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Flue Vaccine


Gena
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It's getting that time of year where everyone will be getting colds and the flu. I was wondering if any of you with POTS or other dysautonomia have ever had any problems/adverse reactions with the vaccine. I know in general that a small percentage of the general population have an adverse reaction or get a little sick after the vaccine, but what about POTS people? I have celiac , which is an autoimmune disease, so my immune system responds weirdly to things sometimes. I don't recall ever getting a flu vaccine in my lifetime. I was wondering wheteher to get one this year or not. I know it doesn't protect against all strains, but I'd hate to get the flu, because I know that my POTS symptoms would probably go nutso on me! :P

Any thoughts?

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Gena

I got the vaccine last year and had no adverse reaction at all. I was so glad I did (and so did my baby daughter and my husband). My daughter is in day care part-time and gets a cold at least every other month. It cut down the # of colds dramatically and none of us got really sick at all during the fall/winter. It was worth it for me/us. For me, b/c my POTS gets bad whenever I get sick. This year I wonder if I'll be able to or even should get one since there is such a shortage.

BTW, I also have Hashimoto's.

Katherine

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Good question! I was wondering the same thing when I saw the article on today's front page abou the flu vaccine shortage. I am leaning towards getting it, because getting the flu would probably aggravate the POTS symptoms by making me dehydrated. I got one last for the last 3 years w/o any problem, but my POTS only started early this year. Would love to hear from anyone who took a flu shot while having POTS. Thanks.

-Rita

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Guest GayleP

That's a good question. I asked it last year on another site because I had never received the shot before.

Last year was the first time I got the shot. I ended up getting really sick right afterwards. I was sick with a flu like illness for a month but I'm hoping it was just a coiincidence and that it was not the shot. I had been exposed to some sick people at Thanksgiving the day before so that's most likely what happened.

Becasue of the vaccine shortage my HMO is saving the shot for people over 65, babies, people with chronic illness and pregnant women. Hopefully dysautonomia will be considered a chronic illness so I can get the shot if I want.

Last year we had time to really weigh out the decision if the shot made sense for us. This year I'm afraid if we wait too long to decide they'll be out of vaccines.

You should probably ask your doctor if the shot makes sense for you.

Good luck,

GayleP

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I got the shot last year and I didn't notice any reaction within a month after getting it, but after that I got really sick for the entire winter. I was so sick that my doctor thought I had whooping cough. So I asked my doc if the shot even did anything since I was so sick, but she told me to imagine how sick I probably would've been if I hadn't gotten the shot! My doc told me to get it. There are also two types there is a live strain or I am not sure what they call it, but I call it the dead strain. The dead strain is the one I always get because I am on a lot of steroids. Also, if you are on Florinef, my doc told me that the shot doesn't work as well as if you weren't on any corticosteroids, but that it still provides protection.

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I think I remember that it is recommended that you get the shot before late November. It takes a few weeks for the vaccine to give you immunity. If you get it too late into the flu season it could end up not giving you the full protection available.

Also, keep in mind, of course, it can't protect against every communicable virus out there.

Katherine

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I heard the report on NPR this morning about the flu vaccine shortage (this year 50% of the expected vaccine had to be destroyed) and the shortage will be way worse than last year. I personally won't be getting one (or even thinking about it anymore); even if I get the flu--and even with my compromised system due to POTS--I know I will recover ... whereas the elderly and babies with even more delicate systems than mine may not.

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Hi,

I get the flu vaccination every year since the last four years. Since my familydoctor thinks of me as having high risk to become very sick IF I would get the flu, I get it for free. I would pay for it if necessary because I have been really sick from the flu the last time I had this. The vaccination doesn't do any harm to me but getting the flu does. My husband and youngest son get the vaccination because of their asthma.

Corina

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I just received the following announcement from the office of the building in which I work; a flu-vaccination day had been scheduled for later this month (and it's now cancelled).

"As you have probably heard on the news, the largest manufacturer of flu shot serum that was to provide over 48 million shots (Chiron) has had its license suspended in Great Britain, and shipment of the vaccine has been stopped. All providers have been affected. Any serum that is currently available in the United States will be directed to hospitals and nursing homes for high-risk patients. These include people over 50 years of age, health-care workers, children age 6-23 months, women who think they?ll be pregnant during flu season and others that are at high risk of complications if they were to contract the flu."

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I get the flu vaccine every year, except last year I couldn't because they ran out of vaccine. I also get the pneumonia vaccine every few years (it lasts more than one year).

Nina

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Here are some common sense tips to avoiding the flu and colds from about.com:

Tips to Avoid the Flu

Whether or not you got a flu shot, since it isn't 100% effective, you should follow these steps to help prevent you and your family from getting sick with the flu:

Wash your hands often. Remember that one of the most common ways people catch colds and the flu is by rubbing their nose or their eyes after their hands have been contaminated with a virus. By washing your hands often, especially:

before, during, and after you prepare food

before you eat, and after you use the bathroom

after handling animals or animal waste

when your hands are dirty, and

more frequently when someone in your home is sick,

you may avoid getting sick yourself and keep your kids from getting sick too.

Routinely clean, with soap and water, and disinfect surfaces, toys, and objects that younger children may put in their mouths. It may also help to wipe surfaces with paper towels that can be thrown away or cloth towels that can be washed afterwards.

