Is the flu vaccine worth it?
November 18, 2005 12:04 PM   Subscribe

Is there a good reason for a healthy, relatively young person to get a flu shot?

I've worked at my job for three years and each year they give us a voucher for a flu shot. I've never used it; during my years of employ I've had the flu once (which was the first time in many years).

I'm not afraid of needles; it just seems every year I know a few people who get vaccinated but get sick anyway. The folks I work with think I'm nuts not to take advantage of a free offer.
posted by Sully6 to Health & Fitness (51 answers total)
 
Well, it could keep you from getting sick. That's all.
posted by thirteenkiller at 12:08 PM on November 18, 2005


You think the bird flu gives a damn about your age? It doesn't. It doesn't care a whit.
posted by xmutex at 12:09 PM on November 18, 2005


Years ago, when I was healthy and relatively young (I had just finished Army Basic Training), I had a fairly severe case of influenza. I couldn't avoid coughing, and each cough caused nearly unbearable pain.

The flu probably won't kill you, at least in its common form, but it will put you through hell.

Get the damn shot.
posted by KRS at 12:12 PM on November 18, 2005


Okay well, Currently, there is no bird flu vaccine available to the public. An experimental bird flu vaccine has been made. . I've always got sick from the flu when I get the shot so I'm not getting it anymore, when I don't get the shot I'm healthy. Of course I've only had the shot 4 times so anecdote evidence doesn't mean anything.
posted by geoff. at 12:13 PM on November 18, 2005


xmutex, the flu vaccine right now isn't for bird flu; part of the panic (and risk of pandemic) is that there is no effective vaccine (yet) for it.

However, I'm firmly of the belief that it's still vital for everyone to get an annual routine flu shot. The flu kills tens of thousands of people every year (mostly elderly and/or people with compromised immune systems or ashtma), so even if you don't fall into one of those high-risk categories, it's good to be immunized so that you don't spread it to people who are at increased risk.
posted by scody at 12:13 PM on November 18, 2005


The CDC on flu shots.

A health professional, or otherwise someone in contact with people at high risk for complications from the flu should get it even if young and healthy. Unless my health takes a downturn, I don't plan to do it myself for some years to come.

If you're young and healthy, odds are that if you get the flu, you'll be fine after being laid up a little while. Then again, the last flu pandemic killed an unusually high number of the young and (previously) healthy. So it's hard to say...
posted by Zed_Lopez at 12:16 PM on November 18, 2005


I'm one of those who gets the flu shot every year, yet 'gets sick'. I have learned to plan my schedule around that sickness, because being out 1 day doe to flu shot sickness is much better than getting the flu, and having it aggravate my asthma.

The 'sickness' I get isn't the flu, instead it's my body trying to process and absorb the shot. I get chills, aches, no appetite, fatigue, and because I also now have a form of Dyskinesia, I get a bout of dystonic movements. But, it only lasts for about 24 hours, and I ride it out by eating soup, curling up on the couch, and watching movies for the day. FWIW, this is practically the same reaction my cats have when they get their shots (without the movies and dystonia, obviously. Though a dystonic cat would be pretty hysterical.)
posted by spinifex23 at 12:18 PM on November 18, 2005


The flu vaccine is not like other vaccines you get as a child, for two reasons. First, since influenza mutates so much, you have to get a new shot every year, which is targetted against strains that the World Health Organization guesses may become dominant later in the year. Secondly, the flu vaccine is much more likely to cause adverse side effects, since it is made from live (if weakened) virus.

For these reasons, I have never bothered to get the flu vaccine.
posted by grouse at 12:18 PM on November 18, 2005


The flu vaccine you would receive is for a strain that scientist predict will be going around this year and is no guarantee you won't get another strain or a basic cold. It is also not going to keep you safe from the potential risk of bird flu if that is what your are worried about. Generally kids and the elderly don't have as robust of an immune system and is why it is recommended for them to get flu shots over a young healthy person.

Still it could keep you from getting really sick and missing work and feeling like crap, so if it is free and only will take a few minutes out of your day why not?
posted by retro88 at 12:18 PM on November 18, 2005


Being relatively young, I would find "free" to be a good enough reason.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:19 PM on November 18, 2005 [1 favorite]


Because you're socially responsible.

