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Fri Jan 11, 2013, 08:41 PM

If you have not had the flu shot please get it while it is still available.

The life you save may not only be your own. Please don't forget if you do get the flu, no matter how "mild" you may think the case, you become a vector. This adds to the spread of the flu. Get the shot. The life you save may not be yours, do it for your neighbor. Thank you.

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Reply If you have not had the flu shot please get it while it is still available. (Original post)
littlemissmartypants Jan 2013 OP
The empressof all Jan 2013 #1
Democratopia Jan 2013 #4
littlemissmartypants Jan 2013 #6
Democratopia Jan 2013 #9
littlemissmartypants Jan 2013 #2
Democratopia Jan 2013 #27
littlemissmartypants Jan 2013 #30
Democratopia Jan 2013 #42
Democratopia Jan 2013 #3
littlemissmartypants Jan 2013 #7
Democratopia Jan 2013 #17
littlemissmartypants Jan 2013 #20
Democratopia Jan 2013 #33
littlemissmartypants Jan 2013 #37
NBachers Jan 2013 #58
The empressof all Jan 2013 #60
jpak Jan 2013 #61
RKP5637 Jan 2013 #31
Logical Jan 2013 #11
littlemissmartypants Jan 2013 #18
Democratopia Jan 2013 #44
tavalon Jan 2013 #49
MH1 Jan 2013 #14
Democratopia Jan 2013 #25
RKP5637 Jan 2013 #36
Democratopia Jan 2013 #40
RKP5637 Jan 2013 #43
groundloop Jan 2013 #45
littlemissmartypants Jan 2013 #5
Purveyor Jan 2013 #8
smirkymonkey Jan 2013 #10
RKP5637 Jan 2013 #34
littlemissmartypants Jan 2013 #12
littlemissmartypants Jan 2013 #13
RomneyLies Jan 2013 #15
gollygee Jan 2013 #22
Comrade_McKenzie Jan 2013 #16
littlemissmartypants Jan 2013 #19
tavalon Jan 2013 #50
Jennicut Jan 2013 #32
davidn3600 Jan 2013 #21
littlemissmartypants Jan 2013 #23
Agschmid Jan 2013 #24
davidn3600 Jan 2013 #56
The Velveteen Ocelot Jan 2013 #28
tavalon Jan 2013 #51
littlemissmartypants Jan 2013 #26
Warpy Jan 2013 #29
littlemissmartypants Jan 2013 #38
VOX Jan 2013 #39
tavalon Jan 2013 #52
littlemissmartypants Jan 2013 #35
littlemissmartypants Jan 2013 #41
tandot Jan 2013 #46
Democratopia Jan 2013 #47
tandot Jan 2013 #48
SheilaT Jan 2013 #53
TheMightyFavog Jan 2013 #54
Day And Night Jan 2013 #55
NBachers Jan 2013 #57
JesterCS Jan 2013 #59

Response to littlemissmartypants (Original post)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 08:51 PM

1. Got mine today

We've had three deaths in my immediate area. One was a forty year old healthy woman. Put the fear into me. I had the flu a few years ago and never want to go through that again. I really thought I was going to die and I wasn't sick enough to be hospitalized.

You are right go get your shot....But the nurse told me today that it takes about two weeks to take full effect and even with the shot you should take universal precautions.

Don't be around people who are sick if you can avoid it or not a direct care giver

Wash your hands more than you think you need to

Take your vitamins, drink plenty of fluids and get sleep...In other words....do all you can to stay healthy and your immune system up and running at a good level

Don't be ashamed to use the hand sanitizers at the grocer and doctors offices.

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Response to The empressof all (Reply #1)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 08:58 PM

4. Good. You gave some good advice. Now why do we hear more about getting flu shots than

 

things about hygiene?

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Response to Democratopia (Reply #4)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 09:01 PM

6. You mean the statistic that

women wash their hands more frequently than men after going to the toilet? Or that due to the dry air we are experiencing this year a sneeze by someone infected with influenza can spread the virus more than eight feet?

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Response to littlemissmartypants (Reply #6)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 09:08 PM

9. I have to say I am a germ freak and try not to go when I am out, but men's toilets are disgusting

 

and most men do not wash their hands!

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Response to littlemissmartypants (Original post)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 08:52 PM

2. Prevention AND Control

Prevention and Control of Influenza with Vaccines: Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) — United States, 2012–13 Influenza Season

Vaccine Strains for the 2012–13 Influenza Season

U.S. influenza vaccines for 2012–13 will contain A/California/7/2009 (H1N1)-like, A/Victoria/361/2011 (H3N2)-like, and B/Wisconsin/1/2010-like (Yamagata lineage) antigens. The influenza A(H3N2) and B antigens differ from the respective 2010–11 and 2011–12 seasonal vaccine antigens (3). The influenza A(H1N1) vaccine virus strain is derived from an influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 (2009) virus and was included in the 2009(H1N1) monovalent pandemic vaccine as well as the 2010–11 and 2011–12 seasonal vaccines.

Recommendations for Vaccination

Routine annual influenza vaccination is recommended for all persons aged ≥6 months. To permit time for production of protective antibody levels (4,5), vaccination optimally should occur before onset of influenza activity in the community. Therefore, vaccination providers should offer vaccination as soon as vaccine is available. Vaccination should be offered throughout the influenza season (i.e., as long as influenza viruses are circulating in the community).


http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6132a3.htm?s_cid=mm6132a3

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Response to littlemissmartypants (Reply #2)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 09:43 PM

27. Please let me ask you a question, LittleMissSmartyPants. Are you saying that EVERYONE in the nation

 

(apart from those who are medically advised not to) should get a flu shot?

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Response to Democratopia (Reply #27)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 09:49 PM

30. That's littlemissmartypants and the answer to your question is

no, but could you please wash your hands? Thank you.

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Response to littlemissmartypants (Reply #30)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 10:15 PM

42. Then what are you proposing?

 

Last edited Sat Jan 12, 2013, 07:31 PM - Edit history (1)

You say go and get a vaccine, you could save a life, but you aren't saying everyone should do that? Did I misunderstand something?

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Response to littlemissmartypants (Original post)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 08:56 PM

3. There's always a quick-fix. Get the flu jab, take anti-acid, take blood pressure meds, etc.

 

One of the problems with America.

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Response to Democratopia (Reply #3)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 09:06 PM

7. It all boils down to respect and compassion for your neighbor. If I have a way to keep you from

getting ill I am going to try it. I am concerned about the lack of concern that seems to be ripping at the seams of the rugs compassion and respect have been swept under.

