The flu season often starts in October, and it’s essential to get a flu vaccine now to stay protected, especially during a pandemic. The flu season has arrived. Diseases like pneumonia, respiratory failure, encephalitis, mortality, and other serious complications can result from the flu. Getting the flu vaccine, especially with a pandemic, is the safest way to avoid getting the flu. Influenza viruses are continuously evolving, and the WHO updates vaccine formulations twice a year. In February 2016, the vaccine formulation was upgraded to include two types A viruses (H1N1 and H3N2) and a type B virus for the 2016-2017 northern hemisphere influenza season. Learn how the flu season can affect cancer patients, especially during pandemics at University Cancer Centers.
While there are many correlations between the two viruses, it’s essential to understand how they differ and what precautions should be taken to reduce the risk of infection. These precautions are particularly critical for cancer patients, who often have compromised immune systems and are more susceptible to disease and severe symptoms. Here, we go over flu-related symptoms and problems in full depth and provide some advice on how to keep cancer patients, survivors, and their loved ones safe during flu season.
Flu symptoms and cancer-related problems
There are high chances of getting the flu in cancer patients. It does increase one’s risks of acquiring complications, such as:
- Bronchitis or pneumonia are conditions that affect the lungs.
- Lung and heart problems have increased.
- High mortality rate.
The flu is often contagious and spreads from person to person via droplets produced by infected people coughing, sneezing, or talking. If you are a cancer victim or survivor suffering any of the flu-related symptoms mentioned further, contact University Cancer Centers and learn more details about the flu. Symptoms like fever, cough, cold, headache, body aches, etc.
The flu has symptoms that are remarkably similar to the symptoms of COVID-19. According to the CDC, flu viruses and the germ that causes COVID-19 will spread at the same time of year (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). Visit University Cancer Centers; they can help you figure out what measures to take to get the best treatment for your symptoms. However, the two viruses are not identical and differ in ways that highlight the coronavirus’s mortality. Consider the following example:
The COVID-19 virus is considerably more contagious and spreads at a faster rate than typical flu viruses. The flu usually manifests itself four days after infection. COVID-19 infected victims may not show symptoms for up to five days. COVID-19 symptoms and symptoms are frequently far more severe, and hospitalization is more likely, especially in at-risk patients.
Keep yourself proactive
Protect yourself and everyone around you from the flu by being proactive.
All people aged six months and up, even those diagnosed with cancer or who have survived it, should get vaccinated against the flu. Your doctor can give the vaccine, although the vaccine is most effective when given early in the flu season in September or October. Getting immunized at any time is preferable to not getting vaccinated at all.
Even if you are vaccinated, the CDC suggests that everyone take the following steps to help prevent the transmission of viruses, including influenza viruses:
- Stay away from sick people.
- Coughs and sneezes must be covered.
- You need to keep your hands away from the nose, ear, and eye.
- Hands should be washed with soap and water regularly (or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available)
- Virus-infected surfaces and items should be cleaned and disinfected.
Cancer patients and vaccination
In research, it’s been seen that cancer patients and survivors may experience more severe symptoms than normal individuals, especially in pandemics. Cancer patients are at more risk as compared to normal individuals because they are immunocompromised. All these reasons are considered, and with doctors’ consultation, the patients, family members, and caregivers are given the vaccination for the flu and the COVID-19.
When do patients need vaccination?
Vaccination for the flu and COVID-19 should be administered as soon as possible by long-term cancer survivors and individuals who are not currently undergoing treatment. However, there are a few conditions.
Patients who have recently been diagnosed, are undergoing treatment, or are about to begin therapy should consult with their physician to determine the optimum time to receive their vaccine. Some cancer treatments, particularly chemotherapy, can harm or weaken the immune system, making vaccines less effective. Patients with blood cancers such as leukemia might not get the full benefit of the vaccine.
Vaccination done! What’s next?
Now vaccines can help protect you, but it isn’t 100% effective. Wash your hands frequently, get the sleep/diet/exercise you need, avoid close contact with the sick, and sanitize surfaces regularly to keep yourself safe. If you become ill, call your doctor as soon as possible to discuss any changes or additions to your current treatment plan.
Who should avoid getting vaccinated?
Getting the vaccine is almost always the best course of action. If you have a severe egg protein allergy, your doctor may propose arranging your vaccine around chemotherapy treatments. It’s unusual for someone to be disqualified entirely for the vaccination. However, cancer patients are advised to consult a doctor before getting their flu vaccine.
Difference between flu and COVID-19
These two viruses share many similarities. Both viruses, for example, both viruses are passed from person to person. In both, the viruses are transmitted from person to person via respiratory droplets. In elderly persons and those with pre-existing diseases like cancer, it may induce severe symptoms. The symptoms may include Fever, Cough, Fatigue, a stuffy or runny nose, and body aches. However, the two viruses are not similar and differ in ways that highlight the coronavirus’s mortality.
Consider the following example: The COVID-19 virus is far more contagious and spreads faster than typical flu viruses. COVID-19 infected people may not show any symptoms for up to five days after infection, although flu symptoms typically present four days.COVID-19 symptoms and complications generally are substantially more severe, requiring hospitalization, especially in high-risk patients.
How to prevent flu in cancer patients
Cancer patients, caregivers, and family members can lower their risk of exposure to COVID-19 and the flu by taking the following precautions, in addition to getting vaccinated:
- Patients must wear a mask and encourage their family and caregivers to do so as well.
- When at all possible, avoid huge gatherings and maintain a safe distance between yourself and others.
- Hands should be washed often or sanitized.
- Stay away from ill people and stay at home if you’re sick.
If you are a cancer patient and need the proper consultation, visit University Cancer Centers and learn more about the flu season and its effect on cancer patients, especially during pandemics. They will guide you and provide you with the most up-to-date information on the virus and flu season.