A to Z of MS
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A to Z of MS Flu immunisation
As well as the symptoms caused by 'flu', the fever associated with the infection can lead to a worsening of multiple sclerosis symptoms for those people with MS who are adversely affected by heat.
A study of 49 people with MS reported that five experienced fever or flu-like symptoms after vaccination. No-one reported any new neurological symptoms or had complications or needed hospitalisation.
Department of Health's guidelines state that, "the medical practitioner should apply clinical judgement to take into account the risk of flu exacerbating any underlying disease that a patient may have, as well as the risk of serious illness from flu itself". It also states that "Clinicians should consider on an individual basis the clinical needs of patients including individuals with ... multiple sclerosis..."
The Department of Health's guidelines also currently state that the flu vaccine should also be offered to all who are in receipt of carer's allowance or are the main carer for a person whose welfare may be at risk if the carer falls ill.
In Scotland, Immunisation Scotland encourage people with MS to get the flu jab.
Find out more
NHS advice on flu vaccination for 2013/14 (PDF 105kb)
Auriel E, et al.
Seasonal and H1N1v influenza vaccines in MS: safety and compliance.
Journal of the Neurological Sciences 2012;314(1-2):102-3.
Farez MF, Correale J.
Immunizations and risk of multiple sclerosis: systematic review and meta-analysis.
Journal of Neurology 2011;258(7):1197-1206.
Rutschmann OT, et al.
Immunization and MS: a summary of published evidence and recommendations.
Department of Health.
The flu vaccination Winter 2013/14: Who should have it and why
available from the Gov.uk website (pdf 106 kb)
Seasonal flu vaccine questions and answers.
available from the Immunisation Scotland website