Submitted by Dr. Keith Leung, Valley Oncology Clinic
While our minds and hearts have been preoccupied with COVID-19 the past few years, it’s important to also remember annual protection from the influenza (flu) virus. For everyone older than six months of age, the Centers for Disease Control recommend a flu vaccine each year.
Why is the flu vaccine especially important for those with cancer or history of cancer?
For patients with cancer or history of cancer, a flu vaccine is particularly important as their immune systems may be weakened by the cancer or cancer treatments. A weakened immune system places them at greater risk of complications from the flu infection.
Why should I get a flu shot if I could still get the flu afterward?
The flu vaccine can help protect against infection by the flu virus. While patients who receive the vaccine may still become sick with the flu, the vaccine can decrease the severity of the infection and complications.
Is it safe to get a flu shot during cancer treatment?
The flu shot is safe for patients with cancer as it is an inactive dead virus. It is safe to receive the vaccine during cancer treatment. If you are receiving cancer treatment, talk with your doctor about the timing and type of flu vaccine that’s right for you.
Should those who are often around people with cancer or a history of cancer get a flu shot?
It is also important for those who are close contacts to have the vaccine to decrease the risk of exposing the patient with cancer to the flu.
Remember to get your flu vaccine this fall—Protect yourself, protect others.
Flu shots are already available in most large retail pharmacies in the community and most are free if you have insurance. Flu vaccines are also available at community health centers, pop-up clinics and school health centers. Find a local flu shot location.