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Inject To Protect: National Immunization Awareness Month

By Gwen Spector, RN, BSN, COCN, CCP August 22, 2018Pearls of Wisdom Blog

Immunizations help cancer patients protect themselves during treatment and sometimes prevent certain cancers.

Immunizations to prevent cancer:

  • Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a risk factor for cervical, vaginal, penile, anal and mouth/throat cancers. It’s recommended that boys and girls get vaccinated against HPV at ages 11 or 12.
  • Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) can lead to liver cancer and is the only cancer causing hepatitis that has an immunization. See the CDC recommendations for vaccination.

Immunizations to protect you when you have cancer:

  • Influenza or Flu vaccine is recommended for people receiving active cancer treatment, often before treatment starts1. You should NOT get the nasal spray because that is a live weakened virus.
  • Ask your doctor if there are any immunizations you should or shouldn’t get while you are going through treatment. Vaccines made with live attenuated (weakened) viruses should NOT be given to patients with weakened immune systems including people receiving chemotherapy.

Immunizations to protect you when you have your spleen removed:

Your spleen is an important part of your immune system. It produces white blood cells that help your body fight infection. When your spleen is removed or isn’t functioning properly, your risk for infection increases. If your spleen will be removed, your surgeon will instruct you to get certain immunizations at least 2 weeks before your surgery. Recommended vaccines include Pneumococcal vaccine, Meningococcal vaccine and Flu Vaccine.

Three places to get immunized:

  1. Travel Clinics such as Passport Health
  2. Your county health department
  3. Drugstores like CVS and Walgreens*

Talks with your healthcare provider about what immunizations are right for you


Centers for Disease Control

Immunizations for Cancer Survivors

Immunization Q&A

Prevent Cancer Infections

*PearlPoint Nutrition Services does not endorse any commercial products or services. Mention is for informational purposes only.

Gwen Spector, RN, BSN, COCN, CCP

Author Gwen Spector, RN, BSN, COCN, CCP

Complex GI Cancer Nurse Navigator with Sarah Cannon Institute at Medical City Healthcare Gwen Spector, RN, BSN, COCN, CCP is a nurse navigator specializing in complex GI health at Sarah Cannon at Medical City Plano in Plano, TX. She is also a certified chronic care professional health coach and enjoys educating patients and families.

More posts by Gwen Spector, RN, BSN, COCN, CCP

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