Did You Get Your Flu Shot?
Influenza, "the flu," is caused by a virus that infects the respiratory tract and is spread from person to person through coughing and sneezing. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the flu can cause serious problems for some, including anyone taking immunosuppressive drugs such as Imuran, Neoral, Purinethol, and Prednisone
In a recent study conducted in an IBD specialty clinic, it was found that 86 percent of the patients were taking or had taken immunosuppressive medication, but only 28 percent had regularly received flu shots. The most common reason for those with IBD not receiving a flu shot was lack of awareness (49 percent) and concern for side effects (18 percent).
If you are allergic to eggs, or have had a severe reaction to a vaccine in the past, a flu shot may not be right for you. If these two conditions do not apply, you might want to seriously consider getting a flu shot in the next several weeks (a flu shot takes a week or two to become effective, and flu season typically does not reach its peak in the U.S. until January and February).
How well the flu vaccine will work for you will depend on how well this year's flu vaccine and the types of flu viruses that are circulating this year are matched. Each year, scientists choose three different viruses for the vaccine to include based on a prediction of which viruses are most likely going to impact the U.S. If the scientists picked a good combination of viruses for the vaccine, then your chances of getting the flu can be reduced by 70-90 percent.
To find out more about the flu and the available vaccine, visit the Centers for Disease Control website at http://www.cdc.gov/flu/2008-09_flu_qa.htm. Flu vaccines are typical given in doctors' offices and student clinics, but they are also available at some local pharmacies and health departments.