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Response to littlemissmartypants (Reply #7)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 09:24 PM

17. I am very skeptical about flu shots. Yes, use it for those most vulnerable, and those who

 

work with them, but are we going to say everyone in the nation should have a flu shot? I think that goes too far. The president is putting steps in place to improve healthcare access, but we also have a situation where employees often have very little time off for sickness compared to other developed nations, so the sick continue to turn up for work. spreading disease. Giving everyone a flu shot only offers limited protection, but those taking a shot are more likely to act as if they won't get flu. In the elderly, the participation rate has more than doubled in the last few decades, but hospitalization rates have increased at the same time. I don't agree with all this mass medication. You see the ads for medicines and they spend more time telling you about the side effects, but when it comes to flu shots we only get the hard sell and no negatives.

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Response to Democratopia (Reply #17)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 09:29 PM

20. And if someone sneezed close enough to you to infect you with

let's say...tuberculosis, how will you respond?

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Response to littlemissmartypants (Reply #20)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 09:52 PM

33. Are you saying that USA should also introduce a mass vaccination program against TB?

 

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Response to Democratopia (Reply #33)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 09:56 PM

37. Clearly we have a shortage of answers for questions with an overabundance of questioners. n/t

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Response to Democratopia (Reply #33)

Sat Jan 12, 2013, 03:46 AM

58. So how's the fishin'? Gettin' any nibbles?

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Response to Democratopia (Reply #17)

Sat Jan 12, 2013, 12:30 PM

60. I am skeptical too...But I got mine

The reality is that getting the shot will not absolutely prevent you from getting sick, neither will hygiene or avoidance. It is another tool in the box to prevent it.

I also agree that our work culture in this country does not support those who get sick. People go to work sick not because they want to but because they are fearful of losing their job or merit based raises in the future. It's disgusting.

I had the flu four years ago. I was down for three weeks. For a few days I thought I would die. I wasn't sick "enough" to be hospitalized according to the doctor. It was frightening and awful to endure.

I hear your argument and understand where you are coming from... The healthy 40 year old mom near me who died last week and her family though convinced me that the shot was the best option for me.

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Response to Democratopia (Reply #17)

Sat Jan 12, 2013, 12:32 PM

61. I am very skeptical the Earth is round - we should join a club

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Response to littlemissmartypants (Reply #7)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 09:50 PM

31. +++ 1,000,000 +++ n/t

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Response to Democratopia (Reply #3)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 09:11 PM

11. Wow, really? Fail.

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Response to Logical (Reply #11)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 09:24 PM

18. Wash Your Hands

Keeping hands clean is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of infection and illness.




Learn more about when and how to wash your hands.

When should you wash your hands?

Before, during, and after preparing food
Before eating food
Before and after caring for someone who is sick
Before and after treating a cut or wound
After using the toilet
After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste
After touching garbage

What is the right way to wash your hands?

Wet your hands with clean running water (warm or cold) and apply soap.
Rub your hands together to make a lather and scrub them well; be sure to scrub the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
Continue rubbing your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the "Happy Birthday" song from beginning to end twice.
Rinse your hands well under running water.
Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry.

Washing hands with soap and water is the best way to reduce the number of germs on them. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers can quickly reduce the number of germs on hands in some situations, but sanitizers do not eliminate all types of germs.

Hand sanitizers are not effective when hands are visibly dirty.

How should you use hand sanitizer?

Apply the product to the palm of one hand.
Rub your hands together.
Rub the product over all surfaces of your hands and fingers until your hands are dry.


http://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/

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Response to littlemissmartypants (Reply #18)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 10:22 PM

44. That is a beautiful picture of a bar of soap.

 

My wife has moved me to a world of liquid soap. I miss a good bar of soap!

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Response to littlemissmartypants (Reply #18)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 11:04 PM

49. I usually hide my germaphobia behind the mask of being a nurse

I'm not obsessive/compulsive (much) but I can't do anything when I get home until I've washed my hands. And I wash just the way you recommended.

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Response to Democratopia (Reply #3)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 09:18 PM

14. Flu shot isn't a "quick fix", it is one part of overall health approach

to improve the odds, not just for the shot getter, but for those around her or him.

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Response to MH1 (Reply #14)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 09:37 PM

25. I am sorry but it is a quick fix.

 

When we are being told that everyone in the whole nation should have a flu shot, it becomes a case of going down to Walgreens, quick flu shot by somebody who hasn't a clue what they are doing, so now I don't need to be so careful about washing my hands, I'm not going to get flu. Oh no! I have flu. I'm still going to work because the whole nation should be vaccinated, and the long term consequences just keep piling up. It is like guns. Give me an arsenal of guns and it is a quick fix for all this evil in the world that can come to attack me in the night. Give me an ever-bigger car, so I can feel like I am driving a tank. Give me those blood-pressure pills because I am over-weight!

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Response to Democratopia (Reply #25)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 09:55 PM

36. So, following this line of reasoning, the polio vaccine is unnecessary too? n/t

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Response to RKP5637 (Reply #36)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 10:11 PM

40. No, because the Polio vaccination is undoubtedly extremely successful.

 

The worldwide reported cases of polio fell from over a third of a million to less than 2000 in twenty years because of the vaccine.

Compare that to the flu vaccines. The number of hospitalizations in USA has risen, whilst more than doubling the participation of the vaccine.

Diet pill consumption has gone through the roof, but America is the fattest nation on the planet and continues to get fatter. This is the problem - the observance of basic standards - when I was a kid, flu was a serious matter, you'd stay in bed until you were better. Not go to Walmart and see 500 different products that mean you can still go to work. You'd wash your hands before your hands touched any food products and after using the bathroom.

Look at how things have changed. I am not saying the flu vaccine doesn't have its place for those who are vulnerable, but come on, a flu shot for everyone in the nation! What does that tell you, that it is even being proposed? It isn't working.

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Response to Democratopia (Reply #40)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 10:16 PM

43. Good points, thanks! n/t

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Response to Democratopia (Reply #25)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 10:26 PM

45. Damn dude, get real

If I get vaccinated there's a good chance I'll be protected from the strains of flu going around this year. Even if I get sick because the vaccine wasn't perfect against the current strain of virus there's a very good chance that I'll have at least some protection and not be as sick as I would be otherwise. AND, there's the fact that by reducing the likelihood of becoming infected I've also reduced the chances that I'll contribute to a pandemic.

PLUS, now that the Affordable Care Act is kicking in, I don't have to pay anything for the shot.

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Response to littlemissmartypants (Original post)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 08:58 PM

5. Flu Symptoms & Severity


Influenza Symptoms

Influenza (also known as the flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by flu viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The flu is different from a cold. The flu usually comes on suddenly. People who have the flu often feel some or all of these symptoms:
Fever* or feeling feverish/chills
Cough
Sore throat
Runny or stuffy nose
Muscle or body aches
Headaches
Fatigue (tiredness)

Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.

* It's important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever.

