Flu Shot Reminder

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Summary: A good time to get the annual shots is October or November, before the flu season begins.


Influenza shots are definitely recommended for persons with HIV or immune deficiencies. [1] They are often given in October or November, before the flu season begins.

Where can you get the shots? A good place to ask is where you usually get health care.

If that doesn’t work, a number of drugstore chains and other organizations have a traveling flu clinic that goes from store to store. These may be available only once at a particular location, and will usually charge a fee, often about $25. The two we checked, CVS and Walgreens, have online locators to find a site near you; many only give shots once, as early as October, so it’s a good idea to make plans early.

Note that people with HIV should get the flu shots (not the FluMist nasal spray, since that contains a weakened live virus and could be dangerous for persons with immune deficiency; it is only approved for healthy people between the ages of 2 and 49). The shot does not have live virus, and cannot cause the flu.

In some cases, anti-flu drugs are recommended for people with HIV who are likely to be exposed to someone with the flu. [1]

In the U.S., the proportion of people with HIV getting the annual flu shot has risen “from 28.5% in the 1990 to 41.6% in the 2002 influenza season” [2] — improvement but still short of the U.S. government goal of 60% by 2010. In comparison, in countries with near-universal healthcare, up to 92% of people with HIV get the shot [2].

Incidentally, the 1990-2002 figures were published in July 2007; it takes a while for the wheels to turn in U.S. medicine and research. A way to deal with this problem is to use real-time data centers when possible.


1. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a flu information page,
It links to a page of information for persons with HIV,
(last updated September 19, 2007 or later, despite references to the 2004-05 influenza season).

2. Gallagher KM, Juhasz M, Harris NS, and Teshale EH. Predictors of influenza vaccination in HIV-infected patients in the United States, 1990-2002. The Journal of Infectious Diseases. 2007; volume 196, pages 339-346, or free full text at


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Copyright 2007 by John S. James. We prefer that you link to www.aidsnews.org or a specific article — no permission required. Otherwise permission is granted for nonprofit use. Please check with us (aidsnews@aidsnews.org) before copying articles more than a year old.

Source: AIDS Treatment News

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