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CANCER: THE FLU AND YOU

Updated: May 27, 2023

CANCER – THE FLU – AND YOU


Per the CDC If you have cancer now or have had cancer in the past you are at higher risk for complications from the flu.


The following CDC information addresses the issue of the value of getting the flu shot for those who either currently have cancer or a history of the disease as they are at high risk of developing serious flu complications.


The Two Types of Flu Vaccines

If you are 65 years or older, you may have a weaker immune response to the flu vaccine resulting in getting the flu or flu complications.


For you, there are two different types of vaccines:

High-dose flu vaccine Contains four times the amount of antigen as the regular flu shot. Antigen is the part of the vaccine that helps your body build up protection against the flu. It is not recommended if you have a history of severe allergic reaction to the vaccine or to ingredients other than eggs.


The New England Journal of Medicine study indicated this vaccine was 24 more effective in preventing flu in adults 65 years and older relative to a standard-dose vaccine.

The Lancet Respiratory Medicine study indicated that people 65 and older had a lower risk of hospital admission compared with people in that age group who got the standard-dose Fluzone. This was especially true for those living in long-term care facilities. This study was conducted 2013-14 flu season with 38,000 residents of 823 nursing homes in 38 states.


Adjuvanted flu vaccine Contains an additive (called adjuvant) that creates a stronger immune response to the vacccination. Like most flu vaccines, it is an egg-based process which includes the MF59 adjuvant. Can also reduce the amount of virus needed for protection.

These particular vaccines produced more side effects over the standard flu shots. The most common were mild and temporary pain, redness at the injection site, headache, muscle aches, and malaise.


The CDC does not recommend one over another. It does reccomend getting the flu vaccination as an important step in protecting against the flu. There are also other flu vaccines not mentioned here. If you have questions about which vaccine is best for you, talk to your doctor.


The CDC and its Advisory Committee on Immunication Practices have not expressed a preference for any flu vaccine for those 65 years and older.

For more information from the CDC, click here.

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