Some medications and treatments for cancer affect how well your immune system responds to the COVID-19 vaccine. Timing your vaccine around your treatment may help the vaccine work best.
NEW information is below for patients about to start or planning to start B-cell depleting therapies
Not all people with cancer need to time the vaccine around their treatment or medications.
If you are on treatment or your treatment needs to start before you can get the vaccine, do not delay your cancer treatment.
You may need to time your vaccine if any of the following apply to you:
- If you are on cyclical therapy, for example chemotherapy given every 3 - 4 weeks, try and book your vaccine one week before your next treatment.
- If you are receiving weekly chemotherapy, the best time to get your vaccine a day or two after your treatment.
- If you are receiving radiation therapy to large areas of your body, you may need a blood test before getting your vaccine.
- If you are having radiation close to one of your arms, you should get the vaccine in your other arm. If you have questions, please speak to your radiation oncologist.
- If you are going to start radiation therapy in the next 2-4 weeks, and you are currently eligible to get a vaccine (for example, your age group is eligible), try to get the vaccine as soon as possible (within a few weeks). When you have your cancer centre appointment, please let the staff know the date of your vaccine appointment.
- If you are planned for a stem cell or bone marrow transplant or CAR-T cell therapy, try to book your vaccine at least 2 weeks before you start the chemotherapy that is given before the transplant or CAR-T cells.
- If you are taking systemic corticosteroids, such as dexamethasone, try to book your vaccine 28 days after your last dose of corticosteroids.
- If there are days in the week or month when you are not on treatment (intravenous or oral treatment, including steroids), try to book your vaccine appointment on your days “off” treatment.
- If you have a B-cell lymphoproliferative malignancy and you will be starting or are planning to start:
- a B-cell depleting agent (like Rituximab or obinutuzumab) OR
- a BTK inhibitor (like Ibrutinib, acalbrutinib, zanubrutinib) OR
- Daratumumab OR
- If you have non-malignant conditions but will be starting or planning to start B-cell depleting therapies like Rituximab, alemtuzumab, ocrelizumab or and other CD20 +
Your doctor should have provided your contact information to the provincial immunization program. The provincial immunization program’s call centre will reach out to you to schedule your second dose.
If you are still not sure when to get your vaccine, please contact the care team who is managing your condition.
If you don’t see your medication listed, or if you take medications for another condition and you aren’t sure if you need to consider timing, you can also look at the COVID-19 vaccine planning considerations on the BCCDC website for that condition (if available).