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Flu Research Once Banned Because It Was Deemed Too Dangerous Is Set to Resume (weather.com)
44 points by DocFeind 12 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 51 comments

It's not that big of a deal apparently. Our public transport doesn't has any kind of filter system and because of that I'm sick every year for 3-7 days...

I always wear a face mask on public transit for this reason.

Not common here at all. I'm also not the kind of person who will start it.

But yes i like the idea but would prefer proper filter technic :)

Anecdotal, but: I used to get the flu shot every year, and like clockwork got the flu every year a few weeks after the shot. About 5 years ago I just stopped getting the shot and... haven't had the flu since, despite spending time with people with the flu.

Other vaccines are great, this is specifically about the annual "flu shot" that's being pushed so hard every fall in ads/media: I'm pretty convinced that it either weakens my immune system too much or is just released too late to be effective.

Last year, my wife and I found out she was pregnant. We were very excited about this. Unfortunately, she got the flu after a couple weeks of being pregnant. In October, my wife gave birth to a little baby girl. We’d had the anatomy scans but they missed the open hole in her back. She has Spina Bifida, a condition that’s thought to occur due to a failure of spinal formation around the 18th day of pregnancy. Normally it’s blamed on a folate deficiency, but it can also happen due to illness during pregnancy. She’s coming home tomorrow, as she’s been in the hospital all these long months. It’s been a very emotional and challenging several months.

I’m almost certain the flu vaccine would have prevented this as I had gotten the flu vaccine and she had not. Only she got sick. We’ll never know for sure what caused it, because that’s just not how this kind of thing works, but our daughter is looking at a life of having to give herself catheters and enemas and likely kidney failure in her 60s because of her condition.

If we could go back in time she’d have gotten that vaccine in a heartbeat. It just hadn’t occurred to her as a thing to do.

Edit: accidentally repeated myself

Why are you sure of this? Doesn't seem reasonable, given the expected effectiveness of the inoculation is "this will cover the majority of this class of illness in humans this year - hopefully".

Because my wife who hadn’t gotten the vaccine, got the flu. I got the vaccine and did not get the flu despite being around her through her illness. I’m not sure how I could be more clear, sorry.

> I used to get the flu shot every year, and like clockwork got the flu every year a few weeks after the shot.

Correlation is not causation. You get a flu shot because you might catch the flu (ie. flu season).

> About 5 years ago I just stopped getting the shot and... haven't had the flu since, despite spending time with people with the flu.

If you got flu a couple of years running, your immune system built up a reservoir of antibodies. It has been shown that flu "history" is persistent across years--for example, your body fights off the flus you are exposed to as a child much more effectively than something novel.

I used to get sick all the time. For the last 3 years I got a flu shot and didn't get sick even surrounded by constantly coughing co-workers. Just another anecdote to consider.

PS. The fact that you get infected just a few weeks after the shot means you're getting it too late.

"Anecdotal, but"

If I may ask, why mention it when it's localized to just yourself?

Because even though a single person in an anecdote, multiple people chiming in the same thing moves closer to actual data. Have to start somewhere.

You mean self selected sample with confirmation bias on hypothesis that vaccine somehow makes them sick?

This is not really closer...

The hypothesis is either right or wrong. The data determines that. History shows over and over that progress comes when people push back against the right established "facts".

The parent's hypothesis isn't automatically wrong just because it is an anecdote. Neither is it automatically correct. But people need to be free to say, "Hey, I did this and what happened wasn't what I expected."

Sure, people are certainly free to say "this happened to me", when the subject is aligned. However, the plural of anecdote is not data. Anecdotes may guide research into areas which may be fruitful - but they are never a substitute for proper research.

I've had a similar experience. I never get the flu shot now, and never get the flu. Make me wonder about the causality of it all.

Same thing happens to me. People look at me like I'm crazy for not getting the flu shot, but I haven't had any issues since I stopped getting it every year.

Is weather.com a news site, too, now? I thought they were just for banners advertising disasters (and occasional weather forecasts).

