Study: COVID-19 Booster Shot Effective for Patients With Cancer Regardless of Initial Antibody Response


Study finds COVID-19 booster shot was extremely beneficial for all patients with cancer, especially those with a blood cancer.

The majority of patients with cancer without a measurable immune response following full vaccination for COVID-19 benefitted from a third dose, according to a study published in Cancer Cell. The investigators also found that the booster shot was extremely beneficial for all patients with cancer, especially those with a blood cancer.

“The speed of recommendations and treatments for COVID-19 has been incredible, but many questions have remained regarding the safety and necessity of booster shots,” said Lauren Shapiro, MD, third-year hematology/oncology fellows at Montefiore Medical Center and Albert Einstein College of Medicine, in a press release. “Our research now gives data-driven answers about when vaccine protection from COVID-19 wanes for immunocompromised individuals and offers clear guidance about the necessity of vaccination for people with cancer.”

The study analyzed 2 groups of patients with cancer: 1 comprised of 99 patients who did not receive a booster shot and the other with 88 patients who did. The first group was tested following their initial vaccination for the presence of antiviral antibodies in their blood and then tested again 4 to 6 months later. For the majority of patients who had detectable antibodies in the first test, those levels had declined by the time of the repeat test.

According to the investigators, 64% of patients in the second group had a measurable antibody response following standard vaccination. All participants received a booster dose regardless of initial response and 79.5% of participants had higher antibody levels following their booster shot. Further, 56% of patients with cancer who had no detectable antibodies following their initial standard vaccination had measurable antibody responses following the booster shot.

“Our study demonstrates in clear terms how the booster shot can make all the difference for some people with compromised immune systems, such as people with cancer,” said Balazs Halmos, MD, MS, director of the Multidisciplinary Thoracic Oncology Program at Montefiore Health System, in the release. “As our care for cancer patients and vaccine guidelines evolve, we believe these findings underscore the continued benefit vaccines give to all our patients.”


COVID-19 booster shot helps vast majority of cancer patients [news release]. EurekAlert; November 16, 2021. Accessed November 17, 2021.

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