AS October marks the
start of flu season, the Irish Cancer Society, in
partnership with the HSE National Immunisation
Office (NIO), is encouraging cancer patients across
Inishowen and their immediate household members to
get vaccinated against the flu. The Society says
that people who are undergoing or have undergone
chemotherapy and other cancer treatments are at
increased risk of contracting influenza because of
their weakened immune systems.
“Some cancer treatments lower immunity and lower
your resistance to flu. These may include
chemotherapy, radiotherapy, some targeted cancer
drugs and immunotherapy treatments. Your doctor will
usually suggest that you have the flu vaccine if you
have low immunity due to cancer or its treatment.
But always check with them first.” said Aileen
McHale, Cancer Information Services Manager at the
Irish Cancer Society.
“The flu vaccine injection doesn't contain live flu
virus so you won’t develop flu from having it. The
common side effects are mild, including soreness,
redness and swelling where the injection was given,
headaches, and body aches and pains,” McHale added.
The NIO estimates that seasonal influenza (the flu)
causes between 200 and 500 deaths each year in
“The flu vaccine is a lifesaver for people with
long-term health conditions, including cancer,” said
Dr Chantal Migone, Specialist in Public Health
Medicine at the NIO. “Healthy people who live with,
or come into contact with, at-risk individuals like
people with cancer can pass the virus onto them even
before they develop the symptoms of flu,” added Dr
Migone. It’s important that people who have cancer,
as well as their household contacts get the flu
vaccine every year.
To get the flu vaccine, contact your GP or local
pharmacy. For anyone with a medical card, the
vaccine and GP consultation are free. If you don’t
have a medical card, the vaccine is free but you may
be charged a consultation fee. If you are currently
on cancer treatment check with your cancer
specialist about the best time to have it.