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Flu Shots for Multiple Sclerosis Patients

By Daryl H. Bryant (485 words)
Posted in Living with MS on November 26, 2013

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Flu Shots for Multiple Sclerosis Patients

Should MS patients get flu shots each year? The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that as long as the flu shot is injected into the bloodstream, it is perfectly safe to get your flu shot. This is because injectable flu shots use a dead strain of the flu virus to help your body build immunity.

Consult with Your Primary Physician

While a flu shot is a routine event for most, those who have MS should talk to their doctor before getting the shot. This is because certain medications that you may be taking could hinder the effectiveness of the shot. In other words, medications that you are taking may make it more difficult for your body to fight a certain virus.

You May Feel Like You Have the Flu

Those who have MS may feel the effects of a flu shot for a few days after getting the shot. Common symptoms include fatigue, increased body temperature and other symptoms that may mimic the flu. The good news is that a flu shot will not give you the flu. However, anyone who may be sensitive to the above symptoms should talk to their doctor about ways to minimize such side effects.

Avoid a Flu Shot If You Take Steroids

It is common for MS patients to take steroids to help their immune system work better when MS symptoms flare up. However, steroids could leave the immune system vulnerable to any new virus that enters the body. Therefore, it is important that you avoid getting a flu shot until your body is able to fight the virus being injected into you.

Anyone who has had the flu in the past or who works in an environment where the flu can easily be contracted should get vaccinated regardless of whether you take steroids or not. This is because getting the flu while on steroids is worse when you are not vaccinated.

Vaccines Are Generally Safe to Use

Some people avoid getting vaccinated because they are afraid of making their symptoms worse or have heard stories about vaccines causing autism. The good news is that vaccines are completely safe for most individuals over the age of six months. As long as you talk to your doctor about which vaccine is right for you, there is no reason to believe that you will suffer any unexpected side effects.

If you have MS, it is important that you get a flu shot. Create a vaccination plan with your doctor to help you find a vaccine that will keep the flu virus at bay without interacting with any other medications that you may be taking.

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