It's Flu Season: Should you get the vaccine?
Yes, it's that time again. Flu season typically runs from October, through the winter and ends in the Spring. The CDC is warning people that this year's flu appears to be much worse than last year's strain which was relatively mild in comparison, however, it is not known if that is because many people have opted to not participate in the vaccination program. Influenza is very dangerous, but even moreso for anyone with a neurological disease.
According to a New York government website a neurological disease is defined as "any disease or injury that damages your brain or other parts of your nervous system. It includes: a stroke, epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, and Huntington’s disease."
In the United States alone, 36,000 people die and more than 200,000 are hospitalized each year because of the flu. MYTH: You can't spread the flu if you're feeling well. Actually, 20% to 30% of people carrying the influenza virus have no symptoms.
Why should someone with Huntington's Disease get a flu shot? Huntington's Disease weakens your body's ability to fight influenza and if you contract the flu it will make HD worse. The main reason for getting the flu shot is that it can save your life. People with HD have a higher risk of death or serious illness from the flu than other people. In a statement through private message from Dr. Herwig Lange of the George Huntington Institute in Germany, he said, "The flu shot is beneficial in chronic diseases like HD."
Is it possible to get the flu from the flu shot? Many people say they became sick with the flu after receiving the flu shot. This is simply not the case since flu vaccine is made only with dead flu virus. The flu vaccine is very safe and its benefits far outweigh any possible side effects that could arise.
Another vaccine that those with Huntington's Disease should seriously consider is the Pneumonia shot. This vaccine is only given once, maybe twice in a lifetime. Patients with HD should consult with their physicians concerning this vaccine, however, according to Dr. Lange, "It's always a good idea to prevent complications in chronic diseases."
Regardless of your feelings toward vaccinations, it is always a good idea to have a discussion with your doctor on disease prevention whether you have Huntington's Disease or if you are a caregiver. We all want our loved ones protected so it is important to be proactive in this area.