Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center

COVID-19 and Cancer

Appointment New Patient Appointment or 214-645-8300

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COVID-19 Vaccinations: What You Need to Know

UT Southwestern is offering COVID-19 vaccines to eligible individuals, based on state guidelines. Eligible individuals will receive direct communication through their secure MyChart account to schedule vaccination appointments. Supply is limited and dependent on the size and frequency of shipments from the State, both of which can change rapidly. UTSW is prepared to deliver vaccines as quickly as we receive them. Thank you in advance for your patience and cooperation. For more details and updates on eligibility and availability, please visit our vaccination page.

Current evidence indicates approved COVID-19 vaccinations are safe for cancer patients, and experts are encouraging everyone, including those receiving cancer treatments, to receive the vaccine at the earliest opportunity. That said, individuals with known vaccine allergy risks should consult with their medical providers before receiving any COVID-19 vaccination.

It is important to continue following established safety protocols, including wearing a mask, maintaining social distancing, and washing your hands frequently – even after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. These precautions will be necessary until public health experts advise otherwise. At this point, it is unclear whether those who are vaccinated could still spread the virus to others.

From all of us at the Simmons Cancer Center and UT Southwestern, thank you for entrusting us with your care. If you have any concerns, please contact your oncology care team.

Safety and Care at Simmons Cancer Center

We have resumed in-person visits and our regard for your safety remains paramount. Safeguards at our main cancer center building in Dallas, at Moncrief Cancer Institute in Fort Worth, and at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Richardson/Plano continue to include:

  • COVID-19 symptom screenings and no-touch temperature checks are conducted for everyone at designated entrances.
  • Patients, visitors, and staff are required to wear a mask covering over their nose and mouth. If you don’t have a mask with you, one will be provided.
  • We are continuing to ask cancer patients to refrain from bringing a guest or visitor into the buildings to help reduce the risk for cancer patients who are especially vulnerable to infection. Clinical staff are available to provide support and assistance. A caregiver or family member may be able to participate in your appointment through a video or audio connection if needed.
  • Patients scheduled for procedures will be contacted well in advance of their appointments to arrange for COVID-19 testing at our drive-up facility.
  • Patients who test positive for COVID-19 or show active symptoms will not be allowed to proceed beyond the screening station without instructions from a provider.
  • Physical distancing is promoted in waiting areas and throughout our facilities; however, your assistance is needed to help ensure a safe distance is maintained.
  • Increased cleaning guidelines are being followed for all clinical spaces and high-touchpoint areas.
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CDC prevention recommendations

We are also asking patients and visitors to follow steps to prevent the transmission and spread of COVID-19, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

  • Wash your hands regularly.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, or use the inside of your elbow.
  • Stay at home when you are sick.
  • Avoid close contact with sick people.
  • Maintain social distance between you and others (at least 6 feet).
  • Wear a cloth face cover or mask if you have to go out in public, for example to the grocery store or to pick up other necessities.

Frequently Asked Questions

We know you likely have more questions. Answers to some of the most frequent questions we receive are below, but if you need more specific information about your care or an appointment, please contact us through MyChart.

What should I do if I am in active treatment for cancer?

We encourage you to keep your regularly scheduled appointments. The day before the appointment, a member of your cancer care team will contact you to confirm the details and to screen for COVID-19 infection risks or symptoms. Everyone entering the Simmons Cancer Center will undergo COVID-19 screening and temperature checks via a no-touch thermometer scan. Anyone who has a reading of 100.0°F/37.78°C or higher, or COVID-19 symptoms, will be advised on the best course of action.

What if I am a new patient at Simmons Cancer Center?

We recommend new patients who are scheduled for a pre-clinic consult or test to keep their appointments. As with patients undergoing active treatments, you will be contacted by a member of the cancer care team in advance of your appointment to screen for COVID-19 symptoms. Expect to undergo a temperature check via a no-touch thermometer scan when you arrive at Simmons Cancer Center. Should you have a fever of 100.0°F/37.78°C or higher, or COVID-19 symptoms, our staff will advise you on next steps.

If I am no longer undergoing active therapy, should I reschedule my appointment?

The safest option is to reschedule your follow-up appointment to a later date. We are carefully reviewing records of all our patients and might recommend this through a phone call or MyChart message. If so, we will work with you on rescheduling for a future date. If you decide you’d like to be seen, of course you can keep your appointment, but we might recommend switching to a virtual visit with your provider. If so, we will help you set that up as well.

What if I have an upcoming appointment for imaging or scans?

UT Southwestern staff are contacting patients regarding scheduled follow-up appointments. Your cancer care team will take any risks into consideration and recommend an appropriate time frame for your next appointment. Your health is important to us, so please contact us if you develop any new symptoms between your appointments.

Am I considered immunocompromised if I have had cancer treatment?

If you have had treatment for cancer, it’s possible that your immune system will be impaired and that you will be at a higher risk from COVID-19. Every patient is different, but if you have concerns, please consult your care team.

Is it safe for me to go to the grocery store, travel, see my grandkids, etc.?

We recommend you follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines for social distancing, travel, and hand hygiene. We are also asking patients and visitors to our facilities to follow those guidelines to reduce the risk of transmission. They include:

  • Wash your hands regularly.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, or use the inside of your elbow.
  • Stay at home when you’re sick. 
  • Avoid close contact with people (6 feet), particularly those who are sick.
What do I do if I develop COVID-19 symptoms?

If you are currently undergoing cancer treatment, it is important that you contact us with any new symptoms. Please call our office, 214-645-4673, or send a MyChart message so we can evaluate the best way to care for you during this time. We ask that you don’t come to the clinic without speaking to one of our team members first. If you are a cancer survivor, we recommend contacting your primary care provider for any potential COVID-19 symptoms. 

Will more policies and recommendations change due to COVID-19?

The COVID-19 situation is changing rapidly, and while our procedures might change in the coming weeks our priorities will not – those are to keep you safe, informed, and focused on feeling well. We appreciate your patience, flexibility, and cooperation during this stressful time. If you have additional questions, please continue to use MyChart as a communication channel with your care team. Or call the UT Southwestern Appointment line at 817-676-9117.

For more updates on UT Southwestern's COVID-19 response, click here