A federal government website managed by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
200 Independence Avenue, S.W. - Washington, D.C. 20201
Cancer & the Flu
Having cancer does not put you at an increased risk for getting the flu. It does, however, put you at an increased risk of complications from the flu virus.
- If you are a cancer survivor, you are still at higher risk for flu-related complications.
- Get the flu vaccine. It is your best protection against the flu.
- If you are a cancer patient or survivor you should get the flu shot, not the nasal spray.
- If you have flu-like symptoms, contact your health care provider immediately.
Does having cancer put me at higher risk for getting the flu?
Having or surviving cancer does not put you at an increased risk for getting the flu. It does, however, put you at an increased risk of complications from the flu virus. Complications include pneumonia, hospitalization, and even death.
How can I protect myself from getting the flu?
Getting the flu vaccine is the most effective way to prevent the flu. The nasal spray vaccine is not safe for cancer patients or survivors. You should get a flu shot.
Because you are at an increased risk of getting pneumonia, talk to your health care provider about the pneumococcal vaccine. The pneumococcal vaccine will protect you against pneumonia. Discuss the possibility of needing two pneumococcal vaccinations with your health care provider. In addition to getting vaccinated, follow our everyday steps to keep yourself healthy this flu season.
I think I have the flu. What should I do?
If you have any flu-like symptoms, contact your health care provider immediately. If you have the flu your health care provider can prescribe antiviral medications that can make your symptoms less severe and make you feel better faster. In addition, follow our treatment recommendations.