The flu will likely not kill you even if you get it. However, if you get it and you give it two people and they give it to people, and they give it two people, and they give it two people...well you can bet your ass eventually one of those people will be an elderly or immuno-suppressed person who it could very well kill.

Why risk leaving potentially-deadly germs on an elevator button or a keyboard or doorknob or subway pole when you don't have to?
posted by duck at 12:20 PM on November 18, 2005


You're giving your bodies antibodies so that you avoid getting the flu. But, yes, better yet, you avoid infecting infants, seniors, people with compromised immune systems, airline workers, childcare workers, parents and your co-workers. You're helping preserve mental and physical health, productivity, and the like.

In 1919, my great-grandfather's NHL team mates got the flu, resulting in the cancellation of the Stanley Cup. One of them died from the flu. And they were all strapping young men.
posted by acoutu at 12:21 PM on November 18, 2005


The last flu pandemic was also one that killed within 24 hours. Any outbreak of that sort and you'll be hearing about it. The flu vaccine just protects from the more common strains for the current year. It's still possible to catch another strain and some people are affected by the shot itself. That said, it's helpful anyway.

I've never had a flu vaccination and had a fairly nasty case of the flu last winter where I was stuck at home for about half a week with a high fever but I bounced back fairly well. The good reason for getting the vaccination would be simple: you want protection from the likely strain.
posted by mikeh at 12:21 PM on November 18, 2005


The answer is "not unless you're around very young, elderly, or physically ill people."

A few misconceptions:

a) The flu shot protects you against infection with some strains of influenza virus. It doesn't protect against anything else. Most colds and other respiratory infections have nothing to do with influenza.

b) The bird flu strain is so new that the flu shot currently out doesn't protect against it.

c) Most healthy folks won't even *notice* they're infected with an average year's strain of influenza. The infection, in other words, is asymptomatic. While you're having your no symptoms, though, you can infect other people. That's why doctors like me get the shot - so we don't sicken our patients needlessly.

d) The bird flu this year looks like a pretty nasty strain. It might seriously affect young, otherwise healthy people. If a vaccine becomes available for it, you should get it.

e) "The flu shot made me sick." No. You are wrong. You were going to get sick anyway. The shot made no difference.
posted by ikkyu2 at 12:21 PM on November 18, 2005


I should add that the flu shot protects you from the top three strains predicted for the coming year. WHen your friends still got sick, they weren't getting sick with one of those flus. They got a less common strain. So the shot still worked. And a few minor strains is better than a pandemic.
posted by acoutu at 12:23 PM on November 18, 2005


Secondly, the flu vaccine is much more likely to cause adverse side effects, since it is made from live (if weakened) virus.

Umm...no. Only the nasal vaccine is from live virus. The injected vaccine is from dead virus. I know because I have my info sheet from the flu vaccine I got on Tuesday right here. But since you can't see my info sheet, take it from webmd:

The inactivated influenza vaccine, known as the "flu shot," contains three different strains of killed influenza viruses that are most likely to be circulating within the population in a given year.
posted by duck at 12:24 PM on November 18, 2005


ikkyu2, I'm aware that there are many strains of influenza, and I could have merely caught a different strain each year I got the shot -- I was under the impression that the possibility from catchin the flu from the vaccination existed, albeit a very slim possibility. Is this not true?
posted by geoff. at 12:28 PM on November 18, 2005


Nevermind duck answered it.
posted by geoff. at 12:29 PM on November 18, 2005


grouse writes "Secondly, the flu vaccine is much more likely to cause adverse side effects, since it is made from live (if weakened) virus."

This is wrong and it's starting to make me crazy to read it. It takes almost no research to find out that the flu-shot is a dead virus. All of the people who spout the opposite contribute to people making the wrong choices when it comes to getting a shot. I'm not sure where the canard came from, but it's annoying that so many people repeat it with such (mistaken) authority. People do sometimes have a reaction to the shot, but it's usually mild, localized, and easily eclipsed by the drag of having the flu. People also commonly confuse the common cold, which is relatively mild, with the flu. If you've really been laid up with the flu it isn't a mistake you're likely to make twice.

