Patients with cancer have a higher risk of severe coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and associated mortality than the general population. Owing to this increased risk, patients with cancer have been prioritized for COVID-19 vaccination globally, for both primary and booster vaccinations. However, given that these patients were not included in the pivotal clinical trials, considerable uncertainty remains regarding vaccine efficacy, and the extent of humoral and cellular immune responses in these patients, as well as the risks of vaccine-related adverse events. In this Review, we summarize the current knowledge generated in studies conducted since COVID-19 vaccines first became available. We also highlight critical points that might affect vaccine efficacy in patients with cancer in the future.