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Flu shots?


Super Moderator
I saw a sign at my local pharmacy today that said they're now offering flu shots (apparently it's a combo shot containing both seasonal flu and h1n1 vaccine). My workplace usually offers free flu shots, but not until like November-ish, and I'm wondering if I should go to the pharmacy and get my flu shot now rather than wait. I'd hate to wait and then get the flu on top of everything else I'm going through! What do you guys think, do most of you usually get a flu shot, and if so do you get it as soon as it's available or is it okay to wait until flu season starts? I'm not on any meds at the moment so I'm not immunosuppressed or anything like that, if that makes a difference.


hmmmmm tough call....

One of the reasons a flu shot is offered every year is that it is only effective for about 6-8 months, so every year we need to "boost" it (this is just ONE reason, but anyway..)

Soooo, if you were to get the shot now, you are only protected until about March, and generally another "season" will hit around end of March - somewhere in May.....

BUT, it takes about two weeks for people to build up the antibodies needed to fight the 'flu itself... so by the time the "first wave" of flu hits, the virus might already be in your system before you get the actual shot.....

LOL Gosh, even I am not sure what I would do!! I guess given the info I just gave you, you can kind of make up your own mind... but I am going to have to think about it for me now!! LOL (Although, I have no such dilemma as it is not being offered here in Canada yet...lol).....


Super Moderator
Interesting, thanks Silver! (I hope your surgery went well, by the way!) I will have to think about that and weigh the pros and cons - I do want the antibodies built up before the holiday season, but I also don't want the effect of the vaccine to have worn off in March when the flu may still be going around. Hmmmm.

One more question while I'm thinking of it - I'm not yet diagnosed, so I don't really know what's going on. Should I opt for the flu shot (inactivated virus) or do you think it'd be okay to have the nasal spray vaccine (live weakened virus)? Last year I got the nasal spray h1n1 vaccine, and it was fine although I did have a case of the sniffles after that for a few weeks. I first got ill in October 2009 and I got the nasal spray in Dec 09, so at that point I had no idea what was going on and didn't think much about the shot vs. the spray. What do you think?


Staff member
Shot vs spray? I have no idea. I've only had the shot and used to get it every year (didn't know that Silver, thanks for the info) but stopped getting the shot a few years ago because every time I got the shot, I got the flu. Once I stopped getting the shot, I stopped getting the flu every year. I haven't had the flu in around 5 years and I think its because I stopped getting the shot. I'll not be getting the shot again this year. ;)


Well seeing as how you are not on any immunosupressing meds, the nasal spray should be fine. We don't have the spray in Canada, so I don't know too much about it... sorry....

LOL Crabby! I have heard that lots from people: everytime I get the shot, I get the flu.... well, in essence... you do!! LOL

When a vaccine is administered to someone, what is given is a "dead" form of the virus. The symptoms you feel from getting the flu are your immune systems way of fighting off the bug... runny nose, muscle aches, headache, fecer, blah blah blah.

Well when we give the vaccine, what we are trying to do it "trick" the body into thinking it has come in contact with the actual virus, so you ARE going to get the same symptoms!! We HOPE that by giving you a "smaller" dose of the virus that the symptoms are lessened, or not so severe, but enough for your body to make antibodies to the REAL virus, so when you come in contact with it, your body recognizes it and fights it off....

In people like us with whacked out immune systems anyway, we can get a more severe set of symptoms. there are, of course, two thoughts on this whole idea... one being "Well imagine how crappy you would feel if you got the ACTUAL flu?" .... the other one being...well...pretty much Crabby's response.... the shot makes me sick so I am not going to take it.

I believe, that we need to weigh the pros and cons.... if you find that the shot makes you worse off than if you didn't get it, then by all means, don't get it! LOL! Sounds simple to me. We battle enough crap already... why do something that makes us more ill?

If you are the type of person who doesn't come in contact with a whole lot of people during flu season, definietly NOT taking the shot is the lesser of the two evils....

