TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 27, 2016

MDA offers free flu shots to individuals with neuromuscular disease

The Muscular Dystrophy Association, a leading nonprofit health agency for neuromuscular diseases, announced on Thursday that it will help with the cost of influenza vaccines for individuals with neuromuscular disease.

The MDA annually offers no cost flu shots to individuals with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, Lou Gehrig's disease, spinal muscular atrophy and other neuromuscular diseases who are at increased risk of complications from the flu. Individuals living with muscle disease may have compromised respiratory function, including difficulty clearing fluid from the lungs or coughing.

"All strains of the flu can cause serious and sometimes life-threatening illness for those living with a neuromuscular disease," Valerie Cwik, MDA's executive vice president and chief scientific and medical officer, said. "We encourage everyone affected to visit an MDA clinic or consult with their physician about receiving the vaccine as a precaution from contracting and spreading the flu this season."

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that people get their flu vaccine as soon as it is available in their area. Flu seasons are unpredictable and can start as early as October. Flu vaccines take about two weeks to confer protection against influenza to the body.

Individuals with muscle disease can receive flu vaccine reimbursement, up to $35, for the cost of vaccines from licensed healthcare professionals. This includes vaccines from retail pharmacies. MDA clinics may also offer the vaccines in some areas.