This Just In: Flu Shots Not All They're Cracked Up To Be

Discussion in 'Health & Fitness' started by Cindysphinx, Feb 22, 2013.

  1. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    Just saw this about the efficacy of flu shots.

    Things that make ya go "Hmmmmmmmmm." I especially like the part at the end where they don't like to release preliminary efficacy results because it would discourage people from getting flu shots.

    Yeah, makes sense. The last thing you would want to do is give someone making a medical decision some data about efficacy.

    **************

    Flu vaccine doing poor job of protecting older people; CDC stands by shots for those over 65

    By Associated Press, Published: February 21 (From Today's Washington Post)

    ATLANTA — It turns out this year’s flu shot is doing a startlingly dismal job of protecting older people, the most vulnerable age group.

    The vaccine is proving only 9 percent effective in those 65 and older against the harsh strain of the flu that is predominant this season, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday.

    Health officials are baffled as to why this is so. But the findings help explain why so many older people have been hospitalized with the flu this year.

    Despite the findings, the CDC stood by its recommendation that everyone over 6 months get flu shots, the elderly included, because some protection is better than none, and because those who are vaccinated and still get sick may suffer less severe symptoms.

    “Year in and year out, the vaccine is the best protection we have,” said CDC flu expert Dr. Joseph Bresee.

    Overall, across the age groups studied, the vaccine’s effectiveness was found to be a moderate 56 percent, which means those who got a shot have a 56 percent lower chance of winding up at the doctor with the flu. That is somewhat worse than what has been seen in other years.

    For those 65 and older, the vaccine was only 27 percent effective against the three strains it is designed to protect against, the worst level in about a decade. It did a particularly poor job against the tough strain that is causing more than three-quarters of the illnesses this year.

    It is well known that flu vaccine tends to protect younger people better than older ones. Elderly people have weaker immune systems that don’t respond as well to flu shots, and they are more vulnerable to the illness and its complications, including pneumonia.

    But health officials said they don’t know why this year’s vaccine did so poorly in that age group.

    One theory, as yet unproven, is that older people’s immune systems were accustomed to strains from the last two years and had more trouble switching gears to handle this year’s different, harsh strain.

    The preliminary data for senior citizens is less than definitive. It is based on fewer than 300 people scattered among five states.

    But it will no doubt surprise many people that the effectiveness is that low, said Michael Osterholm, a University of Minnesota infectious-disease expert who has tried to draw attention to the need for a more effective flu vaccine.

    Among infectious diseases, flu is considered one of the nation’s leading killers. On average, about 24,000 Americans die each flu season, according to the CDC.

    This flu season started in early December, a month earlier than usual, and peaked by the end of year. Hospitalization rates for people 65 and older have been some of the highest in a decade, at 146 per 100,000 people.

    Flu viruses tend to mutate more quickly than others, so a new vaccine is formulated each year to target the strains expected to be the major threats. CDC officials have said that in formulating this year’s vaccine, scientists accurately anticipated the strains that are circulating this season.

    Because of the guesswork involved, scientists tend to set a lower bar for flu vaccine. While childhood vaccines against diseases like measles are expected to be 90 or 95 percent effective, a flu vaccine that’s 60 to 70 percent effective in the U.S. is considered pretty good. By that standard, this year’s vaccine is OK.

    For senior citizens, a flu vaccine is considered pretty good if it’s in the 30 to 40 percent range, said Dr. Arnold Monto, a University of Michigan flu expert.

    A high-dose version of the flu shot was recently made available for those 65 and older, but the new study was too small to show whether that has made a difference.

    The CDC estimates are based on about 2,700 people who got sick in December and January. The researchers traced back to see who had gotten shots and who hadn’t. An earlier, smaller study put the vaccine’s overall effectiveness at 62 percent, but other factors that might have influenced that figure weren’t taken into account.

    The CDC’s Bresee said there is a danger in providing preliminary results because it may result in people doubting — or skipping — flu shots. But the figures were released to warn older people who got shots that they may still get sick and shouldn’t ignore any serious flu-like symptoms, he said.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/busin...c48-11e2-9073-e9dda4ac6a66_story.html?hpid=z3
     
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  2. Power Player

    Power Player Talk Tennis Guru

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    Uggh.

    This is actually very scary stuff. Who knows what people are developing to try and spread epidemics. And we can't even control the flu..great.
     
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  3. charliefedererer

    charliefedererer Legend

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    #3
  4. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Flu shots are all they are cracked up to be

    Despite the findings, the CDC stood by its recommendation that everyone over 6 months get flu shots, the elderly included, because some protection is better than none, and because those who are vaccinated and still get sick may suffer less severe symptoms.

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------
    So many people at tennis and work here have been affected, but my family got by with just a couple of days of cold each. We all took the shots.
     
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  5. ollinger

    ollinger Legend

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    1) the mathematics of calculating how effective flu shots need to be to prevent an EPIDEMIC is complex, but what we know is that efficacy (overall) in the 50-70 percent range is usually adequate to prevent serious spread. The goal of a flu shot is not just individual protection but reduction of vectors spread. Efficacy far less than 100% goes a long way to preventing an epidemic.
    2) flu shot efficacy is based on predictions before flu season of what strains will be most prevalent. Those predictions vary year to year.
     
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  6. WildVolley

    WildVolley Legend

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    So how have people been doing this year?

    I don't get the flu shots, but I did get tagged with a viral infection about a week ago. I don't know if it was the flu, but it caused cold like symptoms (lots of clear fluid draining out of my nose) and felt as though someone had been kidney punching me for a few days (made sleep difficult). I've since recovered.

    Still a lot of "maybes" and "we don't knows" from the official supporters of the flu shot. I'm always interested by the medical establishment who suddenly don't need any actual evidence when it comes to "establishment" approved medicine like flu shots but instantly become hysterical when alternative treatments are suggested because these alternative treatments are "unproven"!

    It doesn't bother me because I'm laissez-faire about medicine. You pays your money and takes your chances. But it would be nice to see some semblance of consistency among the medical establishment.
     
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  7. charliefedererer

    charliefedererer Legend

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    Flu shots are most effective in the relatively young and healthy like you.

    If it was highly likely a flu shot would have prevented feeling like someone punched you in the kidneys for a few days, would it have been worth it to get the flu shot?



    Did you spread the flu to anyone else, so they felt like they were being punched in the kidney for a few days?


    Did you spread the flu to someone elderly, or to someone else who then spread it to someone's grandparents who subsequently died of pneumonia as a consequence of the flu?


    Okay, so Gramma has to die of something, and only 64 kids so far have died from the flu. But would you feel bad if you find out you gave the flu to some kid who died?
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2013
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  8. Govnor

    Govnor Professional

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    this year has been brutal for flu. worst year i've ever seen.
     
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  9. ollinger

    ollinger Legend

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    Not sure what inconsistency you're referring to. I think everyone agrees the shot this year is in the 50-70 percent efficacy range. That it's less effective in the elderly is clear, but the elderly are protected by others having the shot and thus limiting spread by vectors. One needs to remember that preventing an epidemic is accomplished with that level of efficacy. Flu kills about 35,000 people a year; the largest known epidemic, in 1918, killed about 50 million people.

    As for the "medical establishment" views on alternative approaches, your perceptions are archaic. There's now a National Institute of Complementary and Alternative Medicine, and I know no practitioner who discourages patients from using such approaches, though many are not entirely convinced of the efficacy of some methods.
     
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  10. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    No flu shot for me, 51 years and counting. No flu either.

    I'm with WildVolley. If you tell me you have a vaccine for a disease but you aren't sure what strain will strike me, you're using "guesswork," your guesswork is only about 50% effective when most other vaccines are 90% effective, I have to get it every year, yet you don't understand *why* it is less effective among the elderly, then I would send you away to do your homework before I let you stick a needle in my arm.
     
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  11. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    I hate those statistics, as I think they are meaningless and hyped.