Nasal flu mist is an attenuated live virus, but it's only been around for a year or so, so the popular mistake didn't arise from confusion on that score.
posted by OmieWise at 12:35 PM on November 18, 2005


On further research, I can see that my comment was totally wrong. Very sorry.
posted by grouse at 12:42 PM on November 18, 2005


You think the bird flu gives a damn about your age? It doesn't. It doesn't care a whit.

Incidentally, the 1918 flu (that killed my great-grandfather) preferentially killed the able-bodied young, rather than very young and old. It was intelligently designed to kill the WWI armies while in hospital, or so the theory goes.
posted by Aknaton at 12:44 PM on November 18, 2005


Alright, I'm down with social responsibility, and besides that, I'm spending Christmas with my gran and wouldn't want to get her sick. So I popped downstairs and got the shot.

I appreciate ikkyu2's response lettered e. I confess that given the experiences of some friends and family members, I had a niggling thought that the vaccine might open you up to getting sick, so I'm glad to have been set straight on that.

Now if my arm turns blue and falls off, I'm going to be sore with some of you.
posted by Sully6 at 12:45 PM on November 18, 2005


Now if my arm turns blue and falls off, I'm going to be sore with some of you.

Well, at least you won't be able to deliver a 1-2 punch!

Seriously, don't be alarmed if your arm is a bit tender for a day or two. I get the flu shot every year, and starting about 4-8 hours later, my upper arm gets pretty sore for about 36 hours. Nothing a few Tylenol (and skipping the gym for a couple of days) won't help.

And kudos to you for getting the shot! Now if only my boyfriend was so easy to convince...
posted by scody at 12:58 PM on November 18, 2005


Just a word of thanks here.

I'm 35 and never gotten a flu shot. I've gotten the flu probably 3 times in the last ten years. I never even considered the socially responsible aspect.

I'll be getting one this year.
posted by FlamingBore at 12:59 PM on November 18, 2005


a fairly nasty case of the flu last winter where I was stuck at home for about half a week with a high fever but I bounced back fairly well.

I'm sorry, if you were out for half a week, I don't think it was the flu. I think people tend to throw around "flu" as shorthand for a bad cold, and until New Year's 2000, I would have been one of them.

My wife got, then passed to me, the flu circulating that winter. Her bout culminated with a visit to the emergency room, as she was vomiting up everything that went into her mouth (including water) and was getting dangerously dehydrated. I "peaked" 2 days later, in bed with aches so severe I would have had trouble getting out of the apartment if the fire alarm went off.

I missed almost 3 weeks of work, and didn't feel 100% until mid-February. That, my friends, is the #&%*#$ flu.

Now, our experience was an extreme one, but that's why I now get a yearly flu shot, and why you should too.
posted by jalexei at 1:13 PM on November 18, 2005


Years back, they used to make flu shots out of attenuated virus, that's long over. It's dead now if it's a shot.

That's 3 kinds of flu you don't have to worry about, or if you get it, it will be over quickly.

You don't know if people you work with, or rub elbows with on the subway, have a compromised immune system, or possibly just a crappy immune system.

When you get a flu shot, you should move the arm for a few hours to spread the vaccine. I learned that from a nurse years ago who gave me the shot. Just do the "funky chicken" when you think of it for the rest of the day, and the arm won't get sore.
posted by unrepentanthippie at 1:20 PM on November 18, 2005


I get a flu shot, if it was just for me I don't know that I'd bother. On the other hand I have older parents and I'd feel terrible if something I caught and could have avoided caused them problems.
posted by substrate at 1:21 PM on November 18, 2005


Get the flu shot - that way, you're not a vector for giving the flu to anyone else (some of whom are not young and healthy).

It doesn't take a very large fraction of a population remaining un-vaccinated to reduce the effectiveness of the programme to close-to-zero, because it produces a breeding population for the disease to mutate which eventually eliminates the vaccines effectiveness.
posted by Crosius at 1:52 PM on November 18, 2005


Why risk leaving potentially-deadly germs on an elevator button or a keyboard or doorknob or subway pole when you don't have to?

