COVID-19 vaccines for patients with cancer: benefits likely outweigh risks

Joyce K. Hwang, Tian Zhang, Andrew Z. Wang, Zihai Li

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

82 Scopus citations


Less than a year since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, ten vaccines against SARS-CoV-2 have been approved for at least limited use, with over sixty others in clinical trials. This swift achievement has generated excitement and arrives at a time of great need, as the number of COVID-19 cases worldwide continues to rapidly increase. Two vaccines are currently approved for full use, both built on mRNA and lipid nanotechnology platforms, a success story of mRNA technology 20 years in the making. For patients with cancer, questions arise around the safety and efficacy of these vaccines in the setting of immune alterations engendered by their malignancy and/or therapies. We summarize the current data on leading COVID-19 vaccine candidates and vaccination of patients undergoing immunomodulatory cancer treatments. Most current cancer therapeutics should not prevent the generation of protective immunity. We call for more research in this area and recommend that the majority of patients with cancer receive COVID vaccinations when possible.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number38
JournalJournal of Hematology and Oncology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • COVID-19
  • COVID-19 and cancer
  • COVID-19 vaccines
  • Cancer therapies
  • Patients with cancer and COVID-19
  • SARS-CoV-2 virus vaccines
  • Vaccination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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