It’s Time to Get Your Flu Vaccine

The timing of flu season is unpredictable and can vary from year to year. Flu activity can begin as early as October and continue as late as May. It most commonly peaks in the US in January or February.

Not everybody who gets the flu has the same symptoms, but common ones include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headache, fatigue, vomiting, and diarrhea.

The best way to keep from getting the flu is to get a vaccination. Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) calculate that vaccinations prevented flu in 13 million people between 2005 and 2011. The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months and older get vaccinated every year. Generally, the only people who should not be vaccinated are those who’ve had a severe reaction to a flu vaccination in the past. People who are allergic to eggs should discuss flu vaccination with their doctor. The CDC says some people with egg allergies can safely get the vaccine.

For most people, the flu ranges from a mild to a severe sickness, and then they get better. But others can develop complications that include pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections, and worsening of chronic medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma, or diabetes. At times, the flu can even lead to death.

People with certain medical conditions, including cancer, are at a higher risk for flu-related complications. That makes it even more important for cancer patients, survivors, and their caregivers to get the seasonal flu vaccination. Cancer patients and survivors who think they have the flu, or have been near someone else who has it, should call their doctor right away. Doctors can’t cure the flu, but they can prescribe antiviral drugs that help you get better faster. If you’re in active treatment for cancer, check with your doctor before getting the flu shot.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team
Our team is made up of doctors and master's-prepared nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

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