    I do not believe 50 million people would have died in 1918 had we had the medical technology we do now. In other words, if the same sort of flu hit now, we wouldn't see deaths at those levels IMHO. So let's calm down.

    I do not believe 35,000 people a year die of flu in the U.S. The CDC will tell you that number is not an actual count of flu deaths. It is an estimate.

    If we were losing that many people to flu every year, I would imagine I would know at least one person who has died from flu. Nope, don't know anyone who has died of flu ever.

    Consider other causes of death. I know people who died from gunshots, car accidents, cancer, strokes, heart attacks, drowning, etc. Flu? Nope.

    I mean, that estimate of 35,000 people is huge. We lose about 38,000 people a year to suicide. Off the top of my head, I can think of a few people I knew who committed suicide. Can't think of one flu death.

    I think there are some scare tactics going on that prevent folks from making an informed decision about vaccination.
     
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  12. WildVolley

    WildVolley Legend

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    As I stated in another thread, the one time in my life I got a flu shot it made me sick. I'm willing to re-evaluate my current position, but I need to see better evidence. At the moment I don't tend to trust the CDC.

    I'm not that worried about making older people sick, though I potentially could. In any case, I try to practice good hygiene and limit my contact with other people when I know I'm sick. I wash my hands, eat well, exercise and try to get enough sleep.

    I may be unfairly targeting the medical establishment. My main concern is with advocating laws to limit consumer choice with respect to alternative health care. Also, I haven't had good experiences with doctors, though I know there are good ones out there. I probably pay a visit to a doctor once every three years. I'm probably straying far afield, but I'd like to see more of a market economy in health care and less of a cartel and limiting of information.
     
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  13. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Hall of Fame

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    For the first time this year, I believe that I had a considerable reaction to my flu shot. Out of sorts for about 3 days, my head felt as though it was not normal and might get worse. Not a headache, not exactly dizzy, I can't remember the details now.

    It could have been a normal reaction to my body going through the immunity process but it was disturbing.

    One thing that I don't approve of or understand is the continuing use of Thimerosol in some(most?) of our vaccines. Thimerosol contains mercury and is used to protect the vaccine. There's concern that it might be related to autism.
    http://www.fda.gov/BiologicsBloodVaccines/SafetyAvailability/VaccineSafety/UCM096228

    At some point I was told that vaccines without Thimerosol could be requested. Anyone know about that?
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2013
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  14. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Exactly. That is why I don't sympathize with those who cite religious reasons for not getting vaccinated and claim that God will protect them. It is not just about them. To not care about others is the ultimate mockery of religion.
     
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  15. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    My reasons are not religious.

    I remain amazed that folks line up and willingly let anyone inject them with something that is insufficiently effective, must be done annually, and has cumulative effects that we definitely do not understand.

    Part of the problem is the "Chicken Little" urgency. Remember the dire warnings for the flu season 2011-12? Here's how it turned out (from the CDC web site):

    Remember the dire warnings for the flu season 2010-2011? Again, from the CDC web site:

    So we have these annual panic attacks, but we never hear a proper "never mind" when the sky doesn't fall.
     
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  16. MomentumGT

    MomentumGT Semi-Pro

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    Got the flu when I first came to the USA in the late 80's as a kid. Never had it again and never took a flu shot. Not worth it for me but I haven't been sick in over 5 years lol.

    -Jon
     
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  17. ollinger

    ollinger Legend

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    ^^ "has cumulative effects that we do not even understand" is not even a coherent thought. If we don't understand them, how do we know they exist? What evidence is there that they exist?
     
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  18. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    One more, from CDC. Remember, 2009-2010 was the year swine flu was supposed to kill us all.

    *************

    Here's something I didn't know. Despite the mass freak-out over the swine flu, the CDC did not ever evaluate the efficacy of the vaccine:

     
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  19. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    What I am referring to is this piece of the Washington Post article:

    I am also referring to observations made relating to the swine flu season in 2010. In that flu season, the swine flu was more virulent among younger populations. The theory I heard advanced at that time to explain this was that older people perhaps had built up natural immunity from the years before flu vaccination was common, and this cumulative natural immunity accounted for the difference in the impact on older v. younger people.

