What Cancer Patients, Survivors, and Caregivers Should Know About 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 higher risk of developing serious flu complications.

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

We don’t know this specifically. But we do know that cancer may increase your risk of flu complications. If you have cancer now or have had certain types of cancer in the past (such as lymphoma or leukemia), you are at increased risk of developing flu complications that can be serious.

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. Flu shots have a long, established safety record in people with cancer.

It is also important for people who live with or care for cancer patients to be vaccinated against seasonal flu to reduce the risk of getting the cancer patient sick.

Flu Shots for Older Adults

Some older adults (65 years of age and older) may have a weaker immune response to flu vaccines. This can make them more likely to get sick with flu or flu complications even when vaccinated.

Certain vaccines are designed to create a stronger immune response in people who are 65 or older. For more information, see Specific Flu Shots for People 65 and Older.

You May Need a Pneumococcal Shot, Too

Having the flu increases a person’s risk for pneumococcal disease. Pneumococcal pneumonia is a serious flu-related complication that can cause death. People with cancer or other diseases that compromise the immune system should ask their doctor about pneumococcal shots.

COVID-19 and Flu