Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in people and many different species of animals. SARS-CoV-2 is a novel (new) coronavirus that causes a respiratory disease named coronavirus disease 2019, which is abbreviated COVID-19.
As SARS-CoV-2 spreads, the virus can change, which results in new variants. Some variants may spread more easily than others or be more resistant to vaccines or treatments.
If you have cancer, you have a higher risk of severe COVID-19. Other factors that increase the risk for severe COVID-19 include having a weakened immune system (being immunocompromised), older age, and other medical conditions.
People with blood cancers may be at higher risk of prolonged infection and death from COVID-19 than people with solid tumors. That is because patients with blood cancers often have abnormal or depleted levels of immune cells that produce antibodies against viruses.
NCI is conducting a large study of people with cancer who have COVID-19 to learn more about the risk factors for COVID-19 and to help doctors better manage treatment for people with cancer and COVID-19.
If you had cancer in the past, you also may be at higher risk of severe COVID-19, and you may want to discuss your concerns about COVID-19 with your doctors.
Yes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone age 6 months and older stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccination, including all primary series doses and boosters. That includes most people with underlying medical conditions, including cancer.
CDC recommends most people get the Moderna, Novavax, or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for their primary series. You may get Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine in some situations. Both the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines are authorized to be used for booster doses. People ages 5 years and older should get an updated (bivalent) booster that targets the Omicron variant, the form of the virus that is most common in the United States.
If, like most people (including most people who had cancer in the past), you have a healthy immune system, CDC recommends that you follow this vaccine schedule: