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posted by LaminatorX on Sunday December 07 2014, @12:15PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the educated-guess dept.

Donald McNeil writes in the NYT that this year’s flu season may be deadlier than usual because this year’s flu vaccine is a relatively poor match to a new virus that is now circulating. “Flu is unpredictable, but what we’ve seen thus far is concerning,” says Dr. Thomas R. Frieden. According to the CDC, five U.S. children have died from flu-related complications so far this season. Four of them were infected with influenza A viruses, including three cases of H3N2 infections. The new H3 subtype first appeared overseas in March but because it was not found in many samples in the United States until September, it is now too late to change the vaccine. Because of the increased danger from the H3 strain — and because B influenza strains can also cause serious illness — the CDC recommends that patients with asthma, diabetes or lung or heart problems see a doctor at the first sign of a possible flu, and that doctors quickly prescribe antivirals like Tamiflu or Relenza. “H3N2 viruses tend to be associated with more severe seasons,” said Dr. Tom Frieden. “The rate of hospitalization and death can be twice as high or more in flu seasons when H3 doesn’t predominate.”

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  • (Score: 2) by kaszz on Sunday December 07 2014, @12:43PM

    by kaszz (4211) on Sunday December 07 2014, @12:43PM (#123457) Journal

    People with asthma, diabetes or lung or heart problems are the ones to watch out. The rest will most likely be in pain and then they can get on with their life.

    Tamiflu has some hallucination effects. Like committing suicide. So be careful.

    • (Score: 2) by mmcmonster on Sunday December 07 2014, @01:27PM

      by mmcmonster (401) on Sunday December 07 2014, @01:27PM (#123467)

      Or, you know, you could just get vaccinated.

      Vaccination may not prevent you from getting the flu, but it can possibly attenuate (lessen) it's effects on you. It may also prevent you from spreading it to others you know. (Herd immunity)

      Vaccination against Flu is relatively cheap and easy to get (in the U.S. at least). In the North-East you just go to a pharmacy and request it. Covered by insurance plans (even THEY realize it's worth the $ to get vaccinated), and some hospitals will give it for free to the community (to cut down on ER visits).

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 07 2014, @03:21PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 07 2014, @03:21PM (#123478)

        Maybe I want the people I know to get the flu, you sensitive clod. I also want plausible deniability. Can't prove I was the infection vector! Lots of people don't get vaccinated.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 07 2014, @04:03PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 07 2014, @04:03PM (#123488)

          I just hope you're one of the more severely affected ones... please take tamiflu and execute on the hallucogenic effect

        • (Score: 2) by kaszz on Monday December 08 2014, @01:33AM

          by kaszz (4211) on Monday December 08 2014, @01:33AM (#123612) Journal

          If you can handle the disease. Then the natural response will train your immune response system and the immunization that results stays around way longer.

          Btw, a defense that doesn't train will not have the experience needed.

      • (Score: 2) by sjames on Sunday December 07 2014, @03:39PM

        by sjames (2882) on Sunday December 07 2014, @03:39PM (#123483) Journal

        Except that according to TFA, the vaccine isn't particularly helpful in the case of the more deadly strain running around.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 07 2014, @04:07PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 07 2014, @04:07PM (#123490)

          The vaccine still protects against other strains.

          • (Score: 1, Redundant) by Jeremiah Cornelius on Sunday December 07 2014, @05:09PM

            by Jeremiah Cornelius (2785) on Sunday December 07 2014, @05:09PM (#123496) Journal

            The flu "vaccine" is scientism. There are no controlled clinical trials that ever demonstrate the efficacy of flu vaccination. There are no controls monitored on any individual year's "vaccine" or properly controlled epidemiological studies against a previous year. In fact, with all the factors involved, such would not be possible.

             

            Flu vaccine is bullshit. But if you call it out, you are thrown in the bin with all the loony crystal-wavers and EMF-sensitive, detoxifying herbal-doffers.

             

            The vaccine makes you sick. "That's only symptoms of the flu, not actual infectious contraction." Go parse your definitions elsewhere, please. Flu vaccine makes you sick. It still contains thousands of times more mercury than safe to drink in PPM, and garners billions of dollars for its manufacturers - even through "free vaccination".

