General Question

jonsblond's avatar

18 children have already died from flu-associated deaths this season. If you usually don't get the flu shot, will this news prompt you to do so?

Asked by jonsblond (38528 points ) January 9th, 2013

Severe flu season straining the resources of ERs around the country

I’ve never had the flu shot, nor have my children. The number 18 has struck me because it is very close to the number of young children killed in the recent shooting in Connecticut. My state, Illinois, has been hit the hardest. Luckily my daughter’s school hasn’t been affected yet, but I’m thinking I don’t want to take the chance this year.

Will these numbers change your mind? It’s not too late to get your shot.

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94 Answers

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I have an appointment for tomorrow to get one. This flu season seems to be off to a mean start and this vaccine matches up well with the virus this year. It seems safer to get the vaccine. This will be my first.

elbanditoroso's avatar

No. Not at all.

I didn’t get the Swine Flu vaccine when that happened, I didn’t get the SARS vaccine when that happened, I didn’t get the Hong Kong Flu vaccine a long time ago when that happened.

As I understand it, the whole flu vaccine thing (as opposed to vaccines in general) is a total crapshoot. Six months ago a bunch of doctors guessed at what the flue this year would be, and OK’ed a vaccine at that time. But there is/was no guarantee that they guessed right about which particular strain of the flu blossomed 6 months later.

I’ll take my chances.

tom_g's avatar

I have never had a flu shot, and I don’t plan to.

My wife did, however, get the flu shot for the first time. A month later when the flu swept through our house, she got it just as bad as the rest of us. Must have been a different strain.

Shippy's avatar

@elbanditoroso That Hong Kong Flu was wicked, I got it.

I wonder if there is a way to avoid getting it, without the injection?

bookish1's avatar

I always have a flu shot. I have a chronic disease and a compromised immune system.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@Shippy They have a nasal spray vaccine, but I’m not sure what supplies of that are left.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

Nope. No point in it. The more they scare you into getting the shot, the more people rush out to get one. The more people who get one, the quicker the virus begins to mutate to work around it, and people just get a different strain of the flu.

Personally, I think the shot is bullshit. My (step)dad had never had the flu and never gotten the shot. His ex-wife talked him into the shot one year, and he got the flu three times that year after getting the shot. He hasn’t gotten the shot since then, and hasn’t gotten the flu since then.

wundayatta's avatar

My kids have the flu shot. But my understanding is that the shot doesn’t match the virus this year, and that’s why there is so much flu. So, while I support you getting the shot, don’t be surprised if it doesn’t keep you from getting sick.

Seek's avatar

No. I’m not a high-risk case, and I don’t want to contribute to the eventual creation of the flu version of MRSA.

marinelife's avatar

I always get a flu shot. Why take a chance with a dangerous virus?

OpryLeigh's avatar

Both my dad and a work colleague had the flu jab this year (having never bothered before) and both went on to suffer from it in all it’s full blown glory. My colleague was written of work for nearly 3 weeks because of the flu. I have never had the flu jab and have never had the flu (I get cold symptoms about once a year but have yet to actually have a flu virus.) I wonder, as there are a number of flu strains, is the jab a preventative for all of them or just a generic strain?

wundayatta's avatar

@Leanne1986 The shot only prevents the strains it prevents. If you get something it doesn’t prevent, you don’t have protection from that.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@Leanne1986 The doctors at the CDC get together and decide what strain or strains will be common this year and select the strains for the vaccine. It’s not wide spectrum.

elbanditoroso's avatar

@Shippy – I haven’t a clue some people get the flu and some don’t. I will count myself as a lucky one. I don’t have a compromised immune system, but I’m also not the picture of total health either.

Maybe I should simple attribute my luck at not getting the flu to clean living and being a liberal Democrat.

OpryLeigh's avatar

@wundayatta and @Adirondackwannabe Thank you, that’s what I thought!

jonsblond's avatar

I just spoke with my husband and we both agreed it would be best for our daughter to get the vaccine. She tends to get very ill this time of year, and she also has an enlarged tonsil her pediatrician is concerned about. She’s set up for an appointment with a specialist, but that won’t be until March. We don’t want to take any chances with our sweetheart.

Thanks everyone for giving your opinion. I have been against the vaccine in the past, but I have now changed my mind.

RandomGirl's avatar

I don’t think anyone in my family will be getting the shot, but I’ve been thinking about it lately. 4 people in our tiny church (100 members or so) have been hospitalized since Christmas. It’s kind of scary.

zensky's avatar

I get it every year.

wundayatta's avatar

@RandomGirl Young people (20 – 40 or so) are the last to be recommended to get the shot, if there is a shortage. They are the strongest, and most likely to survive if they get the flu. However, if there is no shortage of the vaccine, then they are recommended to get the shot, too.

Even so, if the vaccine is for a different strain than is running through your church, it won’t help you. It would be interesting to know if they figure out what strain is going through the church, because if it is protected by the vaccine, it seems like it would be good to encourage other members of the congregation to get the vaccine.

OpryLeigh's avatar

@jonsblond Even if it prevents just one strain of the flu, it is still one less thing you have to worry about if she is prone to illness around this time of year.

Pachy's avatar

Until around five years ago, I’d never gotten a flu shot, except perhaps sporadically. No special reason, I just didn’t feel it was necessary. But after reaching “a certain age”, on the advice of my doctor, whom I literally have trusted with my life, I started getting one every year. My company offers once a year them as part of its medical coverage and that’s both convenient and cheaper, but even after I retire, I’ll continue to get one every year. Have I had the flu before or after I started getting an annual shot? Yes, a few times before, and no, not since.

OpryLeigh's avatar

@Pachyderm_In_The_Room My dad was most put out when his doctor recommended he start getting the flu jab. That’s when he knew he had reached a “certain age” as you put it!

ragingloli's avatar

18 out of 1.75 billion. Pretty good I think.

gorillapaws's avatar

A couple of points, the strains the CDC doctors choose aren’t just picked out of a hat, I believe they are chosen with the help of very sophisticated software models that are excellent at predicting the risk levels.

A flu shot is like wearing a bullet-proof vest, it does you no good if you get shot in the head, but it’s still worth wearing if you’re heading into a gunfight.

diavolobella's avatar

I had not planned on getting a flu shot this year, but after reading some news stories about the severity and also talking with many friends who did get it, were wretchedly sick and dealing with extended recoveries and/or relapses, I went ahead. I simply cannot afford to get sick right now and be down for a long time since I’m in a relatively new job with limited sick leave. I already came down with the stomach funk that is going around, which hit me the day after Christmas and I thought I was never going to get over that. Also, as of Christmas Day, I just qualified for my first week of vacation time. It is the first time off I’ve had available to me in a long time and I’m planning on taking a real vacation. If I get sick, it will throw a monkey wrench in that plan.

Unfortunately, my daughter has now come down with something and I just got my shot last week, so my immunity is probably not where it needs to be. So far she just seems to have a bad cold, not necessarily the flu, and my son hasn’t gotten it.

The 1918 influenza epidemic is one of the historic events that I’ve read a lot about and studied quite a bit. Even to the point of writing a letter to Jeffrey Taubenberger at NIH (a flu researcher who has written extensively about it), which he was kind enough to answer.

@wundayatta Surprisingly, in that epidemic, younger people at the peak of health were the most likely to die, so the concept that those people shouldn’t get the flu shot might be flawed.

ucme's avatar

Over here it’s the novovirus that’s spreading like wildfire, otherwise known as the winter vomit bug.
I’ve never caught it & don’t expect I will because i’m never ill, but my daughter has had several of her friends who have yet to return to school this year, okay, they only went back this week, but still.

jonsblond's avatar

@Leanne1986 I could really use one less thing to worry about right now. I agree. I hope it helps.

@ragingloli Sure, but when one of those 18 is your child, not so good.

jca's avatar

I never get one and have been told to avoid vaccinations because I got Guillain Barre Syndrome a few years ago, and it’s believed that it can be triggered by preservatives in vaccines.

glacial's avatar

The flu shot is a good idea if you’re in a category of people whose health would be seriously compromised by getting the flu – so, children, elderly, and people with frail health for whatever reason. It is a bit of a crapshoot, as others have said, because of mutation. I don’t get the shot, but I would get it if I joined one of those groups.

I am very much pro-vaccine for specific diseases, though. Uninformed anti-vaccine activists and the effect they’re having on resurgent childhood diseases scare me.

diavolobella's avatar

[Cited from Wikipedia because it more concisely describes why the 1918 flu epidemic killed so many who were not considered high risk (and what possibly what could happen if a similar strain strikes again)].

“Most influenza outbreaks disproportionately kill juvenile, elderly, or already weakened patients; in contrast the 1918 pandemic killed predominantly previously healthy young adults. Modern research, using virus taken from the bodies of frozen victims, has concluded that the virus kills through a cytokine storm (overreaction of the body’s immune system). The strong immune reactions of young adults ravaged the body, whereas the weaker immune systems of children and middle-aged adults resulted in fewer deaths among those groups.”

It’s gross, but most of the 1918 victims basically died by drowning when their lungs filled with fluid.

FutureMemory's avatar

I haven’t gotten the flu for about 5 years, which coincides with how long I’ve been getting the flu vaccine shot. I’ll continue to get one every year if possible, despite not being in a high risk group. My doc pushes it pretty hard, which is fine with me. I’ve suffered no ill effects from getting it.

elbanditoroso's avatar

@gorillapaws , it’s true that they don’t pick them out of hat, but the end result is that the hard work of the CDC is really nothing more than an educated guess, made months ahead of time.

Coloma's avatar

I’ve been getting the flu shot since 2008 after 2 years in a row ( 06 & 07 ) of being struck down like a squirrel on the highway. lol
1st was being stuck on my death bed in a hotel in the middle of nowhere New Mexico on a 2 week road trip in ‘06. The guy I was dating came down with it first and between the 2 of us we were on our faces for about 6 days straight.
The 2nd was in the middle of a house design project and was even worse than the first.

My biz. partner at the time and I were just flat lined for days and had a deadline that forced us to keep working. It was baaaad!
I also traveled in asia in 2010 when the H1N1 outbreak was very high. Skated on through my trip with no illness. I’m a believer these days!

WestRiverrat's avatar

How many flu deaths are there every year? Is this an actual increase or is someone with an agenda trying to scare the public into giving them more funding.

There are flu deaths in the US every year, with or without the shots.

El_Cadejo's avatar

Haven’t had a flu shot, won’t ever get a flu shot. My thoughts on the shot are much like @WillWorkForChocolate

diavolobella's avatar

@WillWorkForChocolate said “The more people who get one, the quicker the virus begins to mutate to work around it, and people just get a different strain of the flu.”

Conversely, the argument could be made that the more people who don’t get one, the more people get the flu and gain immunity to it that way and the quicker it mutates to work around that and the next year people get a different strain. Getting the flu shot and getting the flu itself give you the same end result – immunity to that strain of the flu, but not necessarily immunity to the next strain. The flu is going to mutate to a new strain whether people gain their immunity via vaccination or illness and probably just as fast. Same result, but it could be argued that getting a shot is a lot more pleasant and less costly than being sick for a week or two.

gailcalled's avatar

No. This was an informed decision.

There are enough strains that are not covered by this shot. I have chosen to wash my hands a lot and keep an alcohol-based sanitizer in the car for use after getting gas or being in restaurants with sneezing and coughing people.

I try to keep my hands away from my face also.

Mariah's avatar

Being covered for some strains is better than none. I get it every year.

Coloma's avatar

Well the strains I had in 06 and 07 were enough to kill a Rhino. When I made it into Sedona I lay semi-unconscious on a rock in the sun for 5 hours and when I woke up the vultures were circling. lol

RocketGuy's avatar

Here is a summary of flu vaccine results from 89 M doses given in China in 2009:
http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1008553
The rate of Guillain–Barré syndrome due to vaccination was lower than the background rate.

