Multiple Sclerosis Community
9.22k Members
400099 tn?1282954864

Flul shot

My pcp wants me to have the flu shot and my neurologist doesn't....I am soooo confused. I also have asthma/copd. Now I don't know what to do. Why did neuro tell me not to have flu shot? I keep reading that it is recommended for MS patients. Help!
38 Responses
1260255 tn?1288654564
"Why did my neuro tell me not to have flu shot?" is a question that you should be asking your neuro.

Last year my PCP highly recommended that I get the regular flu shot and a shot for pneumonia, but she was highly against the H1N1 shot due for several sound reasons, mostly in how the vaccine was produced (one issue surrounded a preservative and I can't recall the other).

If I understand it correctly, this year's flu shot does contain antibodies to protect H1N1.

Please ask your neuro why its not recommended for you and the possible risks of getting the vaccine against getting the flu.

400099 tn?1282954864
Wow. Ok. That makes sense. I got the swine flu vaccine naturally. Got it last year and was in the hospital with it. He told me prior to that he was recommending none of his MS patients get the swine flu shot. I'm waiting for an answer from him as to why I shouldn't get it. I did have an exacerbation in July so that could be part of it too.
Avatar universal
I asked Neuro if i should get flu shot, he said i should. Strange that one would say yes

get it, and the other says no.
572651 tn?1530999357
I'm curious as to why your neurologist would say not to get it. That makes no sense because it is not a live vaccine, if you do get the flu the effects of it can be devastating to those of use with MS.  A high fever can really create havoc to our bodies.  We've had more than one person here have serious repercussions from having the flu last year.

I didn't even ask my neuro because both my PCP and my cardiologist both said I should have it each year.  I guess I went with the 2 out of 3 majority rules! LOL

I had my flu shot last week - I'm happy to get it done and out of the way.  I was thinking it was perhaps too soon in the season to get the shot but then I heard a bit on doctor radio about it this week.

Those docs said the vaccine is effective for 6-8 months, which will easily take me through the flu season.  This year's flu formula contains vaccine for the H1N1, Influenza type A and Influenza type B.  It has all the flu types covered pretty well.  Their discussion also talked about the mortality rate from the flu in the US.  

Going from my memory I think they said something like 36,000 people in the US died last year from influenza and the complications. Normally the flu kills the elderly, young children and the sick but last year was a big exception and ordinary health young people died from the flu.  That is pretty scarey, at least to me.

They also had a good discussion about how people how can get the vaccine have a responsibility to get it so they don't become carriers of the disease and pass it on to people who for some  reason can't have the vaccine themselves. It only takes one infected person to pass through a public place such as a grocery or a school  to have contact with lots of poeple and infect them as well.  

I hope everyone who has no health reason to not do so, will get the vaccine this season and protect themselves as well as others.  We really are in this together.

be well and stay well,

1453990 tn?1329231426
Getting a flu shot (dead virus,) not the nasal flu spray (attenuated live virus) should be OK.  I guess some Drs. might worry that anything that turns on the immune system might cause a flare.  Given that some of us have wonky immune systems, I''d steer clear of live virus vaccinations.  

147426 tn?1317265632
I think that the H1N1 vaccine proved its safety last year.  Most of the MS world does recommend flu shots for the very reason that the actual infections are very likely to cause the mother of all relapses.

Throw in the co-morbid conditions of asthma and COPD I believe it would be VERY foolhardy to not be vaccinated.  Just be sure you get the shot and NOT the nasal spray which contains live, altered virus.

We have a member of the forum here who was nearly killed by H1N1 last December and was still suffering from the lung damage into last spring.  She was on a ventilator in the ICU a day or so into the infection.  

Last year there were about 2,100 deaths from influenza (both types) reported to the CDC.  Not all deaths get reported.  276 of those deaths were in children under 17 with the highest proportion in the 12-17 year old groups.

People with asthma and COPD have a higher mortality from the flu.

Personally, I don't think your neuro is looking at the "Big Picture".  Unless you have a history of Guillain-Barre, I do not see the rationale for withholding the flu shot in a person with MS, much less in a person with MS AND chronic lung disease.  If you do not get the vaccine you will need to be prophylaxed with antiviral meds (which have their own possible side effects ) against the flu every time you are exposed.  Essentially this means September through about February.

As an MD with a postdoctoral background in Immunology (but apparently not in spelling), I would vote strongly with your GP - and would look for a way to cast multiple votes, lol.

To all the nay-sayers from last years vaccine, there were surprisingly few serious adverse reactions - FAR fewer than even the CDC predicted.  Those people spreading panic about it lied about the expected number of people who might be harmed and then got very, very quiet when there were so few.

This is a soapbox topic for me, but I will spare you'all 'cause I'm feeling puny tonight.  I recommend the flu shot to the forum and I will be getting it myself.  Yes, this year's vaccine does include antigens from H1N1.