             

            There are MUCH BIGGER preventable public heath hazards than the flu - 1918 not withstanding. But these do not receive a fraction of the funding, subsidy, attention or publicity as the unavoidable messaging about flu vaccination. As with anything in the modern, "civilized west" there is a profiteering happening somewhere.

             

            --
            You're betting on the pantomime horse...
            • (Score: 2, Insightful) by digitalaudiorock on Sunday December 07 2014, @08:40PM

              by digitalaudiorock (688) on Sunday December 07 2014, @08:40PM (#123538)

              Flu vaccine is bullshit. But if you call it out, you are thrown in the bin with all the loony crystal-wavers and EMF-sensitive, detoxifying herbal-doffers.

              I couldn't agree more. Maybe it's some bizarre over-reaction to the whole Jenny McCarthy thing around children's vaccines that do in fact work and are important. I don't take any medication I don't need.

              Year after year I read about how the current flu vaccines aren't targeting what's out there, yet year after year I'm accused of being some sort of scourge on society for not getting one. I even see hints of that here...in the comments about an article specifically about this failure of the vaccine!

              I'm with you. I call BS on the whole fucking thing.

              • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 07 2014, @11:13PM

                by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 07 2014, @11:13PM (#123578)

                Vaccination is a public health issue and that is why people bother you about not getting one. They probably would not have much of an opinion on if you decided not to get a rabies vaccine after being exposed.

                • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Ethanol-fueled on Sunday December 07 2014, @11:44PM

                  by Ethanol-fueled (2792) on Sunday December 07 2014, @11:44PM (#123589) Homepage

                  Everybody I know who got the vaccine still got sick together at around this time last year. In fact, they got it just as nasty as I did, and I have never received a flu vaccine. Maybe I'll reconsider when everybody around me starts dropping dead.

                  I don't get vaccines not because I'm a paranoid "vaccines are government poison" kook, but because they're a waste of my time and a centerpiece of unfounded fearmongering bullshit. In fact LaminatorX +5 for luring me into responding to this troll article.

                  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 08 2014, @01:31AM

                    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 08 2014, @01:31AM (#123611)

                    Multiple anecdotes is not the same thing as data. Influenza has many common symptoms with other infections and is often misattributed as what people are sick with.
                    I don't get the influenza vaccine because I am cheap and lazy. It should be free if society sees it as such a public health benefit.

              • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 07 2014, @11:34PM

                by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 07 2014, @11:34PM (#123586)

                Here at least, if a vaccine is a public health issue then it's compulsory. I've never seen a flu jab that was compulsory which leads me to believe they're not a public health issue and more just a recommended preventative measure for those in at-risk groups - namely those with weak immune systems or those in close contact with weak immune systems. Which, oddly enough, is exactly how it's offered to people.

                Not sure what rabies has to do with the price of fish - most people and pets get given a vaccine at a young age and they're done with it. And I don't think there are very many diseases you can be vaccinated against post-infection...

                • (Score: 2) by sjames on Tuesday December 09 2014, @06:51AM

                  by sjames (2882) on Tuesday December 09 2014, @06:51AM (#124095) Journal

                  Animals are given prophylactic rabies vaccines. Humans only get the vaccine if they are at high risk or if they have been bitten by an animal that is suspected of being rabid (in practice, just about any animal bite unless the animal can be shown to not have rabies).

                  Rabies develops quite slowly and so the disease can be halted and reversed if the vaccine is given before it reaches the brain.

            • (Score: 4, Informative) by Magic Oddball on Sunday December 07 2014, @09:19PM

              by Magic Oddball (3847) on Sunday December 07 2014, @09:19PM (#123546) Journal

              You should do your homework before mimicking alt-med claims.

              According to the CDC's flu vaccine FAQ, the nasal spray version of the vaccine and the single-dose shots have no thimerosal in them. It does exist in the multi-dose liquid form used for shots as a preservative, but because it's in an extremely low dose and can't cross the blood-brain barrier, it's not a danger. From the CDC flu vaccine pages:

              There is a large body of scientific evidence on the safety of thimerosal. Data from several studies show the low doses of thimerosal in vaccines do not cause harm, and are only associated with minor local injection site reactions like redness and swelling at the injection site.

