January 9, 2013

Flu.

It's bad this year.

Have you gotten a flu shot? If not, why not?

I must say that I have not. I've only gotten a flu shot once in my life — following the instructions of the President of the United States. I've had the flu once, but only once, so I tend to think I'm good at not getting the flu, even as I know how horrible it is at the individual level. And I've read "Flu : The Story Of The Great Influenza Pandemic," by Gina Kolata, so I understand how horrible it can be at the global level.

Meade got a flu shot, as he usually does. I made my usual excuses. It won't happen to me, I think, even though I know I can't know that. And more importantly, it's not just about protecting myself individually, it's a responsibility that we have toward others not to be a vector of disease. I'm going to go in tomorrow. 

It is not too late to get a flu shot.

114 comments:

Roux said...

Flu isn't any worse this year than it's been in prior years.

Freeman Hunt said...

Of course I got a flu shot.

Bob Ellison said...

My endrocrinologist got the flu shot, and the flu.

Nobody's perfect.

rastajenk said...

The only time I got a flu shot, I got the worst case of flu ever. I'll take my chances without, thank you.

wyo sis said...

I got the shot and a hot, swollen, itchy arm. But, no flu.

Astro said...

I've heard reports from a lot of places about how bad the flu is. Seems like it's worse than in previous years that were supposed to be 'bad' years.

I've gotten the flu shot almost every year. Unless one has an allergy to eggs, I don't know why someone would avoid it. It's painless.
Foolproof? No. But for the vast majority of people the risk/reward ratio heavily favors getting the flu shot.

chickelit said...

My wife got a flu shot and got it pretty bad. We other three caught something, but not as bad. We didn't have shots.

chickelit said...

Symptoms were aches, fever, sinus, then lungs. Lasts about a week.

MadisonMan said...

Pass.

I don't get the flu. So why get the shot?

I will say that I don't think I should get a colonoscopy either since my family is pretty much colon cancer-free. We're a death-by-stroke/heart disease type of family. Why spend money on something like that?

john said...

Not to worry. You are protected by the herd effect.

Moo, Meade.

AJ Lynch said...

I just bought it via Althouse. My parents were born in 1917 & 1918 so I guess they dodged a deadly bullet.

john said...

Sometime soon we will be able to get flu shots through your Amazon portal.

traditionalguy said...

Flu without a flu shot can be a 10 day near death agony as your body barely wins the fight using newly made antibodies.

Or with the shot had early in the season, the same flu is a minor illness for 3 days.

If you are at a school indoors, the odds are that you will be exposed.

The great Spanish Influenza Pandemic finally killed more American soldiers than combat did in WWI. It peaked in 1919. That winter my grandfather died of that flu while my mother was not yet born.

A death by pneumonia is the worst risk of flu and the antibiotics have removed that danger for those not yet elderly. The flu vaccine is free on Medicare.

I went to my drugstore offering it and the druggist mentioned that they had 5 of the extra powerful dosage shots for the elderly "at risk patients." When I told him I was at risk and elderly, he would not believe me. That was a compliment, I suppose.

SteveR said...

If everyone else gets one I don't have to.

Bob Ellison said...

I got the flu once. It almost killed me. I have a weak immune system, so I'm on the outer edge.

I don't seek pity here; I seek intelligence. Get the flu shot. Protect yourself, your kids, your family, and me. Try to keep humans alive. We're a pretty good species.

Pogo said...

I'd be fired if I didn't get one.

I had a brachial plexopathy from one of the flu vaccinations, but recovered fully.

bpm4532 said...

I've never had a flu shot.

Tyrone Slothrop said...

I got the swine flu shot in 1976, too. I was mostly just curious about the pneumatic injector they were using. I hated shots, and the idea of getting a shot without any needle really appealed to me. Now I'm type 1 diabetic and I take four shots a day. Irony? Anyway, I went and got the shot in the gymnasium of Juneau-Douglas High School, and it hurt like hell. By that evening I was as sick as a dog that is really sick. I got over it in two days, and as luck would have it, I never died of swine flu.

Inga said...

If you're a health care worker, you will be instructed that you either get the flu shot, or must wear a surgical mask to work during flu season. I get the flu shot every year. I have had the flu once in 30 + years of nursing hacking, sputum laden, virus vectors, also known as my patients.

