What Cancer Patients, Survivors, and Caregivers Should Know About the Flu

Everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu vaccine every season.

Flu vaccination is especially important for people with cancer or a history of cancer because they are at high risk of developing serious flu complications.

Are Cancer Patients and Survivors More Likely to Get the Flu Than Others?

While we don’t know this specifically, we do know that cancer may increase your risk for complications from the flu. If you have cancer now or have had certain types of cancer in the past (such as lymphoma or leukemia), you are at higher risk for complications from the flu.

Should Cancer Patients and Survivors Get a Flu Shot?

Yes. Injectable influenza vaccines (or flu shots) are approved for use in people with cancer and other health conditions. The flu shot has a long, established safety record in people with cancer.

People who live with or care for cancer patients and survivors also should be vaccinated against seasonal flu.

Cancer is a fight. Don’t let the flu knock you down. Fight back! Get your flu shot

Remind cancer patients to get a flu shot with our posterpdf icon[PDF-1.5MB] and postcard.pdf icon[PDF-3.5MB]

Are You 65 or Older?

Some older adults (65 years of age and older) may have a weaker immune responses to flu vaccines. This can make them more susceptible to flu illness and complications.

Two vaccines that are designed to create a stronger immune response are available for people 65 and older—

For more information, see People 65 Years and Older and Influenza.

What Other Vaccines Should Cancer Patients and Survivors Be Aware of?

Having the flu increases a person’s risk for pneumococcal disease. Pneumococcal pneumonia is an example of a serious flu-related complication that can cause death. People with cancer or other diseases that compromise your immune system should ask their health care providers if pneumococcal shots are needed.

Page last reviewed: November 5, 2019