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Myasthenia Gravis

Can I receive a flu shot?

10/23/2007

Question:

To whom it may concern

I have myasthenia gravis and I have had mix messages on wheather I should get the flu shot. I`m currenty on prenisone 7.5 mg and cellcept 2 tablets each 500 mg twice a day. I am in remission but afraid to get the flu shot because I`ve known people with the diease that got the ocular and physical weakness from getting to flu shot. I`ve had mysthenia gravis since 1997 I was 37 years old at the time and in the early years I was told by my neuroligist not to receive to flu shot. My current neurligist says it`s ok for me to take the flu shot but I still have reservations. Can you please clear up the confusion.

Thank you.

Answer:

Myasthenics on immunosuppression should avoid live virus vaccines. The flu shots come in live attenuated form and inactivated (dead) form. Because your immune system has been turned down, you need to avoid live viruses that your body may not be able to respond to effectively. I have not found any definite association of increased flu shot aggravation of myasthenic symptoms. I believe the flu shot is safe for my patients, especially the ones on immunosuppression, but I direct them toward the inactivated (dead) formulation. Maybe that is why your neurologist told you in the past to avoid the vaccine—if you were on immunosuppression back then, I would have told you to avoid live vaccines as well.

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Response by:

Robert W Neel, IV, MD Robert W Neel, IV, MD
Assistant Professor of Neurology
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati