The Who, What, Where, When and Sometimes, Why.

COVID-19 and Breast Cancer

This page has information about coronavirus (COVID-19) for people with breast cancer, their loved ones and caregivers.

For more information on COVID-19 for people with cancer, visit the American Society of Clinical Oncology website.

For general information on COVID-19, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website.

What is COVID-19?

A coronavirus causes the respiratory disease COVID-19, which stands for coronavirus disease 2019.

Most cases of COVID-19 are mild. However, some people can become very sick. Being up to date with your COVID-19 vaccines, including boosters, protects against severe illness from COVID-19 and limits the spread of the virus.

Although the CDC is continuing to monitor rates of COVID-19 in the United States, the federal COVID-19 public health emergency ended in May 2023.

Check the CDC website for the latest information.

Am I at risk of COVID-19?

People who are older or who have other health conditions such as heart disease, lung disease or diabetes, are at greater risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19.

If you’re being treated for breast cancer, or have metastatic breast cancer, your immune system may be weakened. This means you have an increased risk of getting sick from COVID-19.

What are the signs and symptoms of COVID-19?

Possible symptoms of COVID-19 are:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

These signs and symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to COVID-19. People may be contagious before symptoms appear.

For more information on the symptoms of COVID-19 and when to seek immediate medical attention for symptoms, visit the CDC website.

The CDC has information about treatments your doctor may recommend if you get COVID-19.

COVID-19 testing

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has a list of low-cost or free COVID-19 testing sites. Self-test kits (done at home) can also be helpful.

What can I do to protect myself, my loved ones and my caregivers?

To slow the spread of COVID-19, the CDC recommends you:

  • Get vaccinated and stay up to date on your COVID-19 vaccines, including booster shots. They are available to people ages 6 months and older.
  • Improve ventilation in indoor spaces and spend time outdoors when possible.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid close contact with people who have suspected or confirmed COVID-19.
  • Follow recommendations if you are exposed to COVID-19.
  • Stay home for at least 5 days if you test positive for COVID-19, even if you don’t have symptoms.
  • Seek treatment if you test positive for COVID-19 and are at high risk of getting very sick.

Face masks

The CDC recommends people consider continuing to wear face masks and maintain social distancing in public in areas where COVID-19 hospital admission levels are medium or high. This is especially important for people at high risk of getting very sick, such as people who are getting chemotherapy.

For more general information and guidance, visit the CDC website.

The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) recommends all breast cancer patients, their caregivers, household family members and the general public get the COVID-19 vaccine and stay up to date on COVID-19 vaccines [1]. This includes booster shots and additional doses (for those with weakened immune systems) [1].

The mRNA vaccines and booster shots (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna) are preferred by the CDC and the NCCN [1-2].

If you haven’t been vaccinated and you’re not sure when to get a vaccine or booster shot, talk with your doctor or check the CDC website. If you’re not sure if you have a weakened immune system, talk with your doctor.

COVID-19 vaccine booster shots

Over time, the protection you get from a COVID-19 vaccine decreases. Booster shots are given to increase protection in people who’ve had their initial vaccines.

The CDC and the NCCN recommend the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna booster shots [1-2].

Remember to take your COVID-19 vaccination card with you when you go for your booster shots.

Learn more about the CDC recommendations for COVID-19 booster shots for vaccinated people.

Timing of a COVID-19 vaccine or booster shot if you’re having surgery

If you’re having breast surgery (or other surgery), don’t get the vaccine or a booster shot right before or right after surgery [1]. You don’t want to confuse any side effects you may have from the surgery with any side effects you may have from the vaccine. Ask your surgeon when it’s best to get the vaccine.

Find information from the CDC on myths and facts about COVID-19 vaccines.

COVID-19 vaccines for those who’ve had an allergic reaction to some medications in the past

If you’ve had an immediate allergic reaction in the past to a vaccine, an IV (by vein) medication or a medication given by injection, you may still be able to get a COVID-19 vaccine and booster shots [3]. Talk with your doctor before getting a COVID-19 vaccine or booster shot [3]. Your doctor may refer you to an allergy or immunology specialist for guidance [3].

Find more information about the COVID-19 vaccine on the CDC website.

COVID-19 vaccine and mammography screening

COVID-19 vaccines may cause temporary swelling in the lymph nodes in the underarm area.

However, the Society of Breast Imaging no longer recommends scheduling your screening mammogram around COVID-19 vaccines or booster shots [4]. It’s important not to delay your screening mammogram.