Flu Complications
Most people who get influenza will recover in a few days to less than two weeks, but some people will develop complications (such as pneumonia) as a result of the flu, some of which can be life-threatening and result in death.
Pneumonia, bronchitis, and sinus and ear infections are three examples of complications from flu. The flu can make chronic health problems worse. For example, people with asthma may experience asthma attacks while they have the flu, and people with chronic congestive heart failure may have worsening of this condition that is triggered by the flu.
People at Higher Risk from Flu
Anyone can get the flu (even healthy people), and serious problems from influenza can happen at any age, but some people are at higher risk of developing serious flu-related complications if they get sick. This includes people 65 years and older, people of any age with certain chronic medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease), pregnant women, and young children.


http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/disease/symptoms.htm

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Response to littlemissmartypants (Original post)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 09:07 PM

8. If you can't get the shot, start eating 4000iu of vit D3, 50mg of zinc and 2000iu of vit C. daily.

Has worked for me for years.

Results may vary but if you are wanting the shot and can't find it, at least go this route.

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Response to littlemissmartypants (Original post)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 09:09 PM

10. We have been hearing about too many perfectly healthy people dying of this.

I don't think this particular flu is one to take chances with.

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Response to smirkymonkey (Reply #10)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 09:54 PM

34. Few years ago even with the shot I still got the flu, it was horrible, I almost called

911 because of trouble breathing, but it cleared. I take no chances with the flu, and this one seems really nasty. Yep, I got my shot, always have, and have never had any problems.

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Response to littlemissmartypants (Original post)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 09:14 PM

12. CDC Flu Vaccination Pledge for the 2012-2013 Season

Take the CDC Flu Vaccination Pledge for the 2012-2013 season! The single best way to protect against the flu is to get vaccinated each year. Everyone 6 months and older should get vaccinated.

Protect yourself and those around you — get a flu vaccine.
I pledge to get my flu vaccine in for the 2012-2013 season.
I pledge to get my flu vaccine and take a friend or family member to get theirs for the 2012-2013 season.
I pledge to get my flu vaccine and take my family to get theirs for the 2012-2013 season.
I have already received my flu vaccine but will encourage my friends and family to do so for the 2012-2013 season.


http://www.cdc.gov/flu/nivw/pledge/index.html

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Response to littlemissmartypants (Original post)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 09:16 PM

13. Who Should Get Vaccinated Against Influenza

The following groups are recommended to get a yearly flu vaccine:

All persons aged 6 months and older should be vaccinated annually.

Protection of persons at higher risk for influenza-related complications should continue to be a focus of vaccination efforts as providers and programs transition to routine vaccination of all persons aged 6 months and older.

When vaccine supply is limited, vaccination efforts should focus on delivering vaccination to persons who:
are aged 6 months through 4 years (59 months);
are aged 50 years and older;
have chronic pulmonary (including asthma), cardiovascular (except hypertension), renal, hepatic, neurologic, hematologic, or metabolic disorders (including diabetes mellitus);
are immunosuppressed (including immunosuppression caused by medications or by human immunodeficiency virus);
are or will be pregnant during the influenza season;
are aged 6 months through 18 years and receiving long-term aspirin therapy and who therefore might be at risk for experiencing Reye syndrome after influenza virus infection;
are residents of nursing homes and other chronic-care facilities;
are American Indians/Alaska Natives;
are morbidly obese (body-mass index is 40 or greater);
are health-care personnel;
are household contacts and caregivers of children aged younger than 5 years and adults aged 50 years and older, with particular emphasis on vaccinating contacts of children aged younger than 6 months; and
are household contacts and caregivers of persons with medical conditions that put them at higher risk for severe complications from influenza.

The following groups should not receive the flu shot (TIV):

People who have ever had a severe allergic reaction to eggs. People who have had a mild reaction to egg—that is, one which only involved hives—may receive TIV with additional precautions. Make sure your healthcare provider knows about any allergic reactions.
People who have ever had a severe allergic reaction to influenza vaccine.
People with a history of Guillain–Barré Syndrome (a severe paralytic illness, also called GBS) that occurred after receiving influenza vaccine and who are not at risk for severe illness from influenza should generally not receive vaccine. Tell your doctor if you ever had Guillain-Barré Syndrome. Your doctor will help you decide whether the vaccine is recommended for you.
People under 65 years of age should not receive the high-dose flu shot.
People who are under 18 years old or over 64 years old should not receive the intradermal flu shot.
If you are sick with a fever when you go to get your flu shot, you should talk to your doctor or nurse about getting your shot at a later date. However, you can get a flu shot at the same time you have a respiratory illness without fever or if you have another mild illness.


More at link: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/whoshouldvax.htm

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Response to littlemissmartypants (Original post)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 09:20 PM

15. My wife had the shot AND now has the flu

 

The nurse at the hospital said somewhere between 25 and 35% of all flu patients had the shot.

Just saying it for what it's worth. This is a bad strain, but my wife has higher susceptibility than most.

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Response to RomneyLies (Reply #15)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 09:30 PM

22. Same with me

I had the flu shot and got the flu.

Both my kids are sick right now. One had the flu shot and one didn't (due to difficulty scheduling - not lack of desire.)

Husband hasn't had the flu shot and hasn't had the flu (yet - I imagine he'll catch it now that both kids are sick.)

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Response to littlemissmartypants (Original post)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 09:22 PM

16. I don't like needles, but thanks for the concern. nt

 

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Response to Comrade_McKenzie (Reply #16)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 09:26 PM

19. You're welcome, the nasal spray vaccine exisits. n/t

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Response to littlemissmartypants (Reply #19)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 11:10 PM

50. But, very important,

if you work with babies or immunocompromised people, you should not use the nasal vaccine as you are potentially infectious for the first few days. The shot doesn't use live virus so it's safer and you can't get the flu from it. People don't get the flu from the nasal one but they can transmit it. Weird, huh?

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Response to Comrade_McKenzie (Reply #16)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 09:52 PM

32. I didn't either.

Then I had to learn how to inject myself multiple times a day when I was diagnosed with diabetes. But I understand the fear. Like the other poster said, the nasal spray is a good alternative.

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Response to littlemissmartypants (Original post)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 09:30 PM

21. A healthy 14-year old girl in Minnesota died from the flu even after getting the vaccine

It is just simply not that effective.

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Response to davidn3600 (Reply #21)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 09:34 PM

23. A person dies that had the vaccine and that is an

argument for not getting the vaccine? I don't get it.

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Response to littlemissmartypants (Reply #23)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 09:37 PM

24. While it might be an argument...

it's a not a very valid on huh?

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Response to littlemissmartypants (Reply #23)

Sat Jan 12, 2013, 02:18 AM

56. It's not enough of a benefit to me

I have a strong immune system. I rarely get sick, and when I do the symptoms are easily managed with OTC medications. However, I have some very rare allergies. I had a bad reaction to the Pertussis vaccine when I was a child. And some things tend to effect me differently than most people. So I do not really like the idea of injecting chemicals into my body when I dont know how I will react to it....especially since it's not all that effective anyway.

