Protect Yourself and Others: Get the Flu Shot

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Image credit: CDC

Mega Doctor News

by DCPC Lisa Richardson, MD, MPH
Director, CDC’s Division of Cancer Prevention and Control

I am always struck by the reasons people give for not getting the flu shot. They are concerned about side effects, or they don’t think they’re at risk. I usually try to gently encourage them with information about how safe the vaccine is as well as the fact that flu vaccines reduce the chances of getting the flu as well as severe outcomes like getting really sick, the need to be admitted to the hospital, or even dying.

Now more than ever, I feel even stronger about getting the flu shot, especially for people who have cancer now or have finished their treatment. People with cancer or cancer survivors may have a weak immune system due to their cancer or treatment. Being vaccinated for the flu is important for them because of their higher risk of having serious medical problems if they do get the flu (e.g., pneumonia).

As an oncologist and the director of CDC’s Division of Cancer Prevention and Control, I know many patients, friends, colleagues, and family members who are living with cancer. Wherever you are in your cancer journey – from diagnosis, to treatment, to being a cancer survivor – if you haven’t received a flu shot this year, please call your healthcare provider today about when to get your flu shot.

CDC recommends that everyone over the age of 6 months should be vaccinated for the flu, so get your flu shot today. Get it for your neighbor who was just diagnosed with cancer or your family member going through treatment…or because it’s the right thing to do.

And for all of you who are caring for someone with cancer or may be planning to spend time with someone with cancer, get your flu shot today! Their health could depend on it.

And if you’re still wondering if the flu vaccine is right for you or a loved one, take our quiz. If you answer “yes” to the following questions…get your flu shot today.

  1. Do you want to do the single best thing proven to protect against the flu?
  2. Are you or someone you love 6 months of age or older?
  3. Are you or someone you care for going have cancer or is going through cancer treatment and may have a weakened immune system?

To help promote this message, I, along with a few special guests, made a video highlighting the importance of getting a flu shot this season. Remember, when you get a flu shot, you are protecting your health as well as others.

Learn More about what the CDC is doing to Prevent Infections in Cancer Patients: CDC and the Preventing Infections in Cancer Patients program use practical guidance and resources for patients, caregivers and healthcare providers about steps they can take to prevent infections.