COVID-19 Information for Patients

At Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, your health and well-being are our top priorities. We have thorough safety measures in place to protect you, your caregivers and our staff.

COVID-19 Vaccine Update

As of September 12, 2023, the 2023–2024 updated Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines were recommended by CDC for use in the United States. Everyone aged 5 years and older should get 1 updated COVID-19 vaccine, at least two months after getting the last dose of any COVID-19 vaccine. As of September 11, 2023, the bivalent Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are no longer available for use in the United States.

The COVID-19 vaccine is available at all Fred Hutch outpatient sites. Please tell your care team at your next visit if you’d like to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

To find a vaccine provider in your community: 

Find COVID-19 information in other Languages

What to Know Before Your Appointment


It is strongly recommended, but not required that all people who enter Fred Hutch, including staff, patients, family members, caregivers and others, wear medical grade masks, such as surgical, KN95 and N95 masks while in the clinic. Surgical masks are available at the front door if you would like one.

Masks are required in certain situations:

  • Patients with symptoms of a respiratory virus, including coughing, sneezing, sniffling, are required to wear a mask during their visit to Fred Hutch.
  • Masks continue to be required for health care workers when closely interacting with patients for extended periods of time.


  • Fred Hutch patients are encouraged to bring only one visitor to their appointments.  
    • If you would like more than one person to join you, please consider calling them during your appointment so they can participate that way. There are phones in clinic rooms if you need one. 
  • Visitors with COVID-19 symptoms are not allowed in our clinics. 
  • We encourage any visitors who come to the clinic to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. 

Call Ahead Before Coming to Your Appointment If You:

  • Recently tested positive for COVID-19 (either from a laboratory or a home test)
  • Have any respiratory virus symptoms — even if mild
  • Were exposed to someone with COVID-19
  • Have someone in your household with COVID-19

Calling ahead is an important step in keeping everyone safe. If you come to the clinic without calling us for any of the reasons above, we may reschedule your appointment, treatment or procedure or move you to a telehealth visit. 

Annual Flu Vaccine

We are offering the flu vaccine to patients through April 2024. Please tell your care team at your next visit if you’d like to receive a flu vaccine.

Flu vaccines are available for caregivers at our South Lake Union Clinic. Flu vaccines are available Monday – Friday, 8 am – 5:30 pm at the Alliance Lab, located on Floor 1 of Building 1 at our South Lake Union clinic.

Please Continue to Stay Safe By:

  • Wearing your mask 
  • Getting vaccinated and boosted when eligible
  • Encouraging your family members, friends and close contacts to get vaccinated and boosted 
  • Avoiding crowds and indoor gatherings with people outside of your household
  • When you spend time in groups, keeping your groups small and asking that everyone is symptom-free, vaccinated and boosted

Paxlovid Update

On May 25, 2023, the FDA approved Paxlovid for use in adults with mild-to-moderate COVID-19 and who are at high risk for progression to severe COVID-19, including hospitalization or death. Children ages 12-17 are still eligible for Paxlovid under the Emergency Use Authorization.

The federal government will continue to distribute Paxlovid supply at no cost to patients. 

Updates on New Bivalent COVID-19 Booster

Need help?

Call 1.833.VAX.HELP (833.829.4357), then press #. Language assistance is available.

You can also text your zip code to 438.829 (GET VAX) or 822.862 (VACUNA) for vaccine locations near you.


General Information

The updated booster is bivalent, meaning it is designed to boost immunity against both the original SARS-CoV-2 strain and the newer BA.4 and BA.5 omicron variants. 

The monovalent boosters are no longer authorized by the CDC or FDA. 

Visit the FDA and CDC websites for more information regarding COVID-19 vaccines and boosters.  

At this time, Fred Hutch is not able to provide the updated booster to patients. We encourage you to find a local COVID-19 vaccine site near you by visiting the Washington State Department of Health’s vaccine locations webpage 
or visit

For more information on booster dose eligibility, check the CDC website and take
a look at this visual vaccine schedule created by the CDC

Vaccine Booster FAQs

Yes. Regardless of which primary vaccine you received, everyone is eligible for the new bivalent boosters. Those who have recently had a booster vaccine should wait two months after their most recent dose before getting the updated booster. You can receive either the Moderna or Pfizer bivalent booster, regardless of the manufacturer of your prior vaccinations.

