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MDA is committed to helping kids and adults with muscle-debilitating diseases live longer and grow stronger. We offer numerous services and resources in hometowns across America that provide care, support and guidance through every step of your journey.

Flu Season Support

Children and adults fighting muscular dystrophy, ALS and related diseases that limit muscle strength and mobility are at increased risk of serious and possibly life-threatening complications from the flu, so it's important that everyone stays informed and takes steps to protect themselves and their families. That's why we've created MDA's Flu Season Resource Center.

Flu is a contagious and serious disease, especially for those with neuromuscular disease and other chronic health conditions. For most of us, one of the first and best ways to prevent the flu is to get a flu shot (injection). There also is an intranasal form (sprayed into the nose) of the vaccine available. However, it's important to know that, in most cases, the intranasal form of the vaccine is not recommended for those affected by neuromuscular disease.

You should check with your doctor before obtaining any vaccine, especially if you're affected by myasthenia gravis,polymyositis, dermatomyositis, or if you're taking immune-suppressing medications such as corticosteroids (e.g., prednisone, deflazacort, prednisolone).

If your current health coverage doesn't include seasonal flu vaccines as a preventive health benefit, MDA's Flu Shot Program can help. Through MDA, individuals affected by neuromuscular disease can receive a free flu shot through their local MDA-sponsored clinic, or they can receive reimbursement (up to $35) for the cost of flu vaccines received from licensed health professionals, including those located at retail pharmacies.

We can’t keep flu season from coming, but there’s a lot we can do to prepare and help protect everyone from its impact and complications. With this in mind, we've gathered the following information, recommended guidelines and resources to help keep you informed.

A Message from MDA's Executive Vice President & Chief Medical and Scientific Officer

September 2015

Dear MDA Families,

It's hard to believe that flu season is upon us, but since it's that time of year again, I want you to know that MDA is here to help. Influenza — both the seasonal and H1N1 varieties — can cause serious and sometimes life-threatening illness for those affected by muscular dystrophy, ALS and related neuromuscular diseases that limit muscle strength and mobility. That's why it's so important to be proactive and take the necessary precautions to stay healthy.

For 2015-2016, both trivalent (three components) and quadrivalent (four components) influenza vaccines will be available. The standard trivalent flu vaccine protects against three forms of influenza — two influenza A viruses (H1N1 and H3N2), as well as the common influenza B virus. Another form of the vaccine called quadrivalent protects against these same viruses and an additional form of influenza B. Be sure to check with your doctor before obtaining any vaccine, especially if you're affected by myasthenia gravispolymyositisdermatomyositis, or if you're taking immune-suppressing medications such as corticosteroids.

If your current health coverage doesn't include seasonal flu vaccines as a preventive health benefit, MDA's Flu Shot Program can help. Through MDA, individuals affected by neuromuscular disease can receive a free flu shot through local MDA clinics, or they can receive reimbursement (up to $35) for the cost of flu vaccines received from licensed health professionals, including those located at retail pharmacies.

It's important, too, for family members and household contacts of those with neuromuscular disease to receive a flu vaccine as early in the season as possible, and for families to watch for early signs and symptoms of the flu so that medical attention can be sought when needed.

There are other ways to help protect yourself and your loved ones from getting the flu. We invite you to explore MDA's Flu Season Resource Center for additional information about influenza, flu prevention, the flu vaccine and how MDA can help you obtain a flu shot. On behalf of MDA, I encourage you to take proactive health precautions to minimize your personal health risks this flu season.

Sincerely yours,
Valerie Cwik, M..D.
Executive Vice President & Chief Medical and Scientific Officer

2015-2016 Flu Vaccine 

For 2015-2016, both trivalent (three components) and quadrivalent (four components) influenza vaccines will be available. The standard trivalent flu vaccine protects against three forms of influenza — two influenza A (H1N1 and H3N2) viruses, as well as the common influenza B virus. Another form of the vaccine called quadrivalent protects against these same viruses, as well as an additional form of influenza B.

Different routes of administration are available for flu vaccines — intranasal and injectable. Both the standard trivalent and quadrivalent vaccines are available in the injectable form, while the nasal spray vaccines will all be quadrivalent this season. However, the intranasal form (sprayed into the nose) is generally not recommended for those affected by neuromuscular disease.

Check with your doctor before obtaining any vaccine, especially if you're affected by myasthenia gravis, polymyositis, dermatomyositis, or taking immune-suppressing medications such as corticosteroids (e.g., prednisone, deflazacort, prednisolone).

If your current health coverage doesn't include seasonal flu vaccines as a preventive health benefit, MDA's Flu Shot Program can help.

MDA Flu Shot Program 

If you are affected by one of the neuromuscular diseases in MDA’s program and your health insurance does not cover the cost of annual influenza vaccines, MDA can help.

Individuals served by MDA and are registered with us can obtain a flu shot through the nearest MDA-sponsored clinic or receive reimbursement through your local MDA office (up to $35) for the cost of flu vaccines received from licensed health professionals, including those located at retail pharmacies.

Many health professionals accept most major insurance plans, including Medicare, for payment toward flu vaccinations. In fact, if you have Medicare part B, you will have no out-of-pocket expense for your influenza vaccine so there will be no need to seek reimbursement from MDA.

To request reimbursement, simply complete and print the MDA Flu Shot Reimbursement Request form, and send it to your local MDA office along with the original receipt from the health care provider that administered the vaccination. All information provided will be kept strictly confidential.

Flu Season Tips 

In addition to receiving a flu vaccine, there are many ways to protect yourself and those you love from exposure to influenza, including:

  • Educate family members and roommates about the heightened risk of seasonal and H1N1 influenza for those with neuromuscular disease, and the importance of staying away from others who are experiencing flulike symptoms.
  • Promote good hand hygiene among everyone in your home, which means washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds (the time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice), especially after coughing or sneezing. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers containing at least 60 percent alcohol also are effective.
  • Encourage everyone in your home to practice respiratory etiquette by covering coughs and sneezes with tissues or with your arm. Dispose of tissues in a waste receptacle after use.
  • Among your roommates and/or immediate family members, stress the importance of not sharing utensils and drinking cups, and encourage everyone to avoid touching their faces, especially after handling shared items such as telephones or remote controls.
  • Educate yourself about symptoms of the flu — fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, chills and fatigue. Diarrhea and vomiting also may be experienced.
  • Contact your physician as soon as possible if you develop flulike symptoms. Visit the CDC’s website and Flu.gov for additional tips and recommendations.

Influenza Resources from the CDC 

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