Should You Get A Flu Vaccination When You Have M.E. / Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

Many ME/CFS sufferers wonder whether they should have a flu vaccination (flu shot / flu jab).

Vaccinations have been known to cause chronic fatigue syndrome and injections such as flu shots have been known to apparently worsen ME/CFS sufferers' symptoms.

So what should you do? And what can you do to protect yourself from the flu?

Find out more below...


Vaccinations are a great subject of controversy in the ME/CFS arena. Should you have them? Shouldn't you have them? It seems the verdict is still out...

You see, vaccinations have been known to cause a small minority of cases of ME / Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. In addition, there's a theory that your immune system might be so weak that having a vaccination could make you feel even more ill. In fact, if you developed ME/CFS via a virus (i.e. if you have Post Viral Fatigue Syndrome), or if you still are experiencing flu-like symptoms at the time of your vaccination, then you are apparently more likely to suffer a worsening of your symptoms. [ref 31]

ME/CFS & Flu Vaccinations (Influenza Shots)

One of the most common enquiries we get is about flu shots (flu jabs ). Should you get a flu vaccination? Shouldn't you get a flu shot? It seems that there are differing opinions...

Dr Shepherd for example, recognizes the "fairly high degree of protection" that flu shots can provide but stresses:

"(...) anecdotal reports suggest that [an adverse reaction or relapse following use of the influenza vaccine] may be more likely to occur in people who have ongoing infective-type symptoms (sore throats, enlarged glands, problems with temperature control, etc.). In this situation, I would personally advise against having a flu vaccine unless there are very good reasons for doing so.

I also would advise against flu vaccinations if a patient is in the very early stages of CFS, particularly when it obviously follows an infective episode. In addition, I would avoid administering the vaccine if the patient has previously experienced an adverse reaction to flu shots. Patients who have not shown adverse reactions to influenza vaccines in previous years will probably handle the latest vaccine without any real problems, even though the preparation varies annually."

-- Charles Shepherd, Medical Director of ME Association (UK) --

On the other hand, here is another medical professional's opinion on ME/CFS and vaccinations:

"There is no good evidence-based medicine knowledge to support or refute the often-repeated notion that people with CFS should not have vaccinations.

(...) we know that for certain people in high-risk groups, influenza can be serious or deadly. (...) I advise my patients that the decision to receive influenza vaccine should be made based on whether they meet the current Public Health Service criteria for vaccination.

If a person with CFS has any of those indications for the vaccine, I recommend it without hesitation. (...) If a person does not have one of the standard indications for the vaccine, I tell them that the decision to receive it has to be a personal decision and that there is no research to confirm or reject the theory that patients with CFS have more problems with the vaccine."

-- Stanley N. Schwartz, MD, American Association for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome --

The bottom line is that every individual is different, so it's always best to talk it through with your doctor first.

Are There Any Alternatives?

This is such a controversial and muddy area! Do you opt to have a flu shot when you have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome / ME?

Being quite a severely affected Post Viral Fatigue Syndrome myself, I began to wonder whether there were any natural alternatives to flu vaccinations. Whether I decided to opt for having the flu jab or not, I wanted to know what you can do to prevent yourself, as an ME / Chronic Fatigue Syndrome sufferer, from catching the dreaded flu! ME/CFS , chronic fatigue syndrome, vaccination, shot, flu vaccination, flu shot, virus, viruses

Well, qualified Nutritionist and Kinesiologist and former ME sufferer, Lesley Martin, has kindly written an article for you about her opinions on:

  • whether vaccinations such as flu vaccinations (flu shots) are a good idea when you have ME / Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and;
  • alternative ways to help protect yourself against the flu virus.

Remember - the following are Lesley's opinions. Like the other medical opinions quoted on this page, Lesley's are one set of many differing opinions on this controversial topic.

As always, please consult with your doctor before taking any advice you find on this web site.

Viruses, Flu Vaccinations (Flu Shots) & Natural Alternatives

By Lesley Martin

The discussions on viruses are all very interesting and are a hot topic for debate.

There are a couple of sites that might be of interest:

  • One is an official site that takes a mainstream view and gives a bit of data on flu:
  • The other is the official echinacea site for Bioforce, who make organic herbal tinctures and other herbal products:

My own view is the same as that held by Bioforce and in accordance with nature cure principles. These are that the best way to protect ourselves from viruses is to take measures to strengthen our immune systems against invaders and to look after ourselves using natural methods.

Viruses :: The Natural View

The natural view is that injecting ourselves with viruses is unhelpful and may add to the body's burdens. Also, a vaccine can only contain a handful of viruses whereas there will be hundreds or even thousands of strains for us to contend with. So even if the vaccine provides a defence against those few, the others may still get us.

If your white blood count is already low, a flu virus vaccination may make you even more unwell as it will have insufficient resources to mount any kind of attack. It therefore makes sense to try and strengthen the defences you have.

Natural Ways Of Strengthening Your Immune System

The very best ways to strengthen the immune system for winter is to take the following throughout the whole season:

    • Echinacea Purpurea
    • Zinc
    • Selenium, and
    • Vitamin C

Additional (and very helpful) products include Bee Propolis (available in the form of lozenges, throat spray and capsules) and garlic.

Raw crushed garlic, on your dinner or on a piece of toast, is one of the most effective ways of keeping your immune system strong and will help get rid of a virus really well.

Vitamin D is particularly important when you have ME/CFS because many ME/CFS sufferers cannot get out much, and are therefore deprived of sunlight (which is where you obtain Vit D). This will have a bearing on your immunity, bones and on depression and energy levels.

Written by Lesley Martin, Copyright 2005. All Rights Reserved.


    Lesley suffered from ME for 5 years. She recovered gradually using complementary medicine and self-help and now works as a qualified Nutritionist and Kinesiologist in the Buckinghamshire area (UK).

    She has treated many ME/CFS and Fibromyalgia sufferers over the years.

    You can visit Lesley's web site here!



Category: ME / Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, vaccination, shot, flu vaccination, flu shot, flu jabs, virus, viruses

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