The big thing to remember, in any case, flu shot, spray, or none of the above, is:

After you blow your nose, after you have been shopping, after you touch anything that may have the flu virus on it (which, during flu season, could be ANYTHING), wash your hands.... and keep them away from your mouth/nose.... This is probably your best defence above anything else fro staying healthy!

:) :) :)
It might not even be a bad idea to carry around antibacterial lotion and/or disinfecting wipes to wipe off shopping carts, door handles, etc. (if they aren't already offered). I carry around the anti-bacterial hand soap and make sure I wash my hands after touching anything lots of other people touch and definitely not touching my mouth or eyes in public places!



Great idea, Marisa!! (see, I knew I left something out of my "public health" speil somewhere!! LOL!!!)


Super Moderator
Silver: I stupidly always go "Black Friday" (day after Thanksgiving) shopping, the day that there are always big sales and stores open at 4 AM, 3 AM, sometimes even midnight. (Do they have those sales in Canada too?) So yes, on that day at least, I am around TONS of other people so I do like to get the flu shot. Last year on Black Friday I had gotten the seasonal shot but not the h1n1 yet, and I was certain I was going to pick up swine flu from someone while I was shopping, but miraculously I didn't.

Marisa: Yes, I carry those little hand sanitizers everywhere! I have one in my purse, one in the car, one at my desk at work, etc. I got in the habit of it when I first became ill because they initially told me I had viral gastroenteritis, which is highly contagoius. So I figured I would use sanitizer a lot to try to avoid that mess again. Well, it turned out not to be gastroenteritis, but I kept the habit of using sanitizer frequently and washing my hands a lot too. It's a good habit to be in, but I still get paranoid about getting the flu if I haven't gotten my shot yet.

I checked with the person at work who usually organizes the flu shots, and she said they will likely be given free to employees in October. So now I get to decide if I want to wait till then or get my flu shot at the pharmacy sooner. She also said that it will probably be just the seasonal flu shot, not a combo shot with h1n1 included too. Silver, do you know if h1n1 immunity wears off in 6-8 months like you said the seasonal does? If so, I will definitely go to the pharmacy, as their shot is a combo of both.


Yes, we expect the H1N1 shot to wear off as well, as it is made essentially the same way. :)

One other thing I forgot to mention is that the 'flu virus is heavy, so it only stays in the air, or travels, about 5 feet when expelled from the body. So if you keep about a 6 foot bubble around you, you are less likely to catch it that way...lol. Of course, this probably isn't possible during major shopping sales. :) :)

The other thing to check with your HR person is, if you can get reimbursed if you get your shot elsewhere. I know my husband's company was doing that if the employees got their shots elsewhere before the company nurse go them out, they could file for reimbursment (or course the shot here at that time only cost about 10$ so he never bothered with the paperwork...lol).


Super Moderator
Thanks, Silver! Yes, it's not really possible to keep a "bubble" around me at all times, especially not during holiday shopping, so I do need the shot. I will definitely get the combo shot, since I want to stay protected against h1n1 also (it's been just about 8 months now since I had the h1n1 vaccine, so just about time for a booster!). I'm not sure if I can get reimbursed or not, I'll check, but even if I can't it's still worth it to me to get the shot - I would rather pay $30 and NOT get the flu, that's a worthwhile cost. I think I will wait another month or two, so that I don't get it too early but that I do get it in time for flu season. Thanks for all your help! I really appreciate it! :)

Crohn's 35

Inactive Account
Flu shot season is upon us ... I will get mine again and after catching Pneumonia last year I better not get sick again :yfaint:


am i right in thinking that flu shots dont actually contain "live flu", It seem to recall that it isnt a weakened virus but a dead virus cell, so theres no way you can catch flu from that
I get the flu shot every year free thru my employer. I never had any problems from the shot, and I have never had the flu. I'll get it as soon as they arrive.


To save time...Ask Dusty!
am i right in thinking that flu shots dont actually contain "live flu", It seem to recall that it isnt a weakened virus but a dead virus cell, so theres no way you can catch flu from that
I think the nasal spray does contain a modified live virus but we were told that would not be an option for EJ anyway.