People with known current SARS-CoV-2 infection should defer any COVID-19 vaccination, including booster vaccination, at least until recovery from the acute illness (if symptoms were present) and criteria to discontinue isolation have been met.

In addition, people who recently had SARS-CoV-2 infection may consider delaying a primary series dose or booster dose by 3 months from symptom onset or positive test (if infection was asymptomatic). Studies have shown that increased time between infection and vaccination may result in an improved immune response to vaccination. Additionally, a low risk of reinfection has been observed in the weeks to months following infection. 

Individual factors such as risk of COVID-19 severe disease, COVID-19 community level, or characteristics of the predominant SARS-CoV-2 strain should be taken into account when determining whether to delay getting a COVID-19 vaccination after infection.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices and the CDC director have approved updated COVID-19 boosters from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna for emergency use. 

The Pfizer-BioNTech booster is available to people ages 12 and older who have: 

  • Completed their COVID-19 primary series vaccination at least two months ago; or 
  • Received their last booster/additional dose at least two months ago. 

The Moderna booster is available to people ages 18 and older meeting the same criteria. 
Boosters are recommended for those who are immunocompromised, such as cancer patients, as data show that boosting is important for protection from COVID-19 complications.  

Those who are immunosuppressed can receive the updated booster in addition to following the previous recommendation and approval receiving the initial vaccine series and two boosters, for a total of three boosters. 

Refer to the CDC’s guidance for people who are moderately to severely immunocompromised for more information. 

Visit the CDC’s visual graphic of vaccine schedules for easy reference. 

No. Reactions to the mRNA bivalent vaccines in studies using the BA.1 omicron strain were similar to the side effect profile of the mRNA monovalent vaccines. 

The updated booster is now a bivalent booster, which targets both the original strain of SARS-CoV-2 and the BA.4 and BA.5 omicron variants. The previous boosters were additional doses of the original — monovalent — mRNA vaccine. 

The bivalent booster contains both the original mRNA vaccine and mRNA targeting a BA.4 and BA.5 omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 viruses that are currently circulating. Since there have been such major changes in the recent omicron variant SARS-CoV-2 viruses, they have been better at escaping vaccine-induced immunity. In studies of bivalent vaccines, immune responses — or antibody levels — were improved to the bivalent booster. In addition, it appears that those boosted with a bivalent vaccine retain antibody levels for longer.  

No. Previously, although the initial series of the vaccine was fully approved by the FDA, monovalent boosters were only authorized for emergency use. The FDA has removed the authorization for the monovalent original mRNA vaccine to be given as a booster. The bivalent booster is currently the only booster authorized for use by the FDA.

As of November 30, 2022, the COVID-19 primary monovalent vaccine series will be available for all patients every Wednesday from 10:30 am to 1:30 pm at the South Lake Union Clinic. Please contact your care team if you are a Fred Hutch patient looking to schedule your primary series of the COVID-19 vaccine. 

To find a vaccine provider in your community or to get the bivalent booster:

Flu vaccine: We will provide flu vaccinations to patients and caregivers starting October 3. Patients will be able to get their flu vaccine during appointments at all clinical sites. Caregivers may get their vaccine while accompanying a patient to an appointment at all clinical sites.

Yes. The CDC has indicated that it is safe and effective to get the flu vaccine and updated bivalent booster at the same time. It is recommended that one be given in each arm. 

