Have you gotten your flu shot? Belleville woman with immune deficiency says please hurry! | St. Louis Public Radio

Have you gotten your flu shot? Belleville woman with immune deficiency says please hurry!

Nov 20, 2016

Sometimes we swap more than stories when we gather around the Thanksgiving table.

Flu season generally runs from late fall into early spring, but the number of cases starts to increase when people come into contact with others around the holidays.  By getting a flu shot, people can protect themselves and those around them who may be unable to get vaccinated.

“For an immune compromised patient, this is a really hard time … we can’t fight the flu,” said Karen Wheat, 53, a Belleville resident who lives with common variable immune deficiency. The disorder affects more than 1 in 50,000 people worldwide.

“Most people, they have antibodies so that when they come in contact with a virus or bacteria, they’re able to fight it off," Wheat said. "But I don’t make those anymore.”

To live normally, Wheat must receive weekly infusions of immunoglobulin, a substance made from blood plasma donations.  During the holidays, she avoids large crowds.

“I always hope that all of the people that I’m around get the flu shot every year,” Wheat said. “For someone to be ill around me can pretty much guarantee I’m going to end up in the hospital, or be home and go nowhere for months.”

This year, the Centers for Disease Control recommends only injectable flu shots, after concerns that the nasal spray vaccine is less effective.  The composition of flu vaccines in the United States changes each year to better match the viruses that are circulating.

“The CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months and older. So right now is a good time to get vaccinated,” said Melba Moore, acting director of the St. Louis Department of Health.

To look up a flu shot clinic in the St. Louis area, click here.

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