Safeguard Your Health This Flu Season

Oct 24, 2017 | Mayo Clinic Transplant Staff | @mayoclinictransplantstaff | Comments (28)

2017-10-24 Flu shot blogIf you’re like many people, your “to do” list is growing longer and longer now that the warm months are behind us. Maybe your list involves packing away the beach supplies, pulling out your warmer clothes, or doing yard work to prepare for that dreaded white stuff. Does your list of to dos also include getting a flu shot?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone 6 months of age or older be vaccinated annually against influenza. Mayo Clinic recommends annual influenza vaccination to all transplant candidates, transplant recipients, their caregivers and other close contacts. As a transplant patient, you should not receive the FluMist, nor should any of your caregivers or close contacts. The FluMist is a live virus vaccine and could cause you to become ill. The flu mist has also officially been determined to be less effective than the vaccine for the 2017-18 flu season. Although not 100% effective, getting a flu shot is worth the needle stick. Flu shots are the most effective way to prevent influenza and its complications.

If you are a transplant patient at another facility, contact your care team to ask about their recommendations for the flu season.

What you can do

In addition to getting your flu shot, remember to practice good hygiene as another safeguard against flu season.

  • Wash your hands often and thoroughly with soap and water
  • Use an alcohol-based sanitizer on your hands if soap and water aren't available
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth whenever possible
  • Avoid crowds when the flu is most prevalent in your area
  • Get plenty of sleep, exercise regularly, drink plenty of fluids, eat a nutritious diet, and manage your stress

Do you get your flu shot every year? Tell us about your experience.

HELPFUL LINKS

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@IWantToBelieve

@contentandwell – I see his point but does he realize him getting the flu shot helps protect you? I suppose it has worked for you both this far…

Lynn

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@contentandwell – I think it is wise to speak with your transplant team re the flue vaccine for your husband.

I’m sorry to hear that you are still in a lot of pain from your knee replacement. Are you doing more than your physical therapist recommends? I totally forgot that this was your second replacement – man you have endured some major surgeries! Don’t push yourself so much that you cause too much swelling and slow down your healing. I’m sure it’s a balancing act.

Lynn

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@lcamino, the comment about remembering rings too true with me. I take notes at the doctor’s office but occasionally don’t bother with something and sure enough I don’t remember it afterwards. I read somewhere that one of the biggest lies we tell ourselves is that we will remember something.
JK

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@IWantToBelieve

@contentandwell – I see his point but does he realize him getting the flu shot helps protect you? I suppose it has worked for you both this far…

Lynn

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@lcamino it is a balancing act and I typically overdo. So far that has usually worked for me. It actually does seem as if the pain started before I started working so hard. I was told that the more exercise I got before the surgery the better I would be recuperating but I am wondering if muscle takes longer to heal than flab. I am presuming they cut through muscle to get to the knee. I saw my surgeon for a post-op visit this past week and he did confirm that my bruising and swelling is worse than typical.
JK

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@contentandwell

@rosemarya I had mine in mid-September, I wanted it in advance of my long flights. My husband refuses to get lone, he thinks that when he does he always comes down with the flu! As I say to him, whatever! It’s hard to dispute his philosophy, he’s 82, is on no meds and rarely even takes an ibuprofen.
JK

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@contentandwell

It must be hard to argue with his success 🙂

My mom is 91 and never has a flu shot or pneumonia shot and only occasionally gets an upper respiratory infection or a cold and manages to take care of it with OTC products and I faithfully get every vaccination possible and still get some form of the flu towards Feb. or March of each year.

Go figure!

Teresa

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@contentandwell

@rosemarya I had mine in mid-September, I wanted it in advance of my long flights. My husband refuses to get lone, he thinks that when he does he always comes down with the flu! As I say to him, whatever! It’s hard to dispute his philosophy, he’s 82, is on no meds and rarely even takes an ibuprofen.
JK

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@hopeful33250 Teresa, it is very hard! He switched oncologists from one in Boston to one up here who I go to for hematology. I accompanied him to his appointment and as the doctor went over his medical history he almost fell off his stool. Then he went on about how young my husband looks for being 82! He really does look a lot younger than that. I tell him it’s his Italian heritage that keeps him young, and I do think that helps!
JK

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@contentandwell

@rosemarya I had mine in mid-September, I wanted it in advance of my long flights. My husband refuses to get lone, he thinks that when he does he always comes down with the flu! As I say to him, whatever! It’s hard to dispute his philosophy, he’s 82, is on no meds and rarely even takes an ibuprofen.
JK

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@contentandwell

Yes, Italian blood must be the key 🙂

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I get a flu shot every year, but it is a fight to get the “right” one. As I understand it, there are at least eight types of flu shots this year: regular, regular recombinant, high dose, high dose recombinant and all of these are available in trivalent or quadrivalent. This makes it difficult for pharmacies and doctors and the CDC doesn’t seem to make a recommendation. Why does this have to be so complicated and how do I get a recommendation form Mayo for me?

