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Should I Get the Flu Shot if I have Autoimmune Encephalitis?

Should I Get the Flu Shot if I have Autoimmune Encephalitis?

October 5, 2018 | Barbara Vujaklija, RN

‘Tis the season.  No, put away the holiday cards and gift wrap, I’m talking about Flu season.  IAES has received a few inquiries recently about whether or not Autoimmune Encephalitis patients should or can get the flu shot. So,  I thought I would share a few facts about the flu shot and how it relates to AE warriors.

First of all, there are two types of flu vaccination available, the shot and the nasal spray. DO NOT TAKE THE NASAL SPRAY. The difference between the two is that the nasal spray is a weakened live form which we CANNOT have and the shot is NOT live so we CAN take it. The flu shot has gone through a process that kills the virus while leaving particles that provoke an immune response against the flu. ALWAYS check with your doctor or at least let your Primary Care Provider (PCP) know that you plan to take the shot.

“I don’t get the flu shot because it gives me the flu”. Boy I wish I had a dime for every time I heard that one. Yes,  you can feel sick after the flu shot but while it’s normal to feel soreness, redness, tenderness, or even develop a mild fever or body aches during the two days after you get vaccinated, that’s just your immune system responding.  It is NOT the flu illness itself. The shot primes your immune system to recognize the flu should you become exposed to it.  This is why you will have mild flu symptoms while your system gets ready to fight off the real thing should you become exposed. If you do get the full blown virus after a shot,  you were already infected before you got the shot and were going to get sick anyway.

The Centers for disease Control (CDC) has a great paper I highly recommend: Vaccination: Who Should Do It, Who Should Not and Who Should Take Precautions 

Basically everyone over the age of 6 months should get vaccinated unless they have an allergy to any part of the vaccine. For instance an allergy to eggs, as the virus used in the vaccine is grown in eggs, would be a reason NOT to get the flu shot.

 

How we get the vaccine every year is a fascinating journey. Researchers from the World Health Organization (WHO), start after the current season is over and test poultry and pigs in the East (China etal) for the next predominant strains for the coming season. Then a special panel of scientists and doctors decide which strains are most likely to be predominant the next season. Do they always get it right? Nope! But it is more often right than wrong and is the best system we have. The manufacturing process takes the rest of the year which is why they start so early risking mutations along the way.

“Should my family get the shot?” YES the CDC recommends that all household members and frequent visitors get vaccinated to help protect those of us with low immune systems. Except those under 6 months or with a valid reason not to take the vaccination. Ask sick people to stay away and avoid crowded indoor spaces during the season which lasts from fall to winter with peak season November through March, to avoid catching any mutated strain that is not in the vaccination.

Another question I frequently hear is, “If I get the shot too early it will run out before the season is over”.  There is no perfect time to get your flue shot, but when I worked at the County Health Department we advised people to get the shot late September or early October. The antibodies take about 2 weeks to produce a major response so you will be protected by mid October and will generally last for the entire season. Some doctors prefer that you take it at a different time. Check with your PCP if you are unsure. Peak flu season is November to February but can be in your community in September and October. So unless your PCP says otherwise, as soon as possible is best.

You can help protect yourself by practicing good health hygiene. WASH YOUR HANDS OFTEN, try not to touch your mouth and face, stay out of crowded indoor spaces and ask sick people to stay away while they are ill.

If you have further questions, please e-mail me at admin IAES@autoimmune-encephalitis.org


Donate to Support IAES and our Life Saving Mission


International Autoimmune Encephalitis Society (IAES) is a Family/Patient centered organization that assists members from getting a diagnosis through to recovery and the many challenges experienced in their journey.

Driven by the knowledge that “Education is Power”, International Autoimmune Encephalitis Society manages an educational support group for patients diagnosed with Autoimmune Encephalitis and their loved ones, empowering them to be strong self-advocates and advocates that will lead them to best outcomes and recovery. We are the premiere organization leading in these vital roles.

Meet the IAES Admins ~ Series The First Admin You Are Likely to Meet

Meet the IAES Admins ~ Series The First Admin You Are Likely to Meet

October 1, 2018 | Barbara Vujaklija, RN

Barbara Vujaklija, RN

Each month the IAES Blog is featuring one of our volunteer Administrators working in the IAES Educational Facebook Support Group.  The educational support forum is specifically designed for people who have received a confirmed diagnosis of Autoimmune Encephalitis, their loved ones and caregivers.  It is the only educational support group of its kind.  Members receive one on one support, educational training in AE based on the research published in the field by top experts, advocacy in addressing their specific challenges or road blocks to reach the best treatment plan and outcome, emotional and personal support by members of our ‘AE Family’ who walk this walk.

Each Blog in the series will introduce you to one of our Admins and tell you a little bit about what they do in the group and what they do and are responsible for “behind the scenes”.  Some of our Admins work full time and contribute 7 days a week while others donate their time and talents a few hours a day or as they can.  The roles they hold are diverse from talking to each individual who asks to join the support group to answering posted questions, helping members understand or locate research on a specific topic, working with insurance coverage/financial discounted programs/denials of treatment to crisis management in varying situations. Some take on additional hats writing and editing blogs and THE HERD newsletter where we bring you up to date news.  An Admin may assist members privately which can involve a team of Admin being assigned to a case that can at times run weeks or months until resolved.  Each Admin brings their own talents and viewpoints to the team.  If you think you would like to become an admin e-mail admin@autoimmuneencephalitis.net to request an application.