Super Moderator
Yes Mark, you're right - from what I know, the nasal spray contains a live but weakened version of the flu that is easy for a normal immune system to fight and build an immunity to. The flu shot contains an "inactivated" (dead) flu virus, so that is probably the better choice for those of us with messed up immune systems. My understanding is that all flu shots this year will be a combo shot - containing both h1n1 and the seasonal flu vaccine.


Bourbon Bandito
The only time I've ever gotten the flu shot was when H1N1 was a major issue. I only got that because of the drugs I'm on, and because that strain of flu was targeting young people for a change.

My arm hurt for days, it was like I was punched by science.


bit of controversy here.
last year my doctors surgery said that the Primary Care Trust have decided that Crohns doesn't fit the criteria anymore for the flu jab
Peeps with diabetes do however.
Last October I was floored with the flu for 2 weeks, and phoned NHS Direct, when I mentioned Crohns, he was apalled that the PCT had said I wasnt eligible. He gave me a reference number and my sister picked up the Tamilflu from the walk in centre.
Last week I asked my new GP about the flu jab this year, he said I should have it first week of October because I'm on my second round of Pred, and I'm more supressed. I don't know what to do.
Thanks Silver, food for thought indeed! Need to have a good think and make a decision.
I don't know if I am going to get the flu shot this year. I got it 2 years ago nothing happened. I feel like I am jinxing myself when I say this but I think this year unless my doctor really says to get it I am going to skip again this year. The most that happened last year which was most likely chrons related was I was not able to get rid of a fever that lasted for days at 102 then my doctor told me I had to go to the emergency room. I did not feel anything else but my regular chrons and a bad fever. I hope I do not regret this but I feel there are so many strands of the flu and I will try without it again this year.
Well when I was diagnosed and put on pred, i asked if there were any precautions needed at work, and the doc advised me to get the jab. I never had one before so I will try it and see, if I have a bad reaction I might reconsider next time!
Researchers have issued warnings about getting a flu shot when you are autoimmune. There have been zero studies done in how it affects the autoimmune population. Studies are only done in healthy people. Flu shots contain adjuvents which are designed to create a hyperactive immune response. My immune system is hyperactive enough, since it likes to attack me.

I dont believe in the safety or efficacy of flu shots. Its always last years strain which is pretty much useless, because the virus mutates every year. I dont get them. Handwashing, salt water gargles, and vitamin D for me. Salt water gargles prevent the virus from proliferating your tissues. If you remember to do them twice a day, and especially when you come home from being out in public, its quite effective.


Staff member
New York, USA
I have been getting the flu shot every year since they first were available by me (early 1990's)....and only once have I had anything more than a common cold - a couple years ago I had pneumonia.....

I did get a flu shot this fall already - hopefully things will go well throughout the winter for me.

As for the spray vs the shot - I was advised that because of being on Remicade, I cannot get the nasal spary - PLUS my family should not get it - because if they do develop the flu, they could then spread it to me.....
I've started reconsidering whether or not to get the flu shot. My original hesitation came from the fact that I've heard many people say on here that they experienced more frequent colds after getting the shot and noticed it stopped once they did not get the shot anymore.

But, I saw my GP today and he, once again, mentioned he thought I should get the flu shot due to my immune system being suppressed. My old allergist in Florida recommended I take it as well. Both of these doctors I highly respect and consider very knowledgeable. My other excuse for not getting the flu shot is I don't normally get the flu. But, I wasn't diagnosed with Crohn's until this past year, so perhaps I shouldn't use that line of thought.

I don't know. Maybe I should at least give it a try before settling in my mind that getting the shot will make me sicker than not taking the shot and relying on my self to keep the germies away. My GI also has not mentioned any type of vaccinations to me either, besides having me tested to see if I was still immune to Hepatitis B (which I am). Butm maybe he is relying on my GP to deal with regular vaccinations.

Lisa - you're story helped me feel a bit better about taking the flu shot plunge (I have never had one). Anyone else have any opinions/advice?