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Response to davidn3600 (Reply #21)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 09:44 PM

28. The vaccine is not perfect, but it's better than nothing.

Also, it hasn't been confirmed that this girl had received the vaccination.
Kris Ehresmann, head of the infectious diseases and vaccine program at the state Health Department, said she could not confirm reports that the girl, who died of influenza Type A, had received a flu shot.
http://www.startribune.com/lifestyle/health/186090761.html?refer=y

It won't guarantee you won't get it, but it gives you a much better chance that you won't. I had this stuff years ago and I thought I would have to get better in order to die. There's no way I wouldn't at least try to minimize my chances of getting that sick again.

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Response to davidn3600 (Reply #21)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 11:12 PM

51. The flu vaccine decreases rather than eliminates your risk.

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Response to littlemissmartypants (Original post)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 09:43 PM

26. Press Briefing Transcript

CDC Update: Flu Season and Vaccine Effectiveness

Friday, January 11, 2013 at 11:30 a.m. ET

Audio recording available at site

http://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2013/t0111_flu_season.html

**This transcript is a DRAFT only. The final, edited transcript will be available on Monday, January 14**

OPERATOR: Please stand by today for today's call. It will begin momentarily. Please stand by. Thank you. Welcome. Thank you for standing by. At this time, all participants are in the listen only mode. You may press star one to ask a question. Today's conference is being recorded. At this time I'll turn it over to Mr. Tom Skinner. You may begin, sir.

TOM SKINNER: Thank you, Shirley. Thank you all for joining us today for this update on flu activity in the U.S. As well as some information on an MMWR that we have put out on vaccine effectiveness. With us today is the director of the CDC, Dr. Tom Frieden, as well as a Medical Epidemiologist from our Influenza Division, Dr. Joe Bresee. Dr. Frieden will give opening remarks of five to seven minutes in length and then we'll get to your questions. Dr. Frieden may have to drop off the call at some point during the Q&A and we'll have Dr. Bresee to stand by and answer additional questions. With that: Dr. Frieden.

TOM FRIEDEN: Thank you very much for joining us today. What I'd like to do is give an update on what's going on with flu. I know there's a great deal of interest in how this year's flu season is unfolding. As we always do at CDC we want to give you information as we get it so that we can put the appropriate perspective on this year's flu season. The bottom line -- it's flu season. Most of the country is seeing or has seen a lot of flu and this may continue for a number of weeks. There are three things that I want to cover this morning. First: an update on the level of activity. Second: an overview of data that we're releasing about the effectiveness of this year's flu vaccine. And third: steps that everyone can take to protect themselves. I'll also invite Dr. Joseph Breese to join me in answering your questions. So as we said in early December, the season got off to an earlier start than usual; about a month or so ahead of what we normally see. We're continuing to see influenza activity remaining elevated in most of the U.S. It may be decreasing in some areas but that's hard to predict because particularly when you have data from over the holiday season, trends may be a little hard to predict. Declines may be because the disease level has peaked in some areas and is coming down. Or next week we may see that go up again. But we are seeing a decrease in the most recent week in some areas while other parts of the country, particularly in the west, appear to continue to be on the upswing since they experienced the flu this season more recently in the season. This really is not surprising. Influenza activity ebbs and flows during flu season and tends to spread across the country. It also has some variability even within states and communities.

So just because it's widespread in one city or state doesn't mean it will be throughout that area. The -- as you know, with the past eight years or so, we have monitored, recognized child or pediatric deaths from influenza. There are two more influenza associated pediatric deaths reported in the past week. That brings the total to 20 deaths this season. We also look at outpatient monitoring or surveillance for influenza-like illness and that fell in this week to 4.3 percent from 6 percent. That's above the baseline of 2 percent, but down from last week. Again, that's the trend which really only the next week or two will show whether we have in fact crossed the peak or whether we'll see a resumption of the increase in the next week or two. Because of the holiday season, again, trends are harder to predict. Twenty-four states and New York City are now reporting a high level of influenza-like illness activity. That's a decrease -- that's down from the 29 states before -- and 16 are reporting moderate levels of ILI activity, up from nine. One-third -- exactly 33 percent of strains -- were positive for influenza. That's down. In terms of the pneumonia and influenza mortality, the proportion of deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza rose to slightly above the threshold for the first time this season. We usually see a several-week lag from the time that illness starts to rise to the time that the deaths start to rise. So this is in line with what we would expect. Forty-seven states report widespread geographic influenza activity, that's up from what -- 41 last week. Influenza will continue for several more weeks. During the past decades, we have seen an average of about 12 consecutive weeks, three months of the ILI being elevated. As we often say, the only thing predictable about flu is that it's unpredictable. Only time will tell us how long our season will last and how moderate or how severe this season will be in the end. That's the update on our activity. I'll go through vaccine effectiveness and steps people can take to protect themselves and then we'll take questions.

Each year since 2004 and 2005, CDC has estimated the effectiveness of this seasonal influenza vaccine. We look at how likely that vaccine is to keep you out of a doctor's office. We have also looked at how likely it is to prevent people from being hospitalized for dying from the flu and those numbers tend to be similar or perhaps a little more effective at preventing hospitalization or death. With the early onset of this year's flu season we can provide earlier information on our best estimate of vaccine effectiveness. We looked at 1,155 children and adults in flu effectiveness network program. These are people who were seen between December 3rd of last year and January 2nd of this year. And that allowed us to evaluate or estimate the overall effectiveness of the vaccine. Once we looked at the differences across study sites and correct for that but not other factors, we found the overall vaccine effectiveness to be 62 percent. That means that if you got vaccinated you were about 60 percent less likely to get the flu that required you to go to your doctor. So what we have known for a long time is that the flu vaccine is far from perfect. But it's still by far the best tool we have to prevent the flu. Now, there are differences in different groups. In the past we've found for example that younger people tend to be better protected by the vaccine than older people. That the people who have underlying illness may be less likely to be protected. So those differences have not yet been fully assessed. This is an early estimate, but as I said at the outset our basic approach at CDC is to get information as quickly as we can and then share it openly and transparently.

Finally, there is a lot that you can do to protect yourself against the flu. Vaccination is the single most important step you can take to protect yourself. Again, vaccination is far from perfect, but it's by far the best tool we have to prevent influenza. You can still protect yourself through vaccination. We're hearing of spot shortages of the vaccine so if you haven't been vaccinated and want to be, better late than never, but call your provider ahead of time you may have to check in several places to find the vaccine because most of them, more than 130 million doses that were produced by the vaccine manufacturers this year have already been given. Second, be sure to cover your cough and sneeze and stay home if you're sick with cough and fever. Keep your children home from school if they're sick with cough and fever. This really does help prevent the spread of flu. Washing your hands often is important. It can reduce illness from flu and other things. And if you get sick with flu-like illness, if you have fever and cough, if you're very ill or if you have an underlying condition, it's very important that you contact your doctor because early treatment with antivirals such as Tamiflu can reduce severity of illness can keep you out of the hospital or prevent even more serious illness. There's as always more information available at flu.gov or CDC.gov. Thanks again for joining us and Dr. Bresee and I will be available to answer your questions.