              CDC, FDA, and the National Institutes of Health [NIH] have reviewed the published research on thimerosal and found it to be a safe product to use in vaccines. Three independent organizations (The National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine, Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices [ACIP], and the American Academy of Pediatrics [AAP]) also reviewed the published research and found thimerosal to be a safe product to use in vaccines. The medical community supports the use of thimerosal in influenza vaccines to protect against potential contamination of multi-dose vials.

              When it comes to genuinely healthy teenagers and adults, it's true that the flu presents minimal danger. However, to children, elderly people, asthmatics, people with immune disorders or other health problems (which, speaking from experience, can go undiagnosed for a long time), the flu poses a very real danger. Five children have already died this season from the flu.

              The CDC also has a page on misconceptions about the flu vaccine. Let's see what that says:

              In randomized, blinded studies, where some people get inactivated flu shots and others get salt-water shots, the only differences in symptoms was increased soreness in the arm and redness at the injection site among people who got the flu shot. There were no differences in terms of body aches, fever, cough, runny nose or sore throat.

              The viruses contained in the nasal spray flu vaccine are attenuated (i.e., weakened), which means they cannot cause flu illness. These weakened viruses are also cold-adapted, meaning they are designed to only cause mild infection at the cooler temperatures found within the nose. These viruses cannot infect the lungs or other areas of the body where warmer temperatures exist.

              The flu itself can be extremely dangerous, leading to hospitalization. According to studies of past flu seasons:

              • In 2010-2012, it reduced kids' risk of flu-related pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) admission by 74%.
              • In 2011-2012, it was associated with a 71% reduction in flu-related hospitalizations among adults of all ages and a 77% reduction among adults 50 years of age and older
              • It's associated with lower rates of some cardiac events among people with heart disease, especially among those who had had a cardiac event in the past year.
              • Hospitalizations were reduced 79% among diabetics and 52% in people with chronic lung disease like asthma.
              • One study showed that giving flu vaccine to pregnant women was 92% effective in preventing hospitalization of infants for flu.
              • A study that looked at flu vaccine effectiveness over the course of three flu seasons estimated that flu vaccination lowered the risk of hospitalizations by 61% in people 50 years of age and older.

              As for the idea of the flu not being dangerous, it's completely wrong. According to the CDC, between '76 and '06, the estimates for the number of people killed by the flu or direct complications range anywhere from 3,000 people (on the extremely conservative "latch onto any possible alternate explanation" side) and 49,000 people. That's because common complications include nasty mofos like bacterial pneumonia and dehydration, plus it can cause dangerous or deadly flares in disorders like congestive heart failure, asthma, or diabetes.

        • (Score: 2, Informative) by Jeremiah Cornelius on Sunday December 07 2014, @05:14PM

          by Jeremiah Cornelius (2785) on Sunday December 07 2014, @05:14PM (#123498) Journal
          From the CDC. Hindsight is 20/20. GBS is VERY rare and unusual - any minor deviation in occurrence is of significance.

          Swine Flu [cdc.gov]

          In 1976, a national influenza campaign was designed to immunize nearly the entire United States population in fear of an influenza pandemic. However, the A/New Jersey/1976/H1N1 vaccine, also known as the "swine flu" vaccine, was found to be linked with the development of Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) and the program ended. This study was conducted to find the relationship between the vaccine and GBS effects.

          In 2004 investigators at CDC collaborated with the department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, and the Department of Microbiology, National University of Ireland, Galway, to investigate anti-ganglioside antibody induction by swine flu and other influenza vaccines.

          The following article explains the Immunization Safety Office's role in this initiative.

          • "Swine Flu and Associated Guillain-Barré Syndrome" [nih.gov] [cdc.gov]
            This study covers the methods, hypotheses, results, and limitations studied in regards to the swine flu vaccination. The study focuses on the immunization to the swine flu and how it was found to be linked to Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS).

          Complete List of Articles

          "Guillain-Barré syndrome following vaccination in the national influenza immunization program, United States, 1976-1977" [nih.gov] [cdc.gov] by L.B. Schonberger. Am J Epidemiol 1979 Aug;110(2):105-23.

          "An epidemiologic an clinical evaluation of Guillain-Barré syndrome reported in association with the administration of swine influenza vaccines" [nih.gov] [cdc.gov] by A.D. Langmuir, D.J. Bregman, L.T. Kurland, N. Nathanson, and M. Victor. Am J Epidemiol 1984 Jun;119(6):841-79.