Thought I'd post up some links to some fairly reliable web sites to share what their information has to say:



http://search.who.int/search?q=autoimmune diseases and flu shots&spell=1&ie=utf8&site=default_collection&lr=lang_en&client=WHO&proxystylesheet=WHO&output=xml_no_dtd&oe=UTF-8&sitesearch=&access=p

The last link is a search of the World Health Organization, who is supposed to be THE "topdog" regarding such things as vaccines and communicable diseases for the world. It is the organization the rest of medical world follows for guidelines regarding such diseases. However, that being said, if you believe in "Conspiracy Theory" or "Big Brother", then you won't believe what these people have to say either... lol... :redface: .

Either way, I hope the info helps...

Edit: Also, regarding specifically prednisone and flu shots, immunizations while on prednisone are usually not recommended, not due to chance of infection, but more so that your body will not build up any kind of antibodies to the immunization, as on prednisone you have shut down that part of the immune system. As for other immunosuppressants, they are not so "all-encompasing" and only shut down parts of the immune system, so immunizations can be taken. In most cases, it is safer to have anyone in the house immunized as this will keep them (hopefully) from bringing the virus home to you.

"Live" vaccines however should not be used in either case, or by household contacts, as there IS still a chance of being infected by the actual disease, both in yourself if you have taken it, or it being shed or carried by the house hold contact.

In any event, CONTACT YOUR DOCTOR to see what they recommend.
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Let me preface by saying I am undiagnosed, so I don't have to take any immune system issues into consideration at the present.

My kids have had the flu shots every year since they were old enough to take them. They do not go to any type of day care and are home with me 90% of the time, but be that as it may, they have never gotten the flu. I had never gotten a flu shot before in my life, but I DID decide to get the H1N1 vaccination (hesitantly b/c I had always heard people say that they got the flu after getting the vaccine, etc.) and did not suffer any ill side effects. We all qualified for the nasal spray vaccine as well, and none of us got the flu. My mother, who is an elementary school teacher, chose not to get any flu shot, and ended up coming down with the flu. It's totally a personal decision. But I can tell you personally, I did not get sick from taking the flu vaccine, and I got the live virus one.
Researchers issued this warning last year. All flu shots contain advents. The flu mist does not but its live, and its contraindicated for people on immunosuppresants.

(Reuters) - Switzerland's medical regulator recommended patients with serious autoimmune diseases should not use an H1N1 flu vaccine from Novartis, saying there were no studies assessing the innoculation in that population.

Swissmedic said on Wednesday it could not be ruled out that either or both of the adjuvant -- which can enhance the immune response -- and the antigen, or less active ingredient, could lead to an intensifying of autoimmune diseases.

Autoimmune diseases, like rheumatoid arthritis, are caused by an overly active immune system attacking its own body, targeting substances which are normally present.

Novartis was not immediately available to comment.
My doctor can recommend whatever he wants, but he has NO data to show me that flu shots are safe for the autoimmune population. He recommends it because its the thing to do, according to the associations that he is affiliated with. It doesnt make him a bad doctor. Its the best information he has available to him at the time. You know, just like way back when they told people smoking was ok.
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Just keep in mind that these shots are designed to stimulate the immune system, and that means a degree of inflammation. That is what the adjuvents do, usually in the form of Aluminum salts.

Given the relative ineffectiveness of the shots, you need to weigh this based on your condition.

A good vitamin D level is reported to reduce the chance of infection. Some say it is eight times more effective than the flu jab, but it all depends on who you believe.




I met a reporter for the Philly Inquirer last year - he covers public health. He said there is a lot of research going on right now about vitamin D deficiency and suscepability to the flu. The theory is that the flu spreads rapidly during "flu season" because that's when we have the lowest levels of vitamin D.

- Amy
Everyone makes such good points and I agree with both sides, which is why I'm finding it such a difficult task in deciding what to do.

