xml:space="preserve">
xml:space="preserve">
Advertisement
Advertisement

Flu shots are more vital than ever

The Baltimore Sun has published a number of excellent pieces on the risk of Ebola versus influenza ("Ebola is no Spanish Flu," Oct. 17). One aspect that has yet to be mentioned is the risk to the segments of our population that can be even more dramatically influenced by influenza — those with compromised immune systems who are at serious risk when they get the flu. More Americans die from the flu each year than the number of people who have died so far from the current Ebola outbreak in West Africa and far more Americans will die from the flu than will ever be affected by Ebola.

The Immune Deficiency Foundation (IDF) represents some 250,000 people in the U.S. with primary immunodeficiencies, rare but serious conditions in which the immune system is absent or functions improperly. Our population, along with the elderly, infants, those on chemotherapy and those for whom vaccines don't work, are all at a higher risk of severe illness and even death if they get the flu.

Advertisement

We have a safe and effective vaccine that will protect us from influenza — while none yet exists for Ebola. It is easy and critical to protect yourself by getting vaccinated and at the same time protect your more vulnerable neighbors who are unable to directly benefit from the vaccine because of their crippled immune systems. Almost everyone knows someone in their community who has impaired immunity including those with genetic defects in the immune system or someone fighting cancer or autoimmune diseases with immune-suppressing chemotherapy.

If all appropriate people in a community get a flu shot, we can create a "protective cocoon" of immunized persons surrounding our patients so that they have less chance of being exposed. We urge employers and schools to provide influenza immunization programs to extend this "cocoon."

Advertisement
Advertisement

That herd immunity where nearly everyone in the community is vaccinated is the best way to protect those whose immune systems are fragile. Getting a flu shot is an act of kindness. Please get a flu shot and protect not only yourself but also those in your community whose immune systems are at risk.

Marcia Boyle, Towson

The writer is president and founder of the Immune Deficiency Foundation.

Recommended on Baltimore Sun

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement