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People with MS are encouraged to get seasonal flu jab

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Author: MS Trust

The seasonal flu vaccination is now available to people who fall into at-risk groups, which includes anyone with a neurological condition such as multiple sclerosis, those over 65, and the main carers of a disabled person.

You know that autumn's arrived when … the supermarkets start restocking their barbecue aisles with Christmas gifts and Strictly is back on TV (or X Factor or Dr Who depending on your viewing preferences).

Autumn is also the time you may be getting an invitation from your GP to come in to the surgery for a flu jab. The flu vaccination is offered free of charge for people in at risk groups, including people with MS, those over 65, and the main carers of a disabled person.

If you haven't heard from your GP by mid-October, contact your surgery if you'd like to make an appointment.

For most people, seasonal flu is unpleasant but not serious and they recover within a week.

However, some people are at greater risk of developing serious complications, such as bronchitis and pneumonia which may require hospital treatment. For people with MS, the fever associated with the flu infection may also lead to a worsening of symptoms and greater risk of relapses.

The strains of flu virus included in the jab vary from year to year, so people are advised to be revaccinated each year.

There's no evidence that the flu jab will make MS symptoms worse or increase the risk of relapses.

As the disease modifying therapies (DMTs) suppress or modify the immune system one question people often ask is whether DMTs affect the response to the flu jab. On the whole, studies have found that most DMTs do not stop vaccination from being protective against flu infection. This topic was covered in a recent Research Update. A group of researchers analysed the results from a number of studies and in our overview we list their findings for individual drugs.

If you have any specific queries regarding the flu vaccination and the treatment you are on, you should discuss this with your neurologist or MS nurse.

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