    Anyway, if you are taking the position that scientists fully understand the long-term, cumulative effect on the immune system from annual flu vaccinations, I think scientists in the field would disagree with you.
     
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  20. ollinger

    ollinger Legend

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    ^^ you're right....some scientists believe that immunizations of various kinds may jazz up the immune system and activate it in such a way that it may actually aid in the body's fight against cancer, the thrust of cancer research now being immunological. Look it up. Fascinating stuff.
     
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  21. v-verb

    v-verb Hall of Fame

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    Probably because so many people are skipping the flu shot.
     
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  22. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    Yes, I am aware.

    And I also have heard that the "jazzing" of the immune system might also kick it into overdrive and cause autoimmune disorders where the immune system attacks the host.

    Of course, one would expect new diagnoses for cancer to be declining substantially over time as we have vaccinated more and more and more.

    Is there any evidence for that?
     
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  23. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    More likely because the shot doesn't work half the time.
     
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  24. Nostradamus

    Nostradamus G.O.A.T.

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    GET the Flu shot. Don't be a silly layman

    Get the flu shot, maybe it is too late this year. but for sure, every year get it please. and Discard that article from Washington post. Stop reading articles from these news agencies because it is written for layman.
    GET the flushot. It is Effective. Not 100 % effective but it is Effective. It is Impossible to match 100 % of the strains out there but actually this year was better than other years in effectiveness.
    It is MUCH MUCH better than not getting it. especially for older folks. Fraile elderly can get super-infections on top of Flu and can die. Anyway to lower the risk of Flu is Better than none.
     
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  25. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Why would you expect that when bad eating habits, sedentary behavior, and pollution may also be on the rise?

    These are not single variable things that are simple to analyze.
     
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  26. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    That's true.

    I understood Ollinger to be implying that vaccination is helping with cancer rates.

    If cancer diagnosis rates were declining, this would support his argument.

    If cancer diagnosis rates are instead rising, it could refute his argument. Or it could mean nothing and be attributable to other factors, as you say.

    Ollinger made an interesting observation, but it would be a shame if we got side-tracked into thinking flu vaccines are good for us because they lower the risk of cancer.
     
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  27. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    ^^^ I agree.

    To be honest, I have always been on the fence about the flu vaccine, which is why I start the annual flu-vaccine bashing thread every year. We are going to do it one more year till the kid finishes high school, and then probably drop it. And pick it up again in our 80s if we are still around.
     
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  28. v-verb

    v-verb Hall of Fame

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    I used to skip the shot - would get the flu for a week - sicker than hell. I've been getting the shot yearly for the last few years. No flu.

    Skip the flu shot. I don't really care. Get sick or not - your choice. Kids and elderly die every year from the flu. Sad because it's likely preventable.

    I'm not wasting any more time providing any articles to read. Do what you want.

    Kill this stupid thread because the vaccine dissenters will never change.
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2013
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  29. Talker

    Talker Hall of Fame

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    No evidence has been found that the vacccine prevents transmission of the flu, one of the reasons pro vaccination people use without really knowing. They just assume it.

    http://gaia-health.com/gaia-blog/20...fluenza-vaccine-cochrane-collaboration-study/


    The evidence is very poor for vaccines, and there's not time to test the vaccine so you have to take your chances they are safe, but there are risks without a doubt. There are other ways that are much safer and not only work better but have other benefits.

