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AYA Cancer Patients & the COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs

Can adolescent and young adult (AYA) cancer patients get the COVID-19 vaccine? What about their family caregivers?  The answer: It depends. Your care team will likely let you know if and when you should get the vaccine. If you are unsure, make sure to ask your doctor.

Can adolescent and young adult (AYA) cancer patients get the COVID-19 vaccine?

What about their family caregivers?

The answer: Yes, COVID-19 vaccines are safe and recommended for all people aged 12 years of age or older, especially for those with underlying medical problems such as cancer, and their household contacts. Everyone 12 years old and older is now eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccination.

Because patients with cancer may not respond as well to the vaccine, caregivers of persons with weakened immune systems should get a COVID-19 vaccine to protect them.

If you are unsure, ask your doctor. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, also known as Comirnaty, is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for people ages 16 and up. It is authorized for use in people ages 12-15. This vaccine is two doses.

Two additional vaccines, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, are authorized for use in people over age 18. The Moderna requires two doses. Johnson & Johnson is a single dose.

COVID-19 Vaccine Third Dose vs. Booster

The third dose of a COVID-19 vaccine helps those with vulnerable immune systems who may not have built up enough immunity from the first two doses of Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna.

The booster shot is for those who are at high-risk of severe COVID-19, or those whose daily job puts them at high risk of serious complications of COVID-19 including severe COVID-19, such as frontline workers, who may have experienced a decrease in immunity over time.

It is currently only available for those who had the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

Note about Johnson & Johnson vaccine

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommended that use of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 Vaccine resume in the United States on April 23, 2021. However, women younger than 50 years old should be aware of the rare risk of blood clots with low platelets after vaccination, and that other COVID-19 vaccines are available where this risk has not been seen. If you received a Johnson & Johnson vaccine, here is what you need to know.


Where Can Cancer Patients and Caregivers Get the COVID-19 Vaccine?

You and your caregivers may be able to get the COVID-19 vaccine at the hospital or clinic where you get treatment. If not, there are likely several locations in your community. Your care team can let you know. The national VaccineFinder website might be a good resource.

When Is a Person Considered “Fully Vaccinated?”

People are considered fully vaccinated 2 weeks or more after they have received the second dose of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine or 2 weeks after they have received 1 dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Do Cancer Patients Still Have to Follow Precautions Such as Wearing a Face Mask After Being Fully Vaccinated?

Yes. CDC recommendations do not apply to health care settings, such as hospitals and clinics. They apply to the general public in non-health care settings.

AYA cancer patients are considered high risk. They must not receive visits from their fully vaccinated grandparents (or others) without using a mask and keeping a physical distance of 6 feet or more.

Find more information about CDC recommendations for fully vaccinated people in non-health care settings.

Key Points

  • COVID-19 vaccines are available for everyone over age 12. They are safe and effective.
  • You are fully vaccinated 2 weeks after your single dose of Johnson & Johnson or your second dose of Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna.
  • Depending on your situation, you may be eligible for a third dose of Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna or a Pfizer-BioNTech booster. Ask your doctor.
  • Side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine are rare. And the vaccine is much safer than a COVID-19 infection.
  • You should take steps like wearing a mask, washing your hands, and physical distancing even after you are vaccinated.

Learn More About COVID-19 Vaccines

Reviewed: August 2021