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?

We don’t know this specifically. But 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]

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 the flu or flu complications.

Two vaccines are designed to create a stronger immune response in people who are 65 or older—

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

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.

Page last reviewed: November 5, 2019