Cervical cancer survivor Kim Hanly

Cancer survivor encourages patients to get the flu vaccine

With the flu season starting this month, the Irish Cancer Society along with the National Immunity Office is encouraging cancer patients, their families and anyone living or working around cancer patients to get the flu vaccine.

Cancer treatments like chemotherapy affect bone marrow, responsible for making the white blood cells in our bodies that fight infection. For this reason, anyone with long-term medical conditions (including cancer) are at extra risk of getting the flu.

Kim, a cervical cancer survivor from Tallaght, supports these recommendations. Kim is cancer-free today but still gets vaccinated for the flu every year:

“Going through a cancer diagnosis is hard enough. Exposing yourself to the flu virus can make you very sick while you are going through treatment, resulting in unnecessary suffering and potentially putting your body at serious risk. Be safe and vaccinate.

“Due to having to attend hospital quite frequently, I am not only exposed to the flu but I am also able to carry the flu virus into a place where there are patients undergoing cancer treatment, very sick children and those who are immunocompromised.

“By vaccinating myself with the flu vaccine, I am not just protecting myself, I am also protecting those around me who cannot be vaccinated,” said Kim.

The flu vaccine is safe for cancer patients to get. The vaccine can’t give you the flu, and common side effects are mild, including soreness, redness and swelling where the injection was given, headaches, and body aches and pains.

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.