Dan - I take an additional vitamin D supplement along with my multivitamin that contains D in it already. What's interesting is, a couple weeks ago, my husband started coming down with a cold and a couple days later I did as well. I was more diligent about taking my supplements and did an apple cider vinegar gargle every hour and my sore throat was gone by the next day and the sickness went away faster than his did! I'm still not sure whether it was a common cold or allergies (we both have them), but maybe there is something to having extra vitamins either way!

I suppose I could just as easily decide not to get the vaccine this year and see how I fair in fending off the flu. I'm very conscious of hand-washing and not touching my face while out in public. So, I'm at least employing healthy habits to fend off the germies.

Currently, my Crohn's seems to be well under control. I might even go out on a limb and say I might be very close to remission, just based on how I feel compared to where I was in April. I haven't had any pains or anything since then. But, I do have a history of narrowing in my ileum where my disease is located. But, I have no clue if it's lessened any since April when I had a partial blockage.

So, many things to consider!
I think there is a high degree of interest in vitamin D and disease in general. It is probably the biggest deal at this time in the research world.

I am ramping up on D for Winter now. I am at 4,000 iu and will be taking at least 10,000 iu for Winter. It is a possible Crohn's treatment in itself, and if it helps prevent the Flu, that is an added benefit.



Super Moderator
Interesting about vitamin d - I take 2,000 IU daily, I wonder if I should be taking more? I definitely do not get out in the sun much during the winter months so maybe I will up my intake then. How much vitamin d is too much?
I took 4000 IU each day last year and this year I plan to do the same. I also take a chewable 500mg vitamin C everyday. I double my vitamin C and D when I feel I am coming down with something, and when I do that it usually goes away or turns into something very mild.


Super Moderator
Okay, I have another question related to the flu shot and I thought I'd add it to this thread. I just got prescribed Endocort and I'll be taking 9 mg per day. My workplace is having the flu shot clinic there in October and I would still like to get the flu shot, but I don't want it to interfere with the Endocort or vice versa. Does anybody know if it's safe to get the flu shot while on Endocort?
My two cents:

My primary care physician and GI both recommend the flu shot. Because I am immunosupreesed I can only have the shot. The nasal application has live virus. I have already had my flu shot this year. I take humira every other Monday so planned the shot for my odd Monday. We are also having a whooping cough resurgence so I had that shot too. As soon as the h1n1 is at available I will get that one too. I had the pneumonia shot a couple of years ago which I think it's good for five years.

I have never had an adverse reaction to any of these vaccines. I get them because I try to avoid getting sick as much as I can. Crohn's is exhausting enough without throwing the flu on top of it.



Super Moderator
Ann: My understanding is, the h1n1 is combined into the regular seasonal flu shot this year. So if you've already gotten your flu shot, then you've already gotten your h1n1 vaccination as well. Good thought about the whooping cough vaccination, I'll have to look into that one myself.


Super Moderator
@ Cat. That's right, it is a combined vaccine.

@ Ann. Yes Pneumovax lasts 5 years and you should only require two shots to obtain lasting protection against pneumococcal disease.

Dusty. :)
Could be, Rebecca. My mom (a nurse) was telling me I should think about getting the whooping cough vaccine since I'm immune suppressed. She told me all the nurses at her work are required to get the shot. Since she had it years ago, she didn't have to get one.

I decided I'll be getting my first flu shot coming this weekend. Just another thought for people...if you are unsure about getting the flu shot, there is also a smaller dose available in ID form (intradermal - under skin as opposed to intramuscular - in the muscle). It's supposed to be just as effective in warding off the flu. Just something to keep in mind if you are worried about the larger dose or getting the flu vaccine for the first time. I wanted to get the smaller dose, but it won't be offered until late October at my doc's office. I wanted to get mine before I travel to California at the beginning of Oct., so I'll be getting the full intramuscular shot. Also, some doc's offices don't offer the ID form of the shot, but could be worth looking into if you are interested! :) Just thought I'd pass along the info.

Also...some docs say you can go 10 years before getting your next pneumonia vaccine (pneumovax). Either way, it's nice that it's not a yearly thing. I got one several years ago after I got walking pneumonia. My current GP said I shouldn't have to worry about it for a while.