Flu shots--BS or not?

Every year you see clinics, drugstores, and others pushing “flu shots”, which I guess is a weakened form of the virus. Given the fact that what we think of as “the flu” comes in several new strains every year (each one of which can mutate fairly rapidly), how do our skilled medical geeks even know that these shots do any good? As an aside, have these shots ever killed anybody due to introducing a virus into an already weakened immune system?

I used to get the flu and bad colds every winter, and I smoke so I used to get a lot of sinus and respiratory infections. Since I started getting flu shots about 5 years ago, I haven’t had even ONE case of the flu, and only 1 minor cold.

Flu shots work.

But is it statistically significant? :wink:

FWIW, I’ve only tried getting a flu shot once. I didn’t get the flu that winter, but I did get a PITA lingering cold.

My wife gets flu shots most years and believes they work.

In general, the flu shot is the medical community’s best guess at what that years’ most common flu type is going to be. They may not get it right and they certainly don’t cover every strain of influenza.

Actually, usurer, you guess wrong, on several counts. Influenza vaccine does not contain live virus.

As influenza virus mutates, new vaccines must be developed…and are. Generally, the useful life of a vaccine preparation is deemed to be one year, and the vaccine is redeveloped each year. The current year’s vaccine confers immunity against two type “A” strains (Panama and New Caledonia) and one type “B” strain(Yamanashi) (type “C” essentially doesn’t cause noticeable illness).

Many people think, incidentally, that the “flu” is just like a bad cold, principally useful in giving one an excuse for calling in sick to work, and getting the SO to bring one chicken soup in bed, for a couple of days. Not so. The CDC reports that there were 1,724 deaths from influenza in the U.S. in 1998, and the U.S. is able to provide a high standard of supportive care (the number of influenza deaths in the U.K. is typically twice as high, despite its much smaller population); this number could rise as high as 20,000 if a particularly virulent strain evolves. Sure, you probably won’t die of influenza, particularly if you’re not in a high-risk group (under 5, over 65, smoker). Of course, you probably won’t die if you cross the street with your eyes closed, either.

I don’t know if this helps but in the last Simpsons episode, Homer found out that flu shots are just injections that control people’s minds. I am pretty sure that The Simpsons is incapable of lying too.

mongrel_8, you will now be taken to The Island and held captive where you can cavort with laughing koalas. You will be replaced by a surly German man, the which English not so good of speaking at is. Unless you happen to find Patrick McGoohan and he lends you his boat. Remember to pack a stick pin for Rover.

Everyone, get your flu shots so our plan can continue!

As to the questions, I would think that the medical community judges how well the flu shots work by doing studies – they compare the number of people who got flu shots and then actually caught the flu to the number of people who caught the flu but did not get shots. Seems like they’ve usually done a good job.

The New Number 5788

Usurer, you misunderstood, a FLU is not one virus, it’s a group of them. A FLU SHOT is a cocktail mix of about 4 of last years most dangerous & common FLU viruses.

There are dozens of FLU VIRUSES, thus, you can still get the flu should you get a shot. But for only $10 its worth it if you are around a lot of people.