Last updated October 1, 2021
COVID-19 Vaccine Update
We are now scheduling COVID-19 booster vaccine appointments at our Dana-Farber - Chestnut Hill location for our eligible patients who received their second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine more than six months ago. At this time, the booster vaccine is only approved for persons in the following groups who received their second Pfizer-BioNTech dose more than six months ago:
- People age 65 and older
- People age 18 or older with underlying medical conditions
- Residents of long-term care settings
- People 18 or older who are at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of where they work or live
We are still offering third-dose vaccine appointments at our Chestnut Hill location for our patients who are immunocompromised and have already received two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.
If you are eligible for a third dose or booster shot, you can also
get one at community locations. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine offered at Dana-Farber is the same version available at other sites. Find a location today at vaxfinder.mass.gov or vaccines.gov.
If you are immunocompromised and need a third dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, we encourage you to check a community vaccination site near you to schedule a third Moderna dose. Dana-Farber is currently able to offer only the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
Booster shots for the Moderna and Johnson&Johnson/Janssen vaccines are not yet available. If you received the Astra-Zeneca vaccine, please talk with your health care provider.
Due to an overwhelming number of messages and calls, we may not be able to individually respond to your questions regarding third-dose or booster COVID-19 vaccinations at this time. We know this is frustrating, and we appreciate your understanding.
Third Dose of COVID-19 Vaccine Recommended for Most Cancer Patients
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine if you are being treated for cancer and have already received two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines.
- You do not need to wait to get your third dose at Dana-Farber. Community locations, such as CVS and Walgreens pharmacies, offer third doses for eligible patients. You do not need a doctor's note to get your third dose at one of
these locations. Find one near you at vaxfinder.mass.gov or www.vaccines.gov.
- Dana-Farber is now scheduling third-dose vaccine appointments at our Chestnut Hill location for our patients who are immunocompromised and have already received two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. If you received
the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, we encourage you to check a community vaccination site near you to schedule a third Moderna dose.
- If you have a vaccination appointment at Dana-Farber, please bring your COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card and a government-issued ID. You can still get your vaccine dose if you do not have these items, but they may help your appointment
to go faster.
Under the new CDC recommendation, people who are moderately to severely immunocompromised should get another dose. This means that most Dana-Farber patients who are currently being treated for cancer should get a third dose of vaccine, including people who:
- Are actively being treated for cancer
- Have received CAR-T cell therapy within the last 2 years
- Have received a stem cell transplant within the last 2 years or are taking medicine to suppress the immune system after a stem cell transplant
- Are taking other drugs that may suppress the immune response (for example, biologic agents that are immunosuppressive, such as rituximab, and tumor-necrosis blockers)
- Are taking high-dose corticosteroids
- Have received a solid organ transplant
- Have moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency
- Have an advanced or untreated HIV infection
Why should you get a third dose of vaccine?
Research shows that people being treated for cancers such as leukemia, lymphoma, or multiple myeloma are more likely to get very sick if they get COVID-19. They may also have a longer illness. Data suggests that a third dose of the Pfizer or Moderna
COVID-19 vaccines may provide more protection against these risks.
Do I need a note from my doctor?
No. When you sign up for a third dose, you will need to attest that you are immunocompromised, but you do not need a doctor’s note to get another dose.
Should I get the same vaccine I got for the first two doses?
Yes, you should try to get the same type of vaccine that you got for your first two doses. But it is OK to get the other vaccine if your type is not available. So, for example, if you got the Moderna vaccine for your first two doses, it is OK to get
a Pfizer dose if Moderna is not available.
- Do not get the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen or the Astra-Zeneca vaccine as a third dose.
- Do not get more than three doses of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.
How can I find my COVID-19 vaccination record?
If you were vaccinated at Dana-Farber or a Mass General Brigham site, or if your Dana-Farber doctor added your vaccine status to your medical record, you can use Patient Gateway to view your vaccination record. Visit our Patient Gateway information page,
or read How to Find Your Immunization Records (pdf).
What if I got the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen or Astra-Zeneca vaccine?
People who received the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine are not yet eligible to receive an additional dose. We will update our guidance on this based on CDC recommendations, and we are hopeful that the CDC and other experts will provide
guidance on this soon. If you got the Astra-Zeneca vaccine, please contact your provider.
When should I get a third dose of vaccine?
The CDC recommends that you get the third dose at least 28 days after your second dose of vaccine. Find a vaccination location near you at vaxfinder.mass.gov or
Please Get Your COVID-19 Vaccination
If you are not already fully vaccinated, we strongly encourage you to get the COVID-19 vaccine to protect yourself and your loved ones. Find a location near you at vaxfinder.mass.gov or www.vaccines.gov.
