Should I Get a Flu Shot? Flu Vaccine Advice for People Living With HIV

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Each year, the protection of a flu shot helps many people living with HIV avoid miserable and possibly even dangerous bouts of seasonal flu. But what kind of flu vaccine should you get as a person living with HIV? What effect will the shot have on your lab test results? Can meds for HIV act against the flu virus? TheBody.com's team of forum experts has answers to these questions and more.


When and Why Should I Get a Flu Shot?

Question: I was diagnosed with HIV a few months ago. With flu season around the corner, should I be vaccinated? If so, what kind of flu vaccine should I get? Will it give me the flu?

Check out the answer from Benjamin Young, M.D., Ph.D., on the next slide!


When and Why Should I Get a Flu Shot?

Answer: In brief, yes.

Influenza is a serious health threat for everyone, and the flu vaccine helps to prevent the serious complications of flu. I get one every year. It's important to bear in mind that the vaccine does not cause flu, but some people can experience aches or low fevers as the immune system revs up to develop a response to the vaccine.

To read the rest of Dr. Young's answer, head over to our Ask the Experts forum.

Dr. Young responds to other questions in the "Choosing Your Meds" forum.


Can a Flu Shot Cause a Viral Load Increase?

Question: Can the flu shot cause a viral load increase even if I am taking the meds? If so, for how long will that increase last?

Check out the answer from Dr. Young on the next slide!


Can a Flu Shot Cause a Viral Load Increase?

Answer: Vaccinations can transiently increase viral load -- this is usually of no significance, except that the values can cause confusion when interpreting tests.

To read the rest of Dr. Young's answer, head over to our Ask the Experts forum.

Dr. Young responds to other questions in the "Choosing Your Meds" forum.


Can a Flu Shot Cause My CD4 Count to Decrease?

Question: My CD4 count is above 400. Could a flu shot cause it to go down? If so, how long would that CD4 count decrease last?

Check out the answer from Mark Holodniy, M.D., F.A.C.P., C.I.C., on the next slide!


Can a Flu Shot Cause My CD4 Count to Decrease?

Answer: It can, but the possibility is much less or not at all when people are taking HIV meds and their viral load is undetectable. Such decreases are usually short.

To read the rest of Dr. Holodniy's answer, head over to our Ask the Experts forum.

Dr. Holodniy responds to other questions in the "Understanding Your Labs" forum.


Is It Too Late in the Flu Season to Get a Flu Shot?

Question: It's February, and I was just diagnosed with HIV. My CD4 count is 520 and my viral load is 100,000. Would you recommend that I get a flu shot?

Check out the answer from Dr. Young on the next slide!


Is It Too Late in the Flu Season to Get a Flu Shot?

Answer: Although it is a little late in the flu season, we're still seeing sporadic cases -- I'd probably recommend getting your flu shot if you have access to one.

To read the rest of Dr. Young's answer, head over to our Ask the Experts forum.

Dr. Young responds to other questions in the "Choosing Your Meds" forum.


Is It Too Early in the Flu Season to Get a Flu Shot?

Question: It's the end of August and I'm already seeing ads that flu shots are available, but I'm worried the protection of the shot won't last long enough if I get it too early. Should I wait?

Check out the answer from Dr. Holodniy on the next slide!


Is It Too Early in the Flu Season to Get a Flu Shot?

Answer: I would get it now.

To read the rest of Dr. Holodniy's answer, head over to our Ask the Experts forum.

Dr. Holodniy responds to other questions in the "Understanding Your Labs" forum.


My Numbers Are Great! Do I Still Need a Flu Shot?

Question: With a CD4 count of 1,014, an undetectable viral load, and no other health issues, is a flu shot really necessary?

Check out the answer from Dr. Holodniy on the next slide!


My Numbers Are Great! Do I Still Need a Flu Shot?

Answer: A regular, seasonal flu shot is always highly recommended, regardless of where one is on the HIV spectrum.

To read the rest of Dr. Holodniy's answer, head over to our Ask the Experts forum.

Dr. Holodniy responds in the "Understanding Your Labs" forum.


Will Antibiotics Affect My Flu Vaccine?

Question: I started a course of antibiotics the day before I got a flu shot. Was this a bad idea?

Check out the answer from Dr. Young on the next slide!


Will Antibiotics Affect My Flu Vaccine?

Answer: The antibiotic shouldn't interfere with the effectiveness of your flu vaccination to any appreciable degree.

To read the rest of Dr. Young's answer, head over to our Ask the Experts forum.

Dr. Young responds to other questions in the "Choosing Your Meds" forum.


Can I Get Vaccinated for Flu and Pneumonia at the Same Time?

Question: I know that Pneumovax 23 and Prevnar 13 are recommended for prevention of pneumonia in people with HIV. I'm due for my 5-year booster of Pneumovax and will need to get Prevnar eight weeks beforehand. Is it safe to get Prevnar and a flu shot together?

Check out the answer from Dr. Holodniy on the next slide!


Can I Get Vaccinated for Flu and Pneumonia at the Same Time?

Answer: No problem getting the flu vaccine and Prevnar vaccine together.

To read the rest of Dr. Holodniy's answer, head over to our Ask the Experts forum.

Dr. Holodniy responds to other questions in the "Understanding Your Labs" forum.


Will Forgetting My HIV Meds the Night After a Flu Shot Lead to Resistance?

Question: In 20 years, I have only forgotten to take my HIV meds seven times. One of those times happened to be right after getting a flu shot. Will the flu shot super-charge the virus and contribute to future drug resistance?

Check out the answer from Dr. Young on the next slide!


Will Forgetting My HIV Meds the Night After a Flu Shot Lead to Resistance?

Answer: I don't think that missing a single dose of medications will have any significant impact on virus, CD4 or drug resistance.

To read the rest of Dr. Young's answer, head over to our Ask the Experts forum.

Dr. Young responds to other questions in the "Choosing Your Meds" forum.


Can HIV Meds Help Fight the Flu?

Question: I don't think I have had the flu since starting HIV meds. Since the flu is also a virus, can HIV medications also have activity against the flu?

Check out the answer from Dr. Young on the next slide!


Can HIV Meds Help Fight the Flu?

Answer: In brief, HIV medications have no activity against influenza virus.

To read the rest of Dr. Young's answer, head over to our Ask the Experts forum.

Dr. Young responds to other questions in the "Choosing Your Meds" forum.


Should I Avoid People Who've Taken the FluMist Vaccine?

Question: I have a low CD4 count. Should I be concerned about getting sick as a result of regular contact with people who've received live vaccinations such as FluMist?

Check out the answer from Dr. Young on the next slide!


Should I Avoid People Who've Taken the FluMist Vaccine?

Answer: It's important for people living with HIV, especially those with lower CD4 cell counts (below 200 for this discussion), to know that they should avoid being in close contact with people who receive live virus vaccinations. These include MMR and the FluMist influenza vaccination.

Note from CDC: "For the 2017-2018 season, CDC recommends use of the flu shot (inactivated influenza vaccine or IIV) or the recombinant influenza vaccine (RIV). The nasal spray flu vaccine, also known as the live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV), should not be used again during 2017-2018. The 2017-2018 influenza vaccination recommendations are available."

To read the rest of Dr. Young's answer, head over to our Ask the Experts forum.

Dr. Young responds to other questions in the "Choosing Your Meds" forum.