Quix, MD
572651 tn?1530999357
yep - the live virus is absolutely out - which means none of us should have the nasal spray.
Avatar universal
My neurologist, cardiologist and primary care Dr all told me to get a flu shot asap.
If I were u I would ask your neurologist why he doesn't want u to have one. That way u will know where he's coming from and make.your.decision about flu shot from there.
649926 tn?1297657780

Willow -

   I think that you are going to get a bunch of YES YES & YES on this! I see 2 neuro's, a pcp, gyn, cardiologist, gastroenterologist and probably a few that I am forgetting, lol.

  Every single one of them has asked have you had your flu shot yet? YES I did on Saturday at the drug store because it was cheaper.

The live virus is a NO NO NO but with all of your health issues I think your neuro either mis-spoke or lost his marbles somewhere that day. Call and see if he found them and ask what the heck the reason for a no was - please share when you find out.

Erin :)

P.S. DH has always refused to get a flu shot and this year when he got dx with diabetes it was one of the first things they told him at diabetes ed - you need to get a flu shot! AMEN - he should have been getting them to protect me all this time for heavens sake.
400099 tn?1282954864
Wow!!! more confused than ever. It does bother me that the flu shot contains the vaccine for H1N1. We had 2 nurses wind up in the hospital AFTER getting the vaccine. I'll see what his reasons for not getting the shot is. I don't know why they had to add H1N1 to it. I've never had a problem with the regular flu shot, but was hospitalized with swine flu last year. So...that being said, I still don't know what to do. I'm scheduled to get the shot on Monday, so I've got a little bit of time to think about it yet. Thanks everyone.
1218873 tn?1300091216
Thanks for raising the subject as this has been on my mind. (Wow what a response!)

Last year I Had both flu shot and H1N1 shot the later made me really quite ill and although my neurological symptoms had started before this, it really put them into fast forward, never to rewind! huh!

This year I had decided I would have the flu jab but not H1N1, so the science guys decided to confuse me by mixing the 2 together. (I also suffer from asthma)

Firstly does anyone know if this mixed shot is happening in the UK?

Also having spoken to my consultant last week and him warned me over catching infections or running a temperature, what is a girl to do?

147426 tn?1317265632
It's not uncommon to get a fever and achiness with any vaccine.  this is because the immune system is being stimulated to produce antibodies against the viral proteins in the shot.  The body produces interferons in good measure.  We all know that the interferons can cause fluish reactions, but these rarely last more than a day or two.  The flu, on the other hand can be a full ten days of high fevers and flat on your back with weeks to get back to normal.

I get this reaction to every tetanus booster.  Would I rather have tetanus?  No, I can put up with fever and the devil of a headache after each shot, thank you.

I agree.  the shot reactions are no fun and they can trigger a relapse.  But this is how you compare the two events:

The shot injects a finite amount of viral protein in you ONE TIME.  You react to it and there is no more stimulation.  The relapses are generally shorter and milder.  the shot stimulates the immune system, but allows it to function normally.  The fever only lasts usually a day or less and the fever is usually lower.  If you know you tend to react to shots, it is best to hydrate well, and premedicate with Ibuprofen or naproxin (Motrin/Advil or Aleve) and you will shorten the reaction time and keep your temp from triggering a pseudo-relapse.

The flu virus enters your body and immediately begins replicating and making millions of copies of virus each of which replicates and makes billions more virus and this goes on for more than a week.  So the immune system is inundated with constant HUGE stimulation every hour for days on end.  The influenza virus actually does weaken the immune system and make you susceptible to other viruses.  

The fevers in the actual flu infection can reach 105 in an adult and may last for many days.  This extended high temp will cause additional symptoms for the entire duration of the infection.  It is hard to completely treat the fever of the flu, because it is driven so high that the fever breaks through the meds.  You tend to dehydrate during the flu and taking so much med to lower the fever isn't great either as they all affect the liver - as does the flu virus.  The relapses that the infection causes are almost always MUCH more severe than any reaction to the shot.

Then there is the potential for the H1N1 to suddenly kill young adults and adolescents.  When you get the flu you can expose those you love and people who are weakened or who have respiratory disease or small infants.  You may not get severely ill, but they can.  And you are contagious before the symptoms start.

So the difference is a limited amount of viral protein to react to versus days of unlimited viral proteins to continue to overstimulate the immune system and chance severe illness or infecting others.

Does that help you put last year's reaction into perspective?

Avatar universal
I think your UK flu shot is the same as our southern hemisphere one was for our winter. It contains swine flu plus two others:

    * ›› General Information
    * Guidelines
    * Epidemiological Data
    * Events
    * Contact Details

Influenza Vaccine Composition

Influenza vaccines are administered each year as new strains are evolving constantly.  To allow time for vaccine manufacture, the decision about which strains to include is made about six months in advance of the start of the influenza season.  The World Health Organization (WHO) makes recommendations twice a year for the northern hemisphere (usually February/March), and southern hemisphere (usually September) vaccine composition.  These recommendations are based on the strains circulating at the time, as reported by countries across the globe.  The WHO recommendations for the current and previous vaccines are listed on this page.  For more information, please visit the WHO website.

