Vaccine updates for women with ovarian cancer

Here we address some of your questions about what the development of coronavirus vaccinations means for you.

There are three Covid-19 vaccines currently being widely used in the UK:

These decisions follow positive results for these vaccines from a number of clinical trials (research studies that test new drugs). 

If you have a diagnosis of ovarian cancer, it’s understandable that you will have questions around what this means for you.  

This information is up to date as of 4 February 2022

How many doses of the vaccine should I have if I’m in active treatment (having chemotherapy) for ovarian cancer?

If you’re in active treatment for ovarian cancer, or you were in active treatment when you had your first two doses, you may be immunosuppressed (or were at the time of vaccination). This is when you have a lower immune system (the system in your body that helps to fight infection).  

You can access four doses of the Covid-19 vaccine: three primary doses and one booster. There should be a minimum of three months between the third primary dose and the booster dose.  

People on active treatment are being offered four doses because we now know that those who are immunosuppressed, or were at the time of vaccination, may not have as much protection as those who are not immunosuppressed.  

You may also wish to also take extra social distancing measures to keep yourself safe

It’s also advised that children and young people aged 12 and above who are in the same household as someone who is immunosuppressed should have three doses of the Covid-19 vaccine: two primary doses and one booster.  

How many doses of the vaccine should I have if I’m not in active treatment for ovarian cancer? 

If you’re not in active treatment for ovarian cancer (not having chemotherapy) you can access three doses of the Covid-19 vaccine: two primary doses and one booster. There should be a minimum of three months between your second primary dose and the booster dose.

How safe is the vaccine for those with ovarian cancer? 

Any coronavirus vaccine that’s approved must go through all the clinical trials and safety checks all other licensed medicines go through. The UK has some of the highest safety standards in the world. 

Vaccines will only be used if they're approved by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).  

The MHRA has been monitoring every stage of coronavirus vaccine development. Studies continue to be carried out about the safety of the vaccine but there is currently no evidence to say that they aren’t safe. 

‘Live’ vaccines can increase the risk of infection as they contain a weakened version of the bacteria or virus they're fighting against. None of the three covid vaccines currently available in the UK are ‘live’ vaccines, so they don't increase the risk of becoming infected with Covid-19 if you receive them.  

If you're allergic to any ingredients in the vaccine you’re offered you should discuss this with your GP when you’re called for it. 

How am I able to access the vaccine if I haven’t had it already? 

If you didn’t receive the vaccine at the time you were invited but would now like to have it you should speak to your clinical team about how to book an appointment. 

If you have any questions or concerns about having the vaccine or if you’re not sure whether you should receive it, then you should discuss these with your clinical team. 

Which vaccine will I be offered?

Which vaccine you're offered will be based on which one is available to your local NHS provider and on your age: 

  • if you’re under 40 you'll usually be offered either the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccine 
  • if you're under 18, you'll only be offered the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine 
I’m going to have surgery, can I have the vaccine?

Preparing for surgery doesn’t affect your ability to have the vaccine. 

Where possible the vaccine should be given two weeks before surgery but your treatment team will also take into account: 

  • your current health 
  • the chance of coming into contact with the virus 
  • the risk to your health if you were to get Covid-19 

If surgery is urgent, it shouldn’t be delayed by the vaccine. 

Can I have the vaccine when I’m taking part in a clinical trial?  

You can have the vaccine when taking part in a clinical trial, unless the criteria for the trial states that you can’t have it or that people who have had the vaccine will be excluded from the trial. It’s advisable to discuss this with your trial research team.

Does the vaccine increase your CA125 levels?

There’s currently no evidence to suggest that having the vaccine will raise your CA125 level. But as the vaccines are still quite new it may be that over time new information comes to light.

More information

Remember that you can always call our support line on 020 7923 5475 (9am–5.30pm, Monday–Friday) and speak to one of our specialist nurses if you have any concerns or questions or just need someone to talk to.