The effectiveness of immunization against influenza in cancer diseases is considered

According to experts from the University of Toronto, people with or surviving cancer should receive seasonal influenza immunization. However, vaccination is less effective for hematologic than for solid malignancies. This information is presented in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

The study included 26,463 patients diagnosed with cancer (mean age 70 years; 52% men; 69% had solid tumors; 23% were undergoing chemotherapy at the time of the study). All participants were tested for influenza in Ontario during the 2010–2011 and 2015–2016 seasons. Vaccination status was determined based on physician and pharmacist billing.

It was found that 4320 (16%) patients tested positive for influenza. 11,783 (45%) were immunized against influenza. Overall, vaccine effectiveness against laboratory-confirmed influenza was 21%, and for influenza-related hospitalizations the rate was 20%. However, vaccination was more effective for patients with solid than hematological malignant tumors (25% versus 8%). Receipt of chemotherapy during the study did not significantly affect the effectiveness of immunization, especially among patients with solid malignancies.

The study authors noted that the development of improved vaccines and strategies is needed to optimize influenza prevention among patients at high risk of developing cancer.

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