Here is a paper from Germany:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20797646
I appreciate that they note the need to monitor vaccine safety. (I see vaccinations as a risk/benefit tradeoff) There must have been something wrong with the flu vaccines in 1976–1977 to cause so much GBS.

snowberry's avatar

I don’t get the flu shot, and have no plans to do so. In my experience, it’s the people who DO get the flu shot that get the flu.

KNOWITALL's avatar

Absolutely not! I refuse to participate in Big Pharma’s world domination tour, let alone pay to get sick. I had it one time and ended up at ER because I couldn’t breathe, never again.

sinscriven's avatar

Havent got around to it, but seems like a good idea this year for sure.

The time of reckoning has come jenny mccarthy and your anti-vaccination horde!

Rarebear's avatar

People who don’t get a flu shot are fools. Sorry. Currently taking care of a person dying of the flu in the ICU.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@Rarebear I’m so sorry to hear that. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

Rarebear's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe Not me, man. I’m fine. I got my flu shot. Pray for the patient.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I’ll say a prayer for both of you and your family.

Coloma's avatar

I agree with @Rarebear If you’ve never been struck down nor had the shot you cannot make blanket statements about “everyone” that gets the vaccine gets sick
.I am living proof that I have been flu free for the last 4 years, never had any reaction other than the slightest soreness at the vaccination site for a day or two. This girl doesn’t EVER want to experience the flu like 06 & 07 again. I wished I were dead.

I also vaccinate my pet geese for West Nile. Vaccines save lives!

Rarebear's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe Thanks. But I don’t think you understand. I am the ICU physician taking care of the patient.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@Rarebear Sorry, I forgot you were one of our Doc Jellies. I’ll say it for the patient.

gailcalled's avatar

@Rarebear; What is patient’s age and what was the general state of health before s/he contracted the flu?

Coloma's avatar

Well…up here in the mountains of NorCal not only are you dealing with the usual flu season, but, the West Nile virus is a big concern as well with so many water sources. Lakes, rivers, ponds, creeks and streams. It can be spread from livestock and horses are very prone to getting it and it turning into equine encephalitis (sp?) a fatal disease for them as well as humans. All livestock and waterfowl benefit from proper vaccination as well.

Watching your horse die from encephalitis is not a pretty sight.

Rarebear's avatar

@gailcalled 52. Reasonably healthy.

Coloma's avatar

Yep, I’m 53, and you don’t bounce back anymore, if something bad enough takes you down, it can be serious! Pneumonia, all sorts of lovely ways to suffer and die.

wundayatta's avatar

So some people think the flu shot makes them sick.

Some people think they are strong and don’t need the flu shot.

Some people think that the flu shot is a scam to make big pharma more money (but don’t say if they think it works or not).

Some people think there is no danger and the vaccine doesn’t help. It’s just a scare campaign.

Some people think this is an evolutionary thing, and it’s better to exercise your immune system by getting sick than to exercise it by not getting sick.

Some people seem to think there’s no point, because the virus always mutates, and this year’s vaccine will never help you against next year’s virus.

And then there are those who take the shot, believing it protects them.

Finally, there are those who look at the scientific evidence before deciding to take the shot.

Me? I’ve had the shot for as far back as I can remember. More than a decade. My employer provides it free of charge. I never caught a flu before I got the shot, and I have never caught one since. I hope to stay that way.

Coloma's avatar

I utilize ALL possible sources of both eastern and western medicine. The middle path is where it’s at. My old accupuncturist was an adamant anti-vaccine person. She refused to vaccinate her dogs for rabies which is a state law. I disagreed wholeheartedly, just stupid IMO. Living in a major wildlife zone and rabies being fatal for animals and humans alike, well….duh!

augustlan's avatar

I’m in a high risk group, so I get one every year. I haven’t gotten around to it yet, though. BAD.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Rarebear What do you say doc, good idea or not, if you’re not old or young and in generally good health?

Coloma's avatar

@KNOWITALL I think that the recommendation is people 50 and over and whatever other high risk groups. People with respiratory issues etc. Yes, ask the doc!

DominicX's avatar

I used to get it back when I was really skinny and small and my mom worried about me losing too much weight while sick. That’s not really a problem anymore. I haven’t gotten it since then—the last time I had the flu was in 2007. I probably won’t be getting it, but I won’t rule it out.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Coloma My doc is not a fan of extraneous meds and said he didn’t feel like I needed it if I was uncomfortable with it. Just curious what another doc would say.

zenvelo's avatar

My ex is in a high risk group, so my kids have had it every year. My employer has offered it every year, so I have been getting it at work for over 30 years.

I have not gotten the flu since I was a kid.

We used to “joke” about employees that would not get the flu shot that if they got the flu they would not get sick time but have to use vacation time because it was their choice (HR wouldn’t let us do that, though….)

KNOWITALL's avatar

People actually use their sick days zenvelo?

Rarebear's avatar

One of the highest risk groups is young healthy pregnant women.
Everybody should get a flu shot.

RocketGuy's avatar

I never caught a really bad flu before, so the advantage does not seem that big for me. (I see a moderate benefit for getting a flu shot)

I wait a while each year to see if people report bad side effects to that year’s flu shot mix (minimize the risk).

If benefit/risk is good, then I go ahead and get the flu shot.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Rarebear Did someone pay you to say that?! Just kidding. Thanks!

jonsblond's avatar

@KNOWITALL I was in the ER about a month ago with shortness of breath and chest pains. It turned out to be acute bronchitis. The doc suggested I should get the flu shot when I felt better. I’m 42.

My daughter had a dental appointment today and our doctor happens to be in the same building. I went ahead and asked if we could both get a flu shot while we were there. They were busy but they squeezed us in. The nurse gave my daughter a high five and told her if any of her friends get the flu, she needs to tell them they should have gotten a flu shot.

Coloma's avatar

I had mine in early Nov.
I think it protects for 5 -6months but gradually fades if I understand correctly, something like that, but the earlier in the season the better I think.

jonsblond's avatar

@Coloma I’m sure you are right, but I’ll admit, the news I heard today scared me. 18 children dead and it’s still early in the flu season. Almost as many children as Sandy Hook Elementary and look how devastated the country was (is) when that happened. How are the lives of the children who died from the flu any different? If I can do something to possibly help my daughter (and myself), I guess it’s better late than never. I’m certainly getting it early next time. I just hope it helps and I hope her school isn’t affected within the next two weeks.

Coloma's avatar

@jonsblond
No argument at all, whenever you get it is good. I was just rambling out loud that the earlier, the better. You’re covered through like June/July but the season is mostly Oct/Nov.-Feb./Mar.
It does take 2 weeks to kick in though. :-)

jonsblond's avatar

I was rambling too. =)

Blondesjon's avatar

I’m with @gailcalled. I also use a form of alcohol based sanitizer.

tonight it’s old milwaukee

gailcalled's avatar

^^^—-NIce to hear your acerbic voice again.—

geeky_mama's avatar

I did not get the flu shot. I have a compromised immune system (allergies, asthma and a just an overall tendency to be sickly year ‘round) so I stopped getting the flu shot when I noticed each year it tended to make me sick. (My doctors noticed, too..and one finally said: “Uh, maybe the flu shot is not a good idea for you.” After that, I stopped getting them.)

Even with the news of the 18 deaths in Boston, and the recent deaths of two healthy teenagers in my area, I won’t be getting the shot because it seems that my entire family (including me) all had the flu already. (It’s already peaked in our area. I was sick with it on Christmas Eve..we all got it during the 2 or so weeks around the holidays.)

Our middle daughter got the flu shot (back in the fall, during her back-to-school checkup, it was her choice) and she got just as sick (maybe even sicker?) than I did..and that’s unusual because I have asthma and often end up really sick (needing steroids, chest x-rays and lots of medical intervention to recover) from winter colds.