AJ Lynch said...

I have never had a flu shot but am considering gettting a shingles vaccine. Shingles can be murder. Oh who am I kidding - I have gone to a doctor only twice in 20 years.

Meade said...

I got the 2003 - 2004 flu and had a 2 week near death experience that I never want to repeat until I go to the light for good. Once you come down with influenza, you'll never call a cold "the flu" again.

Palladian said...

I made sure to get the shot this year, after missing it last year. Why not get the shot? It's little cost (in terms of pain and price and side effects) and a huge benefit if it protects you from influenza. Plus, it helps everyone else, because it eliminates you as a disease vector as Althouse notes. Even if you're the kind of person who never gets sick, it's worth it.

Remember, the 1918 "Spanish" flu primarily killed people who were young and healthy.

Palladian said...

Meade's right, a serious bout of influenza is a horrendous experience.

The 1918 "Spanish" flu is really interesting, and a sobering reminder that such a monstrous disease could suddenly and disastrously appear at any time. We have one weapon that humans in 1918-1920 didn't have— vaccines.

That flu killed 20-50 million people. Many of the fatalities were young and healthy people, killed by their own immune responses.

bagoh20 said...

Thanks for the motivation. I never had one, but now I'll get one tomorrow. I just want to be part of the clique. Do you get a hat?

bagoh20 said...

"Remember, the 1918 "Spanish" flu primarily killed people who were young and healthy."

So, then I don't need it, and I'm getting safer every day.

Ruth Anne Adams said...

Spanish flu killed Lavinia Catherine Swire. It did not kill Cora Levinson Crawley, Countess Grantham.

But Lavinia's death meant Matthew and Lady Mary could finally be together. Too bad it didn't kill Julian Fellowes, the bastard.

David said...

Finally Inga is right about something.

I got the flu shot. Have not had the flu for eight years, since I started getting the flu shot.

Of course I did not get the shingles vaccine. Couldn't, because of leukemia treatment. Of course I got the shingles. Man they are nasty.

Get the flu shot.

Get the shingles vaccine (price has come down.)

Try not to get leukemia.

If you get leukemia, be lucky like me.

Way to go, Inga.



bagoh20 said...

I just got over a really bad cold last week - just like a flu, 7 days of congestion, pain, and dry heaving, but no fever, so a cold, I guess. When I recovered I was wiped out, delirious, heaving all night, and the next day perfectly fine like it never happened. It was strange to recover so quickly and completely, but very welcome.

This is a little embarrassing, but I had a dream about Meade when I was sick. I don't know why, I was having all kinds of strange dreams, and it's not like I fantasize about him or anything........... during weekdays.

Anyway, we were in Madison, but it was mountainous and snowing. Meade had a friend that was pilot and had a nice Piper Arrow, and took us for ride around the valley in the driving snow. Beautiful mountains and scenery all around, then we come into the airport to land, and a huge SR71 Blackbird cuts right in front of us on final approach. We swerve around, but land without incident and taxi right into the guy's garage, then it ends.

What does it mean? It was very enjoyable, and I woke up smiling - but no wood.

Sorry Ann, you were blogging or something, and couldn't go, but we had a blast.

edutcher said...

I got it before I could get the shot. The Blonde, who has refused to get a shot for years, got it babysitting, but kicked it by going Wiccan, or something holistic.

Meade said...

I got the 2003 - 2004 flu and had a 2 week near death experience that I never want to repeat until I go to the light for good.

I was in a similar spot once. This is why you need your sweetie by your side.

Inga said...

Going Wiccan, Edutcher?

Bwahahahahahaha!

firstHat said...

Flu shot + me = five days of low grade fever
Never again

pj (lowercase) said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Inga said...

A little eye of newt, leg of spider, tooth of cat, hair of the dog the bit ya.......

Tibore said...

Man, I've gotten the flu shot every damn year since 1999, the year I got the flu so bad I was hallucinating and actually passed out and did a nosedive onto my bathroom tile.

Never. Again. I've gotten the damn shot ever since and have been happy to get it.

tiger said...

I never do but was told by doc to get one this year.

Didn't/Haven't because I can't afford it and have no health insurance.

Keeping my fingers crossed.

pj (lowercase) said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Inga said...

