Flu Fighter: Donna Greyerbiehl
Meet flu fighter Donna Greyerbiehl of Ann Arbor, Michigan. For Donna, flu season is an especially scary time of year. Donna has a primary immunodeficiency disease called common variable immune deficiency (CVID). People with this disease have low levels of antibodies making it difficult to fight off germs like flu viruses.
Compared to the general population, patients living with CVID and other diseases that can result in a weakened immune system are at an increased risk during flu season.
Donna is active in her community, volunteering regularly at a local hospital, but during flu season she is forced to curtail her activities to avoid coming in contact with flu and other respiratory viruses. She is a strong advocate for flu vaccination and is proactive in talking to her friends, family and others in her social circle about ‘community immunity’ and how everyone needs to get vaccinated.
- How has flu impacted you personally? Why do you fight flu?
In 2014, I suffered a severe case of flu, requiring extended hospitalization and a three-month recovery. It was a terrifying experience that I would never want to go through again. It is sad to say, but during flu season, I tend to hibernate and stay home as much as possible to reduce my risk of getting sick.
- How do you fight flu?
People with PI should not get a live flu vaccine, so I get the inactivated vaccine (flu shot) every year. I also remind my family and friends of the need to get a flu vaccine. I am active on social media and make timely pleas to my connections there to spread the word and get vaccinated!
- What would you say to those who are hesitant about getting a flu vaccine?
Your decision to get a flu vaccine should not be driven only by how it will impact you personally. Your actions have a significant impact on your community and those you come in contact with every day. People with compromised immune systems rely on ‘community immunity’ to avoid a variety of diseases and infections, including flu. Getting your flu vaccine should be a simple, meaningful action you can take as a caring member of your community.
- What do you want others to learn from your experience with flu?
For most people, getting flu may be a temporary inconvenience, but for people living with PI, or other conditions that can cause a weakened immune system, it can be a life or death matter. Everyone needs to realize that a decision not to get vaccinated could cause real harm and suffering to another person.In addition to getting a flu vaccine, people who get flu should stay home and recover fully. Continuing to go to work or take part in normal activities and interacting with others needlessly puts others at risk.
In addition to getting a flu vaccine, people who get flu should stay home and recover fully. Continuing to go to work or take part in normal activities and interacting with others needlessly puts others at risk.
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