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Flu Vaccine

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

contributed by Emily Mackler, Pharm.D., Symptom Management and Supportive Care Program

Learn More:

Read Flu Facts for People with Cancer

Read what the Center for Disease Control is saying about seasonal flu vaccines.

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 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 for 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.

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Thrive Issue: 
Winter, 2013