Blog Classic: Nov. 7, 2012
You didn't expect an easy answer, did you? With FMS & ME/CFS, it's never simple.
The flu shot contains dead flu virus, and while most people's immune systems do just fine with that, many of us do not.
Some leading experts in our illnesses, and especially ME/CFS, caution against flu shots. They say the risk is too great that it'll make your symptoms significantly worse, possibly for months. Other say we should get the vaccine because if we get the flu we'll get especially sick and take a long time to recover.
That leaves us in a quandry. Who is right? How do we know how we'll react? Which route is safer?
I didn't used to get flu shots. I've never had a bona fide case of the flu and I'd never, as an adult, been vaccinated. FMS is different for everyone, and in my case, it caused very little immune dysfunction. Therefore, for my first few years of being sick, I didn't get the shot. However, then there was the whole "swine flu" scare, and I got it because I had young children and had developed an autoimmune disease (Hashimoto's autoimmune thyroiditis). I didn't have any problems, so I've gotten one every year since.
Again, my immune dysfunction is mild. The vaccine is much harder on some people. It's a bit of a gamble, really - do you risk a symptom flare by getting the shot, or risk a potentially devastating illness by not getting it? We have to consider a lot of factors, such as:
- How likely are you to get the flu?
- Have you had reactions to flu vaccines in the past?
- Do you have other illnesses that put you at risk of the flu? (These include autoimmunity, diabetes, COPD/emphysema and heart disease
In the end, it's a personal decision. I'd love to hear what decision you make and your reasons for it, so leave a comment below! (This topic can get heated, so please do NOT criticize or second-guess other people's decisions. This is about sharing information in a safe and open environment.)
Also, take the poll!
Photo © Stockbyte/Getty Images