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betsy

About FLU Vaccines

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My friend has a toddler and a newborn. She is so worried about the newborn getting the flu since she says, "it will kill him." I don't know about the full medical history of the baby.

Anyway the toddler got the flu vaccine to prevent this situation. However, the toddler goes to the public daycare.

I told my friend that the flu shots cover only 45% of flu strain....and that her toddler could still be a "carrier" when she comes home.

The way I understand flu shot, it only protects you (the one who got the shot) but you could still have the virus clinging to your clothes or hair etc., (if you get sneezed at)...which can still be passed on to others.

Am I right?

Edited by betsy

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The way I understand flu shot, it only protects you (the one who got the shot) but you could still have the virus clinging to your clothes or hair etc., (if you get sneezed at)...which can still be passed on to others.

Am I right?

I think that's correct.

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which can still be passed on to others.

Am I right?

You are partially correct, it all depends on what kind of virus. It can last anywhere from few minutes (HIV) to months (Hepatitis A) outside of a host.

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Is it true that the flu vaccines for each year are formulated to fight the strains of flu that epidemiologists anticipate will be most common that year?

-k

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Is it true that the flu vaccines for each year are formulated to fight the strains of flu that epidemiologists anticipate will be most common that year?

-k

Yes, that is my understanding. And they have a long lead time, too. They have to figure out long in advance which will be the most common types. I don't know how many they can include, but I think 3 is the norm. There are actually 3 main types of flu, but a wide variety of subgroups because they keep mutating.

http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/viruses/types.htm

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There's virtually no way to avoid the flu unless you're a shut-in. That's especially so if you have kids. Flu germs can linger on all kinds of surfaces for long hours, including the banking machine buttons, door handles, grocery store carts, those little cash machines you pay for so much with, phones, computer keyboards and remote controls, touch screen devices, tables, elevator buttons, and even if you avoid all that, if someone nearby is breathing it into the air, coughing, etc., you're probably going to inhale it. The vaccine doesn't provide total protection, but it's a lot better than nothing.

Edited by Argus

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A few points:

- Argus is right... they do have to 'guess' what types of virus to use months in advance (mostly by looking at the strains that are circulating in parts of South East asia, which tends to get hit first with the flu before Europe/North America, then extrapolating.) Sometimes, the virus selection is quite close to the strains that do circulate, sometimes it isn't. However, even if the strain used in the vaccine doesn't match the exact strain that is circulating, there may be some similarities in the viruses, and you might end up with at least partial protection when vaccinated

- There can be even more confusion over the situation, since when people get sick with 'the flu', they usually don't go to the lab to get the virus identified. Thus, people often mistake really bad colds and similar diseases for influenza. (Thus, a lot of people who claim "I got the vaccine and still got the flu" may be mistaken... they could have simply had a really bad cold.)

- Even when a person is vaccinated, they can still get the flu. Either

* They can catch a version of the flu that was not contained in the vaccine

* The vaccine takes a couple of weeks to become fully effective, at which point the person is still at risk

* In a small number of people (I think its around 10%), the body doesn't build up the required antibodies even after the vaccine.

- The Flu virus can survive 2-8 hours on surfaces. (However, the virus can also be transmitted through water droplets suspended in the air. In fact, it may actually be difficult to catch the flu from 'surface contact' since the virus spreads better when exposed to deeper tissues like lungs.)

http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/qa/preventing.htm

What I would tell your friend is:

- Don't panic/over-hype the situation. Yes, there are risks with the flu (including death), but its not like an automatic death sentence, even for people who have weakened immune systems. The last thing we need is a repeat of the recent H1N1 'Swine flu' pandemic, where a rational call for action ("Hey, maybe you should get vaccinated") got turned into a media circus, and now anti-vaccine idiots point to the situation and say "see? we don't need vaccines"

- Do get the baby vaccinated. Even if the flu vaccine isn't perfect, it does help. Of course, not only should the baby get vaccinated, but all of the friends/family should too. On the chance that the baby is one of the small minority who doesn't build up an immune response, the more people around them that are vaccinated (and thus less able to catch the flu and transmit the virus) the safer the baby will be. Its a concept called 'herd immunity'.

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Is it true that the flu vaccines for each year are formulated to fight the strains of flu that epidemiologists anticipate will be most common that year?

-k

what-you-did-there-i-see-it.thumbnail.jpg

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One other note about this year's flu vaccine...

Apparently, the selection of viruses was very accurate, and it will give pretty good protection.