Wow. I am so not that altruistic.
posted by agregoli at 2:25 PM on November 18, 2005


I am so not that altruistic.

Altruism involves looking after someone else interests at the expense of your own. Getting a flu shot hardly runs against your own interests.
posted by duck at 3:29 PM on November 18, 2005


OK, so I get the "socially responsible" thing, but, for example, my family is particularly at risk from illness as a result of vaccines... my brother nearly died from reactions to vaccines he had as an infant (the vaccine that you get is dead cells of the infection, but that doesn't mean it can't affect your system), and 20 years later no one in my immediate family has been vaccined since. We also have pretty good immune systems otherwise, and generally don't get sick.

So I'm saying that there are exceptions. And don't just get every vaccine that you can, there are serious risks to being vaccinated. The individual has a right to evaluate this risk themselves, so just be sure that the risk is worth it to you. Maybe the risk of passing the flu to someone that it could kill is well worth the risk of your body reacting to the vaccine, in the case of my family, the risk of reaction has been established to be higher, so the risk isn't worth it.

Also, if you are ever put in a position where you think you have already been exposed to a particular infection, *don't* run and get the vaccine. It's too late, and all the vaccine will do at that point is further deplete your immune system.

AND, just because you get a vaccine doesn't mean that you *can't* get the virus, it just means that you have *less* chance.

My feeling is that especially in 1st world countries, think seriously about vaccines before getting them, the vaccine sometimes causes reactions that kill more people than the infection does, and nothing written above has particularly led me to believe otherwise, because I have first hand experience to prove it.

If I were going to a country where malaria were prevalent, I would *definitely* get the vaccine (often it's compulsory anyway). If I were planning a family, I would *definitely* get the rubella vaccination (given here in New Zealand at about age 11, but obviously I didn't get it), the life of my child would be worth any adverse reaction I might have to the vaccine. There are exceptions both ways.

I get the feeling I'm going to get verbally bashed for this one, and everyone here advising to get the vaccine has very good points, but it's important to have perspective, so there's mine.
posted by ancamp at 4:41 PM on November 18, 2005


the vaccine sometimes causes reactions that kill more people than the infection does [...] it's important to have perspective, so there's mine.

It's not just some other "perspective" when it's plain wrong (and dangerously misleading, to boot). Name one vaccine that causes more deaths than the disease it vaccinates against. Name one. Measles, for example, kills more than half a million worldwide each year; the measles vaccine, however, kills none.
posted by scody at 5:10 PM on November 18, 2005


So I'm saying that there are exceptions. And don't just get every vaccine that you can, there are serious risks to being vaccinated. The individual has a right to evaluate this risk themselves, so just be sure that the risk is worth it to you. Maybe the risk of passing the flu to someone that it could kill is well worth the risk of your body reacting to the vaccine, in the case of my family, the risk of reaction has been established to be higher, so the risk isn't worth it.

Oh if you have reason to think you're at elevated risk of a severe reation, then of course you shouldn't just reflexively get vaccinated. But note that the reason we can do that (even for things more deadly than the flu) "in first world countries" is that everyone around is often vaccinated. One person can skip a rubella vaccine with relatively low risk because they're surrounded by human firewalls. To counsel people who are not at any special risk to avoid vaccination is to remove those firewalls. This makes things far more dangerous for everyone, including those few people who cannot safely be vaccinated.

You cannot have first hand experience about the relative prevalance of reaction to a vaccine vs. risk of the disease. You can only have firts hand experience that bad reactions exist. Establishing relative prevalence (kills more people than the disease it prevents) requires large samples.
posted by duck at 5:20 PM on November 18, 2005


The inhaled/nasal vaccine is a live, but weakened virus. The shot is a dead virus. Immunocompromised people and their contacts should NOT get the nasal vaccine.

during my years of employ I've had the flu once (which was the first time in many years).

You probably didn't really have the flu, if you're considering not getting a flu shot this year. The true flu, influenza, hits you like a ton of bricks, and you never, ever want to have it again.

Also, if you are ever put in a position where you think you have already been exposed to a particular infection, *don't* run and get the vaccine. It's too late, and all the vaccine will do at that point is further deplete your immune system.

