2020 Influenza Vaccine

A pair of gloved hands use a syringe for the influenza vaccine

Message from Professor Grant McArthur, Executive Director of the Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre, senior medical oncologist at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and member of Melanoma Patients Australia’s Medical Advisory Committee regarding the 2020 Influenza Vaccine.

His advice for all melanoma patients especially those receiving immunotherapy is as follows:

Influenza is a serious illness and all members of the community should consider vaccination.  This is especially the case as we face the challenge of COVID-19.

Patients with chronic illnesses including cancer are particularly prone to adverse outcomes from influenza.

There have been reports of associations of side effects of the influenza vaccine in patients receiving immune checkpoint treatments. However, the risks are low to extremely low.

In most situations patients receiving single therapy with Keytruda (pembrolizumab) or Opdivo (nivolumab) would fall into a negligible or extremely low-risk category.

Patients receiving the combination Opdivo (nivolumab) + Yervoy (ipilimumab) should discuss their risk with their oncologist.

In summary, all Stage III and Stage IV melanoma patients should discuss with their oncologists because of the need to individualise the risk of side effects and benefits.