    http://orthomolecular.org/resources/omns/v08n02.shtml
     
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  30. Dave M

    Dave M Hall of Fame

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    That's being a bit simplistic there, swine flu was nasty, if you didn't get it you were lucky. I got it and was bad for a few days, it put our daughter in hospital and spread quickly around our extended family as we had all met up before anyone showed any symptoms. Sadly all of this was about a fortnight before the vaccine was made avaliable.
    I've had "normal" seasonal flu about 10 years ago and it was worse than that but the biggest problems is that for example this years vaccine covers a variation of swine flu in it (here in the UK) it's got a version of what is thought to be the most likely "seasonal" vaiant to spread this year but it is partly guess work. Should that be enough to put you off, no, but it should make you look into anything you take.
    There were evaluations on the drugs given to people who had it at the start of swine flu season, how would you evaluate a vaccine though? Look at chicken pox, people vaccinated, it went into declline then after 5 or 10 years they didn't get the booster, it came back.
    Emotive subject though and the internet is rarely a place for sane voices to be heard!:-|
     
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  31. SwankPeRFection

    SwankPeRFection Hall of Fame

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    Never had a flu shot... last time I got the flu was when I was a kid in school and even then it was more like a cold than anything else. Wash your hands before meals, stay away from people that are sick. Wash your hands when you touch something that's been touched by someone who shows signs of being sick with anything. Eat peppermint candy when you're around people who are sick. Yes, believe it or not, peppermint in your stomach is a natural antiseptic of sorts.
     
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  32. ollinger

    ollinger Legend

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    ^^ and stay away from people who AREN'T sick as well! Flu is transmittable for pretty much the entire incubation period (i.e. before symptoms become evident), as much as 4 days, this being one of the reasons it spreads so readily.
     
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  33. iradical18

    iradical18 Professional

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    As a Nursing student, I still have to say just get the damn shot. It's one of the main reasons the elderly fill up my 5th floor and turn it in to a nursing home. They get the flu and end up getting pneumonia or something worse. Sure, weigh your pros and your cons and make the choice for yourself but if it's just a needle stick that may prevent you from giving the flu to something else why not just get it.
     
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  34. Fuji

    Fuji Legend

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    Just skimmed, but I haven't gotten a flu shot in over 10 years, and I'm rarely sick with flu or anything in that vein. That being said, possibly because of my age I don't notice it nearly as much.

    -Fuji
     
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  35. Pacific lefty

    Pacific lefty Rookie

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    I am really skeptical about the flu shot in general. Here in Ireland a few years ago there was panic about the H1N1 bird flu and people were urged to get vaccinated, particularly children. Shortly afterwards, there was a rise in narcolepsy cases in vaccinated children. It hasn't necessarily been proven, but the stories and some statistics are worrying. The way people were frightened and encouraged to get the vaccine, and the pharmaceutical company making loads of money in supplying it...and then finally, no outbreak whatsoever of this "killer bird flu pandemic", I think you really have to weigh the benefits and risks...
     
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  36. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    The money you pay for insurance just makes the insurance companies richer.

    Till you have the need for it.

    These things are probabilistic.
     
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  37. pvaudio

    pvaudio Legend

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    With all due respect, those people who are against vaccination because they themselves don't understand it are not the ones who should be giving advice. That 10% efficacy is an enormous amount of people. If there are say, 100M people over the age of 65, you've just protected 10,000,000 people from a disease which can be quite easily fatal (usually not directly, but rather the flu weakens them to be vulnerable to complications from other more easily fought off sicknesses) to their age group. To say that since it's less than 50% effective that it's somehow not worth the "risk"/money/anything else is absolutely absurd
     
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  38. pvaudio

    pvaudio Legend

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    Then you did not have the flu. It is absolutely nothing like a cold.
     
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  39. pvaudio

    pvaudio Legend

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    It's simply congeniality bias and cognitive dissonance which I find quite humorous actually. If you don't want to get a vaccine, then don't get one. No one is forcing you to get a measles, pertussis, mumps, hepatitis, tetanus, or meningitis vaccine either. Spreading an absolute lack of science and mathematics in the form of blogs and opinion articles based on a handful of people isn't proof of anything. It's just justifying what you want to be assured of: that since you haven't gotten the flu OR you once got sick having gotten the vaccine anyway that you shouldn't get or or don't need it. The fact that something may not work is not the same as the fact that it does not work. If that's the case, no one would ever get antibiotics which aren't close to 100% effective. And yet, when you get a Z-pack which makes you feel better, you don't hear anything to the contrary. The evidence only points in one way and it is toward prevention. It always has.
     
