Flu 101: Vital Qs & As about the Flu

I did not write the following Article, I found it via the LFA Blog. Just sharing useful information. Author is mentioned below.

Flu 101: Vital Qs & As about the Flu

By Sarah Stothers, RN, BS, Lupus Foundation of America Health Educator

As summer draws to a close and the cooler months creep in, flu season is right around the corner.  It is important to take preventative measures to protect yourself against the flu. Those with lupus are at increased risk for infections (including the flu); so, for most people, getting a flu shot should be a top priority.

What is the flu vaccine?

The flu vaccine is made to protect individuals against the most common influenza viruses that are predicted for that particular season. The vaccine usually protects individuals against the top three or four influenza viruses that experts predict will be the most common for the upcoming year. Scientists then use one or two of the influenza viruses of each kind to develop that season’s vaccine. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for the antibodies to develop in your body to provide protection.

When is the typical flu season and when should I receive the shot?

The typical flu season can start as early as October and can last as late as May. Usually peak activity in the United States is in January or February. Individuals should receive the flu vaccine as soon as it becomes available, ideally by October (you can speak with your physician or pharmacist to determine when the vaccine is available).

Who should get the flu shot?

Generally, the flu vaccine is recommended for all persons aged 6 months and older.

Why is it important for those with lupus to get the flu shot?

Those with lupus are at increased risk for developing infections for these reasons:

  • The way that lupus affects the immune system can negatively impact the way your body fights off foreign invaders, such as bacteria and viruses that can make you sick.
  • Many people with lupus take certain medications that can lower the body’s ability to fight off foreign invaders. These medications, known as immunosuppressive medicines, help control the overactive immune system in lupus. However, in doing so, they limit the body’s immune response and can leave the individual open to infectious agents, or foreign invaders. Therefore, it is important that those with lupus take all precautions to ensure that they do not get the flu.

Why do I have to get a new flu shot every year?

Flu viruses change all the time and can change from one season to the next, even within one season. In addition, studies have shown that the body’s immunity to influenza viruses declines over time due to various reasons including age and an individual’s overall general health. Thus, it is important to receive a yearly flu shot to make sure that you are always protected.

Do I have to get a shot?

The flu vaccine can be delivered in several different ways. The vaccine can be administered as a shot in the muscle or skin, or through a nasal spray. However, the live-attenuated vaccine (nasal spray) is not recommended for (immunosuppressed) individuals with a weakened immune system and thus, not recommended for patients with lupus.

The conversation about the yearly flu vaccination should start earlier rather than later. Please speak with your physician now about the availability of the yearly flu vaccine.

For more information:

http://www.flu.gov

http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/children.htm

 

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A note to my readers,

I encourage everyone to speak with their doctor about getting the flu shot this year.I got mine about 2 weeks ago. I was required to get it this year if I wanted to continue one of my treatments. Honestly though, I’d much rather deal with the few side effects of the flu shot and the risk of a small flare, than to risk getting the Flu and having to deal with the fallout from having to fight the virus, my bodies reaction to having the Flu, and what would most likely turn into another drawn out flare and battle to get things back on track. I’m basing this assumption on the struggles I had over the case of Bronchitis I had in August. I hope your Autumn is off to a fun and Flu-free start! Take care and stay well dear friends! 

Nicole

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