2010/11 Influenza Season - Northern Hemisphere

It is recommended that the following viruses be used for influenza vaccines in the 2010-2011 influenza season (northern hemisphere):

— an an A/California/7/2009 (H1N1)-like virus;
— an an A/Perth/16/2009 (H3N2)-like virus;*
— a B/Brisbane/60/2008-like virus.

* A/Wisconsin/15/2009 is an A/Perth/16/2009 (H3N2)-like virus and is a 2010 southern hemisphere vaccine virus.


Your NHS has this onfo too



May your flu season be minimal or non-existant!

Jemm (glad we're exiting the flu season down here)
147426 tn?1317265632
Thanks for that info.  It shows that different strains are circulating in different parts of the world and that these are monitored very closely.  That was interesting.

You and I aren't usually on at the same time.  Clearly I can't sleep.

Avatar universal
I think Quix has said it all in her responses. She is an MD with special knowledge of immunology, and she knows whereof she speaks.

I will definitely get a flu shot (as always), to protect myself and those around me who may be particularly susceptible or unable to get the shot for one reason or another.

The fact is, we *don't* always know what's best for ourselves, and that's why we look for reliable information, and why we come here, for that matter. We of course always have the option of taking or leaving advice.

It just makes sense to consider the source of the information, and for me, that means going with good science. The web is open to anyone, but when I want info I use only those sites with no axes to grind, nothing to sell, and with credentials appropriate to the subject matter.

I guess I am a 'go with the odds' sort of person. That certainly has paid off for me, and at least I know I've done my best.


572651 tn?1530999357
Perhaps this information should be made into a health page, since this community revisits the topic each flu season.  Thanks Dr. Quix for all the effort you put into this response. - L
198419 tn?1360242356
Hi Willow-W!  I'm getting one!  And, I'm glad it's all in one this year.

Warning to all: Please be leery of raw food sources touting there is no study proving safety of vaccines. It's like apples writing about oranges (well, you know what I'm saying here).

It's great if they have factual things to say about raw foods. But in this case, what's mentioned above, is simply an untruth and an unreliable source where vaccines are concerned.

Geesh! I hope they don't plan on writing up opinions on DMD treatment for MS.

Thank you Willow-W for asking this question! So many others prob. worry too.
And, thank you Doc Q for reliable information, always.

1218873 tn?1300091216
Thanks for the info guys.

Will get the jab and grin and bear it!

Avatar universal
one of the only reason not to get flu vaccine is egg allergy which I have.  Also compromised immune system, so I don't think I'll be getting one this year.  I will ask my dr though, and if she recomends I get one I will get it in the office with benedryl and wait and see that I don't get a serious allergic reaction (my allergy is more of a hives thing.  Last time I had the flu I was in bed for a week!! and then trying to get my strength back for weeks.
147426 tn?1317265632
Hives are the little sister of full blown anaphylaxis.  Someone who "just" gets hives to an allergen is at risk for the whole enchilada, including cardiac arrest when  they are exposed to the substance again.  The shot is out for you.

Here is the CDC full info on the 2010-2011 Flu shot.  Please note that some of the vaccine does contain thimerosal.  If this concerns you then you can request a thimerosal-free vaccine.

147426 tn?1317265632
Anyone's Final decision will always be formed partly by the quality and accuracy of the information they receive.  I just hope that we all strive to give out accurate and approriate info.

560501 tn?1383612740

   I guess in a nut shell, it's always best to get the 'Facts" from all avenues
so that your decision can be an informed one.

    Actually that goes for life in general  :)   knowledge is power
No worries, you will make the right decision that is best for you.

Have a Great week to come!
1140169 tn?1370185076
Good info. Are there any issues re:DMD's and the flu shot? I thought I read somewhere that your supposed to temporarily stop injecting your DMD around the time you get the flu shot, in my case Redif.

Of course I may have totaly missunderstood what I read.....it happens.


Avatar universal
No, Mike, I asked my neuro that exact question two winters ago. He said to go ahead as usual.

Have an Answer?
Top Neurology Answerers
987762 tn?1331027953
5265383 tn?1483808356
1756321 tn?1547095325
Queensland, Australia
1780921 tn?1499301793
Queen Creek, AZ
Learn About Top Answerers
Didn't find the answer you were looking for?
Ask a question
Popular Resources
Find out how beta-blocker eye drops show promising results for acute migraine relief.
In this special Missouri Medicine report, doctors examine advances in diagnosis and treatment of this devastating and costly neurodegenerative disease.
Here are 12 simple – and fun! – ways to boost your brainpower.
Discover some of the causes of dizziness and how to treat it.
Discover the common causes of headaches and how to treat headache pain.
Two of the largest studies on Alzheimer’s have yielded new clues about the disease