CDC - Seasonal Influenza Activity & Surveillance

tiger said...

Palladian said...
Meade's right, a serious bout of influenza is a horrendous experience.

The 1918 "Spanish" flu is really interesting, and...killed 20-50 million people. Many of the fatalities were young and healthy people, killed by their own immune responses.


I've read extensively on the 1918-18 flu outbreak and have never, ever, not once read that young people were 'killed by their own immune responses'; citation needed, please.

Inga said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tibore said...

1. People have been saying that "this year's shot doesn't cover what's out there". I hear that statement every year and I've yet to see it actually be substantiated. Besides, even if a vaccine didn't cover every possible strain, we know they're developed to cover the most common ones for that year. That's good enough for me.

2. People complaining of a low grade fever are probably experiencing the body developing antibodies. Pogo the physician can correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm under the impression that it's a sort of micro "cytokine storm" (not a real one, since that's potentially deadly) and totally expected in some. It's still a low fever, but that's just a symptom matching; you're not overheating because you're turning into a virus factory, and that's the important part.

Patrick said...

I had the flu two years ago. Good god it was
Terrible. On day five I went to the doctor and was relieved that I had an actual disease. I was useless to my family for about ten days, which I hope never to repeat.

Two young otherwise healthy kids have died here this week. How terrible.

pj (lowercase) said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Patrick said...

Once after getting the shot, I got sick and thought I had the flu. Having influenza later cured of that notion.

Inga said...

Tiger, Palladian is right. It's called a Cytokine Storm.

Tim said...

I got the flu shot, like I do every year.

No side effects either, like every year.

Nor the flu, so far, like every year.

Nomadic100 said...

It surprises me that, while many of the commenters here are often intelligent, in my view, on other topics, they go off the rails on health. So many anecdotal stories from which universally applicable conclusions are reached. For example: if you have never gotten the flu, you have simply been lucky. You cannot conclude that you never will get it.

I'm a physician and I've delayed getting immunized too long as it is. I'm going in tomorrow.

Inga said...

Ah, I see Tibor beat me to it.

Inga said...

The victims of the Spanish Flu died of a real Cytokine Storm. Avian flu is known to be deadlier to middle aged and young adults.

As my whimsy leads me.. said...

The flu strain this year is worse than last year, and kicked in earlier. The hospital where I work started getting admissions positive for flu in late November. I got a flu shot. The last time I had the flu, I felt like I would die just from the fatigue. No way do I want to go through that again.

People who are allergic to eggs, if they got only hives or a mild reaction, can probably get the flu shot. There is a new algorithm out from the CDC based on research on patient reactons. Check with your doctor.

Toy

Indigo Red said...

I've had influenza a few times, but only once after getting a vaccine and that experience was the year the Singapore flu was going around, the vaccine took care of that, but late in the season Sydney cropped up. With that flu, I not only thought I was going to die, I wanted to die just to end the suffering.

The vaccine this year is not specific to the current flu strain, but is very close that it should protect fairly well. It has struck about a month sooner than usual so more people are going to be exposed.

The vaccine takes two weeks for the body to create enough antibodies for any resistance, so those of you who have gotten the shot and then became sick, you were either already infected or were infected before the antibodies could be made.

I will be vaccinated tomorrow because after influenza in '78/'79, I developed chronic bronchitis that lasted almost ten years and I don't want to do that ever again.

jelink said...

Pfffttt! Those scientists. They don't know what they're doing. Sometimes they're wrong, so what the fuck do they know?

Pffftt! I got a flu shot once, and then I got side effects. Fuck flu shots.

Pfftt! I got a flu shot once, and then I didn't get sick! Screw the expense. I'll take my chances.

Pfft! I hear this years flu is worst for the young, I'm old, so I don't need no stinkin' flu shot.

Pft! I hear this years flu is worst for the old, I'm young, so I don't need no stinkin' flu shot.

Sorry - I can no longer exhale strongly enough to go pft, let alone pfffttt. I didn't get my flu shot, and I am near death.

Pray for me, and for all stupid people like me.

chickelit said...

Tibore said...
Pogo the physician can correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm under the impression that it's a sort of micro "cytokine storm" (not a real one, since that's potentially deadly) and totally expected in some.

