Chemo: Yes. Flu Shot: No. How Come?

Chemo: Yes. Flu Shot: No. How Come?

'My patients will allow complex, devastating, overwhelming, life-changing surgery, radiation, immunotherapy, genetic therapy, and chemotherapy. They may get rashes, headaches, joint pain, swelling, fevers, and risk heart failure, kidney failure, liver failure, and who knows what else failure. However, they will, consistently, recurrently, refuse the simplest protection of all: a flu shot.


What is the risk of a significant side effect of routine flu vaccine compared with the danger of actually getting influenza, especially in immunocompromised patients? Apparently, many of my patients think it is far too high.

The truth is the opposite. The risk of a severe complication from taking the flu shot is literally, one in a million. The risk of even a minor side effect, like a chill or slight fever, is small.

The reason that experts recommend the flu shot to essentially everyone is that the flu is a deadly disease. Thousands of people die every year in the U.S. from the flu; the average deaths in the U.S. over the last decade were 32,743 per year. Many of those people had weakened constitutions because of other medical problems ... like, say, cancer and cancer therapy.'

James C. Salwitz, MD on why the decision not to have a flu shot is just plain baffling:

Note: With CLL, treatment is designed to wipe out CLL cells, which also means healthy B-lymphocytes are wiped out (medical researchers still haven't found a way to differentiate between cancerous (clonal) and healthy B-lymphocytes). So vaccinations just aren't going to work during treatment. All the more reason to have them while you can.


Photo: Striated Pardalotes photographed on Kangaroo Island at Seal Bay, with thanks to Jay for identifying them. I didn't recognise them from the top down view!

8 Replies

  • Wonderful photo Neil... !

    I see this attitude continually on Facebook and elsewhere, patients popping handfuls of supplements, probiotics and Imbruvica (ibrutinib), or undergoing FCR, BR etc but refusing to have a flu vaccination... prior to treatment.

    I don't get it... 💉💉💉


  • Neil,

    I have had the actual flu 4 times in my life and believe me, it is so much better to have the flu shot and deal with a few side effects, if any at all, compared to what your body goes through with the flu. I was very lucky, as it never went to bronchitis or pneumonia, but I was in agony none the less. I was laid up on the couch for a week, unable to move due to such severe body aches and headaches! My fever spiked at 102 for the first two days! And this was before CLL, so I can't imagine what it would do to someone who has a compromised immune system, like we have with CLL.

    Nope...I'll get my flu shot! And this year, I had no effects whatsoever. So, if you haven't had one..please get one!

  • I resemble that remark.

    I'm afraid that's me all over. Had flu and pneumonia jabs last year and had subconsciously decided to avoid anymore.

    Back in my cave to have another think.

  • The invitation to have the NHS annual flu jab in October arrived by text 2 months after finishing FCR. I questioned the need and was strongly advised by my GP. No side effects at all however nurse did go through all possible with me before the injection. My feeling is that it will not be fully effective after FCR but every little helps.

    I suppose you do not worry until there is an epidemic and everyone seems to have the flu.

  • Vaccinations arent going to work during treatman!! It is response for me!

  • My doc recommended I get a flu shot and I just finished my 4th session of Gazyva. Am I hearing correctly that it will not work because of my treatments?

  • If you doctor recommends ...get the shot... how many antibodies you will make is unknown... but probably some, and some is better than none.


  • Thank you

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