TOM SKINNER: Shirley, I think we're ready for questions please.
OPERATOR: Thank you. If you would like to ask a question, please press star one. Please unmute your line and to withdraw your question, star two. One moment for our first question. Our first question comes from Miriam Falco with CNN Medical News Atlanta.
>> Good morning, Dr. Frieden. Dr. Bresee. So we're now up to 47 states with widespread flu activity. Can you tell me what the threshold is for that and also in which areas we're still seeing -- you mentioned the west, but little more specificity with where we're seeing things possibly getting better or what are the bad spots right now?
>> Dr. Bresee? .
>> Sure. Widespread activity describes how many geographic areas are affected within a state and widespread means more than 50 percent in a sub region -- like a county for instance -- are experiencing flu. What we're seeing right now, there's more widespread states than there were last week, but there's probably fewer states this week that are reporting high levels of ILI. So it gives us hope at least that some of the states that start earlier may be getting to the peak or past peak, especially in the southeastern part of the United States where the earliest disease was seen during the year.
>> Where is it getting still bad?
>> Well --
>> And --
>> There's flu all over the country right now. If you look at the map there's widespread disease in most states and high levels of disease in most states. I think the only area of the country that's still relatively unaffected, though they still have lots of flu themselves, is the far west coast. The rest of the country has lots of flu.
>> Next question, Shirley.
>> Thank you. Our next question comes from Mike Stobbe with the associated press. You may ask your question.
>> Good morning. Thanks to you all for taking the question. Two, actually. One, Dr. Frieden I think mentioned there might be some spot shortages of vaccine. I was wondering in what parts of the country you have heard there are spot shortages? The second question, if you can clarify the ILI map and how the holidays may have -- may have -- I don't know, messed up our understanding of what's going on. It would seem like the holiday week there would have more doctor's offices closed and that would have diminished the number -- I'm not quite clear on how that might skew our current understanding of the ILI map.
>> I'll start and ask Dr. Bresee to continue. Because ILI looks at the proportion of office visits that are for an influenza-like illness and because people often don't go to the doctor's office for routine check-ups during the holiday season, so the number of visits may be down, you can see just unpredictable changes in the proportion of ILI in doctor visits. Generally over a holiday season, people who come in and tend to have a different pattern of illness and perhaps be -- have a higher -- larger proportion of serious illness than those who don't. Dr. Bresee?
>> There's exactly right. I would say the same. I think, mike, if you look back at the previous years you see these little rises and notches around the same weeks in previous years. The question about vaccination i think that we don't have specific data about where vaccine is and who has which vaccine. I guess the message is that a lot of the vaccine in the united states -- the united states -- has been given by this time of the year by a lot of the doctor's offices -- so it may be that you have to call a couple places to find the vaccine when you go out, but it should be available for you.
>> Thank you.
>> Next question, Shirley.
>> Thank you. This question comes from Jonathan Serrie with Fox News.
>> Good afternoon, gentlemen. If you could explain the vaccine effectiveness of 62 percent, help me to understand does that mean a 62 percent chance you will not get the flu if you're exposed to the flu or how do you come up with that figure?
>> Basically, that says that if you've gotten the flu vaccine, you're 62 percent less likely to need to go to your doctor to get treated for flu.
>> Thank you.
>> Next question, Shirley.
>> Thank you. This question comes from Deborah Cox from Boston Globe.
>> Hi, there, thank you for taking my question. I was wondering about the -- looking at that vaccine effectiveness numbers i wanted to break it down, which you did in your report. You said it's 55 percent effective against influenza A versus 75 percent effective against influenza B. Here in Massachusetts, most of the flu that's circulating is the influenza A strain which is more severe and I was wondering if the CDC is concerned about -- if the vaccine seems to be far less effective against influenza A than B and whether if there's any drive to create a better vaccine.
>> A couple of comments and then Dr. Bresee may want to add. First, the numbers are small, this is preliminary information. The two strain-specific estimates overlap. So the data that's presented is not enough to say that there is a real difference in the effectiveness against the two different strains. But yes, we definitely are working hard, as are the vaccine manufacturers to come up with a better vaccine. Childhood vaccines get well over 90 percent vaccine efficacy. That's what we'd like to see. Many of the vaccines last longer than a year and cover a wider variety of the subtypes of an organism. The flu vaccine is far from perfect. That's why you have to get revaccinated each year. That's why we have to reformulate the vaccine each year. We wish we had a vaccine that was long-lasting, but that's a ways off and today, still the flu vaccine is the best prevention we have. Dr. Bresee, you want to mention anything more about the strains?
>> Nothing to add. I think that was exactly the explanation I was going to give. Perfect.
>> can I ask a quick follow-up? You say it's less effective in those with underlying conditions. Can you name a number of the conditions?
>> That would include frail, elderly, people who may have had cancer, chemotherapy, people who may have immune systems that are weakened or be on medications that would weaken their immune system, including long-term oral treatments for that. It's kind of the opposite of what we'd wish. The people who are most susceptible to severe influenza are also less likely to get the benefit that others get from the vaccine. Again, Dr. Bresee, anything to add?
>> No, not a bit. I think that's exactly right. I would say that because -- because these groups do have very high rates of complications, like the elderly and young children or people with immune-compromising conditions although the vaccine may work less well in some of the people it's clearly the best tool to give. And the disease burden in those groups are so substantial that even a modest effect compared to a young, healthy person is of tremendous public health importance.
>> Next question, Shirley.
>> Thank you. Next question comes from Alice Park with "TIME" magazine. You may ask your question.
>> Yes, good morning. I wanted to address the 62 percent effectiveness number. Can you give us some perspective as to how this compares to other years and it seems like it's very close to that sort of just threshold of being barely sort of how you define effective. And second question relates to the kind of pattern we're seeing with the cases with so many cases of -- and coming on so quickly, does that raise any concerns about the virus sort of being more likely to mutate and, you know, given this relatively low effectiveness rate kind of mutate out of -- you know, to be clinically resistant to the vaccine and cause more problems down the road?
>> We don't expect to see any changes in the flu vaccine during the season. We'll have to track the patterns around the world to see what's most likely to happen in the next flu season. And, you know, you can say that 62 percent is certainly far less than we wish it would be. But it's a glass 62 percent full or a 62 percent reduction in the number of people who would be going to doctor's offices if they hadn't been vaccinated. So it's certainly well worth the effort. I get vaccinated. My family gets vaccinated and we hope we'll be able in a few years to have a better vaccine. In terms of the trends, it does vary in terms of how well the vaccine is matched to the circulating strains. Sometimes we don't have a good match and the vaccine effectiveness can be quite low because we're vaccinating against strains that aren't circulating. Dr. Bresee, can you comment further about the historical perspective on vaccine effectiveness?
>> Sure. In fact, we would say that 62 percent effectiveness of the vaccine in a population that's a broad population that includes both healthy people and a lot of elderly and sick people is what we'd expect from influenza vaccine in a year in which the circulating strains look like the strains that were included in the vaccine. If you look back over the last few years at the studies that CDC has done, this is in line with what we found and also in line with some recent reviews of vaccine trials that have been done over the last several years. And so I think that the 62 percent we'd love it to be better, but we think it's -- it is actually a substantial public health benefit for the population.
>> Next question, Shirley.
>> Thank you. Next question comes from Stephanie Armour with Bloomberg News.
>> Great, thanks very much. I have two questions for you. One I'm trying to get some information on all the deaths so far this year compared to the previous season on influenza. And my other question -- from influenza. My other question is when you talk about outpatient visits and the 4.3 percent above the national base line of 2.2 percent, can you explain what the national base line refers to?
>> Dr. Bresee?
