Cancer survivors, patients need flu shot

Posted by Sheryl M Ness, MA, RN @smness, Dec 24, 2014

If you’re having chemotherapy treatment, should you get a flu shot? I was recently asked this, and the answer’s yes. It’s important for cancer survivors to prepare for the flu season.

If you have a current or past diagnosis of cancer, you may be at higher risk for complications if you get the flu. The best way to prevent the flu is by getting a flu shot every year.

As a cancer survivor, you should receive the seasonal flu shot, not the nasal spray vaccine. Remind your family to also get the flu shot as this will also reduce your risk of being exposed to the virus from others around you.

Flu symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Stuffy nose
  • Body aches
  • Chills
  • Fatigue
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Here are a few tips for protection:

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water. Use hand sanitizer if soap and water aren’t available
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth, especially when out and about.
  • Keep your distance from someone who appears ill or has symptoms — no handshakes or hugs.
  • If you have flu symptoms, connect with your care team to find out more about any special precautions or treatment needed — this is especially important if you have recently completed chemotherapy treatment

It’s important to protect yourself during the flu season. Use common sense, pay attention to any flu-like symptoms and most importantly, get your flu shot for added protection. Have you had your flu shot this season?

Read also on the living with cancer blog

I was always taught never to have a flu shot if you are or have been a chemo patient. I also have auto immune and have refused flu shots for many years now. I have not had any ill effects from not taking a flu shot.

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