From: http://www.foxnews.com/health/2013/01/18/how-health-officials-determine-viruses-used-in-flu-vaccine/

The current flu vaccines is made up of three components of influenza virus – one influenza A (H3N2) virus, one seasonal influenza A (H1N1) virus and one influenza B virus....

...

...this year’s flu vaccine is extremely well-matched to the main flu viruses circulating this winter. The vaccine is extremely well- matched to the H3N2 strain, which is the most prominent strain circulating this season, as well as the H1N1 circulating, too. As for the B component, Cox said the vaccine matches around two-thirds of the strains that are circulating, not accounting for the other third. But since 70 percent or more of the viruses wreaking havoc this season are caused by the influenza A viruses, this year’s vaccine is extremely protective.

So, some back-of-the-envelope caclulations, the vaccine should be effective for around 80-90% of all potential infections.

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Infection rates are significantly higher this year. Is that matched by a corresponding lower level of vaccination? Somehow I doubt it.

I'm not anti-vax (far from it), but the flu vaccines in particular seem like little more than a cheap card trick. You're guessing almost a year out how to combat a strain that doesn't even exist yet, and numbers like 90% protection keep getting thrown around by the officials in charge, when its documented effectiveness is far less. Not only that, but the old wives tale about being more likely to get the flu if you get vaccinated than not, may actually have validity as well.

New report questions science behind flu vaccine efficacy and use policy

http://www.ottawacit...6704/story.html

In recent years studies by a variety of research groups — including in Canada — have shown that the long-quoted claims that flu shots offered 70 to 90 per cent protection against influenza have been off the mark.

Somewhere in the order of 50 to 60 per cent, in healthy adults, is more accurate, the newer studies suggest. Efficacy rates are lower in the elderly or people in poor health.

Flu shot issue may not be ‘Canadian problem’ after all: study

http://www.theglobea...article4530649/

A strange vaccine-related phenomenon spotted at the start of the 2009 flu pandemic may well have been real, a new study suggests.

Canadian researchers noticed in the early weeks of the pandemic that people who got a flu shot for the 2008-2009 winter seemed to be more likely to get infected with the pandemic virus than people who hadn’t received a flu shot.

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Infection rates are significantly higher this year. Is that matched by a corresponding lower level of vaccination? Somehow I doubt it.

Well its only 21 days into 'this year' so far, unless you meant last year.

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Infection rates are significantly higher this year. Is that matched by a corresponding lower level of vaccination? Somehow I doubt it.

Ummm... why are you doubting it?

Vaccinations do reduce the cases of inflenza. If you reduce the number of people getting vaccinated, fewer people will be immune, and more people can get sick.

It may not be the only reason for an increase in the rate of influenza infections (there may be differences in the virility of the strains circulating this year, there may be changes in population migrations, etc.) but it would make a lot of sense as a contributing factor.

I'm not anti-vax (far from it), but the flu vaccines in particular seem like little more than a cheap card trick. You're guessing almost a year out how to combat a strain that doesn't even exist yet...

Actually, the strains that they make the vaccines do exist... they're just circulating in other parts of the world.

...and numbers like 90% protection keep getting thrown around by the officials in charge, when its documented effectiveness is far less.

Actually, it depends on what you're defining as 'effecitveness'.

When you hear terms of '90% protection', it is probably referring to the number of people who were given the vaccine, and subsequently developed antibodies. Here's an article that discusses that: http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa0907413

A randomized, observer-blind, parallel-group trial evaluating two doses of an inactivated, split-virus 2009 H1N1 vaccine in healthy adults between the ages of 18 and 64 years is ongoing at a single site in Australia....By day 21 after the first dose, antibody titers of 1:40 or more were observed in 114 of 120 subjects (95.0%) who received the 15-μg dose and in 106 of 119 subjects (89.1%) who received the 30-μg dose..

So yes, claims of ~90% effectiveness are understandable.

Now, if an individual comes across a strain of flu not covered in the vaccine, then obviously its not going to be as effective (if effective at all).

Not only that, but the old wives tale about being more likely to get the flu if you get vaccinated than not, may actually have validity as well.

Errr... probably not.

New report questions science behind flu vaccine efficacy and use policy

http://www.ottawacit...6704/story.html

Keep in mind that that report did not suggest that "The flu vaccine doesn't work". Heck, even the author of the report stated that people should continue to get vaccinated.

The point of the article is that it may not stop as many people from getting sick as first thought, and stresses the need for a more 'universal vaccine'. Unfortunately I'm sure some idiots are going to hold this up as falls proof that "the vaccine doesn't work" when it says nothing of the sort.

Flu shot issue may not be ‘Canadian problem’ after all: study

http://www.theglobea...article4530649/

Keep in mind that the evidence for this is rather... thin.

It was referring to a claim that people who got the seasonal flu shot seemed to be more suseptiable to the H1N1 "swine flu". However, it should be noted that:

- At the time, this effect was seen only in Canada. Why was it not seen in the U.S. or the U.K.?

- This new study (the one referenced above) did experiments on only 32 test animals (ferrets in this case). While the findings cannot automatically be dismissed, this is a relatively small case, and can be easily influenced by random chance. That's why experiments such as this need to be replicated.

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Impressive information. Maybe I should get a flu shot after all. I dunno, I've had my doubts.

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So you're an immunologist then, you know about this stuff do you?

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Meh, why bother? Flu is not a big deal, I've had flu probably like 10 times in my life. Next they'll be making vaccines for colds.

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Meh, why bother? Flu is not a big deal, I've had flu probably like 10 times in my life. Next they'll be making vaccines for colds.

Agreed.....the US government tested a new swine flu vaccine on me back in the 70's in an alleged attempt to save old people. It was an unmitigated disaster. I only get the flu when I get flu shots. Most of what people interpret as flu is just a bad cold from a rhinovirus. Serious influenza will knock you on your ass.

Remember, if it doesn't kill you, it will make you stronger !

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It's not an issue for us, but it is an issue for infants and the elderly. The shot helps to prevent us from infecting others. So it likely prolongs a few lives and saves healthcare and lost work time cash.

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It's not an issue for us, but it is an issue for infants and the elderly. The shot helps to prevent us from infecting others. So it likely prolongs a few lives and saves healthcare and lost work time cash.

That's the theory...but I am not convinced. Efficacy is now being challenged with competent studies. Widespread vaccinations may encourage behaviours that actually increase risk. Travel and mobility are probably the biggest vectors, not all people large and small, old or young.

Edited by bush_cheney2004

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I don't take the flu shots. The first and the last time I did, i was violently sick! That was years ago....and all that time I think I only had the flu once and it was mild at that.

Gone are the days when research studies took at least 20 or more years. How long did they have these research studies if these are new strains?

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I don't take the flu shots. The first and the last time I did, i was violently sick!

I agree....my wife swears by those shots each year but still gets sick. I can't remember the last time I had the flu.

Now don't get me wrong about vaccines...I am old enough to remember polio and whooping cough .....people living gasping in iron lungs.

Edited by bush_cheney2004

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Some evidence that vaccines are dangerous. Vaccines are a dead end road. We know that viruses will learn to evolve and build resistance to vaccines, because of the small population that always survives. This gives rise to the next generation of more virulent viruses. Then the drug regimen runs out, end of the road.

There's a fine line that gets crossed when attacking the dangerous strains. It could be argued that encouraging less virulent strains to grow is a better approach.

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Meh, why bother? Flu is not a big deal, I've had flu probably like 10 times in my life.

First of all, as another poster pointed out... you don't just get the flu shot for your own benefit... you get it to help prevent others from getting sick. Even if you consider the flu 'no big deal', you could end up passing it on to someone who could, you know, die.

In an earlier post I suggested people shouldn't panic and avoid exagerating the problems. But Jesus Christ on a Pogostick... use a bit of logic here. People do die from the flu. Roughly 18,000 people died from H1N1 between the middle of 2010 and 2011. Where exactly do you think they caught the flu from? Mostly from idiots who didn't get themselves vaccinated because they thought the flu was "no big deal".

Not getting yourself vaccinated is the moral equivilent of driving drunk. Yes, many times you will survive (and without killying anyone.) But it increases the risk of killing others. And for what, because you are a wussy who's affraid of a little needle?

Secondly... here's a question... did you actually like having the flu? Did the fever make you feel good? Did the chills and aches that tend to come with the flu make life enjoyable? Most people would probably say no... So why risk putting yourself through that unnecessarily?

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...Secondly... here's a question... did you actually like having the flu? Did the fever make you feel good? Did the chills and aches that tend to come with the flu make life enjoyable? Most people would probably say no... So why risk putting yourself through that unnecessarily?

If the public health risk is as high as you are describing then the full force of the law should be brought to bear, as is done for other serious health risks. People have been getting mixed messages about risk groups, vaccine efficacy, supply, harmful effects, and health risk for years. If people are given a choice, some will choose not to get vaccinated for a host of reasons.

Those who are vaccinated can still be carriers / vectors.

Edited by bush_cheney2004

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