>> Sure. Happy to. First the deaths. We don't count -- except for pediatric deaths which we do count in our reportable diseases to the CDC-- we don't on a weekly basis estimate the total number of deaths that occur in the population. We do have signals of the number of deaths like the 122 Cities Death system that you might be aware of. So it won't be until after the season that we'll have a feel for how many deaths occurred because of the influenza circulation in the winter. But we do run models on that and know that from year to year, it varies quite a bit. But really is in the thousands to tens of thousands of deaths each year. And so I can't answer it right now, but hopefully we'll be able to answer it after the season. The second question was -- oh, the base line. I apologize. The base line is a base line that's calculated from the last three years of data, prior to this year. Taking the low months from influenza-- say the summer months of influenza -- looking at the proportion of patients who come in during those months that have influenza-like illness compared to the total number of people that come to clinic. And then taking that and take -- taking two standard deviations above that. Basically what it's meant to represent is during the low season, what do we see? And if we elevate that, what line would we assume that the disease occurring above that line is attributable to influenza? So what we're saying now that above threshold is, is that when those lines, when those dots get above the epidemic threshold for the nation or the region, we think that influenza disease has started and that tends to correlate quite well with influenza circulation in the community.
>> Next question, please.
>> Thank you. Next question comes from Erica Edwards with NBC news. You may ask your question.
>> Hey, there, I was wondering if you could talk more about the specific kinds of strains we're seeing and whether they're included in the vaccine. And specifically a reported fourth strain that popped up and may be not included in the vaccine?
>> Sure. About 90 percent of all of the strains circulating are included in the vaccine. In fact, they're the most -- the three most common strains and the current vaccines have only -- have space for only three strains. So the pick of vaccine strains was as good as it could have been this year. The other close to 10 percent are a second influenza B. And within a year or two, we do expect manufacturers to have on the market vaccines that have space for four different vaccines including two influenza Bs. So that's the explanation of that. Dr. Bresee, anything to add?
>> No, sir. That's great.
>> If I could ask a quick follow-up, is there any evidence that that particular strain is more severe or less severe or about the same as the flu we're seeing?
>> Dr. Bresee?
>> No, there's not. The two B strains, I think the fourth strain you're talking about is the B that is of a genetic lineage that's not included in the vaccine. There's no evidence that that strain is more or less severe than the other strains.
>> Next question.
>> next question comes from Maryhelen Campa from CBS Network News.
>> Hi, thanks for taking my call. You mentioned that the area of the country that's relatively lower with flu numbers is the far west. Can you talk a little bit more about that? Maybe provide some numbers? Is there anything that quantifies the spread west other than the usual?
>> I will -- I'll begin. I'll turn it over to Dr. Bresee and then I have to sign off the call. The -- generally we do see flu essentially roll across the country as it rolls across the globe. So it's not unexpected to see it start in the south, southeast and then spread sporadically to the west. That would be a common pattern. Though again you can't predict. Sometimes it skips areas of the country for reasons we don't understand. I want to reiterate a couple of messages before I turn it over to Dr. Bresee because I do have to drop off the call now. We're in flu season. Most of the country has seen or is seeing a lot of flu. This may continue for a few more weeks. We don't yet know whether we are over the peak. It does appear that in some of the south and southeast we are seeing that we are past the peak and declines in cases. But only the next couple of weeks will make that trend clear. You can't really make a line with two points. You need multiple points to see where that line is going, particularly when you have the holiday season which can sometimes skew some of the data. The vaccine effectiveness is what we're releasing early this season because we have more flu earlier this season, so we're able to make the estimate. It's in line with what we expect. It shows that the flu vaccine can prevent most cases of flu, but it's far from perfect. It's still the best thing that you can do to protect yourself. There's still flu vaccine out there if you want to get vaccinated. Better late than never. But if you get flu-like symptoms and you're either very ill or you have underlying illness that may make you more susceptible to being very ill, then by all means see your doctor because treatment with antivirals especially in the first 48 hours after you have become ill can really help you avoid serious illness or hospitalization or even death. So, Dr. Bresee, if you could follow up with this question. Thanks to everyone for being involved and I'll have to drop off at this point.
>> Thank you, Dr. Frieden. I'll just reiterate what Dr. Frieden just said which I think is important. The geographic spread of flu is unpredictable. Each year we see intense flu activity in some parts of the country, while other parts of the country have less flu. And it changes over time. And so the fact that the west coast is experiencing a little less flu than other parts of the country is not too surprising. And so I suspect that over the next couple of weeks the west coast will have more flu than they do now and some of the other areas will have less.
>> Next question, Shirley?
>> Thank you. Next question comes from Dan Childs from ABC News. You may ask your question.
>> Hi, good afternoon. Thank you for taking my call. The question that I had was, you know, we're hearing about as you say spot shortages of flu vaccine around the country. Is there any suggestion that there might be a shortage of Tamiflu?
>> It's a good question. Thanks. There have been some issues with finding-- in some places, occasionally -- issues in finding the suspension, the pediatric formulation. That's a liquid. Those are spot shortages as well and the company is working hard along with FDA to remedy that. They have issued guidelines now and it's available in the FDA website -- and accessible through the CDC website -- guidelines for taking the 75 milligram tablets, which is the strength you give adults, and creating a pediatric formulation with that. I think there are some things we can do despite if you can't find the pediatric formulation, you can reconstitute it. Your pharmacist can reconstitute it from the adult-sized pills as well.
>> Fantastic. There's no shortage in the adult pills, it's just the pediatric liquid formation?
>> There's what we have heard, yes. I think the FDA is monitoring this closely and probably has the most recent data.
>> Next question, Shirley.
>> Next question comes from Robert Lowes from Medscape Medical News.
>> Thanks for taking my call. I don't want to beat a dead horse further, but I guess I want to at least clarify one point and then I have a follow-up question on something else. Most people in the country see a more harsh flu season. They learn that the vaccine effectiveness is only 62 percent and they would say, aha, we've -- if we had a better vaccine we wouldn't have such a severe season. What would you say to those people who would look at a so-so vaccine as explanation for why, for instance, we have the public health emergency in Boston? Second question, apparently, the pandemic virus is a very minor player in this year's season. What do you conclude from that?
>> I'll take the second question first, because I think it's an interesting question. We're not seeing much of the 2009 H1 virus yet so far this year, though it should be said that Europe and other places in the world are. And so that virus continues to circulate in the world. We know that influenza viruses in a given country, in a given city, in a given region will vary from year to year and in unpredictable ways. So I'd say we are seeing less of that virus now, but it doesn't mean we'll see less of it all during the season and it doesn't mean that it's gone from its vantage. For the other question I think that -- I would say that we all want a better vaccine. If we had to draw up a vaccine, we would design a vaccine with 100 percent effectiveness. If everyone got vaccinated with that vaccine, we'd certainly see less disease. That said, a vaccine against a disease like influenza which causes hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations and tens of thousands of deaths each year, that reduces the chance of you having one of those outcomes by 60, 50, 70 percent, we think is a substantial contribution to public health in the country. We'd love a better vaccine. This is by far the best tool we can get, that we have to prevent what we think is a substantial public health threat.
>> Next question, Shirley.
>> Thank you. Next question comes from Donald McNeill with "the New York Times." You may ask your question.
>> Thank you. I was hoping Tom Frieden would be here to handle this, but can you talk about the other viruses that are circulating? Lots of people are sick. Clearly not everybody has the flu this year. They have a whole constellation of symptoms, other things are going on. Can you just discuss that?
>> Thanks for the question. This is Joe. I'll try to answer this question. We are seeing an early flu year as we talked about, but at this time of the year we also see lots of other respiratory viruses like respiratory syncytial virus, metapneumovirus, parainfluenza virus and those are circulating now too. We are seeing a norovirus, which causes vomiting and diarrhea. So I think a lot of the calls that we have gotten anecdotally and a lot of the news reports that talk about clinics being very busy and ERs being very busy may in part be due to a confluence of a lot of these winter-time viruses occurring at the same time in some communities.
