Addressing COVID-19 vaccination concerns for people affected by lymphoma

We know a lot of people have questions about whether coronavirus vaccination works for people who have lymphoma. Here, we summarise what we know – and what we don’t know – so far.

Flu vaccine

We know that people affected by lymphoma are at higher risk than other people of becoming seriously ill if they develop COVID-19. This is why they were prioritised for vaccination when it first became available in the UK. However, we also know that people with lymphoma often have lowered immunity and might not respond as well to vaccines as other people.

Although the coronavirus vaccines have all been tested in very large clinical trials involving tens of thousands of people, the trials didn’t include people with lymphoma. This means, at the moment, there is limited information on how well the vaccines work in people with lymphoma.

Lots of ongoing trials are looking at response to vaccination in people with lowered immunity, including people with lymphoma and other blood cancers. You can read the latest updates on some of these trials in our COVID-19 vaccination information.

Even if you don’t respond fully to vaccination, all the health professionals we have spoken to have stressed that ‘Any or some protection is better than none.’ This is why we recommend the flu vaccination every year, even when people are receiving chemotherapy. However we know how anxious you might be about the risk of COVID-19, especially if you feel that you have little protection even with the vaccine.

Irrespective of your health status or predicted antibody levels, it is important to follow the government guidance and continue to take extra precautions to reduce your risk of infection. We have more information in our guidance for clinically extremely vulnerable people in England and the devolved nations.

You might find it reassuring to note that in most parts of the UK, case numbers are very low. In areas where there are concerns, the government has organised surge testing and is also accelerating the vaccination programme. In addition, household members of clinically extremely vulnerable people are eligible for priority vaccination (something that blood cancer charities urged the government to introduce), which helps protect those at higher risk. Finally, vaccine uptake across the UK has been very high. This also helps protect people who either can’t have, or don’t respond to, vaccination because vaccinated people are less likely to pass the virus on.

You might find some of our other resources helpful:

We appreciate that this might be a worrying time. If you’d like to talk, contact our Helpline Services on freephone 0808 808 5555 from 10am to 3pm, Monday to Friday, or via Live Chat through our website. You can also email us at information@lymphoma-action.org.uk.

With thanks to Dr Eve Gallop-Evans for reviewing this information. 

28 May 2021

Last updated 10 June 2021