Infectious diseases and vaccines (This season's flu)

Re Cecil’s column this week:

With the additional news that this year’s flu vaccine is not really all that helpful, is it worthwhile to have the shot? Or is it best just to skip it this year?

You mean, is skipping the shot worth the risk of getting the flu? I’m not a statistician, but I have a high risk lifestyle for catching the flu, I have grandkids. I think I will get the shot.

Given the evidence that this year’s flu vaccine may only be marginally effective in preventing flu (and noting that even if prevention isn’t attained, those vaccinated but infected may well have less severe symptoms), I’d say the news is disappointing but shouldn’t keep people from getting flu shots if otherwise eligible for them. It should be a renewed call to action on the holy grail (the “universal” flu vaccine that wouldn’t depend on prognosticating antigens that change from year to year).

As to the Cecil column - as it pertains to vaccination it’s poorly written, suggesting that human vaccination may be encouraging spread/emergence of serious pathogens, when that is not the case.

“The vaccines widely used by humans today – especially those used to protect children against mumps, measles, and other potentially deadly ailments – are what we’d call “perfect” vaccines. But new research suggests that “imperfect” or “leaky” vaccines – ones that don’t make their hosts totally immune to the disease and incapable of spreading it to others – might have a surprising downside. For now, this so-called leakiness only exists in (a few) vaccines used to treat farm animals. But researchers warn that as humankind tackles bigger, badder diseases, we should keep the potential danger of leaky vaccines in mind.”

It’s important to be clear on this subject, partly because one deceptive antivax meme revolves around the claim that vaccinated kids spread infection, which like other such memes is grossly inaccurate.

I got my flu shot several weeks before my cancer diagnosis, and I sure am glad I did!

The “flu shots cause epidemics, etc.” warnings usually come from “informative” websites like Newsmax and Breitbart. :dubious:

Is the shot this year totally not for the strain of flu virus we’re seeing?

I get it because I have a compromised immune system. Flu can kill me.

It looks like the dire warnings about 2017 flu shot ineffectiveness may have been way overstated.

“…flu experts…had watched the vaccine show only 10 percent effectiveness against the H3N2 strain that circulated in Australia, where the flu season has just ended.
But a recent report in the journal F1000 Research found the Australian strain of H3N2 is not identical to the predominant virus circulating in the United States.
“The majority of the viruses are well-covered by the vaccine,” said lead researcher Dr. Slobodan Paessler, a professor in the department of pathology at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston.
“There are some minor groups of viruses that are not well-covered,” he added.
“The current vaccine in the U.S., in contrast to the Australian [vaccine], will work because we have most of the American H3N2 viruses, rather than the Australian one,” Paessler explained.
Using a computer program to compare the viruses used in the vaccine to the circulating strains of flu in the United States, Paessler and his colleague, Veljko Veljkovic from Biomed Protection in Galveston, found they are a good match. That means the vaccine should be as effective as it was last year.”

So how does the US strain of H3N2 differ from the strains of Australian H3N2? It would seem to me that the name of the strain would be the same in both places? if not, why not call them different things?

Looks like it may relate to hemagglutinin gene sequences.

I’ve given up on trying to tell scientists what names to use.*

*still haven’t accepted Solenostemon instead of Coleus.

Attenuation is a big deal. That’s what happens when a vaccine works imperfectly, and you still get the disease, but you get a mild case of it. I have a co-worker who got the shot and still got the flu. However, she missed only two days of work, and was completely well after four days of symptoms. She was never flat on her back unable to do anything, the way people are with a typical full-blown flu. She had a nasal swab, so she definitely had the flu, but it passed like a mild cold.