>> Thank you.
>> Next question, please.
>> Thank you. It comes from Elizabeth Weise from "USA Today. You may ask your question."
>> Hi, thanks for taking my call. I had two questions. One that I believe -- I believe it was in the MMWR that about 37 percent of Americans had been immunized against the flu this year. Is that high or low? And then what could we be doing to create a more effective influenza vaccine? Are there things that we should be looking towards that perhaps Europe's doing that we're not?
>> Yeah, thanks for the question. Yeah, you're right. The last look for the vaccine coverage surveys we did showed that about 37 percent of Americans had been vaccinated by mid-November. That's about on track with what we saw last year at that time. We have seen a lot of vaccination happening in the last couple of weeks, so I don't know where we'll end up this year. But hopefully we'll end up much higher than 37 percent and close to 50 percent. We would like, of course, that every American gets vaccinated that's eligible for vaccination for flu. The fact we're seeing as good vaccine coverage as last year, and by historical standards, very good vaccine coverage in the last couple of years, we'd like it to be much higher because still around half of the Americans don't get vaccinated for the flu each year and we think that's too many. The second question, how do you make better vaccines and are other people making better vaccines than we are? That's a good question too. We'd like better vaccine and in fact there's lots of research going on towards improving influenza vaccines by novel approaches like looking at different proteins on the surface of the vaccine or different areas of the protein on the surface of the vaccine. The goal clearly is to find a vaccine against influenza that you don't have to give every year that works better and can work for more people. I think there's hundreds of labs around the world and hundreds of field sites around the world that are actively studying this area. So hopefully in the next several years we'll get those greater vaccines. In the meantime, we have better and better vaccines every year. Dr. Frieden mentioned the fact that we have four-valent, or quadrivalent vaccines that will be here next year. We have vaccines that are injectable and some are sprays through the nose. And so we're making it easier and easier I hope to get the vaccine because there are more choices to get the vaccine. And now as you say the challenge is to make the vaccine better.
>> Next question, please.
>> Thank you. Next question comes from Lena Sun with "Washington Post." You may ask your question.
>> Hi. Thank you very much. I had a couple of questions. One, do you have updated numbers on how many people have actually been vaccinated? I know that the most recent number I have seen was from back in November, 112 million. That's one. The second question is -- this is going back to the vaccine effectiveness, to put it in context. How does the 62 percent this year compare to the last couple of years? And three, I know it's very complicated as to why, but I was wondering if you could take a brief stab at explaining for the lay reader why it's so hard to get an effective flu vaccine when, you know, childhood vaccines are like at 90 percent and higher?
>> Yeah, thanks very much, Lena. If I tracked your questions correctly, let me answer the first one which is coverage. The latest coverage -- the true coverage survey numbers we have are the ones I mentioned from mid-November. We do track the doses distributed in the United States, which as of January 4th was 128 million. And we'll track that in an ongoing way. The next coverage numbers will be available in March of the year. That will really be -- get us to where -- towards the final numbers for the year. The second question is how does the VE compare with previous years? It compares about the same. I think if we have looked at the last several years our VE numbers are variable, like everything with flu. Last year was in the mid-50s. Some years are lower, some are higher. If you look back and try to look at the vaccine effectiveness studies that have been done over the last 20 years, the 50 to 70 percent range is a reasonable range. Flu vaccines are tough as you say. If I had the perfect answer of how to make a better flu vaccine, I'd probably get a Nobel Prize. But flu vaccines are tough and one of the problems are that the flu virus changes all the time, number one. Because it mutates so often, we have to keep up with the vaccine really often. The second -- the second thing is that the antibodies that we get when we get the flu vaccine go away. And so we get a nice rise of antibodies that will take us through the flu season but tend to decline towards the end of the flu season. Another reason you have to be revaccinated every year. But I think the nature of the flu viruses -- the fact they're all changing and the complexity of our immune response -- makes the vaccines difficult to develop the 100 percent vaccine we are looking for.
>> Next question, please. We have time for maybe two or three more questions.
>> Thank you. Next question comes from Timothy Martin with "Wall Street Journal." You may ask your question.
>> Hi. In the MMWR, there was a mention that approximately 60 percent has been the number of the estimated effectiveness of these vaccinations from randomized clinical trials. Is that for this year's flu shot and if not, if it's looking at previous flu shots, can you tell me what's the rough time frame with which those trials were conducted? And the second question I have is: have you guys compared the flu season this year which arrived earlier than in recent memory versus say the last time the flu came this early and if there's anything different, you know, as we head into January and February? Thank you.
>> I think the number you're referring to of the randomized control trials was the number that we referenced from a recent review or meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials done recently and published I think last year. Those studies were done over probably a couple of decades. I'll have to look it up. But substantially the randomized controlled trials aren't done this year. What we reported this year is what we call observational trials and those are studies that we do that are not randomized. So what we do is we go to the hospital or a clinic and we look for disease and then we measure how many people have been vaccinated, compare them to people who don't have the disease, and look for vaccination rates, and then compare those two. Sort of a ratio. Randomized control trials are done and they're excellent -- they're excellent ways to measure the best effect of the vaccine. The observational trials you think about as a way to measure the true effect of the vaccine when given in a vaccination program to a program. Your second question was how does this season compare to previous early years? The best comparator year was the 2003-2004 year which was also an early year. In fact that year was much earlier than this year and we had peak disease in November and December of that year. It was also an H3N2 predominant year and that was also in the end associated with a lot of mortality and a lot of pediatric mortality as well. I don't know how this year will compare in terms of severity or in terms of length or in terms of when the peak is to that year yet. But we'll know in a few months.
>> Next question, please.
>> Thank you. Next question comes from Rachel Ruttner with myhealthnewsdaily.com.
>> Thank you for taking my question. You mentioned that the percentage of deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza is above epidemic thresholds. I was wondering if you could explain what you mean by above epidemic thresholds. Does that mean we are seeing more deaths than usual?
>> That's a good question. We measure those deaths according to what we call a regression model. And what we do is we map over many years the rise and fall of influenza by season. And the rise and fall of all deaths by season. What we then construct is a model, a statistical model, to allow us to know when we think flu is circulating, or when we think the flu is resulting in the deaths that we're looking at. One way to do that is to create these models that have a baseline and if you look at that graph, you see a lower solid line that goes up and down over the years. Then you create a threshold and the threshold in this case is about 1.8 standard deviations above the baseline. So the baseline is if you had to draw sort of an average of all the deaths that occur over the year that's the baseline. The threshold is above that. What we've found out is that when the P&I, the pneumonia and influenza deaths, exceed the epidemic threshold, that's when flu tends to circulate and we can think that flu is associated with the deaths that exceed that threshold. And so basically, think about it as a way to know when the timing of severe disease is in the United States.
>> Shirley, we'll make this our last question, please.
>> And our last question then comes from Bob Roos with CIDRAP News. You may ask your question.
>> Thank you. I've often heard it said if you get vaccinated but you still get the flu, you may get a less severe case. That vaccination may provide some protection from the severe virus. Do you have a sense if that's happening this year?
>> I think that's a good question and there are some data to indicate that getting the vaccine gives you a -- could give you a milder disease if you do get infected. The data is very sparse though. It makes sense to me that it's true and it might explain why there's lots of disease so far at least, and less disease. But the proof is towards the end of the season, about how much disease we see.