Inga said...
Tiger, Palladian is right. It's called a Cytokine Storm.

but then:

Inga said...
Ah, I see Tibor beat me to it.
_________________________
Inga, whom I trust regarding matters of healthcare and medicine, but mistrust regarding commenting good faith, baffles me.

ad hoc said...

I have gotten the flu shot every year for the past 8 yrs - it' s a work requirement and I have not been sick. If you are under 50, you can get the nasal spray instead of the injection. For those who don't like needles. Although I'm not sure if there are different effectiveness rates depending on how the vaccine is administered.

ad hoc said...

I have gotten the flu shot every year for the past 8 yrs - it' s a work requirement and I have not been sick. If you are under 50, you can get the nasal spray instead of the injection. For those who don't like needles. Although I'm not sure if there are different effectiveness rates depending on how the vaccine is administered.

chickelit said...

Not to be sardonic, but wouldn't a "boomer flu" be just what the doctor ordered?

full disclosure: my offspring are insured.

Balfegor said...

Had the flu once or twice when young, once when in law school. Has tended to leave me delirious.

I might have had the flu just this past week, only if so, it was easily the mildest bout of flu I have ever experienced. So it might have been nothing more than an unusually bad cold albeit with chills, a temperature, and aches, lethargy, etc.

I have a large supply of surgical masks. I wear them on airplanes and at home when it is especially dry and when I am sick in Japan/Korea, and would wear them more extensively whenever I'm sick or there's something going around the office, only there's no custom of wearing masks in the US and I hesitate to do it in public, since it tends to attract odd looks. Maybe I ought to, though.

Inga said...

Ad hoc, the nasal spray is thought to be less effective, in the military and where I am currently employed its not offered to troops or employess, just the injection.

Scott X said...

I first came down with the flu in 1983 at the age of 17. I threw up about a dozen times and had non-stop diarrhea for about 7 hours before my parents took me to the emergency room. I was so weak and dehydrated that I could not stand up on my own. It was an almost comical scene as my 110 lb. mom tried to drag me at 200 lbs. to the bathroom from my bed, so I could puke and shit again and again.

I came down with the flu 3 other times over years. Yeah, it was not good, but nowhere as near as bad as the first time. That was, until 4 years ago, when I came down with the flu that rivaled the first time in its intensity. At certain points when you're throwing up and having diarrhea at the same time, and your entire body feels like someone has just hit every inch of it with a baseball bat, you begin to wish that you could just die.

I survived that bout of the flu, but I've gotten a flu shot every year since then, and haven't gotten ill since(knock on wood).

A serious case of the flu is just unimaginatively horrible, and I would encourage everyone to get a flu shot.

Roger J. said...

Wow--great thread. there is some good advice and some really bad advice--pay your money and take your chance. For those who blow off the flu {no pun intended} you might want to check the top ten causes of death in the united states.

If you are over 65 check on the criteria for shingles and get pneumovax vaccine.

Mr. D said...

I got it this year because it was convenient to do so (they offered it at my office) and free. First time I ever have.

Robert Cook said...

There are many strains of influenza and each year's flu vaccination is for only one strain.

So, if one is exposed to that one strain they've chosen for this year, one is protected to greater or lesser degree. However, if one is exposed to any other of the multitude of strains of flu that exist...the shot won't do squat!

I've never had the flu, except maybe once 32 years ago...but that might also have been some other sort of viral infection.

Michael Haz said...

I always get a flu shot. There is not reason not to.

The epidemic this winter seems to be the upper respiratory crud, which some people confuse with influenza. They are very different things. I usually contract that; this year's was pretty bad and required antibiotics and narcotics.

Influenza is misery. You exist in a realm of pain and suffering and your life circle is restricted to bed and bathroom. A flu shot will not protect against other minor viruses which are sometimes confused with the flu.

I agree with Meade. Get influenza once (and live through it) and you'll remember to get the shot every year.

I've never had polio, but I wouldn't bypass getting a polio shot. Common sense.

Michael Haz said...

By the way, the flu epicenter seems to be near Milwaukee to the point that the Today Show is reporting form here this morning.

Robert Cook said...

David said:

"If you get leukemia, be lucky like me."

I had leukemia 15 years ago, would have probably died in my bed that night if after five days sick at home I hadn't gone to the doctor who sent me to the hospital pronto! The emergency room docs told a friend of mine who stopped to see me that they weren't sure I'd live through the night. (He didn't reveal this to me until much later.) My blood hemoglobin on admission to the emergency room was just at 3, or a hair above. I got many blood transfusions, was treated with seven once-a-day subcutaneous injections of cladribine (2CDA), and recovered. As of my last blood test in June 2012, everything still looks good.

So, I'm lucky like David!

Fritz said...

"There are many strains of influenza and each year's flu vaccination is for only one strain."

Not true; the vaccine incorporates 3 strains they anticipate to be them most pervasive, but it's still a SWAG; some years are better than others.

I get mine every year courtesy of the Federal government.

edutcher said...

Too bad Oop doesn't recognize facetious when he/she/it sees it.

MadisonMan said...

Although I don't immunize, there are things I do: Get plenty of sleep, and eat well. If I'm feeling like I'm getting sick, I double down on sleep.

This has worked for me for 50+ years. Some day in the future it won't work. We'll see what happens in that eventuality.

pm317 said...

yeah, I had the flu and then gave it to my hubby and we are still not completely out of it. I have become a kind of germophobic now.. and what happens? yesterday at the place I work, I almost ran into this guy turning a corner coughing into the open air.. hate it when they do that. Run the other way from sick people.

Brennan said...

I don't get the flu shot based on the limited research that proves it is effective for healthy people in my age bracket.

I will get a flu shot later in life when it will be more difficult for my body to fight it.

James said...

I never get the flu and I don't intend to get the shot. Neither does my wife and she sees patients and interacts with lots of people daily.

We just take simple commonsense precautions; wash our hands regularly (especially after coming in from outside and touching surfaces), and don't ever touch our faces without first washing our hands.

Tibore said...

Fritz already beat me to correcting Robert Cook's small mistake, but to riff further:

"The World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention pick the strains they think are most likely to circulate in the coming months so that people are protected against everything that may go around... Every year there are two A strains and one B strain of influenza included in the vaccine."

Also, it's a bit simplistic to say that strain matches are either hits or misses:
"If the viruses in the vaccine and the influenza viruses circulating in the community are closely matched, vaccine effectiveness is higher. If they are not closely matched, vaccine effectiveness can be reduced. However, it’s important to remember that even when the viruses are not closely matched, the vaccine can still protect many people and prevent flu-related complications. Such protection is possible because antibodies made in response to the vaccine can provide some protection (called cross-protection) against different, but related strains of influenza viruses."

First quote is from Sciencedaily.com, second is from the US CDC website (I'm not linking them directly because for some odd reason anytime I provide links I get caught up in blogger's dumb spam filter).

Tibore said...

Oh, further info from the Sciencedaily.com page I lifted the earlier quote from:

"Some manufacturers are planning to produce a quadrivalent (four component) vaccine for the 2013-2014 season."

So granted, that won't help this year, but we might be seeing 4 strain vaccines by next fall.

Tibore said...

@Inga

I was actually referring to cytokine storms as a sort of comparison of why vaccinations produce a specific flu like symptom. In actuality, I was not referring to historical influenza deaths, so I actually didn't beat you to it. But yes, in the end that's still correct: "Cytokine storm" responses is indeed strongly suspected as being the autoimmune overreaction that killed so many during historical pandemics. For example, it's been so strongly suspected to be the case in the H1N1 "bird flu" cases in the past few years that some attempted treatments involved either cytokine inhibitors or receptor blockers (I forget which). I don't recall what the efficacy ended up being, though; that's something that'll have to be Googled.

The medical irony discovered during the H1N1 travails, and again pretty strongly suspected in prior influenza outbreaks (such as the infamous 1918 round) is that when a new pathogen triggers such an immune system overreaction, it's people with the healthiest immune systems that end up dying, and that's because it's robust immune systems that can really go far overboard in overreacting to a new pathogen. Serious and sad irony, that.

Helenhightops said...

Inga and Palladian are right - certain strains of flu, including the 1918 Spanish Flu, are more likely to kill the young and healthy. These strain have a TRIMODAL mortality curve - a bump in death for infants and the very old, which is usual, and then a third spike in death for young adults. Read "William Henry Welch and the Heroic Age of American Medicine". These experts autopsied the first guys dying at Fort Dix, and halfway through they just looked at each other and decided it was something they'd never seen before - looked just like flu clinically, but everybody knew flu could NOT ravage the lungs of young people like that.But it WAS influenza. But this strain provoked a super aggressive immune response which so inflamed the lungs that sometimes they died in a few hours. On a related note, there is a famous experiment in Japan from a few years back - for three years running, they went into schools and vaccinated almost 100% of school children, and during those three years, people died in the hospital at the same rate year round. No increased mortality in the winter. After three years they quit universal vaccination of school children, and the death rate returned to the normal winter spike. Most excess winter deaths from pneumonia, heart failure, asthma, etc., are probably sequelae of flu.

bandmeeting said...

The only time I had one I still got the flu.

Kelly said...

I got the flu shot this year. In early December I knew two people in two different states who already had the flu, so I knew it was going to be a bad year. I think some people who say they got the flu from the shot already had the flu or else they just had a cold.

We had colds over Christmas, was tested for the flu which was negative. Colds can make you think you have the flu.

Last time I had the flu I couldn't lift my head off the pillow. My husband had the flu as well, but had to take a PT test to get into a school he'd been wanting to go to. He passed, but not by enough. The man had the flu! How he managed to take a PT test when I couldn't get off the couch I'll never know.

Several months later he took the test again and did well enough to get into the school. But yeah, I get the shot after that flu experience.

Freeman Hunt said...

We're all required to fund other people's birth control, but everyone pays out of pocket for a flu vaccination. Go figure.

sparrow said...

Nearly everybody at work got one but plenty of those same folks got the flu anyway - it's a hard disease to vaccinate against.

mariner said...

Bright and early this morning on The Tube:

Current flu shots don't protect against the "B Strain" flu that's going around right now.

Inga said...

For those on Medicare, the flu shot is provided at no cost.

Teri said...

While we are recommending vaccinations, please get vaccinated for pertussis (whooping cough). I've been sick with many things over my 61 years, but I've never been this sick this long. I've had this for 8 weeks and still feel like an invalid. I can see why this stuff kills young children.

I have no idea how I got it. Pertussis is epidemic in Washington state and the first doctor I went to didn't really test for it. Parents out here do not seem to be vaccinating their children and that's why it has become such a problem.

Astro said...

Considering all the contact with other people that takes place from late October (Halloween) through the holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years Eve) and into the new year -- seeing friends and family you haven't seen for weeks or months, meeting new people, riding on airplanes/limos/taxis with people who were recently in distant cities with a different sets of germs and viruses -- it's a wonder more people don't get seriously ill and/or die this time of year.

Inga said...

I just read in the NYT, that this year we've had the worst whooping cough outbreak in 60 years.

Tiny Bunch said...

I wonder whether there is any added benefit from a history of getting yearly flu shots. For example, assume the CDC guesses wrong for the current year's mix. Could the shot someone had three years ago still be supplying a benefit if it is a match with the current flu?

Laura C. said...

This research was widely reported last October -- seems those who've been getting the yearly shot made a good choice for several reasons (quote below is from Fox):
"Results show that people who received the flu vaccine were 50 percent less likely to experience a heart attack or stroke, and 40 percent less likely to die from one, compared with people in the unvaccinated control group.
The flu vaccine could be an important way to maintain heart health and ward off strokes and heart attacks, the researchers said. They presented their findings at a cardiovascular disease research meeting Monday in Toronto."

Helenhightops said...

It is children who are the vectors for spread of influenza, and the vaccine is highly effective in children. The older the adult, the less protection afforded, although you never get too old to try to get SOME protection. But if you could get all the kids vaccinated, we wouldn't have epidemics nearly as bad. Maybe only sporadic outbreaks. If you have an elderly frail family member, the best thing you can do is vaccinate the young and healthy people around that person.

sinz52 said...

I take immunosuppressant medication to prevent rejection of the kidney transplant I had two years ago.

Because of this, I have to get flu shots and vaccines and prophylactic antivirals against many other infections. I've had the pneumovax and I'm due to get a booster of the DPT. For the first year I was on famciclovir to prevent an outbreak of shingles, since I had chicken pox as a child.

Roux said...

The more they sensationalize it the more some people will go to the Dr to seek treatment for ILI. It's a self fulfilling prophecy.

ambienisevil said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Methadras said...

I will not get a flu shot.

Tibore said...

"Tiny Bunch said...
I wonder whether there is any added benefit from a history of getting yearly flu shots."


Yes. From the CDC website:
"A flu vaccine is needed every year because flu viruses are constantly changing. It’s not unusual for new flu viruses to appear each year. The flu vaccine is formulated each year to keep up with the flu viruses as they change."

"For example, assume the CDC guesses wrong for the current year's mix. Could the shot someone had three years ago still be supplying a benefit if it is a match with the current flu?"

For starters, they don't guess; they and the WHO studies what's circulating among populations and only after that tailors that year's batch of vaccinations to meet those observed threats. It isn't random, and it's designed to counter what current strain(s) is(are) circulating

Also:
"... multiple studies conducted over different seasons and across vaccine types and influenza virus subtypes have shown that the body’s immunity to influenza viruses (acquired either through natural infection or vaccination) declines over time."

So while a prior year's vaccination might provide protection, chances are it won't be anywhere near as strong as it could be, hence the need for yearly shots.

dreams said...

I read that is young people who are the ones who should get the flu shot because older people are more likely to have some immunity and it was mostly young people who died in 1918 flu.

ken in sc said...

In the Air Force, I had to get a flu shot every year. The first year I was retired, I didn't get one because I didn't have to. I got the flu and was sick as a dog for two weeks. Ever since, I have taken a flu shot and not gotten the flu again yet. I got the shingles shot this year too. Both were covered by Tricare, a retired military benefit.

dreams said...

I read that getting the flu, shingles and pneumonia shot helps prevent heart attacks. I've had all of them except for the pneumonia shot. I think I've already benefited from the shingles shot for I think I just had a very very mild form of shingles.

denmotherblog said...

I never got flu shots, having not had the flu since childhood. Then, in my early 40s, I got the flu. Not what people call the flu, i.e. a non-descript gastrointestinal virus, but actual influenza. I was so miserable and it took so long to recover fully that I have gotten a flu shot every year since. I'm not in a high-risk group, but I don't want to be that sick ever again.

dreams said...

I just talk to a young guy in the store this morning who said someone he knew had just died from the flu and was only 18 years old. I don't know if this 18 year old had other health problems.

Robert Zaleski said...

I have an immune system that does fine fighting infections. When I get it, hole up in bed and have fluids and lots of sleep for two days. Maybe some thera-flu or other meds to ease my pain.

I mean, it's the flu, just don't be stupid. Yeah stuff can happen, but people have allergic reactions to medicine ALL the time. My aunt, who is a nurse, almost died 2 years ago at the ripe old age of 30 from an anti-biotic.

So no more meds than absolutely necessary, and preferably ones I've taken before.

Kelly said...

I recommend the shingles vaccine, but I think it is only sixty percent effective. I had the shingles when I was 36 years old. Imagine someone stabbing you in the back with an ice pick, that's what it felt like. I also had lingering nerve pain for over a year.

dreams said...

If you get shingles even after having had the shot then it is much milder than it would otherwise have been which was the case with me. I'm glad I got the shot.

Peter said...

In general, it's all but impossible to find anything in medicine that offers as much benefit for as little risk (and as little cost) as immunization.

To be sure, flu immunization has a lower benefit-to-risk ratio than most immunizations as the ability of the virus to mutate requires yearly immunizations and increases the probability that the vaccine will be ineffective.

BUT it's still a very good deal. And especially so this year, as the vaccine makers apparently guessed right in deciding what strains were likely to be a threat this year and because this year's flu seems to be somewhat worse than usual.

Amartel said...

Highly recommend "The Great Influenza" by John Barry.

R. Chatt said...

Last time I had a flu shot I was sick for about two weeks. My reaction was rather severe and I haven't done it since.

According to CDC:

The flu shot: The viruses in the flu shot are killed (inactivated), so you cannot get the flu from a flu shot. Some minor side effects that could occur are:
• Soreness, redness, or swelling where the shot was given
• Fever (low grade)
• Aches
• Nausea
• Headache, muscle ache, and tiredness. These symptoms usually go away within 3 to 7 days.