Also, don’t delay getting a diagnostic (follow-up) mammogram to check an abnormal finding on a screening mammogram, or a lump or other change in your breast.

If you’re being treated for breast cancer, or you have metastatic breast cancer, your immune system may be weakened.

If you’re moderately to severely immunocompromised, you may not build up enough immunity from a COVID-19 vaccine. The CDC recommends people with a weakened immune system (moderately to severely immunocompromised) get one additional dose of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine [2].

Talk with your doctor about whether you may benefit from an additional dose of a vaccine to be sure you have enough protection against COVID-19.

Remember to take your vaccination card with you if you get an additional dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Learn more about the CDC recommendations for an additional dose of the COVID-19 vaccine for people with weakened immune systems.

Learn more about the CDC recommendations for COVID-19 booster shots for vaccinated people.

The flu vaccine protects against the 3-4 viruses most likely to be common each flu season.

The CDC recommends everyone aged 6 months or older, including people with breast cancer and their caregivers, get a flu shot every year.

If you are in treatment for breast cancer, get the flu vaccine as a shot rather than a nasal spray.

Find more information about the flu for people with breast cancer on the CDC website.

Some doctors’ offices have made changes to allow for social distancing.

Also, some in-person doctor appointments may be changed to phone or video consults. We’ve created a simple checklist with some great tips to help you prepare for a successful telehealth visit and a podcast to help you get the most out of your visit.

Some places may still be limiting the number people you can bring with you to a doctor’s appointment. This is to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. Call your doctor or hospital, or check the website for their current policies. Don’t bring someone with you who has a fever or a cough or is not feeling well.

If you have a fever, cough or other symptoms, let your doctor know before going to your appointment.

If you have any warning signs of breast cancer or notice any changes in your breast or underarm area, don’t put off seeing your doctor. A breast lump or other change needs to be checked.

Learn more about warning signs of breast cancer.

Learn more about what to do if you find a lump.

Learn about follow-up tests and diagnosis.

Many breast cancer organizations offer social support services online and by telephone.

If you’re feeling scared or alone, or just need to talk, please reach out to Komen by contacting the Breast Care Helpline at 1-877 GO KOMEN (1-877-465-6636) or Our trained and caring helpline staff can provide information, social support and help with coping strategies to ease anxiety or concerns.

Se habla español.

Find more Komen support resources below.

Some people are out of work or facing other financial hardship.

Komen Financial Assistance Program

Susan G. Komen® created the Komen Financial Assistance Program to help those struggling with the costs of breast cancer treatment by providing financial assistance to eligible individuals.

To learn more about this program and other helpful resources, call the Komen Breast Care Helpline at 1-877 GO KOMEN (1-877-465-6636) or email

Se habla español.

Other organizations may also offer financial assistance.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has a list of low-cost or free COVID-19 testing sites. Self-test kits (done at home) can also be helpful.

Find information on how to maintain health insurance coverage after a job loss.

Find more financial assistance resources.

What can I do to reduce stress?

At times you may feel stressed, which is normal. To reduce stress:

  • Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to the news, including social media.
  • Take care of yourself. Try taking deep breaths, stretching or meditating. Try to eat healthy meals, get some exercise, get plenty of sleep, and avoid alcohol and drugs.
  • Make time to do things you enjoy, such as taking a walk, gardening or cooking.
  • Talk with others about how you’re feeling.

Susan G. Komen® Support Resources

  • Do you need help? We’re here for you. The Komen Patient Care Center is your trusted, go-to source for timely, accurate breast health and breast cancer information, services and resources. Our navigators offer free, personalized support to patients, caregivers and family members, including education, emotional support, financial assistance, help accessing care and more. Get connected to a Komen navigator by contacting the Breast Care Helpline at 1-877-465-6636 or email to get started. All calls are answered Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m to 7 p.m. ET and Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET. Se habla español.
  • The Komen Breast Cancer and Komen Metastatic (Stage IV) Breast Cancer Facebook groups are places where those with breast cancer and their family and friends can talk with others for friendship and support.
  • Our fact sheets, booklets and other education materials offer additional information.

Find more support resources.


  1. National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN). NCCN: Cancer and COVID-19 vaccination, version 7.0., 2022.
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccines., 2023.
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Allergic reactions after COVID-19 vaccination., 2022.
  4. Society of Breast Imaging. Revised SBI recommendations for the management of axillary adenopathy in patients with recent COVID-19 vaccination, 2022.

Updated December 28, 2023


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