The American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) has compiled a selection of resources for radiation oncology professionals. The resources were developed by clinical teams and based on the best available information at the time they were posted. Physicians and their patients must make the ultimate judgment regarding specific treatment decisions. They are not meant to replace clinical judgment, but to help treatment teams strengthen their clinical management of patients and support decision-making processes during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Patients with cancer are at increased risk of contracting COVID-19 and more severe disease if infected. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Adults of any age with certain underlying medical conditions are at increased risk for severe illness from the virus that causes COVID-19. mRNA COVID-19 vaccines may be administered to people with underlying medical conditions, provided they have not had a severe or immediate allergic reaction to any of the ingredients in the vaccine.” These guidelines also apply to patients with cancer. The mRNA COVID-19 vaccines do not include any virus, and there is no risk of contracting the infection from the vaccine.
Patients who have cancer, as well as those who have received treatment for cancer, may be immune compromised, but these patients may still receive COVID-19 vaccines as long as there is no increased risk of reaction to any of the components of the vaccine. ASTRO encourages patients with cancer who are actively receiving treatment such as radiation therapy to consult with their oncologists about the timing for vaccination, injection location, and any unique considerations relevant for their treatments. Individuals with a history of cancer who are not in active treatment are encouraged to seek vaccination whenever it is made available to them.