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The flu shot. Effective, or a waste of time?

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http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/flu-shot-no-match-for-h3n2-strain-reported-across-canada-1.2886218

Flu season is coming in early and strong this winter, with hospitals across Canada getting flooded with infected patients.

Most flu cases are being reported in Alberta, Ontario and Quebec, according to Canada's Public Health Agency, but there is increasing activity in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Newfoundland and Labrador.

"We're at or close to peak, certainly in southern Ontario, for influenza activity," said Dr. Doug Sider, medical director of communicable disease prevention and control at Toronto Public Health.

Reported and lab-confirmed cases of the flu in Toronto have already exceeded the previous 10-year average, according to Toronto Public Health.

This is getting to be a story every year. Get the shot, but then we are told it is not as effective as stated. I've not had a flu shot in over two decades and I am not about to start now. So even if you did get the shot this year, you still run a good risk of getting the flu.

Wondering how many of you get the shot every year? If so , how many times have you come down with the flu?

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I never get a flu shot. I've had the flu 0 times in the past 8 years.

Anyway, to me it seems like a waste for most people. Immunization against dangerous diseases that have high mortality rates or commonly have serious long term effects is one thing (and one of the greatest triumphs of science and medicine in history). Immunization against a minor nuisance like the flu? Not worth it for an average person.

However, if you are at an extra high risk of flu-related complications (elderly, weak immune system, etc), or routinely work with at risk people (medical professionals) or large numbers of people (teachers), then it makes sense to get the shot (even though it will just reduce the rate of flu rather than eliminating it).

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I also agree that vaccines in general are a good thing. However even things like polio are making a comeback. I would really like to see clean vaccines. I read the ingredients of some of them and I have to question the use of formaldehyde.

It's like fighting the cold. You are gonna get it now and then, and aside from a healthy lifestyle (good nutrition and exercise) there is little to mitigate it.

http://www.fda.gov/BiologicsBloodVaccines/SafetyAvailability/VaccineSafety/ucm187810.htm

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Make sure you get it at the beginning of the season. The shot is designed for this year's virus. Later in the winter next year's virus starts appearing and the shot won't work.

I made that mistake, got a low level virus that didn't make me really sick, but turned into 6 months of pneumonia.

I don't get them anymore.

.

Edited by jacee

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Jacee, but even if you get it early it is showing that it is simply not effective.

Could be. Don't know.

Like I said, I don't bother with them.

.

Edited by jacee

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I get a flu shot every year. I have been volunteering with the elderly for may years and try to protect them as much as I am able. I still get one bad cold? (10 to 14 days) every year. Maybe if I did not get a flu shot I would get 3 colds a year. Got a flu shot this year in October and just got over a two week illness. I am not sure if the shots work or not but where the elderly are concerned I feel I owe it to them to get my shot.

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I get a flu shot every year. I have been volunteering with the elderly for may years and try to protect them as much as I am able. I still get one bad cold? (10 to 14 days) every year. Maybe if I did not get a flu shot I would get 3 colds a year. Got a flu shot this year in October and just got over a two week illness. I am not sure if the shots work or not but where the elderly are concerned I feel I owe it to them to get my shot.

Got a couple questions then for you. Does you getting the shot make it less of a risk for others? Could one still be a carrier of the flu regardless of getting the shot? This is something I am a little confused on.

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Got a couple questions then for you. Does you getting the shot make it less of a risk for others? Could one still be a carrier of the flu regardless of getting the shot? This is something I am a little confused on.

We all realize you get colds...bad or otherwise regardless....right? I think this is the biggest con.....the placebo affect it has on those that think they're sickness "free" with it. How many healthy 18-45 y.o. get the flu....real viral flu? The susceptible.....sure get your shot....the rest of you clean/live right.

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I never get a flu shot. I've had the flu 0 times in the past 8 years.

I went my whole life without getting the flu shot and never got the flu...until I got the flu a few years ago and I spent a week in bed, another 2 weeks barely able to talk, and about 6 weeks total until I was could breathe well enough to play sports again. It's surprising how many people have no idea what the flu is and think it's some sort of stomach bug or bad cold.

Immunization against a minor nuisance like the flu? Not worth it for an average person.

It's not a minor nuisance. If it's ACTUALLY the flu, you're pretty much totally out of commission for at least 1-2 weeks and all sorts of other complications commonly follow like bronchitis or pneumonia. For the young and the old, it's generally much worse and it kills hundreds of thousands every year.

As for the 'worth', the provinces provide the vaccine because they've determined the costs of treating the flu outweigh the cost of vaccinating against it.

Got a couple questions then for you. Does you getting the shot make it less of a risk for others?

Yes, this is one of the main reasons the Health Ministry provides the vaccine. The contagiousness of viruses varies by strain and setting, but if a large enough proportion of people are immunized, the virus will peter out and disappear (at least in its current mutation). The commonly quoted reproductive value (r-number) for influenza is ~3, roughly meaning that each person that gets the flu transmits it to another 3 people. If that's the case, if over 67% of the population got immunized, the virus wouldn't be able to replicate in enough of the population to survive.

