• Getting the Flu Shot: What is Your Doctor’s Opinion?

    Posted by Charlene Marshall on September 23, 2018 at 6:07 pm

    While I am happy that cooler and less humid temperatures are upon us as autumn rolls in; I am dreading this time of year as flu season also gets underway. As a patient with a compromised immune-system, and very weak lungs, contracting the flu terrifies me. Unfortunately, I’ve seen it become critical for patients just too many times before and I always feel a bit more ‘on edge’ during flu season.

    I will be doing my own personal social media blast, reminding friends and family of the importance of proper hand hygiene and keeping germs contained (ie. staying home) during this time of year. I will also be asking them to please let me know if they/their children are unwell and we plan to have a visit. It is my hope that this request isn’t too much to ask, and that my friends, colleagues and family members will understand, especially since it is detrimental to my health.

    I am curious: how many of you living with pulmonary fibrosis (PF) get your flu shot?

    I know this can be a very controversial topic, so please share with me what your doctor’s opinion/advice/thoughts are on patients with PF getting the flu shot.

    Do they encourage you to get it?

    Do they encourage any other vaccinations to protect you against cold/flu season?

    I have received the flu shot each year since being diagnosed with IPF in 2016, not only because I think it is wise but also in anticipation of travelling during flu season. I also wear a mask and frequently (probably, obsessively) wash my hands in public places as well. It is soon time for me to launch into ‘paranoia’ mode about keeping healthy and I’m eager to share with my friends, family, colleagues, etc how they can help me to do that.

    I look forward to hearing your thoughts!

    Charlene Marshall replied 4 years, 3 months ago 10 Members · 18 Replies
  • 18 Replies
  • Jacki Baum

    September 25, 2018 at 8:35 am

    My doctors urged me to get both the flu and pneumonia shots, and I did get the pneumonia shot back in 2007, before my IPF diagnoses and I got my flu shot 2 weeks ago.  I also got the 2 shot shingles shot, on advice of my doctors.  I want to protect myself against any and everything I can.  I live in South Carolina and right now there is something going around, cold, flu, cough, fever, etc.  washing hands like crazy!!!

    • Joyce Douglas

      September 25, 2018 at 3:17 pm

      Hi. My husband and I have become flu shot customers for the past almost 22 yrs. We began when my mother was a patient in the hospital because we didn’t want to bring anything in from the outside world to make her more ill. We have rarely not taken the flu shot and it is not a big deal for us. We also had the pneumonia shot, about 12+ years ago. Public Health records show we had a big shot so don’t require the second shot. This past week our Medical Clinic phoned us with the upcoming dates of their Flu Clinic and asked/suggested we take part and make an app’t., which we did and we will be part of the ‘done’ seniors after Oct. 17th. Good to have it over with. When we attended the Respiratory Rehabilitation part of the IPF program last winter the Lung Specialist told us there were nurses in the gymnasium where we usually did our weekly exercises so we could/aka should go right over and get our yearly Flu Shot, which we all did. We just never thought about it – went over and it was done. No flu last winter. That is a great relief for suffers of IPF. We DO NO NEED TO GET THE FLU with our lungs not working properly. So, see you again after we’ve rec’d the shots.

      • Charlene Marshall

        September 25, 2018 at 3:41 pm

        Hi Joyce,

        It’s so nice to hear from you, thanks for connecting and contributing to this topic thread. As I mentioned to Jacki, I’m always so interested to hear what others’ think of the flu shot and their experience. There remains so much controversy about it, but like you and your husband, I’m not sure why as I don’t think it is a big deal either. I will be getting mine, unless my doctor tells me not to which is highly unlikely. Couldn’t agree more – contracting the flu with compromised lungs is not what we need, and actually, the idea of that really terrifies me! I will be getting mine as well, hopefully before I come down with anything… I’m starting to feel a tickle in my throat already. Fingers crossed it doesn’t amount to anything!

        Take care and thanks for writing.

