Should People with Cancer and Cancer Survivors Get the Flu Vaccine?

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Should People with Cancer and Cancer Survivors Get the Flu Vaccine?

Should People with Cancer and Cancer Survivors Get the Flu Vaccine?

Should People with Cancer and Cancer Survivors Get the Flu Vaccine?

 

The flu virus can cause a mild febrile illness in many people but in certain groups of people, it can be fatal. If you are a person with cancer, a survivor, or a caregiver, the flu could be even more dangerous for you or your loved ones. So, make sure you get your flu vaccine before the flu season.

Why the flu vaccine is a must?

Cancer treatment can weaken the immune system and put people with cancer at an increased risk for problems from the flu. These problems can include dehydration, sinus and ear infections, and bronchitis, which is inflammation of the bronchial tubes in the lungs. More serious problems include pneumonia, sepsis (a dangerous bodily reaction to infection), and inflammation of the heart, brain, or muscle tissues. 

 

When should You take a flu vaccine?

 

The best time to get your flu shot is in September and October. Some children may need 2 doses of the flu vaccine, so they should get their initial shot even earlier.  This is especially true for older adults, who may also need a stronger dose of the flu shot.

It is never too late to get vaccinated during flu season. Late vaccination can still help, and your doctor should have access to the flu vaccine throughout the winter.

The flu vaccine is safe for most people with cancer. However, if you are currently receiving immunotherapy, radiation therapy, or chemotherapy or if you have recently had a transplant, talk to your doctor before you get your flu shot. They will help you determine the best time to get your flu shot, so you have the best protection without affecting your cancer treatment plan.

Is there more than 1 type of flu vaccine?

Yes, there are multiple types of flu vaccine available. New vaccines keep coming. It’s important you discuss with your doctor before choosing a vaccine.

 

What should I know about getting the vaccine during the COVID-19 pandemic?

While the flu vaccine cannot protect you against COVID-19, the CDC warns it is even more important to get your flu shot this year, as it reduces your risk of illness, hospitalization, and death. It is especially important for people with cancer to get the flu shot this year, as they may be at higher risk for more severe forms of both the flu and COVID-19. And, getting your flu shot can help reduce the strain on the health care system when it will be caring for people during the overlapping period of the COVID-19 pandemic and this year’s flu season.

What else can I do to protect myself against the flu?

Getting your flu vaccine is just the first step in preventing the spread of the flu. Here are some other ways you can help stop the spread of illnesses: 

  • Encourage your friends, family, and coworkers to get the flu shot.
  • Wash your hands often, and avoid touching your face.
  • Wear a mask as directed by public health officials and your doctor’s recommendations.
  • Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze.
  • Stay home if you are feeling sick, and let your doctor know.
  • Wipe down surfaces regularly with a disinfectant cleaner at work, home, and school. 

Dr. Rakesh Rai. MS, FRCS, MD, CCT, ASTS Fellow.