Flu Shots Important for Cancer Patients

Last month I shared in this blog how important flu shots can be for anyone with rheumatoid arthritis, since protecting against influenza each year keeps people with rheumatoid arthritis healthier and reduces the number of flu-related deaths in that population. Today I want to share a similar message for anyone who has (or even previously had!) cancer.

Flu season is already underway, with influenza infections usually peaking between December and February. This means that NOW is the time to seek out the vaccine, which is readily found at any doctor’s office, as well as pharmacies and many grocery stores. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends flu vaccines for everyone 6 months or older with only a few exceptions. Since the vaccine takes about two weeks to reach full protective effect, it’s important to get the flu shot prior to when the infection is circulating in your community.

For anyone currently under treatment for cancer, getting the flu would be a very unwelcome prospect. Treating cancer is a stressor on the body; adding an infection to the mix just makes everything harder. In addition, having cancer makes a person at higher risk of complications from the flu. This is the key reason flu shots are so essential for cancer patients.

There are no statistics on whether cancer survivors are more susceptible to the flu. However, what is known is that those who previously had cancer are also in the category of people more likely to develop flu complications. As with current cancer patients, it is worth the prevention garnered from a flu shot.

While flu vaccines do not provide 100% protection from influenza, they do greatly reduce the chances of coming down with the flu. Additionally, if the flu does develop, it is generally a milder version. There’s no reason to delay. Get a flu shot today.


Cancer, pneumonia and flu, and you. Newswise.com September 21, 2018.