Should Cancer Patients Get a Flu Shot?

Should Cancer Patients Get a Flu Shot?

The best way to protect yourself against the flu is by receiving an annual flu vaccination. This is especially true for cancer patients, as well as their loved ones and caregivers.

Increased Risk for Cancer Patients

Cancer patients are at a higher risk for experiencing flu-related complications, including those in remission.

Preventing the spread of germs before infection is the best way to stay healthy. Cancer patients and survivors should be sure to get their flu vaccine before flu season begins. This precaution is especially necessary for those who are 65-years-old or older.

Prior to flu season, all cancer patients should talk with their doctor about what to do if they get sick. Patients should notify their doctor immediately if they develop a fever to ensure that antiviral medication is taken quickly, if needed. Communication with a health professional is vital as some flu-like symptoms can be an indication of a more serious infection.

Keys to Prevention

If a person lives with or cares for someone with cancer, they should be vaccinated annually. This includes health professionals like doctors, nurses and home health aides.

Anyone experiencing flu-like symptoms should avoid contact with cancer patients for at least 24 hours after the fever subsides.

When caring for someone with the flu, loved ones and caregivers should take extra precautions to avoid getting sick themselves. This includes frequent handwashing and avoiding face-to-face contact.

When to Get Your Flu Shot

The flu vaccine takes approximately two weeks to take effect. For best results, the CDC recommends that people get their vaccination by the end of October, but it’s still better to get a flu shot in November or December than going unprotected all season.

Those at an increased risk for the flu may also be at a higher risk for pneumococcal disease. If a person has cancer or another disease that compromises the immune system, they should ask their health care provider about a pneumococcal vaccine.

Contact your doctor or health care professional for additional questions and concerns regarding this year’s flu season.