Please note: The COVID-19 vaccine rollout is an evolving situation. We don’t yet have information about timing and the process for our cancer patient vaccinations. We understand that this uncertainty may cause you some anxiety. We are waiting for guidance from the Commonwealth, Mass General, and Mass General Brigham. We promise to communicate with our Cancer Center patient community as soon as we have information to share. We are in this together.

I have cancer. Can I get the COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available to me?

Yes. The CDC has stated that people with cancer may receive the COVID-19 vaccines, as long as they have had no issues with getting vaccines in the past.

Should I get the vaccine if I am actively receiving cancer treatment or should I wait until my treatment course is done?

If your current treatment includes chemotherapy, immunotherapy, targeted therapies, or radiation therapy, the decision about when you get vaccinated should be made together with your care team.

In making your decision, you should consider your risk of exposure to the virus, what your chances of getting very sick might be if you do get the virus, and when your treatment will be finished.

If you are done with treatment, you should get vaccinated when the vaccine is available to you. This includes patients who are still being seen, as part of post-treatment, or are thought of as in the “survivorship” part of their journey.

Will the vaccine interfere with my cancer treatment?

No. At this time, there is no evidence to suggest that the vaccine will affect your cancer treatment.

Can my caregiver get the vaccine?

Your caregiver (e.g., your spouse or adult child) should talk with their own health care provider to determine if they should get the vaccine when it is available to them.

Vaccine availability

When can I get the COVID-19 vaccine?

Mass General Brigham is following federal and state guidance from public health officials for vaccine distribution. The first wave of people who are getting the vaccine are frontline health care workers and first responders. Patients in long-term care facilities and nursing homes are also getting the vaccine.

Currently, Massachusetts public health officials think the general public will be able to get the vaccine sometime between April and June 2021. Access will be coordinated through the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. If you are high-risk, are 75 and older, or work in certain jobs like education, transit, or public works, you might be able to receive the vaccine sooner, between February and April. We will continue to update our website as more information becomes available. If you live in another state, please check your state’s information.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has more information on their website about when the vaccine may be available to the general public.

Where will I be able to get the vaccine?

The vaccine will be available to our eligible patients in locations that are easily accessible. This may include some of our medical offices, local pharmacies, local public health clinics, or state vaccination sites. We will continually update our patients about all their vaccination options through Patient Gateway and on our website.

Masks and social distancing

Can we stop wearing masks and social distancing after getting vaccinated?

No, not yet. We know that the vaccine protects you from getting sick, but we do not know if it stops you from giving it to other people. Because not everyone will get the vaccine right away, we must be careful to protect others. Even if you get the vaccine, you should still wear a mask, practice social distancing, and wash your hands. Infection control experts will let us know when it is safe to modify or stop these safety measures.

Why do we need to get the vaccine if we’re wearing masks and social distancing?

We need to use all the tools available to us to stop the pandemic. Together, the COVID-19 vaccine and simple everyday actions like wearing a mask and social distancing will offer the best protection from COVID-19. And even though the vaccines are 90% to 95% effective, you still don’t know how effective it will be for you. About 5% to 10% of people immunized may still get the virus. You should do everything you can to reduce your risk of getting the virus and passing it to others.

Additional FAQs

For more information and FAQs about the COVID-19 vaccine, please visit massgeneralbrigham.org/covid19/vaccine. This page will be updated as more information becomes available.