Thursday, January 10th, 2013

Will This Flu Epidemic Kill You? Maybe, But You Could Also Get A Flu Shot!

After many years of quiet flu seasons, the current winter epidemic is shaping up to be something pretty terrible. Boston is officially an emergency zone, with more than 700 reported cases and 18 deaths so far. The South is already racking up flu deaths, with 22 deaths in South Carolina alone. Thousands have been hospitalized nationwide, and the flu is jumping to other patients.

What can you do? Go get a flu shot! Even if you "don't care about getting the flu," because you're unemployed or insane or look forward to a real-life version of The Stand, please get a flu shot so that you're not infecting everybody else. Sometimes, the vaccine is "off," and doesn't prevent the dominant flu of a particular season. This year, the vaccine is right for the common influenza out there. In many cases, getting a quick shot in the arm is preferable to death.

The vaccines are free at many public health clinics and senior centers and other places with socialism, while your "flex spending" will cover the $15 at the drug store if you're lucky enough to have health insurance. And even if it's cash forever lost, $15 is far cheaper than losing two weeks of your life to a stupid pig flu or whatever it is, this year. If you somehow don't know where the Duane Read or Walgreens can be found in your neighborhood, use this little widget deal by typing in your zip code.

Even the nation's hated congressional representatives are encouraging Americans to get a flu shot … the Democratic representatives, anyway. We noticed in this story from Washington politics newspaper The Hill that all of the congressmen tweeting about getting vaccines are Democrats, except for one brave California Republican, Rep. Jeff Denham. Even if Republicans in Congress believed in the scary science about medicine and disease and evolution, they are loathe to admit it on Twitter. Better to have your entire constituency die from influenza rather than suggest a government-subsidized flu vaccine might be good for people. Vaccines are just a plot, anyway, so the U.N. can take our precious assault rifles.

17 Comments / Post A Comment

LondonLee (#922)

Got mine this morning. Living in Boston and having kids made it a must.

saythatscool (#101)

A pig flu?
I thought that was impossible.
I guess it doesn't really matter though, since they'll get cured anyway.

Maud Newton (#600)

I had a flu shot, still got the awful scourge, and was perplexed. My sister's an ER nurse and says this year's flu shot is "completely ineffective" against the current strain, and I've since heard the same thing anecdotally, but I guess it's still good to get it in case some lesser variant is going around.

Maud Newton (#600)

@Maud Newton Well, if you had read this properly you would see that the current shot is said to be effective against "the common influenza out there."

Non-Anonymous (#19,293)

@Maud Newton I suspect human nature at work. People love to generalize from limited personal experience. If they know someone who's has been the victim of a crime recently, people assume crime rates in general are up. If they're having trouble making ends meet, they assume prices in general are going up. And if they happen to see a bunch of people with the flu, they assume that this year's flu vaccine must have been ineffective.

deepomega (#1,720)

If you never ever get the flu, should you assume you're eternally safe?

Non-Anonymous (#19,293)

@deepomega Of course. There is nothing that could possibly go wrong.

PoignancySelz (#238,693)

Whatever you do, don't go to the ER with flu sx's. It does no one any good.

julebsorry (#5,783)

@PoignancySelz I seriously considered it when I had the norovirus (stomach flu) on Tuesday. This thing is going around and it's baaaad. I don't take going to the hospital lightly, but I was seriously concerned I was on the brink of dangerous dehydration as all my fluids violently escaped my body over a course of hours.


Yamara (#9,395)

Even if you "don't care about getting the flu," because you're unemployed or insane or look forward to a real-life version of The Stand, please get a flu shot so that you're not infecting everybody else.

…Buuut those are all great reasons to not get a shot.

"I'm insane and unemployed! I give you deathflu!"
"I was sane and employed, but now I die…"
"Now, with my NEW JOB, I can DESTROY THE WORLD!!"
"You can't really do that from the stock room at Staples."

faceifer (#240,686)

Just getting over the plague here – I mean flu. After that experience, I say if there is even a marginal chance that the shot lowers your chances of getting sick, DO IT. I haven't been that sick in years. It reminded me of when I had mono.

Brunhilde (#1,225)

I dunno, according to the facebook pages of people I went to high school with "There's MSG In one flu shot. Look up what Monosodium Glutamate does to to brain cells… it kills them" and Mercury and Formaldehyde and it'll make me autistic?

Guess I should have paid attention before I got mine.

Laurie (#240,688)

I'm a nurse from a small community hospital near Boston. We were all forced to get the flu shot at the beginning of the season by our employer, and the flu is still rampantly running through the nursing staff anyhow. Maybe it's effective against the "common influenza" strain this year, and maybe it's not, but in terms of clinical outcomes (i.e. actually preventing a huge outbreak of the flu), it's clearly not doing jack, at least around here.

Sure that's anecdotal evidence, but the research for the efficacy of the flu vaccine is barely above the level of anecdotal either. The best shows very minimal to no differences in outcomes, and industry-funding of the studies that show positive outcomes is pretty much the norm.

The gold standard for non-biased meta-studies (where multiple clinical trials are evaluated and compared)is here:

TLDR: "Vaccine use did not affect the number of people hospitalised or working days lost but caused one case of Guillian-Barré syndrome (a major neurological condition leading to paralysis) for every one million vaccinations. Fifteen of the 36 trials were funded by vaccine companies and four had no funding declaration. Our results may be an optimistic estimate because company-sponsored influenza vaccines trials tend to produce results favorable to their products"

shelven (#1,992)

I just got a flu shot! And "loath," not "loathe," in this instance. (You are getting overflow from my last semester — sorry.)

scrooge (#2,697)

Tamiflu sales peaked at $3 billion in 2009, when governments stockpiled the product in case of a global epidemic of avian flu that never materialized.

Clearly, the whole thing is another corporate/government conspiracy.

prommie (#240,718)

Ken Layne, thank God for you, some gravitas here at last, to leaven the bright but callow tone of the place.

Anarcissie (#3,748)

As a general principle, I don't like to introduce something into my body it can't reject.

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