- You should get a COVID-19 vaccination even if you were previously infected with the virus. The vaccine may help trigger a bigger immune response, which better prepares the body to fight off the coronavirus.
- If you recently had a COVID-19 infection, you are eligible to get the vaccine as soon as you are symptom-free and have completed your required isolation period.
COVID-19 Vaccine FAQ for Dana-Farber Patients
Can I go back to normal after I get the vaccine (no masks, etc.)?
Even after you are vaccinated, it is still important to follow best practices for preventing spread of the virus. This is particularly important for persons who are immunocompromised, such as cancer patients in treatment. To prevent the spread of the
virus, wear a facemask, encourage those around you to get vaccinated, maintain physical distancing when possible, and avoid crowded and poorly ventilated places.
Can I choose which vaccine I get?
We are not able to offer a choice of which vaccine version you will get if you are scheduled for a vaccination at Dana-Farber. Our vaccine supply is controlled by the state of Massachusetts.
Should I get a COVID-19 vaccine if I've recently had cellular therapy (such as CAR T-cell therapy) or a stem cell transplant?
Yes, but only after 100 days has passed since your transplant or cellular therapy. In fact, we recommend that all transplant and cellular therapy patients strongly consider a COVID-19 vaccine when 100 days have elapsed from their transplant or cellular
Is the vaccine safe?
As with any medication, we follow guidance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which has a strong vaccine safety system to ensure that all vaccines are as safe as possible. Many clinical trials are currently evaluating the COVID-19 vaccines to
best determine their safety and effectiveness. Learn more from the CDC's vaccine safety page.
If I've had an allergic reaction to chemotherapy in the past, should I worry about reactions to the vaccine?
Talk with your care team if you've had an allergic reaction to certain chemotherapy drugs, such as those that contain polyethylene glycol (PEG), which is a compound that is part of the current COVID-19 vaccines. Learn more at www.cdc.gov/vaccines/covid-19.
Who should not get the vaccine?
According to the Centers for Disease Control, you should not get a COVID-19 vaccine if you have had an immediate allergic reaction to any ingredient in either of the two available COVID-19 vaccines. This includes polyethylene glycol (PEG), a compound
found in some chemotherapy treatments. Talk with your care team or healthcare provider if you have questions. Learn more at www.cdc.gov/vaccines/covid-19.
Is it OK to mix the vaccines (i.e., get a different vaccine for each dose)?
No. You should receive the same vaccine for doses one and two.
Is there a cost to receive a COVID-19 vaccine?
No. Per federal rules, there is no cost to you to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Your health insurance plan may be charged a modest administration fee, but there will be no cost to you.
What if I experience side effects after getting a COVID-19 vaccine?
No matter where you are given a COVID-19 vaccine, you will be given clear instructions on what to do if you experience side effects (which are typically mild). For answers to some of the more common questions about getting the COVID-19 vaccine, please
visit www.mass.gov/COVIDvaccine and click on "Frequently Asked Questions" or go directly to
How can I know whether the vaccine worked for me? Should I have an antibody test?
At this time there isn’t a way to know with certainty whether the vaccine worked, but it is likely that it offers at least some benefit, even in people with weakened immune systems.
There are antibody tests. However, even when they do detect antibodies, it’s not known how to interpret the results. We don’t yet know what level of antibody is needed for protection against the coronavirus or whether those antibodies will protect against
the variants. Further, the presence of antibodies may give people a false sense of security that they can stop wearing masks and taking precautions, which could make them more susceptible to infection.
At the same time, there are other cells of the immune system that can be stimulated by the vaccine to help protect you against the virus that aren’t detected by the antibody tests. This type of immunity is called cellular immunity. So, even if the antibody
level is low, or even undetectable, you still could have developed an immune response from the vaccine.
At this point, the Centers for Disease Control and many other medical experts do not recommend antibody testing for assessing immunity after vaccination. As we gain more understanding of the test results, their meaning, and how to respond
to those results, we may find that testing becomes useful. Until then, we recommend getting vaccinated and continuing to exercise precautions to reduce the risk of exposure.
Are you vaccinating patients seen in the Jimmy Fund Clinic?
Dana-Farber is only able to invite patients age 18 and older for vaccinations, but younger patients who are seen in the pediatric Jimmy Fund Clinic will be contacted by Boston Children's Hospital when they are eligible for a COVID vaccine. If you have
questions, please check the Boston Children's Hospital COVID-19 vaccine information page, or call the Boston Children's COVID-19
hotline at 617-355-4200 (toll-free 855-281-5730).
My child is not yet eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. When will he or she be able to get the vaccine?
Please check the
Boston Children's Hospital COVID-19 vaccine information page for answers to frequently asked questions, such as when children
might be able to receive a vaccine.
Additional Information on Vaccines