Ancamp, you are absolutely wrong about this in certain cases, and haphazardly giving out your "perspective" as medical advice is so wrong I don't know where to begin.

My feeling is that especially in 1st world countries, think seriously about vaccines before getting them, the vaccine sometimes causes reactions that kill more people than the infection does, and nothing written above has particularly led me to believe otherwise, because I have first hand experience to prove it.

I'm not trying to discount your experience with your brother, but it clearly prevents you from being objective about the evidence at hand. And you clearly have no idea how many people die of measles each year, or the birth defects when a pregnant mother gets a rubella infection. I live in a first world country, but people from developing (and developed) countries fly direct flights to airports all over the US with a number of diseases that I'd much prefer to be vaccinated against.
posted by gramcracker at 5:22 PM on November 18, 2005


The only reason people can even fathom the position that you should not get vaccines is because of the efficacy of vaccine efforts over the past 60 years.
posted by acoutu at 6:13 PM on November 18, 2005 [1 favorite]


Because you're socially responsible.
Being a healthy 25-year-old who is not often around the elderly or children, I don't think I can find anyone to give me the flu shot, supplies being short. (Yes, even though it makes sense to vaccinate the carriers moreso than the susceptible.) They canceled it at my office, and I keep seeing news stories about letting high-risk people have the vaccine.
posted by Airhen at 6:48 PM on November 18, 2005


with so much attention on flu this year, and with so many people getting shots, i think i'll count on herd immunity for protection.
posted by brandz at 8:02 PM on November 18, 2005


You cannot have first hand experience about the relative prevalance of reaction to a vaccine vs. risk of the disease. You can only have firts hand experience that bad reactions exist. Establishing relative prevalence (kills more people than the disease it prevents) requires large samples.

that's true. so please ammend my statement to say that "bad reactions extist", which is something this thread was looking like it wasn't going to validate, so I felt strongly had to be mentioned.

Name one vaccine that causes more deaths than the disease it vaccinates against.

ok, ok. Likewise, perhaps I should have said something like: "depending on the number of people killed in a region, the vaccine *could* kill more people than the infection". Vaccines seldom kill a large number, I suppose the most likely time is during testing or with a vaccine where they have very little time to test (like whatever they come up with for bird flu), but sometimes a vaccine *can* kill a person.

I don't want to be the bastard poster who just won't see everyone elses perspective, I'm saying that there are some good reasons to *be* vaccinated, but also that posters on this thread have played down that it *can* be dangerous for some individuals to be vaccinated, and if you want to be aware of what you're doing with your body then you should be aware of the risks as well as the benefits.

that's all from me on this thread.
posted by ancamp at 8:19 PM on November 18, 2005


Vaccines seldom kill a large number

Seldom? Try "never kill a large number." I don't mean to come off like a dog with a bone over this, but statements like this, no matter how heartfelt and sincere (which clearly you are, ancamp), are simply incorrect. Adverse reactions certainly exist; no one denies that (indeed, any fact sheet about any vaccine will clearly list the risks, their rates, conditions that could lead to an increased risk, etc.). But the vast majority of reactions, when they do occur, are mild to moderate, with severe adverse reactions extremely rare. How rare? According to the World Health Organization, the risk for anaphylaxis (immediate, severe allergic reaction leading to shock) has been noted at a rate of one per 1 million persons receiving measles vaccine. (I'm too tired to keep track of all the zeros right now, but I think that works out to a rate of .0001%.)

