Cancer and COVID–19
Information and support for people in NSW affected by cancer during the COVID-19 outbreak, including information for health professionals and researchers.
If you or a loved one lives with cancer, you may have increased concerns and questions on how the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak affects you.
We have gathered up-to-date, evidence-based resources for people affected by cancer to support you during this time. This includes information for people living with cancer, health professionals and researchers.
See information about:
- COVID-19 vaccines and cancer
- COVID-19 and cancer treatment
- COVID-19 for people affected by cancer
- COVID-19 and cancer for health professionals and researchers
- BreastScreen NSW services impacted by COVID-19
- General COVID-19 information
COVID–19 vaccines and cancer
Vaccination for people with cancer
Being vaccinated against COVID-19:
- reduces your risk of catching COVID-19
- reduces your risk of severe illness if you catch COVID-19.
For people newly diagnosed with cancer:
- It is strongly recommended you receive your COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible.
- Your cancer specialist can advise about the best timing for you based on your treatment plan.
Talk to your specialist about receiving the COVID–19 vaccination before starting cancer treatment.
Vaccination if you are immunocompromised
Some people who have been diagnosed with cancer and are undergoing cancer treatments can have weaker immune systems. People with compromised immune systems as a side effect of cancer treatments, or from the cancer itself, may be at increased risk of contracting COVID-19 and increased risk of more severe infection.
Vaccination reduces the risk of having severe illness and needing to go to hospital as a result of getting COVID-19.
Vaccination may be less effective in people who are immunocompromised, so they may be recommended to have more than the usual number of doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to increase their protection.
- 3 primary doses of a COVID-19 vaccine
- 2 booster doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Talk to your specialist about whether you are immunocompromised and may need additional doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.
For more information see: COVID-19 vaccination decision guide for people with immunocompromise
COVID-19 booster vaccinations – May 2022
NSW Health recommends that people aged 16 and over, stay up to date with their COVID-19 booster vaccinations this winter. For people who are severely immunocompromised and have already had their first booster, this includes a second booster dose.
You are eligible for the second booster if it’s been four months since your first booster, or three months since you had a confirmed COVID-19 infection which occurred after your first booster.
Most people who are eligible for an additional winter COVID-19 booster will also be eligible for a free flu vaccine, which is available now. The COVID-19 and flu vaccines can be given at the same time.
For more information, visit: https://www.nsw.gov.au/covid-19/vaccination/get-vaccinated/boosters
Vaccination for families, friends and carers
We recommend that those living in the same household as a person with cancer, as well as caregivers or other close contacts of a person with cancer, should also get vaccinated against COVID–19.
More information on COVID-19 vaccines for people affected by cancer
The Cancer Australia website provides up-to-date information on COVID–to19 vaccines for people affected by cancer.
Click below to view answers to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about COVID-19 vaccines for people affected by cancer.
- COVID-19 vaccine and cancer
- SerOzNET Study – an important clinical study to better understand the safety and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccines in people with cancer.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about COVID-19 vaccines for people affected by cancer
- FAQs in English
- FAQs translated in 10 non-English languages. including:
- Information for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
COVID-19 and cancer treatment
If you are currently having cancer treatment, here are some practical ways to reduce your risk of exposure to COVID-19:
Get in touch with your cancer care team to see if you can have any consultations by phone or video call.
Talk to your doctor or cancer care team about the times during your treatment when you may be at the highest risk of infection and plan your activities accordingly.
Get in touch with your cancer care team to get specific advice around your individual risk.
Everyone should practise good hygiene and social distancing to protect against infection, particularly people with cancer and their family, friends and carers. See Cancer Australia for more information.
COVID-19 for people affected by cancer
The Australian Government's national cancer body, Cancer Australia, provides COVID-19 advice and information for people in Australia affected by cancer:
- COVID-19 and cancer
- COVID-19 information for people affected by cancer
- Cancer and COVID-19 - what it means for our mob
Cancer Council Australia also have information about COVID-19 and cancer, including factsheets in several languages:
COVID-19 and cancer for health professionals and researchers
- NSW Cancer Services lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic (PDF) - Cancer Institute NSW
- COVID-19 resources - eviQ
- Guidance for health professionals on cancer management and COVID-19 - Cancer Australia
- Research articles about cancer and COVID-19 - Cancer Australia
- Cancer care in the time of COVID-19: A conceptual framework - Cancer Australia
- The impact of COVID-19 on cancer services - Cancer Australia
- COVID-19 Recovery: Implications for cancer care - Cancer Australia
- SerOzNET Study - Cancer Australia
All BreastScreen NSW clinics are now operational
As a priority, women who had their appointment cancelled during the recent suspension of service will be rebooked first, followed by those who were due for a screen during the suspension period.
For full details visit the BreastScreen NSW website.
General COVID-19 information
What is COVID-19?
Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that cause respiratory infections. These can vary from the common cold to more serious diseases.
COVID-19 is a disease caused by a form of coronavirus.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
COVID-19 affects people in different ways. COVID-19 symptoms can range from mild illness to pneumonia. You can also be infected with COVID-19 and experience no symptoms—this is called being 'asymptomatic'.
If you have COVID-19, you may experience symptoms.
- Keep up to date with the symptoms of COVID-19.
It is important you get tested immediately even if you have only the mildest of these symptoms.
Experiencing symptoms, have exposure concerns or tested positive?
Contact your doctor or cancer care team immediately for advice if you:
- have COVID-19 symptoms
- have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19
- have tested positive for COVID-19.
Looking after your mental health during the COVID-19 outbreak
The impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak, physical distancing and isolation can make us feel anxious, stressed and worried. Access information and resources to look after your mental wellbeing during this time.
- Head to Health: COVID-19 Support – Department of Health (Australia)
- Looking after your mental health during COVID-19 restrictions – Department of Health (Australia)
- Your mental wellbeing – NSW Health
- Ways to look after your mental health amid the coronavirus pandemic – Beyond Blue
COVID-19 Health Information Line
Call 1800 020 080 if you are seeking information about COVID-19. The line operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
More information and resources on COVID-19
- Coronavirus (COVID-19) health alert - Department of Health (Australia)
- Current status of COVID-19 in NSW - NSW Health
- Information and news about COVID-19 vaccines – Department of Health (Australia)
- Coronavirus (COVID-19) - Healthdirect
- Advice for the public about COVID-19 – World Health Organization