Reducing your risk of infection whilst on chemotherapy – Vaccinations for those around you

  • Reference Number: HEY-929/2017
  • Departments: Haematology


This leaflet has been produced to give you general information about your treatment/procedure/condition.  Most of your questions should be answered by this leaflet.  It is not intended to replace the discussion between you and your doctor, but may act as a starting point for discussion.  If after reading it you have any concerns or require further explanation, please discuss this with a member of the healthcare team caring for you.

Why have I been given this leaflet?

This leaflet has been given to you to help you and people who you live with work with their own General Practitioner (GP or family doctor) to reduce your risk of specific infections that can be prevented by vaccination(s).

The medical team looking after you have recommended that your cancer is treated with drugs known as chemotherapy.  All chemotherapy treatments, and some cancers themselves, can reduce your ability to fight infections effectively.  This is called immunosuppression.  The Department of Health recommends that household and close contacts (people who might stay in the same room as you overnight) of patients who are immunosuppressed and at risk of infection should be vaccinated to reduce the risk of you being exposed to certain infections.  These recommendations are documented for GPs in a Department of Health publication called the Green Book.

What is a vaccinations?

 A vaccination is the injection of a killed or weakened organism that produces immunity in the body against that organism and reduces the risk of infection in the future.

What do I need to do now?

You should give a copy of this leaflet to those who you live with and any close contacts and ask them to take it to their GP to discuss whether they should have any additional vaccinations.

What vaccinations might be needed?

The Green Book recommends that all routine vaccinations should be up-to-date and that specific consideration should also be given to:

  • Annual influenza vaccination (The ‘flu jab).
  • Measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine for susceptible individuals.
  • Varicella vaccine (Chickenpox) – for household contacts without a known history of vaccination or chickenpox (particularly children).

Where can my GP get additional information?

Full details, references and links to guide GPs are available in the section of Chapter 7 of the Green Book entitled “Other methods of protecting vulnerable individuals”.

As a patient, do I need any vaccinations?

Patients who are receiving chemotherapy or recovering from chemotherapy should take advice from the hospital team treating them before having ANY vaccinations.

Should you require further advice on the issues contained in this leaflet, please do not hesitate to contact the Oncology and Haematology Department on telephone number: (01482)  461098 / 461100

General Advice and Consent

Most of your questions should have been answered by this leaflet, but remember that this is only a starting point for discussion with the healthcare team.

Consent to treatment

Before any doctor, nurse or therapist examines or treats you, they must seek your consent or permission. In order to make a decision, you need to have information from health professionals about the treatment or investigation which is being offered to you. You should always ask them more questions if you do not understand or if you want more information.

The information you receive should be about your condition, the alternatives available to you, and whether it carries risks as well as the benefits. What is important is that your consent is genuine or valid. That means:

  • you must be able to give your consent
  • you must be given enough information to enable you to make a decision
  • you must be acting under your own free will and not under the strong influence of another person

Information about you

We collect and use your information to provide you with care and treatment. As part of your care, information about you will be shared between members of a healthcare team, some of whom you may not meet. Your information may also be used to help train staff, to check the quality of our care, to manage and plan the health service, and to help with research. Wherever possible we use anonymous data.

We may pass on relevant information to other health organisations that provide you with care. All information is treated as strictly confidential and is not given to anyone who does not need it. If you have any concerns please ask your doctor, or the person caring for you.

Under the General Data Protection Regulation and the Data Protection Act 2018 we are responsible for maintaining the confidentiality of any information we hold about you. For further information visit the following page: Confidential Information about You.

If you or your carer needs information about your health and wellbeing and about your care and treatment in a different format, such as large print, braille or audio, due to disability, impairment or sensory loss, please advise a member of staff and this can be arranged.