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Response to littlemissmartypants (Original post)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 09:49 PM

29. The type that's making people sick here in NM wasn't covered

by this year's vaccine. So far, I haven't run into anyone at work who's hacking at the customers, the last way I caught it.

It's at epidemic levels here in NM and I'm just hoping it's a variant of one I've already had so if I get it, I won't get too ill.

I feel sorry for the kids who are getting these for the first time. Flu sucks.

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Response to Warpy (Reply #29)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 10:05 PM

38. Twenty children have died so far this year.

I wish you the best. Take care, LMSP.

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Response to Warpy (Reply #29)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 10:08 PM

39. Same in CA. I got the shot last October, but have the flu now.

Sicker than a whelp right now, even having had the flu shot as recommended.

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Response to Warpy (Reply #29)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 11:16 PM

52. One of our doctors had the Influenza A, a form that wasn't covered this year

More than 20 hospital employees had to get tamiflu.

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Response to littlemissmartypants (Original post)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 09:55 PM

35. Would you like a side of the flu with your order? Hat tip to SHRED...

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Response to littlemissmartypants (Original post)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 10:31 PM

46. Me and my 3 1/2 year old son had the flu shot in November

My husband will get it tomorrow.

The shot is only 60% effective for adults. My son got the flu mist and they say it is over 80% effective for kids.

I'd rather have a 60% effective vaccination than not being protected at all. I work at an University and have lots of contact with students. I have almost no sick leave left. I can NOT get sick. We'll stock up on hand sanitizer (the alcohol based) and disinfectant sprays and wipes tomorrow. I also have a bottle of rubbing alcohol at work that I use to disinfect everything.

I agree with you ... it is not just about protecting yourself ... you don't want to give it to vulnerable people who might die from it.

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Response to tandot (Reply #46)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 10:46 PM

47. It is assessed at 60% effective relative risk, and 1.5% as an absolute risk rate for Type A+B flu

 

That means that your chances of being protected and also needing to be protected are 1.5% and that is for Type A and B flu only.

So, it offers no protection for the hundreds of other virus or bacteria, flu or flu-like illnesses, but for Type A and B influenza it is 98.5% useless for most people.

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Response to Democratopia (Reply #47)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 10:53 PM

48. Can you please provide a link for that?

either way, it doesn't matter. The vaccination didn't hurt and was free for us ... every little protection counts.



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Response to littlemissmartypants (Original post)

Sat Jan 12, 2013, 12:03 AM

53. Of course, flu shots or no flu shots,

anyone who actually has the flu should stay home. Too many people either take it as a badge of honor that they never call in sick, or have the misfortune to work for a company that does not grant sick time, or punishes the employees who actually take their sick time.

It is also true that good handwashing is the single greatest public health measure there is.

I contend that among the reasons the 1918 flu epidemic was so terrible was that so few homes back then would have had running water, and the habit of handwashing wasn't very strong.

However, what I really want to know is what is flu season like in the rest of the world. Okay, just western Europe. Do they push the flu shots there? What percentage of people get them? How many people are getting the flu over there? How many have died?

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Response to littlemissmartypants (Original post)

Sat Jan 12, 2013, 12:14 AM

54. Just got mine this afternoon

I work in a public Library. I should have got this done sooner.

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Response to littlemissmartypants (Original post)

Sat Jan 12, 2013, 01:35 AM

55. Hell no

I'm not letting anyone inject me with that crap. The fact that you trust the medical industry after that whole meningitis outbreak due to production faculties not taking proper precautions?

I'll take my chances with the flu. If I become a vector, ah well. Everybody dies eventually.

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Response to littlemissmartypants (Original post)

Sat Jan 12, 2013, 03:41 AM

57. Thanks, LittleMiss- you inspired me to walk over to Walgreen's and get my flu shot

It's very seldom that I get one, but this year, it really seems like the right thing to do. Maybe you're starting a yearly habit with me.

I work in a San Francisco hardware/lumber store, so I'm talking with hundreds of people from all walks of life every day.

Thanks for your thread! You got me up and out the door.

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Response to littlemissmartypants (Original post)

Sat Jan 12, 2013, 03:47 AM

59. already had the flu.

it was terrible. No vomiting, but freezing cold, with cold sweats, headaches, body aches, sore throat, trouble swallowing.

4 days of that, plus temps over 100. I'm better now though.

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