Moffitt Answers Cancer Patients’ Questions about COVID-19 Booster

By Tori Mitchell - October 04, 2021

For cancer patients who received the COVID-19 vaccine earlier this year, you may be wondering – Am I eligible for a booster? Hosted by Moffitt Cancer Center’s Patient and Family Advisory Council, a special Ask the Experts Facebook Live featured a panel to answer your questions about the COVID-19 vaccine booster.

You can watch the full video here, or read below for answers to the most common questions.

What is the difference between a third dose and booster?

A third dose helps immunocompromised individuals complete their initial vaccine series because they likely did not mount the same immune response that most other people experienced with the two-dose regimen. It’s recommended that people with moderately to severely compromised immune systems receive an additional dose of a mRNA COVID-19 vaccine at least 28 days after a second dose of Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna. 

The booster shot is an additional dose needed to help defend against waning immunity over time and is given six months after the second dose. Pfizer is currently the only vaccine approved for a booster.

 

1st Dose

2nd Dose

3rd Dose

Booster

Moderately to severely immunocompromised (includes most cancer patients in active treatment)

Yes 

Pfizer and Moderna 

 

Johnson & Johnson is a single dose vaccine  

Yes 

Pfizer and Moderna 

Yes 

Pfizer and Moderna 

28 days or more after 2nd dose 

Research being conducted whether a booster would be recommended 6 months after 3rd dose for this population.  

Higher risk but not eligible for 3rd dose (includes most other cancer patients or survivors; individuals in high risk occupations)

 

Age 65+

Yes 

Pfizer and Moderna 

 

 

Johnson & Johnson is a single dose vaccine.   

Yes 

Pfizer and Moderna 

No

Yes 

Pfizer only approved at this time. 6 months after 2nd dose. 

 

Moderna and Johnson & Johnson pending approval.

All other adults (no underlying condition; not in higher risk occupation) 

Yes 

Pfizer and Moderna

Johnson & Johnson is a single dose vaccine.   

Yes

Pfizer and Moderna 

 

No

No

 

Who is eligible for the booster?

Booster doses are now available for individuals who were vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine at least six months ago, including:

  • People 65 and older
  • People 18 and older with underlying health conditions
  • Those who have jobs with a high risk of exposure
  • Long term care facility residents

Most cancer patients or survivors would be eligible under these criteria. Research is still pending on whether a booster shot may be needed six months after the three-dose regimen for moderately to severely immunocompromised individuals.

Is the booster dose the same strength?

The Pfizer booster is the same dosage as first and second doses. While still pending approval, the Moderna booster may be a smaller dose.

Can I get the Pfizer booster if I previously received the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccine?

No, mixing brands is not approved in the U.S. because there has not been sufficient research completed on how mixing brands may affect its protection.

Can caregivers receive the booster?

The CDC has not recommended that caregivers receive the booster unless they themselves are at higher risk or are older than 65. Caregivers who meet these criteria may be vaccinated at Moffitt (see below for scheduling). If and when all other caregivers are eligible according to the CDC, Moffitt will plan to expand its vaccine availability.

Can I get the flu vaccine and the COVID-19 vaccine at the same time?

Yes, you can have both at the same time, and it is considered safe.

Are there side effects with either a third dose or booster?

According to the CDC, side effects are likely to be similar to the second dose. Soreness in the arm, fatigue and headache are common side effects.

As a Moffitt patient not under active treatment, can I get the booster?

Yes, six months after your second dose (Pfizer only at this time). Please note that if you have already had a third dose, research is still pending on whether a booster is needed six months after a third dose for individuals who are moderately to severely immunocompromised.

How can I get my third dose or booster at Moffitt?

Patients can call 813-745-8000 to schedule a vaccine appointment. Appointments are offered five days a week, Monday – Friday, at our Magnolia and McKinley campuses. If you have questions about your treatment plan and the vaccine, message your care team through the My Moffitt portal. 

What precautions should cancer patients continue to take after their third dose or booster?

Even if the immune system is boosted up by receiving the vaccine, continue to avoid crowds, wear your mask and wash your hands. This will help you to also avoid the flu and other viruses.

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Tori Mitchell Board and Corporate Events Liason More Articles

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