What precautions should I take since the flu is now epidemic, and I'm just beginning Enbrel?

I will begin Enbrel (along with continuing on MTX and Sulindac) this coming week. Due to the fact that the flu virus seems to be especially bad across the country right now, just how compromised will my immune system be? Does the medication take immunity completely down? I'm wondering especially about being in crowded places and contracting the virus and/or an infection. My husband doesn't want me to go to our church, which has a congregation of about 900 in the auditorium at one time, but I think he's overreacting. Is he right?

I go to church every week. I have been on Enbrel since December of 2012. I'm doing fine. I wash my hands constantly...especially at work. Get a regular flu shot too. Just don't shake hands with everyone. Check with your Dr

Hopefully I helped you.. Take care


Thanks, Karen. I did get the flu shot in the late fall. All the information on Enbrel is a bit scary, though I realize the pharmaceutical company has to include each and every possible potential side effect. I take most of them with a grain of salt, though I did just lose my mother this past April to acute leukemia, so that particular side effect caught my eye, too. I just read the informational booklet that came with my materials last night, and remarked to my husband that on every page I turned the "risk of infections" warning was at the top of each one. I suppose part of the vigilance I need to incorporate is that if someone behind me at church is coughing uncontrollably (and they're never the ones who excuse themselves!) I just need to get up and move. I'm hoping that the advantages of the medication outweigh the risks! Again, thanks for your reply, Karen.

Karen said:

I go to church every week. I have been on Enbrel since December of 2012. I'm doing fine. I wash my hands constantly...especially at work. Get a regular flu shot too. Just don't shake hands with everyone. Check with your Dr

Hopefully I helped you.. Take care


Get your flu shot and wash your hands regularly. The flu shot is good for 12 months, so you are okay for this year. The changes to your immune system are pretty minimal at the doses we take, so don’t let it affect your life. You do not need to be in a bubble. Obviously, take the normal precautions such as hand washing, and avoiding sick people, but there no need to cut yourself off. Plus, hopefully, you will start feeling better soon and then you’ll WANT to get out and do more!

As hard as it is to believe, many of us get sick less frequently while on our meds as we get healthier with activity. The meds only effect a small portion of an overactive immune system.

I am on Remicade and mtx. I go to church and other gatherings. I still shake hands as I need the contact but I keep hand sanitizer in my purse which I discretely use all the time. I also keep my hnads away fro my face until I get home and wash my hands well. I really have less trouble with colds and infections than I did when my PsA was out of control. Then I seemed to get sick all the tie.

For what it’s worth, i forgot to add that I am on Remicade and MTX. I am also a nurse and worked with patients for over a year while taking Humira. Since I started biologics in 2010, I haven’t had so much as a cold. My children bring home every bug under the sun, my husband just got over the flu (wouldn’t get a flu shot, so serves him right-I even got him a card for a free shot!), and I’ve not been sick at all.

When I first started biologics, I wanted to wall myself off a little too. I worked to get out of the ER, because of all of the cooties, I work a mask when I would go to the doctors office, and I washed a little obsessively. That got old, and as the habits started to slip, I noticed that I wasn’t getting sick.

To add my few cents, I've always been pretty healthy and robust and like everyone else heard and read about all the 'warnings' about infection on dmards and biologics which can be pretty scary when you already feel anxious and worried about the disease itself.

The medics nearly went into orbit when they found out what I do for a living - that I handled cats and cleaned out cat litter boxes all day every day. But I took the view that I'd never yet caught anything from a cat and I wasn't suddenly going to start handling them/the soiled litter in any different way to increase that risk.

I get the flu and pneumonia jab every autumn. This time of year if I'm going into an enclosed public space/aeroplane/train/bus etc I use a nasal spray which helps protect against cold and flu viruses. When I'm out the house I'm careful not to touch food or my face before washing my hands and I also keep a small bottle of alcohol hand foam in my handbag for occasions when I can't get to soap and water.

In two years I have been absolutely fine, just one cold but it wasn't severe and I didn't develop any secondary infection .... which as I understand it is the biggest risk ie. something relatively benign like a cold comes along but you end up with a secondary chest infection.

I think you just have to use common sense but above all remember that you have got to live your life. Be aware, and if you do catch something, get a cut or insect bite etc that doesn't resolve normally then see your doctor asap for antibiotics.

One of the suggestions my doctor told me about when going out to places like church, movies, meetings and other gatherings is to sit in the back row. This way people cannot cough or sneeze on you.

Thanks to all of you for the helpful information and tips. I feel more relieved, and I really hope that my husband does, too! I am usually very healthy, at least regarding sickness -- autoimmune diseases being another story -- but I rarely even get a cold, so I hope that my natural immunity will prevail at least a little bit. My hubby can't fully understand, as no one who doesn't have PsA can, how much I'm looking forward to feeling better, and that hope overrides my fears of terrible consequences. Thank you, TNTLamb, for reminding me that the meds only affect the overactive parts of my immune system. That's the ONLY thing that's overactive with me right now! Ha ha! Also, I appreciate the advice to sit in the back of church, movies, etc. I don't work with cats, Jules, but I do babysit frequently with young grandchildren (four of them ages 2 and under, with a set of twins in the mix) who seem to have runny noses as a personality trait. I don't want to ever give up my time with them, but I'll just be sure to wash up a lot when we play.