In the meantime, polio and smallpox have been virtually wiped out worldwide (and measles virtually wiped out in the U.S.) saving literally hundreds of millions of lives over the past 60 years. By any measure, the rates (of both occurence and mortality) for any of those diseases simply dwarf the rates of severe adverse reactions resulting from their vaccines.
posted by scody at 11:34 PM on November 18, 2005


Put me down with jalexei and others. I do have young children--one of whom is prone to respiratory problems--but, hell, I get the flu shot so I have less chance of getting the flu! I'll pay a small fee to lower that risk, no problem. I don't particularly like being sick.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 11:37 PM on November 18, 2005


I'm in my early twenties, with a two year old in daycare. I work with the public in both of my jobs. I figured my risk of contracting and passing on any virus was fairly high. I don't want to be sick (not having paid sick days at either job), I don't want to make anyone else sick, and I don't want to miss my planned vacation in January due to illness. It was free, took 10 minutes of my time work time (my employer paid a public health nurse to come to administer the shots onsite) and once it was over I experienced no side effects at all. So there's a potential beenfit for me and everyone I come into contact with and it cost me absolutely nothing - no money, no time, no pain. I'd do it again for sure.
posted by raedyn at 7:51 AM on November 19, 2005


I don't know if this has already been said, I apologize if this is repeating.

I got the shot because I live in NYC. I have constant contact with people, on the subway, in the streets, everything I want to go to in this city, 200 people also want to go to, and have I mentioned on the subway? Virussy, snotty sardines. I sat below two guys standing and sniffling over me yesterday. And no trees and bad air in this city promote respiratory weakness, vulnerability.

I usually never get sick, but in NYC I do. So I got the shot, and would reccommend it if you are in crowded situations frequently. Oh and I had no "reaction" to the vaccine (maybe some brain damage from the thimerisol), except some muscle soreness.

In the meantime, polio and smallpox have been virtually wiped out worldwide
This is a bit misinformed. Polio is having a resurgence. The amount of diseases that have been wiped out in the first world, so we think they are gone, or even better, that they are third world diseases now, is astonishing. I recommend the article in the New Yorker "What Money Can Buy" which is all about vaccines (not online, sorry).

And also, I don't see how supplies are short anywhere. This isn't even being reported, when I definitely rember it being an issue last year. Speculation. Short supples? Just another excuse.
posted by scazza at 8:08 AM on November 19, 2005


Supplies are apparently plentiful in NM this year. They are doing the shots at grocery stores. I've not heard of shortages anywhere this year.
posted by FlamingBore at 8:29 AM on November 19, 2005


When I was very young, before the flu shot became widely available, I used to get the flu pretty much every year. Yes, the real flu, the one where it takes you a good week to become functional again. Since I started getting flu shots, I haven't had it once. Now, it's possible that my immune system has strengthened as I've left childhood and that I might not have gotten the flu more than a couple times in these years, but one flu infection is one too many in my book. I'm not giving up my flu shots any time soon, especially since I'm on a university campus.

Supplies are apparently plentiful in NM this year. They are doing the shots at grocery stores. I've not heard of shortages anywhere this year.

It's possible that supplies are plentiful in your area. I go to school in Virginia and live in North Carolina, and at the moment, I'm not sure I could find a flu shot within a few hours' drive of either place. So if you're going to get a flu shot this season, do so NOW, because supplies could disappear without warning (if they haven't already). (The media, in my experience, will likely continue to repeat government statements that there is no shortage, regardless of whether all the shots are about to run out or not.)
posted by musicinmybrain at 10:05 AM on November 19, 2005


e) "The flu shot made me sick." No. You are wrong. You were going to get sick anyway. The shot made no difference.

Adverse reactions certainly exist; no one denies that

unfortunately, they do.
posted by andrew cooke at 11:03 AM on November 19, 2005


andrew cooke, I think what ikkyu2 was responding to was the myth that "the flu shot gave me the flu." I believe his point was that A) such incidences of "getting sick" after a flu shot are not really the flu at all, but rather a cold; and B) the flu shot doesn't protect against colds in the first place.
posted by scody at 11:45 AM on November 19, 2005


well then they should have said that, because it was pretty clear that ikkyu2 wasn't claiming that they had the flu. you seem much happier to excuse mistakes in people who agree with you than in those that don't.

a much better reply would have been "it is extremely unlikely that the flu shot will give you flu, although some people do have a bad reaction to vaccines, typically because of the other ingredients a vaccine contains, which are necessary precisely because the flu agent itself is so thoroughly neutralised".

of course, that would assume a certain intelligence on the part of the patient, open up some difficult questions, and give them some independence. which is perhaps not so god if the aim of the game is to lie to people so they do what you want.

