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Cancer Patients Should Get the Flu Shot

Image of Shawna Kraft, Pharm.D
Shawna Kraft, Pharm.D.

Flu season is upon us with expected peaks in January and February. Because many people with cancer already have weakened immune systems, we get a lot of questions about whether patients and their families should get vaccinated.

Speak to your cancer care team about getting a flu shot.

I’m on chemotherapy. Should I get a flu vaccine?

Yes, it’s incredibly important to receive the flu vaccine to help prevent against serious complications like pneumonia. All Rogel Cancer Center patients should receive a flu shot containing an inactivated influenza vaccine.

People with cancer should not take the nasal vaccine FluMist because it is made with a live, weakened flu virus.

How long does it take the flu vaccine to work?

It takes about two weeks after the flu vaccine for antibodies to develop in your body to provide protection against the flu. The timing of this and number of antibodies may vary.

Which vaccine should my family members receive?

We often recommend close family members receive the inactivated influenza vaccine (the shot) because there is a small risk of transmitting the flu from the nasal vaccine FluMist.

What are tips for avoiding the flu?

Wash your hands often, keep your hands away from your eyes, nose and mouth, and stay away from people who are sick. And, get your flu shot.

Continue reading the Fall, 2019 issue of Thrive

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Thrive Issue: 
Fall, 2019