If you have cancer, you probably have questions about how coronavirus will affect your cancer treatment, care or medical appointments. We’ve answered some of the main ones here. If you need more info, you can always speak to your GP or clinical team.

What if I have a medical appointment during the coronavirus pandemic?

If you have a scheduled hospital or other medical appointment, talk to your clinical team. In general, you should go to medical appointments if you’ve been asked to go. Your team will be able to give you information on any preparation you need to do before you go to the hospital.

Will my cancer treatment be delayed because of coronavirus?

The NHS is working to restore and recover NHS services so that they start to operate as they did before the pandemic.

This means that cancer diagnosis, treatment and care are still happening, and the NHS is working to make sure that these services return to working as they did before.

I am on chemotherapy. If I experience sweats/ cough/ shivering should I call NHS 111 or the chemotherapy care line?

You should call the chemotherapy care line, if you have access to one. If the chemotherapy care line is not available in your area, please speak to your clinical team about who you should call in this situation.

How will coronavirus affect clinical trials?

You should contact your clinical team with questions about your individual treatment including any trials you are part of.

The National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) has written guidance on clinical trials.

They see a need to prioritise research on coronavirus itself, and that many clinical research teams will be asked to work on this to help with providing patient care.

Can young people with cancer have the coronavirus vaccine? 

There are four coronavirus vaccines that have been approved for use in the UK and one, Pfizer BioNTech, is the preferred vaccine for use for eligible children. One of the four vaccines, Janssen, will be available later in 2021.  

All vaccines approved for use in the UK have gone through rigorous trials and have been shown to be safe and very effective protecting against severe illness from coronavirus.  

If you’re under 16 

Everyone over the age of 12 years old will now be offered the coronavirus vaccine. If you’re under the age of 16, you’ll need your parent or guardian’s consent to get the vaccine. Find out more about consent from Gov.uk.

If you’re aged 12 to 17 years old, you will be offered one dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

If you have questions about whether you’re eligible, always check with your clinical care team. 

And if you’re under 16 and have been classed as clinically extremely vulnerable, it’s important that you follow all the latest guidelines for staying safe. You can find this on your country’s government website.  

Some people over the age of 12 who are severely immunosuppressed - including some people with cancer - will be given a third dose of the vaccine. This is an extra ‘top-up’ dose to provide extra protection for those who may not have had a full immune response to the first two doses.

If you have questions about whether you might be eligible for this you should speak to your clinical team. You can also find more information on the third dose on the government and NHS websites.

If you’re 16 or over 

You may have already had one or two doses of the vaccine. If not, it’s not too late - you should get in touch with your GP or clinical care team or go online to book.

Even if you have had both doses of the vaccine, you should continue to follow the latest guidance for vulnerable people for where you live.

You might have specific questions about the vaccine, like what is best for you and your medical history.

If you’re aged 16-17 years old, you’ll be offered the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. This may change in time, so always check if you’re not sure which you’re being offered.

Anyone under the age of 40 will be offered an alternative to the Oxford Astra Zeneca vaccine.

It’s a good idea to talk to your GP or medical team about any questions you may have ahead of having your vaccine, so that you and the vaccination team are ready once you go.

Adults over 16 years old who have health conditions which put them at greater risk of being extremely unwell from coronavirus, and adults who live with someone who is immunosuppressed, will be offered a booster vaccine this autumn/winter. The preferred vaccine for the booster is the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. You will be contacted if you are eligible for the booster, but if you have any questions, you should speak to your GP or clinical care team. 

How can I keep my friend or family member with cancer safe from coronavirus?

If you’re living with or spending time with a young person with cancer, you might be nervous about keeping them safe from coronavirus, especially as restrictions lift.

The main thing to do is make sure you follow all the current guidance for vulnerable people for where you live.

Always follow the guidance, and also ask the young person what would make them feel more comfortable, even if it’s not legally required any more. That might include things like socially distancing, washing your hands regularly for 20 seconds or more, and wearing a mask.

Always stay away from anyone if you have any coronavirus symptoms, and make sure you get tested.

Everyone will feel differently, so it’s always best to talk to the young person and see what you can do to help them feel at ease.

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