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Thread: Questions for article about the flu and people with SCI/D

  1. #1

    Exclamation Questions for article about the flu and people with SCI/D

    Hello forum,
    I am an editorial coordinator for PVA Publications. We publish a monthly magazine called PN on behalf of the Paralyzed Veterans of America. I am reaching out to you all in hopes of finding some answers to questions I have for an article I'm working on.
    The article is about the flu, how important is it for people with SCI/D to get a flu vaccine, the pros and cons of getting the vaccine, and whether it would be beneficial for them to get the so-called "super-flu vaccine" (high-dose vaccine), as I understand many have suppressed immune systems.
    I'd also like to know what people with SCI/D can do specifically to prevent the flu, what symptoms they should look for, should people with SCI/D be overly concerned about getting the flu, how likely is it for someone with SCI/D to die of the flu?
    I'm interested if anyone has any statistics about people with SCI/D who get the flu. Or anyone who has a story about how they dealt with the flu??
    Any information you think would be helpful, please let me know! Contact names and phone numbers would be great too. My deadline is fast approaching, so please respond soon.
    I can be reached at or 602-224-0500, ext. 110.

    Thank you!

    Brittany Martin
    Editorial Coordinator
    PVA Publications

  2. #2
    Curious why you are looking to this site for information about this. The VA SCI System of Care has a lot of information about flu prevention, primarily via immunization of both persons with SCI and their caregivers. There are educational materials provided to Veterans about this at every VA hospital, with a special emphasis on clinics and inpatient units caring for Veterans with SCI, starting in September annually. We are required to encourage every Veteran with SCI/D to get an annual flu shot (as well as keeping up to date with pneumonia vaccinations), and SCI Centers have the rate of these immunizations completed as a performance measure that is reported annually. There is a lot of information about influenza prevention on the MyHealtheVet website as well, for example this page in the section for Veterans with SCI/D:

    Flu is a respiratory viral disease. In people with SCI/D and other forms of paralysis that interfere with respiratory muscle function, flu carries a very real risk of leading to the development of pneumonia and other respiratory complications such as ARDS. Respiratory illness is the leading cause of death long term in persons with SCI/D. One report found that persons with SCI&D who contracted influenza or pneumonia were 37 times more likely to die than comparable individuals from the general population. The major way to prevent flu is immunization.

    There is a lot of information available about flu prevention/immunization on the CDC website here: In addition, people with SCI/D are included in the higher risk groups discussed here:

    Flu vaccine is not a guarantee that a person will not get the flu, but it is about 90% successful in prevention. If an immunized person does get the flu, it is less severe. Persons with SCI, due to their high risks of developing complications, are in the group recommended to get antiviral medications specific to the flu if they should develop symptoms as well. The live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV), also known as the “nasal spray” flu vaccine is no longer recommended for use by anyone. The Inactivated influenza vaccine, trivalent (IIV3), high dose type of vaccine is recommended for those with SCI/D.

    Last edited by SCI-Nurse; 07-23-2016 at 02:00 AM.

  3. #3
    Thank you, SCI-Nurse. This is very helpful. I had already reached out to the VA and received some information from them, I was just looking for a second source for my article. I was also curious if anyone could provide me with first-hand accounts of how they dealt with the flu.

  4. #4
    Been injured 20 years, never had flu, or a flu shot.

  5. #5
    My father is 73 years old with paraplegia.

    He gets a flu shot every year, as soon as it is available. He gets the high dose, which would be encouraged for him because of his age as well as his medical history. All family members get flu shots religiously, or before visiting from out of state. Also, very close friends that are around visit his home for extended periods, and the woman who cleans his house once a week are also immunized. We all try to wash our hands frequently, and we keep hand sanitizer by the front door. We try to make it a normal thing to do a quick hand clean when you enter the house. We ask visiting people to do that as well. No big deal. Once a week or so, we take a sanitizing cloth and walk around his house and quickly clean all light switches, door knobs, and phones/hand sets, remote controls and other small things that are handled frequently and can spread germs easily. This is quick and easy.

    We get your magazine and think the VA publications re: SCI injury from the PVA are phenomenal.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Jim View Post
    Been injured 20 years, never had flu, or a flu shot.
    Jim, you are extremely lucky. You know I have to advise you to get a flu shot annually, especially as you are (ahem) getting older. Your immune system does not work as well, and neither do your lungs.


  7. #7
    Not sure why you think people with SCI have compromised immune systems. Your spinal cord has nothing to do with immune protection. On the other hand muscles involved in lung function can certainly be affected, but again, that has nothing to do with the immune system.

  8. #8

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