Cancer Care

Oncology

Cancer Care

Nationally recognized comprehensive cancer care from New York's #1 hospital

COVID-19 Resources for Patients with Cancer

Getting the vaccine

NewYork-Presbyterian (NYP) is offering vaccines to eligible people from the community following New York State guidelines. Visit the NYP VaccineTogether website for information on how to schedule an appointment using the Connect Patient Portal. You must have an appointment to receive a vaccine.

For information on other locations in New York where eligible individuals, including those with underlying medical conditions, can be vaccinated, you can see the list of New York State vaccination locations or visit the New York City COVID-19 Vaccine Finder.

Research on COVID-19 and the vaccines

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Library of Medicine (NLM) have a research portal on COVID-19 available to the public. If you want to review the current research on the virus, the disease caused by the virus, or the vaccine's effectiveness, below are some trustworthy resources. You may notice a difference between SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 in reading scientific and medical research. SARS-CoV-2 is the virus, and COVID-19 is the disease caused by the virus.

SARS-CoV-2 = severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2
COVID-19 = coronavirus disease of 2019

Common myths about COVID-19 and the vaccines

There is much misinformation going around about COVID-19 and the vaccines. The World Health Organization (WHO) says we are facing an 'infomedic' on top of a global pandemic caused by the spread of the virus. An 'infodemic' happens when there is a large amount of information available — some accurate and some not — that makes it hard for people to find trustworthy sources of information and reliable guidance when they need it.

The WHO, the CDC, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) offer resources to help stop the spread of false information and debunk some common myths.

Frequently asked questions

Here are some frequently asked questions from patients that our physicians answer. You can also visit the Weill Cornell Medicine Coronavirus (COVID-19) or Columbia COVID-19 Resource Guide webpages for more FAQs.

If you are sick with confirmed or suspected COVID-19, you should take these steps to protect others in your home and community and to take care of yourself:

First, stay at home and isolate yourself from others as much as possible to prevent spreading the infection to others. Take care of yourself. Get rest and stay hydrated. Take over-the-counter medicines, such as acetaminophen, to help you feel better.

Inform your primary doctor or cancer doctor once you start feeling sick or are diagnosed with COVID-19. Call ahead for guidance before visiting any doctor's office or clinic.

Monitor your symptoms daily and look for warning signs that may indicate you should seek emergency care. Some warning signs include (but are not limited to): difficulty breathing, new confusion or inability to stay awake, the oxygen level of 92% or lower, unable to keep fluids down or stay hydrated. See below for more information.

Want more info? Visit the CDC website at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/steps-when-sick.html.

Most people with COVID-19 developing mild to moderate symptoms will recover on their own with supportive care. This is a rapidly evolving field, so you should contact your primary care doctor as soon as you have symptoms for further guidance.

The FDA has issued an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA), which allows for emergency use of combination anti-SARS-CoV-2 monoclonal antibodies to treat outpatients with mild to moderate COVID-19 who are at high risk of clinical progression. If you have risk factors for severe disease, you may be eligible for this treatment, so contact your primary care doctor as soon as you develop symptoms to see if this treatment may be appropriate for you.

Less commonly, COVID-19 may be severe and have serious complications requiring hospitalization. Treatments that are being used in hospitalized patients include:

Dexamethasone, a glucocorticosteroid, has shown benefit in hospitalized patients who need oxygen. The greatest benefit is in patients who require mechanical ventilation. It is currently recommended as a treatment option for COVID-19 patients who are in the hospital.

Tocilizumab, an anti-interleukin-6 receptor monoclonal antibody therapy, was found to improve survival among hospitalized patients exhibiting rapid respiratory decompensation due to COVID-19 when it was used with dexamethasone.

Remdesivir, an antiviral medication to treat COVID-19, is currently the only drug that the FDA approves for the treatment of COVID-19. It is recommended for hospitalized patients who require supplemental oxygen but not those who require mechanical ventilation.

For information on COVID-19 treatment, visit https://www.covid19treatmentguidelines.nih.gov/whats-new/.

For information on specific clinical trials underway for the treatment of patients with COVID-19 infection, visit https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/results?cond=COVID-19.

Yes. Everyone should get a COVID-19 vaccine, even if you have had a COVID-19 infection in the past. Even if immunity develops after infection, it is not known how long that protection will last. Reinfection can occur after COVID-19 infection, especially in immunosuppressed and immunocompromised people. If you received monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma for COVID-19, you should wait 90 days to get vaccinated.

If you receive an mRNA COVID vaccine (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna), you will need two doses of the vaccine. With the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, you should get your second 21 days after your first. If you received the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, you should get your second shot 28 days after the first shot. You should get your second shot as close to the recommended 3-week or 4-week interval as possible. The second dose may be given up to 42 days after the first dose, if necessary. You should not get the second dose early.

Visit the CDC website for more details: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/second-shot.html#:~:text=You%20should%20get%20your%20second,the%20second%20dose%20early.

After vaccination, you should continue to practice COVID-19 safety measures, including wearing masks around others, hand hygiene, and physical distancing in public places outside your home. The vaccine's effectiveness in cancer patients will likely be lower than shown in the vaccine clinical trials. In addition, although vaccination substantially reduces the risk of symptoms and illness, it may not eliminate the risk of asymptomatic transmission of SARS-CoV-2.

Additional resources

The American Cancer Society has many resources about COVID-19 and precautions for patients with cancer or someone concerned about loved ones with cancer to take at www.cancer.org. There is also a 24/7 line (National Cancer Information Center) staffed by trained cancer information specialists who can provide information, resources, and support at 1-800-227-2345.