Anecdata I know. I have gotten a flu vaccine for the past 5 years, and always got some sort of really bad cold/possible flu. This year, I skipped the flu shot. Guess what, I had a house full of people with confirmed flu(and all of them got flu shots except for me) and I was the only one who did not get the flu. Dont confuse this with my taking an anti-vax stance. My opinion is that either the vaccines we are getting for flu are saline, for the wrong flu strain, or are improperly prepared at scale and dont seem to work.

Flu vaccines simply increase your immune system's reaction to particular variants of the flu virus. It doesn't mean you can't get the flu, but if you do your symptoms are likely to be milder than they otherwise would be (unless you happen to get a different variety of flu than the one the vaccine was targeted at).

Also, one single person's experiences with the flu vaccine are not much to go on when making conclusions about the effectiveness of the flu vaccine for millions or billions of people.

Just to provide a counterexample, my own experience has been that I used to never get the flu vaccine, and once got so sick with the flu that I thought I was going to die (later I learned that some people actually do die from the flu). Then I started getting the vaccine every year, and since then I mostly didn't get the flu, but in the years I did my symptoms have been relatively mild and short-lived -- it usually lasts a day, and I don't feel like I'm going to die; instead, I just get some weakness and muscle aches.

Another thing to consider is that there may be other reasons for getting sick or not, apart from your vaccination status. I used to have a poor diet and some nutrient deficiencies, but since I improved my diet and started taking supplements like vitamin D and B12, I very rarely get sick. I think my immune system is probably just generally stronger than it used to be.

So to really make solid conclusions about the effectiveness of flu vaccines, you not only have to study large groups of people, but you also have to control for all the other factors that could potentially influence how frequently and how severely people get sick from the flu.

The effectiveness of the flu vaccine is studied each year. It varies a lot depending on which strains are most prevalent and how closely they match that year’s vaccine, but it’s typically around 50%.

You say you’re not taking an anti-vax stance, but when you discount scientific evidence in favor of your own anecdotes and make up theories about vaccines not containing what they say, that’s exactly what you’re doing.

A counter anecdote:

I got the flu as a teenager one year when I didn't get the vaccine. It was really bad, like 10X worse than a cold. I'd have rather died than kept living like that -- knowing that it would end was actually helpful to my ability to psychologically endure it.

I've gotten the flu vaccine every year thereafter and never got the flu again over the next two decades.

I hate getting sick. It's hard to take time off, so even if I stay home I'm working hard and late and it's hard to get over being sick. I get sick maybe once a year or every other year - and even that feels like way too much.

I would pay $2K to avoid the flu / colds each year.

I'd pay more for my kids. I miss a lot more work because of them being sick.

I have a hard time understanding the benefit of putting flu related medicine. They have benefit for a very very limited part of very weak population, and even for children and old people, the flu rarely dangerous, and when it is, not more than the 1000 other stuff that could hurt them.

In the end, I feel like it's more an economic reason we pursue this: a lot of people get the flu often, so it's a large market.

Last flu season (2017-2018) 80,000 people in the US died of influenza. It's a real public health problem, not just an inconvenience.

That’s more deaths than guns and cars killed last year combined. And think about how much time and effort goes into reducing those.

I have to disagree about this one. Cars, sure: we try to engineer cars to protect people better in crashes, we invent devices to try to help avoid crashes (e.g., blind-spot warning systems), we try to make roads safer, etc. Guns, no. Some people do vote for politicians who might push for laws limiting guns, but in office they don't do much because there just isn't enough broad political will to do so, because the voters really don't want to do anything about the issue because roughly half the population doesn't want any kind of new limits on gun ownership at all.

A major function of law enforcement is preventing murders (and to a lesser extent suicides), which includes those performed with a gun. That’s a lot of time and effort spent.

If by preventing you mean capturing killers after the fact and punishing them as a deterrent, yes.

Prison doesn't work as a deterrent for most crimes. It's useful to keep the honest population honest, and separate the dishonest one from the rest during a time.

What fraction is that of people who got the flu at all, though? More to the point, albeit harder to define, what fraction is that of people who "could have" gotten the flu, but were prevented by getting the vaccine? That's what you need to prove/falsify "rarely an issue".

yes, but last year wasn't a good example for the vaccine- it wasn't protective, which is why so many people died.

That's a good example of why work should continue on flu vaccines.

Cool, but you do realize that not a single person on this thread is disputing that, right?

