Flu Season Is Here

Prevention Is Critical for Cancer Patients

If you’re a cancer patient — especially if you’re in active treatment — getting influenza (“flu”) could have very serious health consequences. That’s why you need to talk with your Roswell Park physician to find out if you’re medically cleared to get a flu shot. If so, get it as soon as possible. We also encourage those who live with you to get an annual flu shot to reduce the chance that they’ll get the flu and infect you.

Flu season runs from November through April, so now’s the time to act. Remember that people can be contagious even before they start showing symptoms.

Caused by a virus, flu is a disease of the respiratory system that spreads among people through coughing, sneezing and close contact. In most cases, it quickly causes illness, with symptoms that include fever, muscle aches, sore throat and cough that can last a week or more.

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Flu can be especially dangerous in people with cancer and a weakened immune system, as well as in young children, the elderly and anyone with heart or lung disease. Every year thousands of people in the U.S. are hospitalized and die of complications from the flu. Vaccination is the best way to prevent it.

Flu shots are available at many local pharmacies, including Wegmans, Walmart, Rite Aid and Walgreens.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises you to "Take 3" Actions to Fight Flu:

  1. Take time to get a flu vaccine.
  2. Take everyday preventive actions to stop the spread of germs, including:
    • Avoid close contact with sick people.
    • If you are sick, avoid contact with others.
    • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.
    • Wash your hands often with soap and water. If they're not available, use hand sanitizer.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
    • Clean and disinfect surfaces and items that may be contaminated with germs.
  3. Take flu antiviral drugs IF your doctor prescribes them. Your Roswell Park physician can provide a prescription if it's appropriate for you.

Learn more from the CDC.