Could one still be a carrier of the flu regardless of getting the shot? This is something I am a little confused on.

Basically no. There are numerous types of vaccinations, but generally what they're doing is injecting either a dead/safe version of the virus, or something that's close enough to the virus to teach the proper response from your immune system without being infectious.

There is a tiny risk (like virtually non-existent) chance that an attenuated vaccine (one that's been altered to be non-spreading) reverts to virulence, but I'm not even sure if that's ever happened in a human before. Regardless, that's one of the reasons that you're not supposed to get a vaccine if you're already sick or your immune system is otherwise compromised.

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Moonbox, so what is the percentage of the population that is immunized for the flu? And what is the ratio of people who get the shot then get the flu? Because if there is a 70% vaccination rate, the flu should have already died out. But that is not the case and every year the flu mutates and you have to play catch up again.

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Both my wife and I have never had flu shots - and have not had flu for as long as we can remember. I had a cold 3 years ago for a week or so. All that said, I'm old enough that I don't have young children in my life bringing home whatever's going around. My work environment only has two or three people at any time so that helps minimize contact with people who might be carrying.

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Moonbox, so what is the percentage of the population that is immunized for the flu? And what is the ratio of people who get the shot then get the flu? Because if there is a 70% vaccination rate, the flu should have already died out. But that is not the case and every year the flu mutates and you have to play catch up again.

There are a few reasons for that. First, only something between 1/3 to 1/5 people get vaccinated, which is obviously not enough to stop the spread. Second, as you point out, the flu mutates regularly, which means new vaccines are required to adapt and keep up.

None of these points, however, diminish the worth of existing immunization efforts. Each vaccine administered reduces the likelihood of the virus spreading, which in turn reduces its chance to mutate, with both serving to reduce the health costs of treating flu patients.

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We do this same song and dance every year. At the beginning of the flu season, health officials berate anyone who questions the effectiveness of the flu shot, call them ignorant "anti-vaxxers", and baffle the public with high jargon condescending lectures about how effective the vaccine really is. Then towards the end of the flu season, we are told that this flu vaccine is not as effective as we were lead to believe.

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So flu shots don't guarantee you won't get the flu. It continues to amaze me how many people think no immunity is better than some immunity.

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We do this same song and dance every year. At the beginning of the flu season, health officials berate anyone who questions the effectiveness of the flu shot, call them ignorant "anti-vaxxers",

because that's what they are. The arguments people generally make against vaccination are based on nothing but profound ignorance and fear-mongering.

and baffle the public with high jargon condescending lectures about how effective the vaccine really is.

You can only call it high jargon if you actually are ignorant about it. They're not making stuff up when they talk about how effective the vaccines are. If you feel these lectures are condescending, it's likely because you've taken a foolish position and it feels lousy to be presented with facts and evidence proving you're wrong.

Then towards the end of the flu season, we are told that this flu vaccine is not as effective as we were lead to believe.

That's not what you're told at all. Influenza has all sorts of different strains and mutations. The flu vaccines aim to prevent the 3-4 strains that you're most likely to contract. Criticizing the effectiveness of the flu shot against a strain which it was never intended/designed to prevent is like complaining that your measles vaccine doesn't protect you from meningitis.

Edited by Moonbox

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I've pointed out in other threads that, in my view, we have two classifications of shots. Immunizations and vaccines. Immunization means if you get the shot and you WONT get the ailment. A vaccine is a best case scenario where you still run the risk of getting the ailment.

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I've pointed out in other threads that, in my view, we have two classifications of shots. Immunizations and vaccines. Immunization means if you get the shot and you WONT get the ailment. A vaccine is a best case scenario where you still run the risk of getting the ailment.

What are you talking about? A vaccine is meant to provide immunization. Immunization isn't a type of shot.

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I guess it depends on your attitude towards medical science. I am not a physician and trust that my physician knows more about medicine than I do. Sometimes I will get a second opinion (encouraged by my physician) when the diagnosis is particularly concerning.

I see my physician often, try to follow her advice, accept her diagnosis in most cases and take the medications prescribed. I do believe that my health interests are her priority and she will advise me as to a less painful and longer life.

When she recommends to me to take certain medications - I take those medications. When she advises me to get a flu shot I get a flu shot.