Use disposable tissues to wipe or blow your child's nose.

Teach your children 'cough etiquette', which the American Academy of Pediatrics describes as teaching 'your children to turn their heads and cough or sneeze into a disposable tissue or the inside of their elbow if a tissue is unavailable'.

Avoid close contact with people when you are sick. It isn't really possible to completely avoid people who are sick, so it is likely better if you just avoid exposing other people to your germs when you or your kids are sick. So don't go to school, daycare, work, etc., if you are sick with the flu.

Avoid unnecessary contact with a lot of people for your younger children. It isn't easy to always tell when people are sick and some people are contagious even before they start to have symptoms, so don't expose your younger kids to large crowds of people if you don't have to.

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this is a tough one!

i am not out and about that much, but both of my parents are professors and around all of the sick students! coughing and sneezing without covering their mouths! :P

the last couple of years i have gotten one b/c i was told by dr. grubb you are better off with the shot than getting the flu. and my pcp really pushes me to get it.

i don't know what to do now that there is a shortage.

what you said merrill, really made me think.

i don't want to take the flu shot away from someone else. but, i also know that if i did get the flu, i would be set back for a very, very long time...

i do always feel kind of yucky the first couple of days after the shot, and i always get nervous about getting it b/c one year i got really sick. but, i also don't think i want to risk the flu.

i guess i will email my doctor and see what they say about getting it...whether i need it or not and if it would be taking it away from someone else in town...

i am glad this topic came up as i was just thinking about it and reading about the shortage in the paper.

it makes the decision much less clear...other years i would have just said...i'm getting it over getting the flu, but now i don't know!

emily

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Guest GayleP

Merill, that's interesting about them cancelling the vaccine at your work place. My husband is supposed to get a shot at his work next week but it was scheduled before they knew about the shortage. He works with chronically mentally ill adults with poor hygiene so I hope he can still get his shot.

He has never got the flu ( knock on wood) in all the years he has worked with that population and the weird thing is that I never got the flu either ( I used to work with kids) until last year when I got the shot.

I have no clue what I'm going to do this year. Like I said I would have liked some time to decide if I should get it or not. I don't want to take the shot away from someone who is really sick but I also know if I get the flu or what ever I got had last year it will cause a major set back.

GayleP

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Thanks so much for all of your responses. Since I work at a hospice agency, we normally are offered the flu vaccine for free every year. They haven't mentioned anything about the shortage, so I assume it will be available to me. I guess I will try getting one, although I will talk to my doctor first. I'm an avid hand washer and try to avoid sick people, but now that my 15-year old step son has moved in with me and my husband, I'm sure he'll be exposed to all of the flu germs at high school so I want to make sure we're all protected as much as possilbe. Hopefully my body won't flip out and have a bad reaction! :)

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oh geneva...that is awful! i am sorry that is when your POTS started. that is the hard part about this whole vaccine thing.

gayle...i don't know what to do either! i think maybe health-wise we are somewhat similar in our limitations and that makes the decision pretty tough...i don't know how many more "couch weeks" we can handle! :)

emily

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I really want to get the flu shot, but I can't because I'm allergic to eggs. Since we just put Ethan in daycare, I am really wanting to get it for him, but David (daddy) is very against it..so we are going to talk to his pediatrician and see what she thinks. Last year we were lucky and avoided the flu, but I wish my family would get vaccinated since they are at higher risk (I work from home, so the exposure is lessened) and it would help me from catching the flu with POTS and all...ugghh...decisions, decisions.....

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Jessica

I know, it is so hard to know what is the best for your child with all these vaccination options, and also with your allergy history. Ethan is in the recommended age group for getting the vaccine and he will be more vulnerable to flu now that he will be in daycare. Hope you can get some good advice from a doctor on this.

Katherine

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I am going to take my chances without the vaccine. I got the vaccine the day before I was induced to have my little girl last year, and three days after that I got POTS. I have no idea if the flu vaccine played into it, or the fact that I also got a rubella vaccine four hours before my POTS symptoms started.

Amy

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Amy, childbirth itself is an extremely common cause (for this uncommon syndrome) for the onset of POTS symptoms. The onset of your symptoms may have nothing to do with your vaccinations. One of the wonderful mysteries of life, huh?

BTW, my husband's office building also canceled its scheduled flu vaccinations, announcing that it would abide by the Centers for Disease Control recommendations issued Oct. 5.

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Amy, I agree with Merrill that your POTS was much more likely to have been brought on by childbirth/pregnancy than by a vaccine, particularly one that was administered so soon before the onset of symptoms. Four hours is not enough time for antibodies to start being produced, for example.

Hope you are feeling better these days, btw.

Katherine

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You guys are probably right, but my paranoid self doesn't believe in being rational! I once also had a pretty yucky case of the flu from the vaccine the first time I got it, and in the few years when I didn't get the vaccine, I didn't get the flu. So that probably is in the back of my mind.

Amy

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I'm in the same boat as Ethansmom, I'm not allergic to eggs, but the last flu shot I got landed me in the hospital for 14 hours. My arm swelled up like a ballon and was red and hot. They thought I was having some kind of allergic reaction but I tested ok for eggs. The doc suggested I avoid the shots unless I had a huge need for the shot. I have been lucky as I have rarely had bouts of the flu.

Blackwolf

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