Small-cell lung cancer (SCLC) is one of the two main types of lung cancer, along with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). SCLC makes up
It’s important to look after your overall health while undergoing treatment for any type of cancer, including SCLC. One aspect of this involves staying up to date on any recommended vaccinations, particularly the COVID-19 vaccine.
Receiving your COVID-19 vaccine while having treatment for SCLC may seem daunting. However, it’s a vital step for preventing serious illness or death due to COVID-19.
Keep reading below to learn about the current COVID-19 vaccine recommendations for people with SCLC, why it’s important to get vaccinated, and what potential side effects to expect.
According to the
Due to the risk COVID-19 poses to people with cancer, the National Comprehensive Cancer Network recommends that all people with cancer receive the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as they can. The
Due to their higher effectiveness and better safety profile, the
The table below shows the current COVID-19 vaccine recommendations for most adults.
|Primary series||First booster||Second booster (ages 50 and older)|
|Pfizer-BioNTech||2 doses 3–8 weeks apart||at least 5 months after primary series (mRNA preferred)||at least 4 months after first booster (mRNA only)|
|Moderna||2 doses 4–8 weeks apart||at least 5 months after primary series (mRNA preferred)||at least 4 months after first booster (mRNA only)|
|Johnson & Johnson||1 dose||at least 2 months after primary series (mRNA preferred)||at least 4 months after first booster (mRNA only)|
Vaccines for immunocompromised adults
COVID-19 vaccine recommendations differ slightly if you’re
Due to the fact that the immune system of this population is weakened, these individuals may produce a lower immune response to the vaccine. Because of this, an additional vaccine dose is added to the primary series.
The table below shows the current COVID-19 vaccine recommendations for moderately to severely immunocompromised adults.
|Primary series||Primary series: Additional dose||First booster||Second booster|
|Pfizer-BioNTech||2 doses 3 weeks apart||additional dose 4 weeks after second dose||at least 3 months after additional dose (mRNA preferred)||at least 4 months after first booster (mRNA only)|
|Moderna||2 doses 4 weeks apart||additional dose 4 weeks after second dose||at least 3 months after additional dose (mRNA preferred)||at least 4 months after first booster (mRNA only)|
|Johnson & Johnson||1 dose||additional dose 4 weeks after initial dose (mRNA only)||at least 2 months after additional dose (mRNA preferred)||at least 4 months after first booster (mRNA only)|
In the 30 participants with low antibody levels after 2 doses, an additional third dose led to improved antibody levels in all but 3 people.
Who should delay or abstain from COVID-19 vaccination?
According to the
- immunosuppressive treatments
- CAR T-cell therapy
- stem cell transplant
There are only a few circumstances where a person shouldn’t get a COVID-19 vaccine. These
- a history of a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to a previous dose of a COVID-19 vaccine
- a known allergy to an ingredient in a COVID-19 vaccine
- a history of thrombosis with a low platelet count (thrombocytopenia) after receiving an adenoviral vector COVID-19 vaccine (contraindication for adenoviral vector vaccines only)
The treatment of SCLC often focuses on the use of chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or both. In some situations, immunotherapy may be recommended.
According to the
COVID-19 vaccines are safe for people with cancer. While people with cancer shouldn’t get live vaccines, they can, after consultation with a doctor, get other types of vaccines. These include both mRNA and adenoviral vector vaccines.
However, it’s still possible to experience some side effects after vaccination. The most common side effects of COVID-19 vaccines
A 2021 study surveyed people with cancer about the side effects that they had after getting the COVID-19 vaccine. The most common types of side effects reported included pain at the injection site, fatigue, and muscle pain.
A 2022 study examined the safety of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in 210 people with cancer, some of whom had SCLC. It found that the incidence of vaccine side effects in people with cancer was similar to that of the general public.
The study also included people undergoing various types of cancer treatment. The researchers didn’t find that the type of cancer treatment participants received was linked with the incidence of vaccine side effects.
Side effects from the COVID-19 vaccines go away on their own after a few days. However, if you find that your side effects last longer than a few days or begin to get worse, it’s important to contact a doctor.
Are people with lung cancer more likely to contract SARS-CoV-2?
People with cancer are generally more vulnerable to contracting infections such as SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. This can be due to the effects of the cancer itself or of certain cancer treatments such as chemotherapy on your body’s defenses against infections.
Are people with lung cancer at a higher risk of severe COVID-19?
Individuals with lung cancer, including SCLC, also face some additional challenges from COVID-19. This is due to the fact that they often already have reduced lung function because of factors such as:
- having a history of smoking
- undergoing a surgery for lung cancer
- experiencing lung damage due to the cancer itself
- having other health conditions that impact lung and heart function
Can symptoms of COVID-19 be confused with symptoms of SCLC?
The symptoms of COVID-19 and SCLC do have some overlap. Some examples of symptoms that may happen with either condition are:
- shortness of breath
However, COVID-19 and SCLC also have unique symptoms as well. For COVID-19, these may include a runny or stuffy nose, a sore throat, or the loss of smell or taste. For SCLC, they may include chest pain, hoarseness, or unexplained weight loss.
Are there any medications you shouldn’t take before a COVID-19 vaccine?
- ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin)
- naproxen (Aleve)
- acetaminophen (Tylenol)
If you take medications that suppress the immune system, talk with a doctor about the impact that your medications may have on vaccine effectiveness. They can give you more information about this and the best timing for your vaccination.
Should I get the flu vaccine if I have SCLC?
People with cancer are also at an increased risk of more serious illness due to the flu. Because of this, people with cancer, including SCLC, should receive a flu vaccine each year.
The type of flu vaccine is important. People with cancer should receive the flu shot, which contains an inactivated form of the virus, and not the flu nasal spray vaccine (FluMist) that contains a weakened — but live — form of the virus.
If you have any questions about what type of flu vaccine to get or the timing of your flu vaccine, be sure to talk with a doctor.
Individuals with cancer, including SCLC, are at an increased risk of serious illness due to COVID-19. Because of this, it’s important that they receive their COVID-19 vaccine as soon as they can.
COVID-19 vaccines are both safe and effective for people with SCLC. If you have questions about the COVID-19 vaccine in general, potential side effects, or which vaccine schedule to follow, be sure to consult a doctor.