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Flu Shots and CFS

Posted Nov 04 2010 1:18pm
Well, I finally got a flu shot, my first ever.

You might recall from my update last month after seeing my Infectious Disease doctor that she had changed her mind about flu shots for CFS patients and has been giving them since last year.  She felt the risk of being exposed to the flu - especially with the bad flu season we had last year - was greater than the risk of a reaction to the shot.  Only one of her CFS patients so far has had any problem with it.

So, I decided to go ahead and get one.  I waited for a week when Ken would be home, in case I crashed, and went to see my doctor on Monday morning.  Like others, she's been undecided about flu shots for CFS patients, too, so I shared what my ID doctor said, and we decided I should try it.  Despite my careful timing, Monday was probably not the best choice because I was a bit worn out from Halloween weekend (the nurse who took my pulse said, "Are you nervous about your shot?  Your pulse rate is really high."  Nope, just OI!)

So, I got the shot Monday morning...and I've been in a mild to moderate crash since then.  Bummer, huh?  It's not a terrible crash, and I think I'm doing a bit better today, but I've had an intermittent sore throat and mild achiness most of the week.  I'm hoping I'm at the end of it now, but I wanted to let you know what's been going on.

I also took my sons for their first-ever flu shots on Tuesday, and they've fared better.  Craig has had a minor sore throat in the mornings, but he started that on Monday - probably from too much Halloween fun!  He says once he has breakfast and medicines and gets to school, he's been fine.  Besides getting a flu shot on Tuesday, Jamie spent a total of almost 3 hours playing soccer (!), so his minor symptoms (bit of achiness and fatigue) could just as well be from that as from the shot, plus he's working long hours to try to make-up all the work he missed recently.  Both of them have been able to go to school each day.

So, mixed results so far.  We'll see how we fare this winter.  My motivation for even considering the flu shot was my 9-month long relapse last winter.  It started in mid-September, almost certainly from a viral trigger (though not necessarily the flu) and lasted until April.  This fall had been much better so far, so we'll see.  Of course, you never know how things would have been without the shot...as with most of CFS, it's a guessing game, right?

Bottom line is that I think the flu shot is a very individual decision for each CFS patient, based on perceived risks.  I think I would hesitate to get one if my immune system symptoms (sore throat, swollen glands, flu-like aches) were worse right now, just because it's an additional stimulant to the immune system.  If you do decide to get one, my ID doc says she learned last year that you're not supposed to split it into two halves (as she was doing at first) because it's less effective that way.

Anyone else out there have experience with flu shots?
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