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The Leukemia/Bone Marrow Transplant Program of BC

Preventing Infection
Flu & Other Vaccinations

Vaccination FAQs - Frequently Asked Questions

Vaccination FAQs



Vaccination Schedule    

Do I need to get the flu shot?

In most cases, yes. Some physicians may recommend that you get a flu vaccine prior to undergoing treatment. Most transplant patients who are more than 6 months post transplant should receive the influenza vaccine on an annual basis. Your BMT doctor will discuss your vaccination schedule with you.

Does my family need to get the flu shot?

Family members, caregivers, and close household contacts of patients should also be vaccinated annually against influenza. This is especially important for those patients who are less than 6 months post transplant or those who, for other reasons, have been advised not to receive the vaccine.

Do I need other types of vaccination?

Patients undergoing high dose (myeloblative) chemotherapy and stem cell transplant may lose the immunity that they have previously acquired through vaccinations or natural infection. It is therefore necessary that at some point you will need to be re-vaccinated against certain diseases. Generally this will be arranged one year post-transplant. Your BMT doctor will discuss your vaccination schedule with you.

What is an inactivated vaccine?

The inactivated vaccine contains a killed influenza virus that when injected causes the body to form antibodies against the virus. People with cancer should receive the inactivated vaccine, which is administered by a shot to the arm.

Can the influenza vaccine give me the flu?

No, the influenza vaccine CANNOT give you influenza.

What are the side effects of the influenza vaccine?

  • Most people have no symptoms after their influenza shot.
  • Some may have redness or soreness for one or two days in the area where the needle was given.
  • Mild influenza-like symptoms may occur in some patient, especially those vaccinated for the first time. Symptoms can include mild fever, headache, fatigue and aching muscle starting 6–12 hours after vaccination but lasting less than 48 hours.
  • Serious adverse effects of influenza vaccination have been reported, including neurological complications, but these are rare.
  • Like with any vaccine or drug, there is a very rare possibility of a shock-like allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. This can include hives, wheezy breathing, or swelling of some part of the body. This requires immediate medical attention. Anaphylaxis is presumably due to hypersensitivity to egg protein. People who have had a previous allergic reaction to the influenza vaccine, or any of its components, including eggs, should talk to their doctor before getting an influenza shot.

Where can I get more information?

For more information regarding the influenza vaccine in British Columbia please go to the BC Health Services website.

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