Flu Information for Families and Caregivers of Cancer Patients and Survivors

Do Your Part to Prevent Respiratory Illnesses

This video explains what you can do to prevent flu and other respiratory illnesses.

Cancer patients and survivors may be at higher risk for complications from the flu. So it’s important for their caregivers and family members to take steps to prevent flu from spreading.

Get a Flu Shot

The single best way to protect against the flu is to get vaccinated each year. Get a flu shot every year, and encourage your loved one with cancer to get one, too.

Help Stop the Spread of Germs

People with flu can spread it to others up to about six feet away. Most experts think that flu viruses are spread mainly by droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze, or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or be inhaled into their lungs. Less often, a person might also get flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth or nose.

Most healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning the day before symptoms develop and five to seven days after becoming sick. That means that you may be able to spread the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick.

Photo of a doctor giving a young boy a flu shot while his mother looks on

The single best way to protect against the flu is to get vaccinated each year.

Help stop the spread of germs by—

  • Avoiding close contact with people who are sick.
  • Staying home from work, school, and errands when you are sick.
  • Covering your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
  • Washing your hands or using hand sanitizer often.

Tips for Caring for a Cancer Patient or Survivor with the Flu

If you are caring for a cancer patient or survivor who has the flu, please visit Caring for Someone Sick for information about how to care for the sick person while avoiding getting sick yourself.

If you have a child with cancer, read Flu: A Guide for Parents of Children or Adolescents with Chronic Health Conditions. pdf icon[PDF-164KB]

Page last reviewed: October 27, 2020