Cancer can weaken the immune system, making illnesses like the flu more dangerous. That\u2019s why it is important for those who are undergoing chemotherapy to get a flu shot \u2014\u00a0with a few precautions.\nIt\u2019s not known whether people with cancer are more susceptible to the flu, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). But those who have or have had cancer are at higher risk for complications from the flu. People with certain types of cancer, including lymphoma and leukemia, are especially at risk for complications.\n\n\n\n \r\n \r\n Subscribe to our cancer care newsletter \r\n \r\n Enter your email to subscribe\r\n \r\n \r\n\t \r\n \r\n Sign Up \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n I understand that by providing my email address, I agree to receive emails from UPMC. I understand that I may opt out of receiving such communications at any time.\r\n \r\n \r\n \n\n\n\nThe Flu Vaccine and Chemotherapy\nThe CDC recommends that people who have cancer or are in remission get the flu vaccine because it has an established safety record and is approved for use in those with cancer. However, talk to your oncologist or primary care doctor first; the flu vaccine relies on a functioning immune response, and people undergoing chemotherapy have weaker immune systems.\nTiming is important when combining the flu vaccine and chemotherapy. The American Cancer Society (ACS) says that the flu shot can be administered two weeks before starting chemotherapy or between chemotherapy cycles. It can also be given six months after a stem cell or bone marrow transplant. However, be sure to consult your oncologist about what is best for you.\nCancer and the Flu Vaccine\nFlu vaccines made from live viruses, such as the nasal spray form, are not recommended for people with immune systems weakened by cancer treatment, according to the ACS. Flu shots, however, are made from dead viruses. If you have cancer, it\u2019s best to get the flu shot instead of the nasal spray.\nIf you\u2019re age 65 or older, you are at even higher risk for complications from cancer and the flu. Ask your doctor about getting a higher-dose flu vaccine.\nCaregivers and loved ones who are around people with cancer should also get vaccinated to help prevent the spread of the flu. The flu shot is the safest option for caregivers; anyone who receives a live virus vaccine should not be near people with severely weakened immune systems, including those who recently had a stem cell or a bone marrow transplant, or are receiving high-dose chemotherapy.\nThe flu vaccine changes every year, as researchers anticipate which strains will be most virulent. That\u2019s why the CDC recommends that everyone 6 months of age and older get the flu vaccine each year. The flu season lasts from October to May, with the peak in January and February. If possible, get the flu shot in early fall since it takes up to two weeks to become effective.\nFlu Prevention\nTo prevent the flu, especially during chemo, everyone should take these precautions:\n\nWear a mask over your nose and mouth when around others who may be sick\nWash your hands with soap and water or use a hand sanitizer frequently\nWhen possible, avoid being around sick people\n\nUPMC\u2019s influenza guide can answer many of your other questions about the flu. For questions about preventing or handling the flu during or after cancer treatment, call your oncologist at UPMC Hillman Cancer Center at 412-647-2811.