Has it gotten you yet?

Because that novel isn't going to delay itself
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LurkingVirologist
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Re: Has it gotten you yet?

Post by LurkingVirologist » September 24th, 2012, 2:48 am

Lewis591 wrote:Interesting news. the FDA has just approved a brand-new vaccine for 2012-2013, which helps to vaccinate three various flu strains. Six companies will be manufacturing the injections. Anybody that has health-related, or immune deficiencies, should check to see if they can get vaccinated as soon as possible.
The strain information is here: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/qa/vaccine-selection.htm

TL;DR - seasonal flu shot contains three strains, one of which is an H1N1. The shot is an inactivated ("killed") vaccine which means you can't get the flu from it, and you can't shed the attenuated vaccine strain. This only really matters if you've got a weak immune system, or spend time around someone who does.

On that note, most people who get infected with flu will be shedding virus for 24-48 hours before symptoms appear. Also, up to 20% of adult infections are sub-clinical, meaning you might feel a little lousy but won't know you have the flu. You'll still be shedding all over the place.

For anybody that hasn't been following the news, the excess mortality from H1N1 peaked at ~6000 per year in the US (don't recall the exact numbers, but I can look it up on the pubmeds if anyone is really curious). As we all know by now, it wasn't the apocalyptic 1918-style pandemic, but it was still a very bad bug. The institution I'm at was at max capacity for ventilators on at least one occasion, and I know it wasn't the only hospital that had that problem.

The four highest risk groups were: young, very old, pregnant, and significantly overweight/obese. Pandemic flu (H1N1) is really brutal on pregnant women, not only inflicting higher mortality, but also increasing the risk of miscarriage*, stillbirth, and pre-term/low birth-weight delivery by up to 4x. There have been a number of studies showing the vaccine is safe for pregnant women, and there is some carryover protection for the baby via maternal trans-placental antibody transfer. Kind of a two-fer.

Also, at least one good-sized study showed flu vaccination has a protective effect out to ~1 year against severe cardiovascular events. Most likely explanation... systemic inflammation is pro-thrombotic --> pro-thrombotic state leads to clotting (especially in those with underlying disease) --> clot gets thrown --> bad things happen (i.e. stroke).

Please get your flu shot. Unless you hate pregnant women. And grandma. And kids.

* This appears to have been the case with the 1918 pandemic strain, which caused up to 10% of pregnant women who survived infection to miscarry, so not a new phenomenon. Why some people are still telling pregnant women not to get vaccinated is beyond me. Why some healthcare facilities don't mandate employee vaccination is also beyond me.
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JohnDurvin
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Re: Has it gotten you yet?

Post by JohnDurvin » September 29th, 2012, 11:26 pm

Personally it's been years since I had a flu shot or the flu. I usually stay pretty healthy, so long as it's not a disease that attacks the throat; I always have trouble with that. It seems to run in my family; my dad's in his fifties, and he only gets the flu in the years when he gets the flu shot.
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Shipple
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Re: Has it gotten you yet?

Post by Shipple » November 19th, 2012, 8:16 am

I didn't realize there was a particularly nasty strain this year. I've never gotten a flu shot on the theory that I'd build up my immune system as much as I could while I was still young & relatively healthy.

I was sick a lot as a kid, so I too am a compulsive hand washer, but not hand sanitizer. That stuff dries my skin out and leaves a funny smell. And then I'm also a compulsive hand moisturizer user (but that stems from having cracked, dry skin if I don't), but I am quite sorry you got a nasty strain of the flu. Hope you're better now.
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LurkingVirologist
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Re: Has it gotten you yet?

Post by LurkingVirologist » November 27th, 2012, 11:27 pm

Shipple wrote:I've never gotten a flu shot on the theory that I'd build up my immune system as much as I could while I was still young & relatively healthy.
That's a pretty common sentiment (e.g. I'm not picking on you personally ;) ), but unfortunately the risks outweigh the benefits. Part of the elevated risk for younger people (and presumably pregnant women) with pandemic flu is that their immune system over-responds, with potentially serious consequences. One of the other issues is secondary bacterial pneumonia, which is the last thing your lungs need while they're trying to recover from the flu. Moreover, adaptive immune responses are highly specific, so you can't really 'boost' or 'build up' you immune system in the way that many people imply. Even exposure to one flu strain will only provide limited protection against another, and no protection against a new pandemic strain. Folks have been making progress on a universal flu vaccine (they have what look like good targets) but it'll be awhile I suspect.

Like I said though, I think the best reason to get your flu shot is to avoid spreading it to vulnerable populations. I'm a lot more likely to survive a bout with H1N1 than any of the transplant kids at the hospital I work at (or old people or pregnant women etc), and they really don't need me to be spreading flu at work any more than they need me leaving it on the bus, in the supermarket, or any other public space we may coincidentally share. Adding in the fact that some people who get infected can shed virus for awhile before developing symptoms (and some have asymptomatic but contagious infections) and there's no real practical way to manage your risk of sharing the bug. The vaccine isn't 100% effective, and it can be a bit of a pain in the arm, but that's a pretty small price to pay for potentially saving somebody else's life.
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