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In these pages, there are materials for transplant recipients as well as living donors. No matter where you are in your transplant journey, our goal is to connect you to others and provide you with information and support.

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Tue, Oct 24, 2017 1:55pm

Safeguard Your Health This Flu Season

By Mayo Clinic Transplant Staff, @mayoclinictransplantstaff

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

I have not gotten the flu ever since I have received the flu shot. A recurring event in my calendar every September is to to have my whole family get the flu shot. My motto is the earlier I get it, the safer I am. The mild discomfort from the shot is much better than being sick with the flu and having it spread through the house for a month when everyone is stuck inside due to cold weather.

Lynn

@IWantToBelieve

I have not gotten the flu ever since I have received the flu shot. A recurring event in my calendar every September is to to have my whole family get the flu shot. My motto is the earlier I get it, the safer I am. The mild discomfort from the shot is much better than being sick with the flu and having it spread through the house for a month when everyone is stuck inside due to cold weather.

Lynn

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Both me and husband have had ours:-)

@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

@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

@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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As part of our transplant preparation and discharge instructions, we were told that my husband would need to get a flu shot every year. When he told the transplant nurse, PA, doctor or whoever was meeting with us, that he never had received one in the past, and that he had never gotten the flu – they told him in no uncertain terms “you need to get one now.” He does get one. I do not know what kind of a response he would have received if he had declined. I wonder of all transplant centers are as explicit
about this as Mayo?

I get real skittish this time of year when the flu season is ramping up. And, even with my flu shot, I begin to weigh the benefits vs risks of going places.
Rosemary

@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 I don’t understand how it would help me. Having had the shot I presume if he got the flu that I would be resistant to catching it. Is that not correct? Right now he has a cold so he is sleeping in one of the other bedrooms.
JK

@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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@rosemarya I understand your reluctance in going places because of course there are strains that are not in the immunization, but I favor not going to high risk areas or events. I will continue to go to most places though. We each have to do what feels right for us though.
JK

@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’m going by the requirement for our family with my daughter who is on immunosuppressive medications for her arthritis and I’m assuming her meds do not suppress the immune system as much as what a post-transplant patient takes. Of course, everyone needs to get immunizations that are not live (shot vs. mist). I suspect it is because the shot does not guarantee you won’t get the flu and if you are living with someone who does get the flu you probably have a higher chance of contracting it (close quarters, airborne with windows shut etc. ) vs. being near someone briefly in a public place. Is it worth your husband feeling yucky for a few days to reduce your chances of getting the flu? To get an expert answer that is specific to you I’d ask your transplant team how important it is for him to get the flu shot. Good idea to banish him to another bedroom while he has a cold though ; – )

Lynn

@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, @rosemarya – What are high risk areas or events? Places with large crowds? Just trying to learn what my new way of life will be like.

Lynn

@lcamino Lynn, I feel pretty sure that the information in the following will give you some ideas about some of the practices that recipients do to increase their ability t stay healthy.
https://connect.mayoclinic.org/newsfeed-post/top-transplant-hacks-patients-share-their-best-tips-and-tricks/ and
https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/changes-after-transplant/

In my opinion, any event becomes a higher risk during flu season because of the increase of individuals who have the flu – and who are out and about in any public area. We are already immunosuppressed and thus more vulnerable to the flu and complications. We can just do the best to make decisions that we feel are best for us. Also you can’t live in isolation, it is all about choices. Especially hard with holidays approaching!

I think that you are going to be one of the best informed transplant patients ever! Thanks for your questions. I know that others are benefiting and learning with you.
Rosemary

@rosemarya – Thank you. The links were good to reread. I laughed at you saying I will be the best informed transplant patient. I don’t have a great memory and I expect it might get worse once I’m a patient but at least I know where to look for answers (I’m referring to Connect). In fact, the other week I contacted the transplant team with questions about my husband being able to be my donor (he has some health issues) and I didn’t think I could do that until my GFR was 20 and I had contacted the transplant team – so clearly I still have a lot to learn. Thanks for coaching me along!

Lynn

@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 thanks for the info. I will try to gently broach the subject to him. I think I will first ask my team whether or not that is recommended.

Regarding your question about high risk areas, I believe that would be an area with many people who are in close contact with each other, particularly if it is indoors. I think I just described my daughters wedding reception in December. ☹️

The infrequency of my participation recently is due to some really bad pain from my knee surgery. I know when I had the other knee done I was not in nearly as much pain as I am now, but I am also pushing myself a lot harder this time too. I don’t want this knee to lack flex like the prior knee does, but oweee, do I hurt.
JK

Liked by IWantToBelieve

@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

Jump to this post

@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

@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

@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

Jump to this post

@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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