This year, September 22 marks the official start of Fall. Along with cooler temperatures, changing leaves, football games and warm apple cider can come the flu. Each year, millions of people get sick, hundreds of thousands are hospitalized and thousands die from the flu. As a result, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that anyone over the age of 6 months (who have no contraindications) get vaccinated for the flu. In fact, doctor’s offices around the country are vaccinating their patients for the upcoming 2017-2018 flu season NOW. But should people with cancer get vaccinated?
Below is important information that every cancer patient & survivor should know about the 2017-2018 flu:
- People who have had cancer or who currently have a diagnosis of cancer- as well as their families and close contacts- should get vaccinated for the flu before the end of October.
- Having or surviving cancer does NOT put you at an increased risk for getting the flu per se. It does, however, put you at an increased risk of complications from the flu virus. Complications can include pneumonia, hospitalization and even death.
- Because people with cancer are at an increased risk of pneumonia, talk to your health care provider about the pneumococcal vaccine when you discuss the flu shot.
- The flu shot is a seasonal vaccine. Every year it gets updated to protect against the strains of flu virus expected to cause illness in the upcoming flu season.
- Getting the flu vaccine is your best protection against the flu. Always talk with your medical team prior to getting vaccinated. Under certain circumstances, there may be some cancer patients who should not get vaccinated.
- For the 2017-2018 flu season, the CDC recommends the use of the flu shot (inactivated influenza vaccine or IIV) and the recombinant influenza vaccine (RIV) only. he nasal spray flu vaccine (live attenuated influenza vaccine or LAIV) should NOT be used for anyone- with or without cancer- this year.
- Call the doctor if you think you’ve been exposed to the flu. You may be prescribed an antiviral medication, which can help stop the virus from infecting your body. Also, if you have flu-like symptoms, contact your health care provider immediately.
- If you haven’t already gotten a flu shot, schedule an appointment with your doctor today.