The flu can be quite a severe illness, even for previously healthy individuals. Immunocompromised patients, such as those whose immune systems have been weakened by cancer or cancer treatment, should be especially careful during flu season.
2020 has taught many things about effective ways to stop the spread of a viral infection. Much of what slows down the spread of COVID-19 also works for the flu virus.
If you’re worried about your health or the health of your loved ones during these uncertain times, here are some crucial flu prevention tips for cancer patients and caregivers.
Cancer Patients Should Get Their Flu Shot
Don’t skip your flu shot. Even if the flu vaccine isn’t 100 percent effective at preventing the flu, it will play a key role in reducing complications if you do get sick. Keep in mind that it takes about two weeks for the body to develop the antibodies necessary to fight the flu. So get your flu shot on time! You can get a free, drive-up flu shot in Tampa Bay in November and December.
Flu shots are necessary even for immunocompromised individuals. They may not work as well as on healthy individuals, but they will still help. Just be sure to consult with your doctor before you get vaccinated.
Your loved ones can assist in preventing you from becoming sick by also getting their shots.
Cancer Patients Should Wash Their Hands Frequently During Flu Season
If you’re not an expert in hand-washing by now, do your best to become one. Wash your hands every time you come in from the outside, using warm water and soap. Wash them after using the bathroom, blowing your nose, coughing, sneezing, touching animals and collecting trash. If you’re using public transportation or touching things in public places, like the grocery store, keep a bottle of alcohol-based hand sanitizer nearby and use it frequently.
Even if you are using gloves, you should still wash your hands after you take them off.
Avoid touching your face, especially your eyes, nose and mouth. COVID-19 has forced us all to wear masks, and masks also help prevent the flu.
Bathe every day. Be thorough; if you have any tubes or catheters, make sure there isn’t any redness, swelling or tenderness around them.
Maintain Physical Distancing
Whenever you can, avoid crowds. Don’t mingle with people you don’t know, and try not to sit in the same room with more than two or three other people, especially if you’re not sure of their daily routines and movements.
Social & physical distancing seems to be the phrase of the year for 2020. In public spaces, maintain at least 6 feet in distance from others. Don’t shake hands with people, hug them, or kiss them.
If possible, avoid getting manicures and pedicures. Do not share razors with others, even your family members.
Call Your Doctor if You Feel Ill
If you feel like you’re coming down with a fever, have a sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, a cough, fatigue or any other flu-like symptoms, immediately call your doctor. Even if it’s not the flu, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
More than a thousand men and women diagnosed with cancer each year turn to our trusted team of cancer specialists. We encourage you to call us, ask us a question, or consult with us to get a second opinion so you, too, can experience the difference.