Both the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the American Cancer Society recommend that patients with cancer stay up to date with influenza (flu) vaccines. This includes during chemotherapy and radiation treatments. In fact, the injected flu vaccine is the only vaccine the American Cancer Society recommends getting during chemotherapy and radiation if you are due for your annual vaccine.
It is important to try to prevent the flu because of the damage it can do to the patient. Cancer patients undergoing cancer treatment that weakens the immune system are at higher risk of developing serious flu complications. This is also true if you have had certain types of cancer in the past, such as lymphoma.
The regular injected flu vaccine will not harm you if you are undergoing cancer treatment or have cancer. Because the vaccine consists of an inactivated virus, it cannot give you the flu. It‘s very important that people with cancer get the regular flu vaccine and not the nasal mist vaccine. The nasal mist version of the flu vaccine contains a weakened version of the live virus. This version is not recommended for persons with cancer.
It is important for family members — or anyone caring for a person with cancer — to also get the flu vaccine. This will reduce the risk of passing the virus to the person who has cancer.
If you have cancer, are receiving cancer treatment or have had cancer in the past, talk to your doctor or cancer care specialist about how to get a flu vaccination and the timing of when you should receive it.