- The 2012-2013 seasonal influenza (flu) immunization is a single preparation that provides immunity to three different flu virus strains. It contains anH3N2 virus, an influenza B virus and this year’s H1N1 virus, which means that only one ‘shot’ is needed.
- The injectable flu vaccine, which is an ‘inactivated’ vaccine, is recommended for everyone over 6 months of age. It has been studied extensively in people with MS and is considered quite safe. The injectable flu vaccine may be taken by people who are taking an interferon medication, glatiramer acetate, mitoxantrone, natalizumab, or fingolimod. However it is not yet known whether the vaccine is as effective for those talking natalizumab or fingolimod.
- People who are experiencing a serious relapse that affects their ability to carry out activities of daily living should defer vaccination until 4-6 weeks after the onset of the relapse.
- FluMist® is a live-virus flu vaccine(sometimes called LAIV for "live attenuated influenza vaccine”) that is delivered via a nasal spray. This live-virus vaccine is not recommended for people with MS. Live, attenuated vaccines are those whose biological activity has been reduced so that their ability to cause disease has been weakened but not totally inactivated.
- A high-dose flu vaccine is available for people over age 65. This high-dose vaccine has not been studied in people with MS of any age. At present, the Centers for Disease Control is not recommending the high-dose vaccine over the seasonal flu vaccine for the general population.
The flu virus (like any other virus) can precipitate MS exacerbations, and people with limited mobility are more likely to develop complications of the flu, including pneumonia. Dr. Aaron Miller, the National MS Society’s Chief Medical officer recommends the seasonal flu shot as a safe and effective vaccination for people with MS.
Additional information about flu can be found at:
If you have any questions about the flu vaccine, contact the Society's Information Resource Center at 1-800-344-4867.