In the past, I had spent quite a long time on the Internet checking and verifying her diagnosis. I also spent a lot of time researching my medications and their side effects. After gleaning the minimal Internet information about my particular malady and side effects of my medications I began to question her diagnosis and strangely began to suffer many of the side effects of the medications. When I shared my concerns with my physician, she prescribed a termination in my medical Internet searches. It seemed to work since the negative side effects of the medications quickly disappeared. ;)

I am considering that maybe her 10 years of University in the Health field and 20 years of successful practice should trump my study of medicine on the Internet. :)

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I haven't had a flu shot for 8 years and I wash my hands more and I stay away from crowds and I also boost my immunity to fight off anything that does comes by way. WE are all different and what works for me, may not work for you and so on. If one stops to think about medical doctors, when not feeling well we visit them, they end up usual writing a prescription or sending us to either a "specialist" or tests, then its either operation or medication and all this may not "cure" whatever wrong with us. On the hand, a natural doctor, can't write a prescription, so they go after what is causing the problems and because they aren't under provincial government, like OHIP, sometimes they have to send you back to your doctor for blood work or other tests. I really think the health care would work better if both work together, with no restrictions.

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I went my whole life without getting the flu shot and never got the flu...until I got the flu a few years ago and I spent a week in bed, another 2 weeks barely able to talk, and about 6 weeks total until I was could breathe well enough to play sports again. It's surprising how many people have no idea what the flu is and think it's some sort of stomach bug or bad cold.

Flu varies in its intensity and duration. Your experience was more severe than average. I had the flu plenty of times as a teenager and in my early 20s and it was usually about 1 week, with a persistent cough, as noted above. With all those flues, there was never a day that I was completely bedridden.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Influenza

Influenza, commonly known as "the flu", is an infectious disease caused by the influenza virus.[1] Symptoms can be mild to severe.[2] The most common symptoms include: a high fever, runny nose, sore throat, muscle pains, headache, coughing, and feeling tired. These symptoms typically begin two days after exposure to the virus and most last less than a week. The cough; however, may last for more than two weeks.

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When I shared my concerns with my physician, she prescribed a termination in my medical Internet searches.

That would raise alarm bells for me. Personally, my physician has always encouraged me to do my own research, to discuss any additional concerns, and has appreciated when I had specific questions to ask.

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I'm a little surprised - I actually agree with what I see as the consensus of opinion here:

-get the flu shot if you are part of a high risk group (elderly or have a suppressed immune system)

- or have young children; otherwise, use your own discretion on the issue.

So, if you rarely have serious colds and flu's, don't bother with it, unless you work with a high risk group - like the elderly.

My mother is 96 - going on 97, and living in a nursing home for the past three years. Her residence was at a low level quarantine when I last visited Saturday, so gloves and masks were available at the main entrance, and visitors reminded that if they have a cough, scratchy throat, sneeze...or any other possible cold or flu symptom, to put on the mask and the gloves! So far, there hasn't been any change over the last few days, but if it gets more serious, then the gloves and masks become mandatory for ALL visitors.

This all seems to be common sense, and if I was working in a hospital or nursing home, I would expect to have to take a flu shot regardless of its efficacy or any possible side effects. My main beef with mass immunization is that, even if there are no side effects, mass immunization against new flu strains weakens our immune response to a pathogen that is harmless to most of us! At one time, they used to just advocate the flu vaccine for at risk groups, not everyone. If this was something like the Ebola virus....okay, I would go along with a mass immunization campaign against some new strain of Ebola that was spreading out of control. Otherwise..........................

Edited by WIP

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WIP, would you mind telling me how much they charge your mother to live at the nursing home? The reason I'm asking is the prices have surge and I live in a very small community were most people don't make more than 10-15 hour wage, and the nursing home is charging 3600 monthly, which for a large city that may not be bad but for this area it is. I did some research into who owns the Home and I found the Federal Workers Pension Fund owns many across Canada.

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WIP, would you mind telling me how much they charge your mother to live at the nursing home? The reason I'm asking is the prices have surge and I live in a very small community were most people don't make more than 10-15 hour wage, and the nursing home is charging 3600 monthly, which for a large city that may not be bad but for this area it is. I did some research into who owns the Home and I found the Federal Workers Pension Fund owns many across Canada.

3600! That sounds awfully high. One of my older brothers and his wife, are managing most of our mother's affairs. Her estate and pension are more than enough to cover her costs, but the last I heard, the monthly charge for her semi-private accommodations are still less than $2000 per month.

You might want to check with CCAC on those costs! Because, if you live in Ontario at least, there are maximum charges for each level of long term care, and the home, whether its run by a for-profit business, municipal government or charitable organization is not allowed to charge more than the max. price.

What's the "Federal Workers Pension Fund?" Or does that mean a group of pension funds that collect from federal employees? Most nursing home facilities are owned by private, for-profit companies. But, the costs of long term care are rising, as more and more new residents have dementia and physical disabilities requiring greater personal care; so I'm not sure if they're exactly rolling in the dough these days! The health care workers (PSW's) at my mother's home complain about being loaded down with more patients to look after. They are cutting costs by asking the family members of residents to cover the costs for outings and special events.

Long term care facilities are becoming increasingly overloaded by rising demand. By the time you or me might need these services.....well, let's just say - the best health care plan is to take the proactive approach and be healthy and independent for as long as possible!

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