The seasonal flu vaccine and cancer treatment

6th November 2020

People living with cancer or undergoing cancer treatment are often immunosuppressed and at higher risk of catching the flu. After cancer treatment, a patient’s resistance to infection might be low for some months or years. It is recommended that a patient has the flu vaccine if they have had one of the following treatments:

  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiotherapy
  • Some targeted cancer drugs
  • Some immunotherapy treatments
  • Long-term steroids
  • Removal of the spleen

Alternative consideration should be given to patients who:

  • Are allergic to egg
  • Have had a reaction to a vaccine previously
  • Are children, who may normally be offered the vaccine as a nasal spray (containing a live, but weakened form of the vaccine). The vaccine injection, which does not contain live virus, may be more appropriate if a child has cancer and a very weakened immune system

To learn more, watch this video with Dr Adrian Bloor:

Find out more: 

  • Access GatewayC’s ‘Chronic Leukaemia – Early Diagnosis’ course here
  • Leukaemia Care have answered common questions on the flu vaccine here
  • Read Cancer Research UK’s information on the flu vaccine and cancer treatment here

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