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Your third or booster dose should be administered at least 28 days after your second dose. We recommend the fourth dose of COVID-19 vaccine for all immunocompromised patients and those in active treatment for cancer six months after the third dose.

Why Should I Receive A Booster?
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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 be cautioned to maintain masking, social distancing and other mitigation measures.

Are Pediatric Patients Eligible To Receive The Third Vaccine Dose?
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Yes. The expanded EUA applies to patients five years and older for the Pfizer vaccine. Learn more about the Food and Drug Administration authorization.

Which Vaccines Can Be Used As A Booster?
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Patients who completed the primary series with either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine can receive a third dose.

Mixing vaccines (heterologous vaccination) is not recommended at this time.

General Vaccine FAQs
What COVID-19 Vaccines Are Available Right Now?
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At present, the Food and Drug Administration has approved three vaccines for emergency use. The Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are given in two doses, three-four weeks apart, and have been approved for individuals 16 and over. The Janssen (Johnson and Johnson) vaccine is given in a single dose.

Please review the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendations for COVID-19 booster doses.

What Are The Side Effects?
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Like the flu shot and other immunizations, some people report minor side effects such as soreness or swelling at the injection site, tiredness, headaches, chills and fever. These side effects should go away after a few days. Allergic reactions to the vaccine have been rare and usually occur in those who have previously experienced allergic reactions to other vaccines.

I've Already Been Vaccinated. Should I/How Can I Let My Doctor Know?
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Let your doctor or intake nurse know you've been vaccinated at your next appointment so we can add it to your medical record.

Now That I'm Vaccinated, Do I Still Need To Take Precautions?
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Yes, please continue to wear a mask, wash your hands frequently and social distance. Even with the vaccine, you can still contract COVID-19 and transmit the disease to others.

Why Should Cancer Patients Get Vaccinated?
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People with cancer — even many of those undergoing treatment — are at high risk for COVID-19 complications. The National Comprehensive Cancer Network produced a helpful guide on why cancer patients should get vaccinated.

Download NCCN COVID-19 Vaccination Guide for People With Cancer