    • Charlene Marshall

      September 25, 2018 at 3:35 pm

      Hi Jacki,

      Thanks so much for connecting and letting me know what your doctor encouraged in terms of vaccinations for you this year. I see my regular GP in the next week or so, although I suspect she won’t be able to advise me on which shots to get this year, and that I should ask my pulmonologist more specifically. We’ll see what she says, then I’ll seek out the advice of the lung doctor. I am always curious about what specialists say about the vaccinations – I wonder if I should also get the shot for pneumonia. Is this a one-time vaccination, or yearly like the flu shot? I also want to protect myself and stay as healthy as possible. The idea of getting the flu (which I’ve heard is bad this year) terrifies me, so I’m wearing a mask and washing my hands like crazy too!!

      Take care, thanks for writing and stay healthy!

  • Chuck Harrison

    September 25, 2018 at 5:01 pm

    Hi Charlene ,
    Yes I do get the flu shot and it is recommended by my pc . I want to pick your brain here for a minute , I’m pretty concerned about being in stores during this season also , what I was think is going to a mask when out , you know those whit masks , what’s your thoughts , me I’m don’t really care what people would think or how I look with one on , my idea is to protect myself from them .
    Your thoughts ?

  • Charlene Marshall

    September 26, 2018 at 12:24 pm

    Hi Chuck,

    Thanks for getting in touch regarding this topic – I know it is a “hot discussion” among many patients, so I appreciate hearing from others about their experience with the flu shot. Glad to hear it is recommended, I think my GP will recommend one for me as well… I’m going to ask when I see her next week, and if she is indifferent then I will ask my lung specialist / transplant team.

    In terms of protecting yourself while out in public, I think this is a good idea and actively do my best to wear a mask as well. I used to promote the Vogmasks, and I absolutely still do as they’ve protected me in various scenarios before in terms of staying healthy. However, recently I’ve read articles and statements from Cystic Fibrosis News that Vogmasks aren’t 100% protective from bacteria/germs, etc. However, I don’t imagine any mask is so I am going to continue to use my Vogmask, as I think it’s worked for me. That said, the disposable hospital masks likely work just as good (or better, depending on what you read) and are a lot cheaper too. Not sure if this helps at all? At the end of the day, probably anything is better than nothing 🙂

    Take care and please be in touch with any additional questions!
    Warm regards,

  • Bill Kelly

    February 15, 2020 at 6:57 pm


    I’m very surprised to hear that there is “so much controversy” about the flu shot.  There is no scientific basis to believe that the flu shot can hurt you.  True, it may not work if a different strain of flu is prevalent, but it can’t hurt you.  Very often the children who die from flu have not been vaccinated.

    Also we should remember that the pneumonia vaccination is in 2 parts for most people, see https://www.cdc.gov/features/adult-pneumococcal/index.html

    Stay healthy


  • Charlene Marshall

    February 16, 2020 at 8:32 am


    Hi Bill,

    Thanks so much for writing about this topic, and I certainly agree with you! My Mom is a Pharmacist and she often takes a lot of crap from people about their beliefs in the flu shot. While it is a personal belief for some, sure, I don’t understand (like you) why it continues to be a huge conversation. Better to have it onboard as something that can protect you. Like you say, it isn’t going to hurt you — there is literature that actually outlines it is impossible to get the flu from the flu shot, like some people believe. I suppose we as humans just try to find fault in everything, unfortunately.

    Thanks for writing, I also got the flu shot and believe in them!
    Stay well.

  • JillT

    February 17, 2020 at 3:00 am

    I think it’s government policy in Australia for all seniors to be vaccinated, plus all “at risk” people and those shots are free. Most GPs have flu vaccination clinics as soon as they can access the current year’s release and remind patients about it. It’s also now available via most pharmacies, though I believe you have to pay for their vaccinations.

