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RECOMMENDATIONS FOR THE INFLUENZA VACCINE:

The following is a list of persons who should receive the influenza vaccine as recommended by the  American Academy of Neurology, along with the Center for Disease Control:

People at high risk for complications from the flu, including:

  • all children aged 6–59 months (i.e., 6 months–4 years;
  • all persons aged >50 years;
  • women who will be pregnant during the influenza season;
  • adults and children who have chronic pulmonary (including asthma), cardiovascular (except hypertension), renal, hepatic,   hematological or metabolic disorders (including diabetes mellitus).
  • adults and children who have immunosuppression (including immunosuppression caused by medications or by HIV).
  • adults and children who have any condition (e.g., cognitive dysfunction, spinal cord injuries, seizure disorders, or other   neuromuscular disorders) that can compromise respiratory function or the handling of respiratory secretions or that can increase the risk for aspiration; and
  • residents of nursing homes and other chronic-care facilities

 

People who live with or care for those at high risk for complications from flu, including:

  •      Household contacts of persons at high risk for complications from the flu (see above)
  •      Household contacts and out of home caregivers of children less than 6 months of age (these children are    too young to be vaccinated).
  •      Healthcare workers.

There have been concerns about the safety of immunization of people with MS, particularly about the risk of relapses after vaccination.  To address these concerns the MS Council for Clinical Practice Guidelines commissioned a panel to conduct a systematic review to obtain background to answer this question.  The immunization panel reviewed literature of studies of people with MS and vaccination.  The American Academy of Neurology has published a special article of a summary of published evidence and recommendations of the panel (Neurology. 2002 Dec 24;59(12):1837-43). The panel concluded the flu vaccination is safe and not associated with a significant increased risk of MS exacerbation.  There is evidence that MS exacerbations occur around infectious episodes which could be potentially prevented by vaccination. The vaccine should be delayed during a relapse (4-6 weeks). If you are taking medication that suppresses your immune system the vaccine is less effective and you should talk with your doctor for his/her recommendation.

 

References:

  • Rutschmann, O.T., D.C. McCrory, and D.B. Matchar, Immunization and MS: a summary of published evidence and recommendations. Neurology, 2002. 59(12): p. 1837-43.
  • Schwid, S.R., M.D. Decker, and M. Lopez-Bresnahan, Immune response to influenza vaccine is maintained in patients with multiple sclerosis receiving interferon beta-1a. Neurology, 2005. 65(12): p. 1964-6.
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