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  40. iradical18

    iradical18 Professional

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    Very well put, couldn't have said it better. There's a reason medicine is moving towards prevention. Way too many conspiracies and rationalization going on as to the reasons not to get it.
     
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  41. Avles

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    Funny you should mention that, here's a story from today...
    http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/02/26/vaccine-gsk-narcolepsy-idUSL6N0BQ7P720130226

    I think vaccines are great and am very happy to have been vaccinated for all sorts of things, but I don't think getting the flu vaccine is a no-brainer, at least not for me.
     
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  42. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    I read the story. Narcolepsy, eh? Incurable, eh?

    Correct me if I am wrong, but it sounds like some components of flu vaccines are used without sufficient testing to determine long-term side effects. Or, in the case of the 2009 swine flu vaccine in Europe, without determining short-term side effects.
     
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  43. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    According to the CDC FAQs:

     
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  44. maleyoyo

    maleyoyo Rookie

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    Good post.
    Vaccination is more of an emotional issue for most people.
    Vaccines are based on science. Arguments against them are anything but.
     
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  45. Topaz

    Topaz Legend

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    Thank you. I think many people don't realize how important it is because they don't see the fallout, especially with the elderly, in the hospitals.

    One of the biggest misconceptions people have is that the 'flu' involves some kind of GI symptoms. In fact, that is NOT something that is caused by the influenza virus. The flu and a cold share many of the same symptoms.

    The influenza virus is a HIGHLY contagious viral infection of the respiratory tract. It effects the nose, throat, and lungs. Symptoms include:

    People who have the flu often feel some or all of these signs and symptoms:

    • Fever* or feeling feverish/chills
    • Cough
    • Sore throat
    • Runny or stuffy nose
    • Muscle or body aches
    • Headaches
    • Fatigue (very tired)
    • Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.

    A lot of that looks like a cold right? Which, is also a virus. One of the reasons we have so many antibiotic resistant strains of diseases now is because of the overuse of antibiotic. Antibiotics do nothing for viruses. Meaning, antibiotics do NOT treat either the flu or common cold viruses. (that's a thread for another time)

    Since I've been in nursing school, I have not had ONE clinical where we have not had at least one patient on the floor with MRSA (an antibiotic resistant infection).

    http://www.cdc.gov/flu/keyfacts.htm
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2013
    #45
  46. Topaz

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    And...you are both saying the same thing.
     
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  47. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Hall of Fame

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    MRSA is very serious. What does "one clinical" mean, a work shift? MRSA patients are always close-by?
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2013
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  48. El Diablo

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    ^^ "one clinical" to a nursing student means a clinical rotation in a hospital, as opposed to classroom work.
     
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  49. El Diablo

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    MRSA peaked in the US about 5 years ago, 100,000 deaths a year at the peak, rates have come down considerably.
     
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  50. Topaz

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    Actually, I used 'clinical' to mean my weekly clinical. Not just one rotation. Each week, MRSA in at *least* one patient. Where I am now, we do nasal cultures for MRSA on admission *and* discharge, to make sure it isn't being acquired in the hospital.

    Its a big problem. It isn't going away. Antiobiotic resistant TB is now popping up.

    I'm about to enter a preceptorship on an acute care floor, which means I will be there more often. Maybe I'll track the MRSA for you.

    But this doesn't have anything to do necessarily with the flu. I was just demonstrating that often people say 'flu' when what they have is something else, and that the flu is *virus* which is not treated with antibiotics; and that the symptoms of the flu virus and the common cold virus are actually quite similar.

    Why is it so bad for the elderly? Most likely, their immune systems are already weakened (sometimes just because of age!), and they are not as active as they used to be...all this predisposes one to pneumonia, which in the elderly, is quite serious. I've seen a whole lot of that, too. :(

    And before nursing school, I was VERY anti-flu shot. Not anymore. Plus, we can't work in a hospital without one, it would just be terribly terribly unprofessional and irresponsible.
     
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