I had pertussis after being vaccinated for it. It lasted three days, instead of the usual two weeks, and I was treated at home with cough syrup (probably codeine) and decongestants. I was three years old, and pertussis could have been extremely serious. According to my mother I had only one day when my cough was “scary.” I remember that uncontrollable cough. It felt scary to me. But I also remember that I was mobile, not in bed the whole time. My parents bought me some new books, and a new toy, and read to me a lot, because I had to stay inside the whole time I was sick, plus two days, to make sure I wasn’t still contagious. I still have the books, which my parents wrote in, that they were gifts to get me through “whooping cough.”

So yes, get the vaccine. Even if you do get sick, it will be helpful.

Four years ago there was an effective vaccine and a deadly flu. My sister didn’t get a shot and the flu killed her. Obviously I’m pretty pro vaccine.

I got a shot this year and I’m sick in bed right now with what I assume is a mild flu. I just had a regular cold like three weeks ago too. No fun at all but I guess it could be worse.

I just read where over 60% of all deaths in the Civil War were from disease and not from the war.

Vaccines have sure made our lives better.

Amen. Now if only we could make a vaccine for war.

As many smarter than I have said, get the vaccination. I do it every year and the one time I didn’t I got the flu twice. All the testimony here is anecdotal, but the science behind the vaccinations is not. I see the antivax people as natures way of reducing the population of the mis/uninformed. Not that wish them any harm mind you, just that the risk of this year’s flu is real and many have already succumbed. I say why chance it.

There seem to be a lot of comments about the flu vaccine, very little about, frinst, the appropriation of antibiotics to produce cheap food.
As a kid I’d get taken to ANZAC Day commemorations of WW1. There were plenty of people missing arms & whatnot, amputated to prevent gangrene. My take on the US Civil War is that diarrhea was so ubiquitous that a surprised soldier was allowed to finish before conflict resumed. Plenty of missing arms & whatnot there too.
Which we forget. Or could never have remembered in the first place. Just how deadly the invisible microbial world surrounding us can be.
So, when you read about battery farming, it’s not just the pathetically hopeless lives of the animals, living in a cruel betrayal of the implicit contract which constitutes farming. It’s the effect on you & me, because those practises rely on massive amounts of antibiotics. The animals grow faster, because they no longer need to maintain an immune system. They can be excessively crowded. Thus we have cheaper meat.
Antibiotics are incredibly precious. Yet, we are willing to risk amputations & dying in a puddle of excrement for cheap chicken. The cost of this misuse will be seen by our children, when hospitals again become a place where people go to die.

We’re currently seeing a flu season considered more ‘virulent’ than most. Yet I never get shot & haven’t been sick in years. I’m not sure why. I put it down to these reasons:
I cycle regularly to the point of exhaustion. This produces a lot of mucus which I expel. I assume any microbes are expelled too. The intense exercise also ‘cleans the tubes’ in various areas which may give them less purchase.
I try to encourage a strong microbiome, eating plenty of fibre & fermented foods & much less meat. I hope this encourages an environment where disease microbes can’t compete.

I recently went into the city to meet my ex wife. I felt slightly sick afterwards. She was laid up for a week.

I got last year’s flu, and all it gave me was a week of coughing. I go out walking every day, and do not use any sanitizers.

I am not a doctor, but my take on the subject is that we’ve grown so phobic about germs that we have the worst immune systems ever.

(I know this is a zombie, but they get sick too)

I am not a doctor, but my take on the subject is that most people have little understanding of how our immune systems actually work.

It is unclear whether the number of people who thought they had influenza (but didn’t) is greater than the number who congratulated themselves on avoiding flu through “superior immune systems” which either weren’t, or actually placed them at greater risk of severe flu complications/death.

The flu is caused by a virus, antibiotics do not work on viruses. The scientific support for the rest of your post is of similar quality.

four years ago there has been an powerful vaccine and a deadly flu. My sister didn’t get a shot and the flu killed her. manifestly I’m pretty seasoned vaccine. I got a shot this yr and that i’m ill in bed right now with what I anticipate is a moderate flu. I simply had a ordinary cold like 3 weeks ago too. No fun at all however I wager it is able to be worse.

How Vaccines Work