more generally - and i'm sorry of this seems like an overblown reaction, but i was thinking about this thread last night - whether or not someone should get the flu shot is a pretty hard question. you need to weigh up a lot of things: is the person directly at risk; how likely is it that they will infect someone who dies from the flu; what are the costs associated with the production, transportation, and delivery of the vaccine; how much is a person's free time worth; what could that value be used for instead; and if better options are available, would they be used?; whose lives are more important?

for example, i suspect if everyone refused the flu shot and instead put the same time used into raising money to improve, say, global access to good drinking water, many more lives would be saved.

these are hard questions. even if a direct answer for a single shot seems obvious - after all, who would really give money instead to save black people? - perhaps there is still an argument for reacting against priorities that seem terribly skewed. what is the relative danger of flu (ie current strains that the vaccine protects against) compared to car use in the usa? the more you wonder about it, the less clear it becomes.

bludgeoning someone into having an injection just because you've made up your mind about these questions - or decided to ignore them - is rather arrogant.
posted by andrew cooke at 6:02 AM on November 20, 2005


andrew, I agree with you in every particular, including your rewording of my comment.

Most vaccine anaphylaxis is due to an allergic reaction against albumen/albumin derived from egg white, as far as I know.
posted by ikkyu2 at 11:42 AM on November 20, 2005


And before it comes up, the so called 'swine flu Gullain-Barré epidemic' of 1976-1977 almost certainly was not related to the flu vaccine, but rather to an unrelated viral infection that was circulating around in the vaccinated population around that time.

Globally, contaminated water kills a large number of people every year, far more than does influenza. However, while noting this, I'd stop short of suggesting that local communities abandon efforts to protect their own citizens in favor of trying to save lives in Botswana and Malaysia and other rural places with clean-water problems. Instead, attention (and money) should be directed to both problems.

San Francisco's public health department can save its elderly population from a large number of cases of influenza every year; it cannot solve all of Africa's and Asia's health problems, and if it tried to do this, it would go bankrupt in short order.
posted by ikkyu2 at 11:48 AM on November 20, 2005


well then they should have said that, because it was pretty clear that ikkyu2 wasn't claiming that they had the flu. you seem much happier to excuse mistakes in people who agree with you than in those that don't.

andrew, I have a feeling I pissed you off a long time ago for something I'm not even aware of, because this isn't the first time you've responded to me with a tone that seems wholly out of proportion to what I've said. Seriously (and sincerely): if you have a problem with me, please let me know (email's in profile), as I'd like to clear it up once and for all. Whether I've agreed or disagreed with various comments of yours over the years, I've certainly always respected your perspective on things. So do let me know if there's something specific we need to clear up.

If, on the other hand, you just don't like me in general: well, that's fine. Carry on. I've got nothin' against you, myself.

My response to you was really, truly, sincerely innocent: you had quoted/juxtaposed our two comments in such a way that suggested to me that you were saying that ikkyu2 was completely denying that any adverse reactions to vaccination even exist. That seemed to me to be a misunderstanding of what I surmised his position to be. So my response to you was simply to try to clarify what I understood ikkyu2's response to be in the context of his overall advocacy of vaccination as well as common myths about the flu shot (and yes, in my experience, "the flu shot gave me the flu" is a common misconception -- I've heard it every season from friends or coworkers who claim to have gotten the full-blown flu after a previous vaccincation). If I got the intent of your comment wrong (or the nuance/intent of his), my apologies. Internet communication's an imperfect thing.
posted by scody at 5:18 PM on November 20, 2005


I always get frustrated when I see someone sniffling, with a box of tissues by their side, and they say `Oh, I've got the flu'.

No, what you have is a COLD. Unpleasant, yes, but flu? No.

I had the flu once, and I needed two people to get me to the bathroom when I needed to go to the toilet. I ached all over, and was bedridden for over a week, and unwell for more than two weeks.

A bad cold makes you feel like you're going to die. Influenza makes you wish death would stop playing around and finish the job.

I get the flu jab every year because
a) I had flu once, and never again would be too soon.
b) I don't want to infect those around me if I can avoid it
posted by tomble at 11:27 PM on November 20, 2005


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