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NIH Clinical Center Radio

Annual flu shot can protect you, your patients, and your family

Episode # 109
Uploaded: September 5, 2012
Running Time: 2:42

CROWN: From the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, this is CLINICAL CENTER RADIO.

Nobody likes getting the flu. If you work at the NIH Clinical Center, a 240-bed research hospital, getting sick with influenza is not only bad news for you but also potentially really dangerous to the center's patients. Infectious diseases specialist Dr. Tara Palmore:

PALMORE: So patients who have cancer, stem cell transplants, autoimmune diseases, diabetes, and HIV/AIDS, and also other immune-compromising conditions are particularly at risk for severe complications of flu infection. Those can include prolonged pneumonia and death. Often patients who are highly immuno-compromised become ill with influenza, and they might be actually ill and contagious for a long period of time which can lead to transmission to others.

CROWN: The best way to reduce your risks of getting sick or getting others sick is to get the flu shot every year, says Dr. Palmore. Planning to stay home once you feel ill may not be enough.

PALMORE: Most healthy adults can infect others one day before symptoms develop. So actually even if they stay home when they get sick, they may have already transmitted influenza.

CROWN: The Clinical Center offers free flu shots for all staff and those who work with patients are required to get immunized.

PALMORE: Healthcare workers should be vaccinated because they can protect their patients, they can protect their families, and they can protect themselves from influenza and from complications of influenza.

CROWN: Dr. Palmore adds that this year they'll also offer a higher dose shot for staff who are 65 and older.

PALMORE: Staff who are 65 and older will be offered the high dose influenza vaccine which stimulates a stronger immune response in that age group. That age group tends to have lower levels of protective antibodies than younger folks after influenza vaccination. Because 90 percent of influenza deaths occur in people age 65 and older, we think this is a really good idea for helping to protect those staff members and, of course, helping them protect their families and patients.

CROWN: Get a vaccination schedule and more facts online at

From America's Clinical Research Hospital, this has been CLINICAL CENTER RADIO. In Bethesda, Maryland, I'm Ellen Crown, at the National Institutes of Health, an agency of the United States Department of Health and Human Services.

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This page last reviewed on 09/6/12

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