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An Important Message About the Flu

Updated: Feb 18, 2021

Flu Vaccinations and Proactive Respiratory Care are Critical for People with CMD

Pulmonologist and CMD Advocate, Dr. Oscar H. Mayer, shares this about the influenza vaccination:

Influenza ("the flu") is a major cause of respiratory illness from October through April. Even in healthy patients the breathing trouble that an infection produces can lead to a hospitalization, sometimes with significant respiratory difficulty and occasionally with the need for mechanical ventilation through a breathing tube inserted through the nose or mouth (endotracheal tube). In patients with a congenital muscular dystrophy the likelihood of needing to be hospitalized and to be on a ventilator and breathing through an endotracheal tube is much higher. In addition, because of the challenge of airway clearance the recovery is much longer than in patients with normal muscle strength and can take more than a month.

Each year, however, there is an influenza vaccination offered that is made based on the projected strains (types) of influenza that will be around and in the community during the current season. While rarely perfect, there is enough potential benefit for the current and future influenza seasons to make the benefit of taking an influenza vaccination very high. While the influenza vaccine is made using chicken eggs to help produce the vaccine, with suitable precautions it can be administered to patients with an egg allergy after consultation with a patent's allergist. Beyond that it can be given safely to all other people. While there have been concerns mentioned about side effects from taking the influenza vaccination and more specifically components of the vaccine, but they have all been disproven.

The one potential complication is a "flu-like" reaction due to the body processing the vaccine using the immune system, as is the case when one gets sick. While it is impossible to get the influenza from the influenza vaccination, it is possible to temporarily feel unwell. Should this happen one should treat the symptoms the same way for a true illness and there should be no need for antibiotics or other prescription medications.


The flu shot is a potentially life saving measure for someone with CMD. Everyone in the family and those who come in close or frequent contact with a CMD affected individual should be vaccinated and take precautions to not expose themselves or their loved ones to the flu.

And Don't Forget: Wash your hands!


Important Resources


Flu Season Requires Special Precautions for Rare Disease-Affected Individuals


Three Tips: How to Get Through Flu Season

Cure CMD Co-Founder and Emergency Medicine Physician, Dr. Anne Rutkowski, shares information on what to do if someone with CMD gets a cold or the flu. Also available in Spanish.


CMD Pulmonary Care with Dr. Oscar H. Mayer, Dr. Hemant Sawnani and Dr. Robert Graham

Neuromuscular Pulmonary Experts share information and best care practices for people with CMD.



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