Cold weather is rapidly approaching which means so is flu season! It is important for folks with COPD to take steps to prevent exacerbations, which is often caused by catching an infection like the flu. According to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), individuals with COPD should receive the flu shot annually. The Global Initiative for Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD) also encourages vaccinations for flu and pneumonia to prevent acute exacerbations of COPD.
The CDC recommends taking the shot in October and November, preferably before flu is at its highest rate in December. The vaccine takes about two weeks to build up the antibodies in your body to protect you from infection. Go to Flu Vaccine Finder to find out where vaccinations are being administered in your community.
You should NOT be vaccinated if you have:
- a severe allergy to chicken eggs.
- had a severe reaction to an influenza vaccination.
- developed Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) within 6 weeks of getting an influenza vaccine.
- a moderate-to-severe illness with a fever (they should wait until they recover to get vaccinated.)
So what can you expect when you get your shot? People often believe they will get the flu afterwards but viruses in the flu shot are killed (inactivated), so this is not possible. Some minor side effects that could occur are:
- Soreness, redness, or swelling where the shot was given
- Fever (low grade)
If these problems occur, they begin soon after the shot and usually last 1 to 2 days. Almost all people who receive influenza vaccine have no serious problems from it.
More information about the safety of flu vaccines is available at Influenza Vaccine Safety.