The comment thread you're in literally started with the statement "I have a hard time understanding the benefit of putting flu related medicine".

"[pushing] flu related medicine" on healthy people today is an entirely orthogonal question to doing research that improves said medicine.

>They have benefit for a very very limited part of very weak population, and even for children and old people, the flu rarely dangerous, and when it is, not more than the 1000 other stuff that could hurt them.

Perhaps it's because they remember how the H1N1 flu pandemic of 1918 killed 50 to 100 million people...


That's not the common flu, it's not the same, and the regular vaccine wouldn't work against it.

Actually it is.

Or rather, there's not something called "common flu" (there's something called "common cold" colloquially, but even that is a umbrella term for tons of viruses).

Now, regarding influenza (flu), the virus, as Wikipedia puts it "Influenza (H1N1) virus is the subtype of influenza A virus that was the most common cause of human influenza (flu) in 2009, and is associated with the 1918 outbreak known as the Spanish Flu."

So, yes, the H1N1 (1918) and the influenza A (most common modern variety of flu) are closely related types of the virus.

What is the common flu?

The flu killed somewhere between 50 and 100 million people in 1918. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish_flu

The 2017-2018 flu season killed an estimated 80,000 people in the US. [Flu deaths are not precisely reported, except for children and infants, but the CDC estimates the death toll each year.]

That beats firearm and motor vehicle deaths combined.

Not the same thing. It's called flu, but it's only in name.


> The 1918 influenza pandemic (January 1918 – December 1920; colloquially known as Spanish flu) was an unusually deadly influenza pandemic, the first of the two pandemics involving H1N1 influenza virus.

H1N1 is one of the three types of flu (flu A-H1N1, flu A-H3N2, and flu B) the annual flu shot protects against: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Influenza_vaccine

I'm sorry, but you are factually wrong. It was the influenza virus. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish_flu_research

By getting the flu vaccine, you're protecting those who are too young, too sick or too old to get the vaccine or for whom the vaccine isn't very efficacious.

That it might save you a couple of days of misery is a nice bonus, but not the primary reason to get the shot.

Vaccinating every year a whole population to save a few % seems dubious to me. No medical act is a free lunch, economically of course, but from a health perspective either. It's impossible to know the consequences of such a large and recuring treatment. There is a huge difference between the one shot for years against the massively deadly tetanus and a regular shot compaing against something as little importance as the flu.

Because of the anti-vax movement, it's impossible to debate this rationnaly. The antivaxers will not listen to any argument. But the others also accept anything "vaccine" without thinking like steve irwin or mr roger: it's good, and you can't say anything bad about it.

But again, in medecine, there is no such things as a free lunch. Any drug has known and unkwown side effects, and interractions with the env, and should be use if it's worth it. It's then important to debate what is.

> It's impossible to know the consequences of such a large and recuring treatment.

This is simply false.

We've got millions of people in an experimental group - those who regularly get their flu shots. We've got millions in a control - those who don't.

If the flu shot were impacting health negatively, we'd know by now. The first flu shots were given as far back as WWII.

You mean like we knew for cigarettes that doctors recommanded to relax the throat ?

The general populatuon is not a control group.

Yeah, who cares if a few tens of thousands of children and elderly people die, we should stop worrying about them and start worrying about your vague and unsubstantiated ideas that there might be some harmful effects.

> No medical act is a free lunch, economically of course, but from a health perspective either.

Someone else in the comments mentions that last years vaccine was particularly ineffective, at only about 50%. Google says the vaccine costs ~$40, so since it's only 50% effective, let's double that cost to $80 to account for the odd year where it isn't effective¹. (And that's a bad year, so typically, we can expect better.) So, what's cheaper: spending a week in bed miserable, trying to get over the flu and the lost productivity entailed by that disease, or $80? My time is definitely worth way more than $80 — even at minimum wage it's likely a payoff, if not just that I think most of us would willingly just pay that $80 to avoid the misery. (I mean, I do: I get the shot. It's also covered for me by my healthcare, so it's sort-of $0 to me, personally. I don't get $80 back if I don't get it.)

¹I'm not sure if this is quite the statistically right way to do this, but I think it's close enough that the point holds. My point is that, even conservatively, getting the vaccine pays off.

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