Here's a site which offers a quick test to help determine whether to take the flu shot.

R. Chatt said...

http://flushot.healthmap.org/

Mel said...

I got the flu shot for the same reason Pogo did. Get it or get fired. Actually, I would have gotten it anyway, because I have asthma and the standard 10-day horror show lasted more like 4 weeks the only time I have had the flu as an adult. (Caught it from a patient before they vaccinated us at work that year. Worst. Thing. Ever. But probably helped them get the strain right in the vaccine.)

What I am seeing in Tennessee/Virginia is that somewhere between 25-30% of patients who had the shot this year are still getting the B strain, but aren't getting the A and are not as sick as those who didn't have the shot. Even the nurses I work with are getting it at that rate and it's all flu B. We have seen unvaccinated patients with flu A, which seems to be less common in positive testing, but the symptoms are subjectively described as worse by patients.

Get the shot...it's worth it.

Helenhightops said...

Ambienisevil:
Many people get chickenpox but never break out. If your siblings got CP, you almost certainly had it, too. From my textbook:

EVIDENCE OF IMMUNITY — Evidence of immunity to varicella in adults includes any of the following:

Documentation of two doses of varicella vaccine at least four weeks apart
Laboratory confirmation of prior exposure to varicella infection
History of prior varicella infection or herpes zoster infection
Birth in the US before 1980
Persons born before 1980 are considered immune since the prevalence of disease was previously so high. However, in high-risk groups (eg, in health care providers or pregnant women) age alone does not constitute immunity; these risk groups should have serologic testing or a history of prior disease or vaccination.

Helenhightops said...

Ambienisevil:

From the same textbook re: shingles vaccine:
Serologic testing — It is not necessary to elucidate whether the patient has a history of varicella prior to vaccine administration. Serologic testing for past exposure to VZV prior to immunization is also not required since it was not utilized in the large clinical trials described above [17,21,22].

Please note, though, that this is a live vaccine, so that people with certain immune deficiencies should not take it.

Helenhightops said...

Ambienisevil:

The one thing you DON'T want is to catch natural chickenpox as an adult. Adults are covered with skin lesions, and often get a bad viral pneumonia, which can be life-threatening. But if you are older then 32, you probably had natural infection. A blood test would tell.

Frenchy said...

Scientists 'guess' month in advance which flu strain may cause a pandemic, and design a vaccine to include 3 - 4 of the most likely culprits. They are usually wrong when it comes to virus roulette. I too got the last virus shot during the Carter Administration when the scare of 'Swine flu' swept the nation. I am waiting for the sotory of the guy who got hit by a bus coming out of a CVS after getting hsiflu shot.....

Frenchy said...

Scientists 'guess' month in advance which flu strain may cause a pandemic, and design a vaccine to include 3 - 4 of the most likely culprits. They are usually wrong when it comes to virus roulette. I too got the last virus shot during the Carter Administration when the scare of 'Swine flu' swept the nation. I am waiting for the sotory of the guy who got hit by a bus coming out of a CVS after getting hsiflu shot.....

ambienisevil said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jeremy said...

I actually was thought to have gotten chicken pox as a kid because my friends had it and I had something or other.

But it turned out I didn't, and when my mother got shingles later in her life, I got Chicken Pox from her, which turned into pneumonia and almost killed me, since I don't have health insurance and didn't go to the doctor. (Also scarred the heck out of my face).

Anyway, vaccines are basically like insurance. Are the benefits worth the money? Being poor, even getting sick is the cheaper option, since it's not like I go to the doctor anyway.

pj (lowercase) said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Helenhightops said...

Ambienisevil:

If you truly think you NEVER were exposed to chickenpox, and you NEVER had two doses of varicella vaccine either, then you get the blood test, and if you do not have antibodies ( and, statistically, you probably WILL have antibodies if born before 1980) then you get vaccinated against chickenpox NOW, as a young person. If you DO have antibodies, then you DID have natural chickenpox at some time ( or you got vaccinated and don't remember ( just teasing)) and you wait and get the shingles vaccine when you are older.

Mac D'souza said...

Influenza(the flu) is an acute viral illness, costing Australian businesses millions of dollars every year in absenteeism and sick leave. Initially the flu affects.
flu vaccinations