Immune responses wane over time after vaccination with a primary series (2 in immununocompetent people, and 3 in immunocompromised people). The circulating omicron variants require higher levels of antibody to protect against major complications of COVID-19. Boosters help to improve antibody levels and have been shown to be more effective at preventing hospitalization and death due to SARS-CoV-2 infection. Boosters are currently recommended for anyone who has received a primary series of Pfizer, Moderna, Novavax or Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Yes and no. The bivalent booster includes the original mRNA monovalent vaccine, which is approved. The new variant included in the updated booster has only been studied in mouse models aimed at understanding immune responses to the vaccine. However, a previous bivalent booster which included a prior omicron strain, BA.1, was studied in humans and found to be safe and effective. As BA.4 and BA.5 became the primary circulating variants, the FDA recommended the booster be updated. With the prior human study with a different but related bivalent vaccine booster and data from animal models which show this vaccine improves the immune response, it is believed that this is the best booster vaccine. 
This is a similar approach we take to updated influenza vaccines. Animal models are used to help predict use in humans when the FDA approves updated seasonal influenza vaccines. This is done because of the need to rapidly produce vaccines for influenza. If human studies were required every year, it would slow down the process of making vaccines available. 

We expect that updated boosters might be needed to target changes in circulating variants in the future, similar to influenza vaccines. But currently it isn’t clear if updated boosters will be needed. 

COVID-19 Vaccine Information and Resources for Patients and General Public

COVID-19 Vaccine FAQS

We recommend that all cancer patients get vaccinated and boosted against COVID-19 unless:

  • You are a Blood and Marrow Transplant (BMT) Clinic patient. You will need to start the COVID-19 vaccine series at least three months after transplant, even if you have already received one or more doses of the vaccine.
  • You are an immunotherapy patient with a hematologic malignancy (blood disease, such as acute lymphocytic leukemia, multiple myeloma, non-Hodgkin lymphoma or chronic lymphocytic leukemia) being treated with CD19, CD20 or BCMA targeted CAR-T cells. You will need to start the COVID-19 vaccine series at least three months after treatment, even if you have already received one or more doses of the vaccine.

If you aren’t sure, ask your care team. 

Just as important: talk to your family, close contacts and caregivers about getting vaccinated. Protecting those around you will help protect you from being exposed to the virus.

Please note:

As of November 30, 2022, the COVID-19 primary monovalent vaccine series will be available for all patients every Wednesday from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the South Lake Union Clinic. Please contact your care team if you are a Fred Hutch patient looking to schedule your primary series of the COVID-19 vaccine. 

To find a vaccine provider in your community or to get the bivalent booster:

Blood and Marrow Transplant (BMT) Clinic and Bezos Family Immunotherapy Clinic patients

If you are a BMT clinic or an Immunotherapy Clinic patient with a hematologic malignancy (ALL, MM, NHL, CLL) being treated with CD19, CD20, or BCMA targeted CAR-T cells, you will need to restart the primary COVID-19 vaccine series at least three months after transplant/treatment, even if you have already received one or more doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. 

We do not recommend checking antibodies because we do not know what level of antibody is considered protective (even in the general population). This is consistent with current guidance from the CDC and the FDA. Antibody tests also do not measure other types of vaccine responses, like T-cell responses, that play a role in immune protection. 

More research is being done to determine the best way to tell if someone is protected from COVID and to understand how well-protected vaccinated cancer patients are.

The number of doses you need to be fully vaccinated and boosted depends on your age, the vaccine you first received and if you are immunocompromised. Please reference this CDC vaccine schedule

The length of protection for cancer patients is still being researched and may also vary based on new circulating variants. We recommend continuing to mask up, avoid crowds and stay socially distant from those outside your household as extra precautions to help prevent exposure to COVID-19.

Fred Hutch strongly recommends continued vigilance for cancer patients, even those who are fully vaccinated and boosted. Cancer patients are at increased risk for COVID-19 complications and may not be as well protected by vaccines, so we recommend you continue to:

  • Wear masks.
  • Maintain social distancing.
  • Avoid crowds.
  • Tell your care team if you:
    • Have symptoms so you can get tested.
    • Were exposed to someone with COVID-19.
    • Were diagnosed with the virus at another facility or using an at-home antigen test.

It is very important that your caregivers, household members and other close contacts are vaccinated and boosted to help protect you.

  • If you are a Fred Hutch patient and you plan to get vaccinated but have not yet received a dose, you may be eligible for a study. The study measures COVID-19 vaccine responses in patients who are within one year of a blood or marrow transplant or CAR T-cell therapy. Talk with your care team for more information.
  • If you are a Fred Hutch patient and you test positive for COVID-19, ask your care team about other studies you may be eligible for.