People with ovarian cancer are likely eligible to receive a third dose of the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine shot, either 28 days after receiving their second dose if they are immunocompromised, or six months after receiving their second dose if not immunocompromised. Ask your health care team if you fall into the immunocompromised category for these doses.
All adults who received the Johnson & Johnson single-shot COVID-19 vaccine are eligible to receive a booster shot two months following their shot.
Additionally, the Centers for Disease for Control and Prevention (CDC) and U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have approved mix and match boosters, which allow people to receive initial doses of one type of COVID-19 vaccine and a booster of another.
The CDC released eligibility guidelines for the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines on Oct. 21. The agency released Pfizer guidelines on Sept. 24.
An additional dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine at least 28 days following a second dose may be recommended for those who did not develop an adequate immune response after the two-dose vaccination series.
The FDA amended the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines’ emergency use authorizations on Aug. 12 to allow a third vaccine dose at least 28 days after the second dose for certain immunocompromised individuals.
Individuals defined as immunocompromised include:
People with ovarian cancer may qualify as immunocompromised under the above criteria. The CDC recommends individuals consult their doctors to determine if a third dose is appropriate for them.
“People who are currently in [ovarian cancer] treatment should definitely talk with their oncologist,” said Dr. Christina S. Chu about qualifying for additional COVID-19 vaccine doses. Dr. Chu is the interim chief of the department of gynecologic oncology at the Fox Chase Cancer Center in the Temple University Health System.
An additional dose “for these individuals is important, but their oncologist may be able to help with optimal timing of the vaccine at a time when the immune system is least suppressed, to allow for a better response,” Dr. Chu added.
A COVID-19 vaccine booster is administered when someone developed adequate immunity after the initial vaccine dose or doses, but that immunity has decreased over time. If you have ovarian cancer or a history of ovarian cancer but are not considered immunocompromised, you are most likely eligible for a booster shot.
The following groups are now eligible for a Moderna or Pfizer booster shot at least six months after their second dose of the Moderna or Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine:
Cancer is included in the CDC’s list of underlying medical conditions that would make someone eligible for a Moderna or Pfizer booster six months after their second dose. The CDC website states, “Having cancer can make you more likely to get severely ill from COVID-19. Treatments for many types of cancer can weaken your body’s ability to fight off disease. At this time, based on available studies, having a history of cancer may increase your risk.”
“I would recommend that patients who are in remission consider receiving a booster to help build a stronger immune response, and that they consider talking with their health care provider if they have questions,” Dr. Chu said.
All adults over 18 who received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine are eligible for a booster shot at least two months after receiving their shot. The CDC recommendations were released after the FDA amended the emergency use authorizations for the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines to allow for booster doses.
The FDA and CDC have authorized mix and match booster doses for the three COVID-19 vaccines available in the United States. This means that you can receive a booster dose of a different vaccine from your original vaccine. For example, any adult over 18 who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine can receive a booster dose of the Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson vaccines at least two months after receiving their shot. Those who have received the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines and are eligible for a booster can receive it from any of the three companies six months after their second dose.
Talk to your doctor if you have questions about your eligibility for an additional COVID-19 vaccine dose or if you have concerns about receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.
In March, MyOvarianCancerTeam sat down with Dr. Christopher Awtrey, a specialist in gynecologic oncology, to discuss the COVID-19 vaccines for people with ovarian cancer.
In that conversation, Dr. Awtrey said, “I think for our patients who are battling ovarian cancer, their bodies are under a tremendous amount of stress already — to add a COVID infection to that is dangerous and potentially quite harmful.”
“Talk with your health care team about the vaccination process,” he continued. “I encourage my patients to be vaccinated, and I spend as much time with them as they need to so they feel comfortable with that decision.”
Dr. Chu commented, “Patients should know that the vaccines are very effective at preventing serious illness and death. Unvaccinated people are more than 10 times more likely to be hospitalized or die of COVID-19 than those who are vaccinated.”
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