I came across a new study that's likely to ruffle a whole bunch of feathers in the chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) community. It's out of the Netherlands and used the Fukuda criteria, and it gives the OK for people with this illness to get a flu shot - and that it could also be recommended.
This is always a hot topic, with many people and not an insignificant number of doctors saying "no way!" In a recent poll on flu shots, 32% of respondents said they'd never get one. Seven percent said they'd gotten one and had a severe reaction.
Any time flu shots come up, you hear a variety of opinions. These comments are from a blog last month:
"Within hours [of getting a flu shot] ... I had flu-like symptoms and developed a very large fever blister.... [The doctor] said obviously I had 'some immune system problem' and never to take the flu shot again." -Cathy
"I took the flu shot in 1993 after speaking to the neurologist. Low and behold I got the flu from it and did not take it again until 2 years ago. The in between time I spent sick to near death at times every winter. In 2010 I had the flu so bad it threw me back into severe CFS/ME and took me almost two years to come out of it enough to return to part time work. I, for one, will always take the flu vaccine...." -Lady Sharlyne
"I have received flu shots every year for about the last six years (I'm 66) and have never had an adverse reaction. Nor have I gotten the flu." -Katie
The study giving the thumbs up says:
"The humoral and cellular immune responses upon influenza vaccination were comparable in CFS patients and healthy controls. Putative aberrations in immune responses in CFS patients were not evident for immunity towards influenza. Standard seasonal influenza vaccination is thus justified and, when indicated, should be recommended for patients suffering from CFS." -Prinsen H, et al. BMC Immunol. 2012 Dec 17;13:71.
Back in 2000, a Canadian study concluded that flu immunization is safe in ME/CFS, "not associated with any excess early reactions, and stimulates an immunizing response comparable with that of healthy volunteers."
It certainly doesn't appear that the earlier study swayed opinions much, and I doubt the new one will, either. However, it would be nice to have more research on this topic - especially from the doctors who say they've seen a lot of severe reactions in their patients.
Flu season generally peaks in January and February, so if you're considering a vaccine, you don't have long to get one. Here's more information to help you decide:
(If you're wondering what research shows about flu vaccines and fibromyalgia, don't bother - there isn't any.)
What's your stance on the flu shot? Have you had a bad experience with the vaccine, or with the flu itself? Will the new research sway you at all? Leave your comments below!
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