Tuesday, October 27, 2009
chemotherapy and the H1N1 vaccine
As someone in ongoing chemotherapy, I have a compromised immune system. This puts me at increased risk for contracting H1N1.
I am among the priority groups established by the City of Ottawa, as is my family, and were it not for the hours long lineups (several centres closed the lineups by late afternoon), I would have had my shot yesterday.
I did call the oncologist yesterday to ask about interactions between Neupogen (the drug I take after chemo to boost my white blood cell count and fight infection). When I didn't hear back immediately I checked with the cancer centre receptionist who, told me (after checking with someone) that I should go ahead and get the shot.
Today, the nurse who works with my oncologist called and told me to wait.
The reasoning goes as follows:
Chemotherapy suppresses the immune system.
The flu shot is meant to boost it.
Having the H1N1 shot (or any other flu vaccine) too close to chemotherapy lessens the effectiveness of the shot.
Those of us getting chemo are instructed to wait to the end of the chemo cycle, get our bloodwork done (to ensure that our counts are high enough) and then get the shot the day before the next round of chemo.
This means that I will be waiting until November 10 for my H1N1 vaccine.
And washing my hands. A lot.