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MDA offers free flu shots to those affected by muscle disease

The Muscular Dystrophy Association is offering assistance with the cost of flu vaccines for individuals affected by neuromuscular disease, including Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) and ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease).

MDA offers this service annually for adults and children living with muscle disease who, because of compromised respiratory function — including difficulty coughing or clearing fluid from the lungs — are at increased risk of serious and possibly life-threatening complications from the flu.

Families and individuals served by the Association can visit MDA’s Flu Season Resource Center to receive up-to-date information and tips for flu prevention, what to do should infection occur and how to obtain a vaccine through MDA.

Flu seasons are unpredictable and can begin as early as October, so the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that people get their flu vaccine as soon as it is available in their area. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for the body to be protected from the flu.

“All strains of the flu can cause serious and sometimes life-threatening illness for those living with a neuromuscular disease,” said MDA Executive Vice President and Chief Scientific and Medical Officer Valerie Cwik, M.D. “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 influenza vaccine for 2013-2014 will help protect against three viruses — influenza A (H1N1 and H3N2) viruses, as well as the common influenza B virus. Individuals affected by muscle disease can receive reimbursement, up to $35, for the cost of vaccines received from licensed health care professionals, including those located at retail pharmacies. MDA clinics may also offer flu shots in certain areas.

For more information about obtaining a flu vaccine, individuals may call their local MDA office at 227-7098. The office is located at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, 4301 W. Markham Ambulatory Care Center, Little Rock.

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