This month we are spotlighting Barbara Vujaklija.

When you ask to join the IAES educational support group, I am often the first person a prospective member meets as I screen the requests to join the group.

I am a retired Registered Nurse (RN) who has worked in a variety of settings in healthcare. I actually started off as a Hospice/Home care Aide working with nursing staff in patients homes. I then went into a long term care facility as a State Tested Nursing Assistant (STNA). Both positions gave me hands on experience with dementia of all kinds and prepared me for my career as a nurse. I then worked for several years as a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) In long term care doing infection control and rehabilitation nursing. I decided to finish my degree and become an RN and graduated in 2004 and started work straight away at the local County Health Department. There as with every other nurse in the building I wore numerous hats but specialized in Infectious Diseases and Family Planning/STDs. I took an 18 month break when AE first hit and then went back to home care, this time as a nurse, until I was forced to retire altogether due to AE.

Having to quit working at a job I loved was devastating and frankly falling in with IAES saved my sanity and self esteem. Being able to help people again and learning from everyone was like nursing again.

My two main jobs with the group are New Requests Screener and Blog team scheduler. So often I am the first person you have contact with when you apply to join. I am the one who asks all those pesky questions about tests and treatments and doctors! So why do I ask those pesky questions? Most importantly we are a disease specific group. The information and research that we have to share pertains to autoimmune encephalitis and could be harmful if applied to another disease, so we want to make sure that the diagnosis is correct.

We ask about doctors for two reasons: first we want to make sure that you are with someone who understands AE and can get you first line treatment

fast. Second if you have an expert doctor who has published on AE we can add them to our list of experts so everyone can access them.

We ask about tests to make sure that the standard tests have been done to confirm a diagnosis. The same with treatment, we want to make sure that your doctor understands the treatment protocol so that you get the right medications fast as that is the key to successful first stage recovery.

If a person meets all the criteria and has a doctor diagnose them with AE then we approve their membership and proceed to a welcome post. This introduces the new member to the group and the membership to the new member. Some general information is given at this point and then the wonderful members take over.

If the criteria are not met all attempts are made to direct the requester to the right doctors and support groups that are appropriate. Sometimes we decline right away and other times it is a question of waiting a few days for test results, in which case we don’t decline right away but stay in contact with the person until the test results confirm or not the diagnosis of AE.

Many times these decisions are judgment calls based on our knowledge of the diagnosis and treatment of AE and may seem arbitrary. But with all of the up to date research at our finger tips we can usually get it right. Once declined a person may reapply if their situation changes and the process starts again.

As Blog team scheduler it is my job to make sure that we have the right number of blogs, also a varied assortment, for each month. We try to bring you members stories along with informative blogs. Some of the blogs my team and myself write for ourselves or members who have a story to tell but need a ghost writer. Sometimes we do interviews of members. We are moving into video blogging, slowly but surely. As scheduler I also assist in inviting members to blog and then helping them to get the project done.

Occasionally I will answer a question in a post but as we have other volunteers who do this I tend to stay out of it unless it pertains to something to do with nursing.

Well that’s me next month we will have another volunteer explain their behind-the-scenes work.

It is never to late to volunteer for any job. A few hours a day or week make a huge difference. And it’s fun!

72f61a 550c1e7b11e543dc88586574e1ad3c6b mv2 - Meet the IAES Admins ~ Series The First Admin You Are Likely to Meet


Donate to Support IAES and our Life Saving Mission


International Autoimmune Encephalitis Society (IAES) is a Family/Patient centered organization that assists members from getting a diagnosis through to recovery and the many challenges experienced in their journey.

Driven by the knowledge that “Education is Power”, International Autoimmune Encephalitis Society manages an educational support group for patients diagnosed with Autoimmune Encephalitis and their loved ones, empowering them to be strong self-advocates and advocates that will lead them to best outcomes and recovery. We are the premiere organization leading in these vital roles.

Our website is not a substitute for independent professional medical advice. Nothing contained on our website is intended to be used as medical advice. No content is intended to be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease, nor should it be used for therapeutic purposes or as a substitute for your own health professional's advice. Although THE INTERNATIONAL AUTOIMMUNE ENCEPHALITIS SOCIETY  provides a great deal of information about AUTOIMMUNE ENCEPHALITIS, all content is provided for informational purposes only. The International Autoimmune Encephalitis Society  cannot provide medical advice.


International Autoimmune Encephalitis Society is a charitable non-profit 501(c)(3) organization founded in 2016 by Tabitha Andrews Orth, Gene Desotell and Anji Hogan-Fesler. Tax ID# 81-3752344. Donations raised directly supports research, patients, families and caregivers impacted by autoimmune encephalitis and to educating healthcare communities around the world. Financial statement will be made available upon request.

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IAES@AUTOIMMUNE-ENCEPHALITIS.ORG

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