So, the one person in our family who had the flu shot…got sicker than me..and I have a comprised immune system. Go figure.

That said, my father (who has been an ER doctor for 40+ years) said that this year’s flu shot was considered particularly “good” as it seems to have gotten the right strain (some years they miss by a long shot… hahaha, pun intended!)..and even though they got the right strain, there are still variations/mutations..and hence, even getting the flu shot isn’t a guarantee (point proven by my healthy 11 yr. old daughter).

gailcalled's avatar

^^^ Did your dad get the shot?

tinyfaery's avatar

I’m supposed to (asthma), but I never do. I haven’t had a bad flu since I was a child. And even though my wife works with gooey, icky kids, and brings home their grubby germs, I won’t get the shot again this year.

rooeytoo's avatar

We lived in a very high risk group so we were advised to get the shot, that was 2 years ago, we skipped the next year because we had moved. We were still living in the tropics but no longer in with the high risk group. This year we are in winter weather and flu was rampant so we had them again. No ill effects from them and no flu in our house. I thought that was good because we went from a climate where I never wore long pants or a jacket and the windows were never closed, to one where I was wearing long underwear and surrounded by sneezing people in an enclosed environment!

geeky_mama's avatar

@gailcalled – My dad (who just retired in Dec. 2012) did not get the flu shot. He’s in his mid-sixties and otherwise good health..and although he worked in Urgent Care/ER..he skipped it.

mattbrowne's avatar

Not really, no. It might be more effective to call this influenza shot instead of flu shot. Many people associate the word flu with fever and a common cold.

If might also help that people are aware of influenza’s biohazard level, which is the same as hepatitis, Lyme disease, salmonella, mumps, measles, scrapie, dengue fever, and HIV.

FutureMemory's avatar

@Coloma My old accupuncturist was an adamant anti-vaccine person. She refused to vaccinate her dogs for rabies which is a state law.

My god! What a complete fool!

ragingloli's avatar

@Coloma
And that is someone you let stab you with needles?
There is a good chance she refused to sterilise them between uses, too.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@FutureMemory I refused to vaccinate my dog for rabies again, after the shot damn near killed her several years back.

RocketGuy's avatar

My whole family, including 14 yr old dog, are fully up to date on our vaccinations. No adverse effects seen.

Rarebear's avatar

Dog? Oh, you must be talking about regular dog shots like rabies.

RocketGuy's avatar

Rabies, bortetella, distemper.

gailcalled's avatar

Flu shot is “moderately” (60%) successful, according to latest press release from CDC and widespread in 47 states.

Source

gailcalled's avatar

New info;

” Flu continues its march across the United States, with 47 states now reporting widespread influenza activity, up from 41 last week, federal health officials reported Friday.

However, flu has begun to subside in some areas, especially in the Southeast, where it showed up first.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also reported that the current vaccine was found to be about 60 percent effective in warding off illness, which means it offers “moderate” protection from the flu, which is particularly severe this season.”

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

So far, seven of my friends, and one family member, who got the flu shot in the last two months, currently have, or have already had the flu. If your immune system has been compromised and you are exposed to the flu germs, you’re getting the flu, shot or not.

jonsblond's avatar

I’ll take moderate protection for my daughter over none at all. Like I said, she gets very ill this time of year and has an enlarged tonsil that still needs to be looked at by a specialist. 60% effectiveness puts my mind at ease a bit.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

My issue is that I’d rather not risk injection related complications, especially for my oldest who has ADHD. ADHD and those chemicals are not a good combination.

augustlan's avatar

The flu has hit my daughters’ high school, and my youngest has it. Wish I’d made them get the shot. :(

WestRiverrat's avatar

The flu shot may only be moderately effective in preventing flu, but my observations lead me to believe that the symptoms are less severe if you get the shot and get the flu.

That said I didn’t get my shot this year. My employer didn’t get sent enough for everyone this year and I didn’t want to spend the money the clinic was charging for them.

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