Although 2020 has been a crazy year with many unpredictable events, there’s one thing we can count on: flu season. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) expects the flu season to begin around October, with peak flu season occurring notoriously between December and February.
Keeping yourself healthy and preventing seasonal illnesses is important for everyone, especially cancer survivors and those in active treatment. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Get a flu shot!
- Although we don’t know if cancer survivors get infected more often, people who have cancer now or who are disease-free but have had cancer previously are at higher risk for complications if they get the flu.
- If you have had the flu in the past, you are not protected from getting it again in the future.
What to Expect for the 2020-2021 Flu Season
According to CDC guidelines for this year, reducing the spread of respiratory illnesses, like flu, this fall and winter is more important than ever. CDC has worked with vaccine manufacturers to have extra flu vaccines available and recommends getting yours in September or October. However, getting vaccinated anytime during the flu season can help protect you.
Many people at higher risk from the flu also seem to be at higher risk from COVID-19. If you are at high risk, it is especially important for you to get a flu vaccine this year.
What Role will COVID-19 Play in this Year’s Flu Season?
Although shelter-in place and stay-at-home orders have reduced the spread of COVID-19, they have also reduced the use of routine preventive medical services such as vaccinations (and colonoscopies!). According to the CDC, flu vaccination will be very important this season because it can help reduce the overall impact of respiratory illnesses on the population, lessening the burden on the healthcare system during the pandemic.
Additionally, if you have a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19, you should postpone your flu shot until you meet the criteria to discontinue isolation in order to protect others.
Should I Still Get a Flu Vaccine Even with the Spread of Coronavirus?
Absolutely! Getting a flu vaccine is an essential part of protecting your health and your family’s health this season. To protect your health when getting a flu vaccine, follow CDC’s recommendations for running essential errands and doctor visits. Continue to take everyday preventive actions.
Talk to Your Doctor & Make a Plan
The CDC recommends making a plan with your doctor in the event that you get ill. This plan should include when and how to contact your provider, and which antiviral drugs may be necessary for treatment. If taken early, antiviral drugs can decrease the severity of your illness and prevent serious complications.
How Long Does the Vaccine Take to Work?
Your vaccination should take effect within two weeks. In the meantime, continue to practice social distancing by staying at least six feet away from others.
What Should I Do if I Think I Have the Flu?
The first thing you should do is call your doctor and follow his/her instructions. Additionally, the CDC recommends people with flu-like illnesses should stay home for at least 24 hours after a fever is gone without taking fever-reducing medicine such as Tylenol.
The CDC offers information geared specifically towards cancer patients, survivors, caregivers, family, and friends.
We’re Here for You!
Fight CRC will feature more topics to help you stay safe and healthy this winter through our Wellness Wednesday series on Facebook, happening every other Wednesday.