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@howard_newkirk, Hi, Howard, and Welcome. This is a very good question! I did not realize that there were so many options.
Since my transplant, I have always been given the high dose (for seniors) as an extra protection due to my immunosuppression; I qualify for it now because of age.
Are you a transplant patient? What does your transplant provider recommend?
Rosemary

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@rosemarya

@howard_newkirk, Hi, Howard, and Welcome. This is a very good question! I did not realize that there were so many options.
Since my transplant, I have always been given the high dose (for seniors) as an extra protection due to my immunosuppression; I qualify for it now because of age.
Are you a transplant patient? What does your transplant provider recommend?
Rosemary

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I am not a transplant patient, but I do have stents and a pacemaker. So far doctors all seem to say just take whatever you are offered and even at Mayo they don’t know which one the clinic is using this year. I did the high does, non-recominant, trivalent. Quadravalent wasn’t available where I live.

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@rosemarya

@howard_newkirk, Hi, Howard, and Welcome. This is a very good question! I did not realize that there were so many options.
Since my transplant, I have always been given the high dose (for seniors) as an extra protection due to my immunosuppression; I qualify for it now because of age.
Are you a transplant patient? What does your transplant provider recommend?
Rosemary

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@howard_newkirk, You made me curious! And on top of that, there was an article in our local paper today about flu shots. I found the following information that I want to share with you. This link to the CDC tells about the different flu vaccines. I think this will help to sort out your confusion.
https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/season/flu-season-2017-2018.htm
Rosemary

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@howard_newkirk

I get a flu shot every year, but it is a fight to get the “right” one. As I understand it, there are at least eight types of flu shots this year: regular, regular recombinant, high dose, high dose recombinant and all of these are available in trivalent or quadrivalent. This makes it difficult for pharmacies and doctors and the CDC doesn’t seem to make a recommendation. Why does this have to be so complicated and how do I get a recommendation form Mayo for me?

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@howard_newkirk, @rosemarya
Hello everyone! Thanks for the flu questions. As Rosemary and others already responded, I will add just a few more thoughts about this topic. After speaking with our physician’s assistant from our Infectious Disease Department, I learned a few more details about the flu vaccines.

Flu vaccines can be very confusing as there are twelve approved seasonal inactivated influenza vaccines available for the 2017-2018 flu season. They differ by whether or not they are trivalent or quadrivalent, recombinant (produced without the use of influenza virus or chicken eggs) and high-dose formulation for older age individuals only. A specific vaccine formulation should be chosen based upon recommended age. Please note, that live attenuated influenza vaccine is not recommended for use by anyone during the 2017-2018 flu season because of concerns regarding its lack of effectiveness in preventing influenza in prior years.

Routine annual influenza vaccination is recommended for ALL persons aged 6 months or greater who do not have a contraindication to the vaccine. The CDC does NOT give any preference for one influenza vaccine over another as long as the vaccine given is age appropriate and licensed. Several of the vaccines have specific age groups that the vaccine is licensed for and they should not be given outside of those age groups.

Our recommendation for most patients is to just get a flu vaccine and do not wait for a specific formulation to become available in your area or with your provider. We don’t want people not getting vaccinated at all because they were waiting for their provider to get a specific formulation that never arrives.

The final take home message from our infectious disease team is this – people can receive ANY licensed, recommended, age-appropriate influenza vaccine. Unless your physician tells your otherwise or you have had an adverse reaction in the past, ALL persons 6 months of age and older should receive a seasonal inactivated influenza vaccine. Do not take the live attenuated (Flumist) vaccine.
I hope this information is useful for everyone. Have a wonderful Thursday!
-Kristin

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@howard_newkirk

I get a flu shot every year, but it is a fight to get the “right” one. As I understand it, there are at least eight types of flu shots this year: regular, regular recombinant, high dose, high dose recombinant and all of these are available in trivalent or quadrivalent. This makes it difficult for pharmacies and doctors and the CDC doesn’t seem to make a recommendation. Why does this have to be so complicated and how do I get a recommendation form Mayo for me?

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Kristin, Thank you for explaining this in understandable language:-)

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