    I think the controversy is more about how effective they are; not re getting the shots at all – except of course of the anti-vax brigade nonsense. But anyhoo, I think I’ve aged out of any potential fear of autism by my ripe old age 🙂

  • Charlene Marshall

    February 17, 2020 at 8:43 am

    Hi Jill,

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this topic. I didn’t know Australia had laws/policies in place for the flu shot, good idea. I think many people here get them as well, especially those compromised and Canadian healthcare picks up the bill for it to entice more people to get it. The effectiveness of it is certainly a popular discussion here too. Since the shot is developed ahead of flu season in an effort to ensure it is available when it hits, there is inevitably going to be inconsistencies as no one can predict the strain of flu 100% before it hits. Sometimes people say that is why it is ineffective, but I still believe it can’t hurt and always get it. Thanks for sharing your thoughts 🙂

    Hope you’re doing well.

  • Suzanne R Brennan

    February 18, 2020 at 12:04 pm

    I get a flu shot every year and did so even before I was diagnosed with IPF as my Mom had COPD. I always ask my family members to get flu shots so I can be around them.

    Recently, my nephew came down with Influenza type A even though he had a flu shot. They put him on Tamiflu right away and he is getting better. He lives in a different state but I’ll be going there in three weeks so I’ve asked him and his parents (my brother and his wife) to stay away if they come down with what my nephew got.

    Scares the heck out of me to think I could get it! I also got the two pneumonia shots last year and I think they are good for two years so won’t get another until next year.

    We all have to do what we can to keep ourselves in as good heath as we can!

  • Suzanne R Brennan

    February 18, 2020 at 12:05 pm

    Sorry – meant health!

  • Regina Bolyard

    February 18, 2020 at 3:42 pm

    Both my GP and my pulmonologist endorse getting the flu vaccine. I did so this year for the first time in many years. With surgical biopsy and hospitalization in the near future, I want to have every protection possible.

    I am reminded of the value of vaccination as I lost a friend to the flu this week who was compromised by a chronic, degenerative illness. Getting the flu may not tragically affect your health, but you never know who you may be infecting if you get it. Herd immunity. It’s a thing.

  • Karen Martin

    February 18, 2020 at 4:28 pm


    Hello, Regina. Glad you brought up the “herd immunity.” I have a daughter and grandson with diabetes and I worked in the public library for years so have always gotten my flu shot to help protect them. Not to mention that about 20+ years ago when I did get the flu my bones hurt! Don’t care to deal with that again, nor do I want to give it to anyone else. Karen

  • Charlene Marshall

    February 18, 2020 at 6:45 pm

    Completely agree with you Suzanne! Thanks for writing. I ended up with influenza A in early December and as a result of that (combined with other things) my disease progression increased and my lungs took a major hit. While I don’t ever want to scare anyone, I do believe it is so important to be proactive in avoiding the flu whenever we can. I also got the flu shot and was hit pretty bad, so I can’t imagine what would have happened had I not received the vaccine. Good for you for advocating your needs with your brother and his wife. Flu season is almost over (the worst of it anyways… I think!) — keep healthy! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  • Charlene Marshall

    February 18, 2020 at 6:48 pm

    So agree with you Regina! I’m glad you got the vaccine, especially if you are going to be in and amongst the hospital. I shutter at the amount of germs circulating that environment right now. I hope you have a smooth biopsy procedure and please wear a mask in hospital for every added protection you can.


    I’m so sorry to hear of the loss of your friend, that is so sad and scary. Herd immunity is indeed important. Hang in there!

  • Malcolm Mann

    February 20, 2020 at 4:54 pm


    I’m on the other side of Australia to Jill but received the same advice, the first question “have you had a flu vaccination” (answer “I’ve had it every year for the last 20 or so years and never had the flu, or a problem with the vaccination”).

    The next suggestion was to ensure I had a pneumonia shot, that was the first I had heard of a vaccine for pneumonia. I had my vaccination when first diagnosed in 2015, I’m not sure if I need a booster, I’ll check next week.




  • Charlene Marshall

    February 22, 2020 at 8:13 am

    Hi Mal,

    So nice to hear from you, thanks for writing to us! Sounds like most physicians are pushing for the flu shot, which is great news. I couldn’t imagine the harm in getting it, and suspect it likely is better to have some protection than none.

    The pneumonia shot here in Canada is often reserved for seniors, or that is what I’ve heard anyways. I should look into this more as it is a good idea for those with compromised lungs to also get it. Good reminder!

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