Monday, October 20, 2008

I have Crohn's, Should I Get a Flu Shot?

This is a question that I had to ask myself this morning. Prior to researching this issue, my suspicion was that anyone taking Remicade, Imuran or immunosuppresive Crohn's drugs should avoid. Theory being that if your immune system is weakened do you really want to be injected with the flu virus. Partially correct it seems. The flu shot contains a strain that is not a live flu virus, but most doctors seem to be recommending you wit one week after your infustion. See below, but the answer seems to be yes, you can get a flu shot if you have Crohn's.

People with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) who are taking immunosuppressive drugs fall into a high risk group. Some immunosuppressive drugs include:
Azathioprine (Imuran)
Cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune)
Mercaptopurine (Purinethol, 6-MP)

If you are taking any of these drugs, or your immune system is being suppressed by another drug, the optimum time to get vaccinated against the flu is from late October to mid-November. A flu shot takes one to two weeks to be effective.
Also, any person with IBD, even if they are not taking immunosuppressive drugs, might want to talk to a doctor about getting a flu shot. As with any chronic condition, IBD causes the body to be under stress. This makes it harder for the body to fight off both colds and the flu. After all, struggling through one major health problem is bad enough without complications from other illnesses.

Anyone who lives with a high-risk person should get the flu shot along with the high risk individual.

Anyways, I am getting my flu shot today.


Anonymous said...

Having Crohn's, I have gotten flu shots for the past three years (including the one from a week ago). As dumb as it sounds or as I feel, I never once thought about my compromised immune system. Having been on Humira for the past year and 6mp, methotrexate, and remicaid in the past 3 I feel even more dumb...
Having said that though, I have never gotten sick in the three flu shots I have had while taking these medications.

Following the advice you posted definitely wouldn't hurt and it was great to bring it up considering there may be others not as lucky as myself who should definitely listen to what you posted!

jcnemecek said...

Okay...I had been debating whether or not I'd be getting a flu shot again this year. I skipped last year after a unpleasant reaction to the vaccine the year before.

But you've talked me into it now. They're free at work, so I have no excuse.

Anonymous said...

I am just on Imuran, but have had the flu injection for the last two years. It has actually helped me fight the flu as I have not got sick (knock on wood).

I would recommend it, but it all depends on each persons current situation.

Dr. with Crohn's said...

I'd like to make a quick addition to your blog. Patients with medically suppressed immune systems often don't produce the appropriate reaction to vaccination. In order for a vaccine to work your body must make an immune response to the antigen in the vaccine. As a patient on several immunosuppressives, I often avoid taking the flu shot simply because it may not work properly.

Anonymous said...

I have been on 6-MP and also taken Remicade and have taken the flu shot the last 5 years and knock on wood I have not gotten the flu.I also have had the Pnemonis shot. My doctors both recomennded that I have them every year.

Anonymous said...

My husband and I were having this conversation about 5 minutes ago and then I read this on your blog!

I was considering asking my doctor about this but as I am not giving birth to my baby until the end of November I think I have to wait until after then. You cannot normally have any vaccinations when pregnant.

Interesting read.

Macrae1991 said...

I got myn done last week, it takes a load offa my mind knowing that im not at risk :)

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