Time for your flu shot — and get the RSV and new COVID-19 vaccine, too!

Illustration of sinus cavities with flu germs entering

Experts urge cancer patients to get the flu, RSV and COVID-19 shots as soon as possible.

As we head into another season with new variants of COVID-19 circulating, getting vaccinated against influenza (flu), respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and COVID-19 — now is especially important.

These three viral respiratory illnesses — flu, RSV and COVID-19 — can be particularly dangerous to people with cancer. Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center recommends the flu and COVID-19 shots for all patients, and the RSV shot for patients ages 60 and older, if medically cleared by their oncologists.

Symptoms of RSV generally include cold-like runny nose and sneezing, coughing, wheezing, decreased appetite and fever. But people ages 60 and older are at greater risk for more severe infection that requires hospitalization. Symptoms of flu and COVID-19 can range from mild to severe, and include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people may also experience vomiting and diarrhea. People can be contagious even before they start showing symptoms.

Every year thousands of people in the U.S. are hospitalized and die of complications from the flu. Other people at risk include young children, the elderly and those with lung or heart disease. Vaccination offers the best protection against these viruses and related hospitalizations and death.

Please contact your Roswell Park physician about being vaccinated. The new COVID-19 vaccine helps protect against serious illness from the newest variants of coronavirus. Patients should contact their primary care provider or local commercial pharmacy for vaccine availability and schedule an appointment. Roswell Park also encourages those who live with you to get a flu shot each year. This can reduce their chance of getting the flu and infecting you.