          "Guillain-Barré syndrome and its relationship to swine influenza vaccination in Michigan, 1976-1977" [nih.gov] [cdc.gov] by JG Breman and JG Hayner. Am J Epidemiol 1984 Jun; 119(6):880-9.

          "Reassessment of the association between Guillain-Barré syndrome and receipt of swine influenza vaccine in 1976-1977: results of a two-state study" [nih.gov] [cdc.gov] by TJ Safranek. Am J Epidemiol 1991 May 1;133(9):940-51.

          "National surveillance for Guillain-Barré syndrome: January 1978-March 1979" [nih.gov] [cdc.gov] by ES Hurwitz, RC Holman, D.B. Nelson, and L.B. Schonberger. Neurology 1983 Feb;33(2):150-7.

          "Guillain-Barré syndrome" [nih.gov] [cdc.gov] by R.A. Hughs and DR Cornblath. Lancet 2005 Nov 5;366(9497):1653-66.

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 07 2014, @11:27PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 07 2014, @11:27PM (#123583)

            "increased risk was approximately 1 additional case of GBS per 100,000 people who got the swine flu vaccine" http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/vaccine/guillainbarre.htm#what3 [cdc.gov]
            Afraid of that? You probably should stay inside.

      • (Score: 2) by Jeremiah Cornelius on Sunday December 07 2014, @05:17PM

        by Jeremiah Cornelius (2785) on Sunday December 07 2014, @05:17PM (#123500) Journal

        In 1976, Swine Flu "Vaccine" was a principal factor in the deaths of 30 people in the US.

         

        That year, 1 person died of non-vaccine-induced complications from "Swine Flu" influenza symptoms.

        --
        You're betting on the pantomime horse...
        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 07 2014, @10:26PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 07 2014, @10:26PM (#123561)

          How long ago was 1976?

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 07 2014, @11:02PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 07 2014, @11:02PM (#123573)

          So ... 30 people in 1976 is "most people"?

    • (Score: 2) by Jeremiah Cornelius on Sunday December 07 2014, @05:19PM

      by Jeremiah Cornelius (2785) on Sunday December 07 2014, @05:19PM (#123501) Journal

      Tetanus? Yes. Polio? Yes. Small pox? absolutely. Influenza? Nope. No thanks.

      --
      You're betting on the pantomime horse...
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 07 2014, @11:00PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 07 2014, @11:00PM (#123570)

        Are you trying to say that the Infuenza vaccine is more dangerous than the vaccines for the others you mentioned?

  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by gringer on Sunday December 07 2014, @07:40PM

    by gringer (962) on Sunday December 07 2014, @07:40PM (#123526)

    I attended a lecture by Professor Richard Beasley, who has been doing a few studies around medical dogmas that don't seem to be supported by research. One of Professor Beasley's hypotheses is that Influenza (and more generally infection) can be dealt with more effectively by supporting a feverish state, rather than trying to reduce the fever. He noticed that the most virulent Influenza strains seem to have a much higher denaturation temperature, so suggests that the best way to deal with Influenza is to wrap up, ride the fever, and sweat it out (making sure you have plenty of fluids to replace water loss).

    A big annoyance for him is the over-prescription of paracetamol (acetaminophen, tylenol, panadol) to control fever. Unfortunately, this is such a dogmatic view that there aren't many human studies about it. In every measure of improvement of fever that could be tested (including body temperature and "febrile convulsions"), paracetamol did not improve the situation:

    The limited evidence that does exist [from animal studies] suggests that the administration of antipyretics may have the potential to increase the severity of influenza illness and the risk of mortality.... Although there isn't a huge amount of data ... we would say there's no benefit of treating a fever with paracetamol and there's potential harm in terms of making the illness worse or longer. So our recommendation would be not to treat a fever, but to use paracetamol as a pain reliever ... If you've got a headache or sore muscles it's reasonable to take it; it's very effective and safe in that setting.

    More details here:
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/diseases/news/article.cfm?c_id=149&objectid=10737700 [nzherald.co.nz]

  • (Score: 2) by danomac on Sunday December 07 2014, @10:12PM

    by danomac (979) on Sunday December 07 2014, @10:12PM (#123556)
    Didn't this get reported last year too? Every year is reported to be a really bad season...