New research in the February 2022 issue of JNCCN—Journal of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network confirms that mRNA vaccines for COVID-19 are just as safe for people with cancer as they are for cancer-free individuals. Researchers from Fox Chase Cancer Center tracked short-term side effects from more than 1,753 recipients of the Pfizer BNT162b2 vaccine and found no additional reactions for patients undergoing active cancer treatment (surgery, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, or radiation therapy) or who had completed treatment.
The results come from in person, phone, and online surveys given to people who received two doses of the mRNA vaccine, three weeks apart, between February 16 and May 15, 2021. 1,183 people with a history of cancer responded to both surveys, with 17.8% then currently undergoing treatment. Respondents experienced pain at the injection site, muscle pain, joint pain, fever, chills, headache, nausea, and fatigue at similar rates as those reported by people without cancer from the original clinical trials. Adverse effects for people undergoing immunotherapy also mirrored those in the general population.
“It’s crucial that cancer patients get vaccinated against COVID-19 because we know they can be particularly vulnerable to infection and its consequences, but some people have expressed concerns about possible reactions from the vaccines,” continued Dr. Horwitz. “Before this study, there wasn’t a lot of data specifically on the cancer population so we made sure to collect and report this information to help both patients and physicians make informed decisions to get mRNA vaccines.”