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Posts: 20
Joined: Jul 2002

Has anyone been told that after chemo your vaccinations are null and void? Like tetanus, etc. I had a pneumonia vaccination a year ago and wonder if it is still effective. Thanks, Paulette

Posts: 706
Joined: Jul 2001

Hi Pauletta:

As I understand it, one needs pneumonia shots, yearly...just like the flut shots and the prime time is just before the cold and flu season begins in your particular climate. Your family doctor should be able to advise you about last years pneumonia vaccine, etc..

I've was never told that my immunizations were rendered ineffective after chemo and have never heard of that possibility before now. I got my flu shot last year, just 6 weeks after completing chemo and radiation...with my onc's permission and am getting this season's flu shot next week. Since I have asthma, I've gotten precautionary flu shots for many years now.
Some years, I have no noticeable reaction at all and other years, my arm is tender for several days and/or I feel tired and wrung out for a day or two. Seems to be no rhyme or reason for this.

My understanding is that pneumonia/flu vaccines have a peak effectiveness of about 12 weeks after which time the effectiveness begins to decline. Since the vaccines contain a small amount of the actual flu bug, it takes a bit for the system to build antibodies to the specific type of flu vaccine you were given. (that's what causes the mild symptoms in those who are going to have them)

I haven't come across any scientific info indicating that these antibodies could be effected by chemo. It seems logical that radiation could possibly have a negative effect on one's flu/pneumonia protection as it destroys tissue as well as cells. Just guessing here. I'd think that one would need to be getting radiation on a somewhat large portion of their body though for this to happen at all.

Interesting subject...one I'll run past my doc. for her thoughts about it. I'll also do some research and see what turns up.

Stay well...

Love, light and laughter,

Posts: 166
Joined: Sep 2002

Thanks for the useful info on vaccinations! I printed it out! Love, Maggs

hummingbyrd's picture
Posts: 961
Joined: Sep 2002

I don't think chemo nullifies vaccinations. Tetanus of course should be taken every 5 yrs IF u get an unclean cut (dirty,rusty...)Pneumonia vaccines are good for lifetime unless u are in hi risk category for infection, u do need a flu shot yrly so ask your doc about the pneumonia when u do in for the flu vaccine. HummB

Posts: 682
Joined: Feb 2001


I checked with google.com asking your questions many different ways and FINALLY found an article that said those who have had stem cell transplants should have vaccinations redone a year afterwards. So that leaves out most of us.

Tetanus boosters are given every 10 years unless you get a wound and it's 5 years or more since you've had it, they'll give you another shot.

Pneumonia is once as Hummingbyrd said but if for some reason a person gets a pneumonia shot before 65 years of age - it is later repeated. Someone in that category might be a person such as a friend of mine who had her spleen removed in her 40's and then got a pneumonia shot.

Warm wishes, Jean

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