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October is the beginning of flu season and medical offices, hospitals and clinics, schools and employers around the country are now offering the flu vaccine, either through the "flu shot" or a nasal-spray called LAIV (FluMist®). You might be wondering why I am writing about the flu vaccine on an RA webpage . It's because people with RA and other chronic conditions are at higher risk for developing the flu and complications from the flu, especially those of us who take immunosuppressant drugs like TNF-inhibitors . For that reason, my rheumatologist is adamant that I get the vaccine every year, since I have no allergies or other contraindications for receiving it. Others at most risk are the very young, older people, and caregivers to people at higher risk. Here are a few statistics from the Centers for Disease Control: every year in the United States, about 5% to 20% of the population gets the flu; more than 200,000 people are hospitalized from flu complications, and; a...
Have you seen the commercials for flu shots offered at your local grocery store? Or have you seen the signs outside the large chain pharmacies advertising that flu shots are available already?
Some businesses are offering clever incentives for getting vaccinated this year. There is one grocery chain which is offering 10 percent off your grocery bill if you get your flu shot while shopping. It’s an interesting way to motivate people to get themselves vaccinated. Quite a move to influence public health.
I remember the first year that I got my own influenza vaccine at a local grocery store. Shots were only offered during narrow hours and locations were running out of vaccines quickly. I stood in a line which spanned from the pharmacy area, past the meat area, and into the bakery area. That was the year I decided while standing in line to get the pneumonia shot in addition to the flu shot.
At that time, I had been rather motivated to get th...
For months the question has been whether we could gear up production of vaccine for the H1N1 flu virus -- formerly swine flu -- fast enough. Now that the first doses have reached some distribution centers this week, we have the answer to that question. This answer leads to the next question that we all have to face. Should we get the vaccine? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, says that people "at increased risk of severe illness" most need the H1N1 vaccine. One of these groups includes people with diabetes. This makes sense. Those of us who have diabetes can get very sick and may even have to go to a hospital. Our impaired immune system makes us more vulnerable to getting a bad case of the flu. Just getting sick can raise our blood glucose level. Then, it can stop us from eating right, and that further affects our blood glucose. In addition, most people who have diabetes are overweight. And weight itself can be part of the problem. People who have a body ma...
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