Talk Tennis

Talk Tennis (http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/index.php)
-   Health & Fitness (http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/forumdisplay.php?f=18)
-   -   This Just In: Flu Shots Not All They're Cracked Up To Be (http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=455533)

Cindysphinx 02-22-2013 06:01 AM

This Just In: Flu Shots Not All They're Cracked Up To Be
 
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/busine...y.html?hpid=z3

Power Player 02-22-2013 06:03 AM

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.

charliefedererer 02-22-2013 06:07 AM

"The preliminary data for senior citizens is less than definitive. It is based on fewer than 300 people scattered among five states."
- http://www.washingtonpost.com/busine...y.html?hpid=z3

sureshs 02-22-2013 06:26 AM

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.

ollinger 02-22-2013 06:38 AM

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.

WildVolley 02-22-2013 07:34 AM

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.

charliefedererer 02-22-2013 08:25 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by WildVolley (Post 7230207)
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.

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?

Govnor 02-22-2013 08:27 AM

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

ollinger 02-22-2013 08:42 AM

WV
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.

Cindysphinx 02-22-2013 08:59 AM

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.

Cindysphinx 02-22-2013 09:08 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ollinger (Post 7230355)
WV
Flu kills about 35,000 people a year; the largest known epidemic, in 1918, killed about 50 million people.

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.

WildVolley 02-22-2013 09:11 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by charliefedererer (Post 7230299)
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?

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.

Chas Tennis 02-22-2013 09:32 AM

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/BiologicsBloodVac...fety/UCM096228

At some point I was told that vaccines without Thimerosol could be requested. Anyone know about that?

sureshs 02-22-2013 09:42 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ollinger (Post 7230062)
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.

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.

Cindysphinx 02-22-2013 10:00 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by sureshs (Post 7230486)
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.

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):

Quote:

What was the 2011-2012 flu season like?
In comparison to other seasons, the 2011-2012 season set a new record for the lowest and shortest peak of influenza-like illness. The season began late and was mild compared to most previous seasons for which surveillance data is available.
Remember the dire warnings for the flu season 2010-2011? Again, from the CDC web site:

Quote:

What was the 2010-2011 flu season like?
In comparison to the last three seasons, the 2010-2011 influenza season was less severe than both the pandemic year (2009-2010) and the 2007-2008 season, but more severe than the 2008-2009 influenza season, as determined by the percentage of deaths resulting from pneumonia or influenza, the number of influenza-associated pediatric deaths reported, adult and pediatric hospitalization rates, and the percentage of visits to outpatient clinics for influenza-like illness (ILI).
So we have these annual panic attacks, but we never hear a proper "never mind" when the sky doesn't fall.

MomentumGT 02-22-2013 10:06 AM

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

ollinger 02-22-2013 10:07 AM

^^ "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?

Cindysphinx 02-22-2013 10:13 AM

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

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

Quote:

What was the 2009-2010 flu season like?
Flu seasons are unpredictable in a number of ways, including when they begin, how severe they are, how long they last and which viruses will spread. There were more uncertainties than usual going into the 2009-2010 flu season because of the emergence of the 2009 H1N1 influenza virus (previously called “novel H1N1” or “swine flu”) in the spring of 2009. This virus caused the first influenza pandemic (global outbreak of disease caused by a novel influenza virus) in more than 40 years. The United States experienced its first wave of 2009 H1N1 activity in the spring of 2009, followed by a second, larger wave of 2009 H1N1 activity in the fall and winter, during typical “flu season” time for the U.S. For information about 2009 H1N1 flu, visit the CDC 2009 H1N1 Flu website.

The 2009-2010 flu season began very early, with 2009 H1N1 viruses predominating and causing high levels of flu activity much earlier in the year than during most regular flu seasons. Activity peaked in October and then declined quickly to below baseline levels by January. While activity was low and continuing to decline, 2009 H1N1 viruses were still reported in small numbers through the spring and summer of 20101. Additional information about flu activity during the 2009-2010 season can be found in the MMWR article Update: Influenza Activity - United States, 2009-10 Season.
. . . .

How severe was the season?

2009 H1N1 activity was relatively more severe among people younger than 65 years of age compared with non-pandemic influenza seasons. Influenza activity was associated with significantly higher pediatric mortality, and higher rates of hospitalizations in children and young adults than previous seasons. The 2009-10 influenza season was relatively less severe among people 65 years and older than compared with usual flu seasons. Like seasonal flu, people with certain chronic medical conditions were at greater risk of serious flu complications during the 2009-10 pandemic season, including hospitalizations and deaths. In fact, an estimated 80% of adult hospitalizations and 65% of child hospitalizations related to 2009 H1N1 occurred in people with one or more underlying medical conditions1.

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:

Quote:

Were last season’s vaccines a good match for circulating viruses?
Flu viruses are constantly changing (called antigenic drift) – they often change from one season to the next or they can even change within the course of one flu season. Experts must pick which viruses to include in the vaccine many months in advance in order for vaccine to be produced and delivered on time. (For more information about the seasonal flu vaccine virus selection process, visit Selecting the Viruses in the Influenza (Flu) Vaccine.) Because of these factors, there is always the possibility of a less than optimal match between circulating flu viruses and the viruses in the seasonal flu vaccine.
Because there were few seasonal flu viruses (as opposed to 2009 H1N1 viruses) in circulation during the 2009-2010 season, vaccine effectiveness (VE) studies could not be performed for the 2009-2010 seasonal vaccine. CDC was able to estimate VE for the 2009 H1N1 vaccine. The estimate for overall VE for the 2009 H1N1 vaccine was approximately 62%.

Cindysphinx 02-22-2013 10:17 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ollinger (Post 7230528)
^^ "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?

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

Quote:

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.
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.

ollinger 02-22-2013 10:21 AM

^^ 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.


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 06:57 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.6.9
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
© 2006 - Tennis Warehouse