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Thu Jan 17, 2013, 01:55 PM

Flu vaccine attitudes abroad differ from U.S.

http://www.cnn.com/2013/01/17/health/flu-vaccine-policy/?hpt=he_c1

The flu hasn't hit Europe as hard as it has the United States, health officials say, but when and if it does, don't expect a call for vaccination of the entire population.

Only the U.S. and Canada actually encourage everyone older than 6 months to get the flu vaccine.

Apparently, not a single country in Europe asks the general population to seek that same kind of protection, according to Robb Butler, the World Health Organization technical officer in vaccine preventable diseases and immunizations in the organization's Europe office in the Netherlands.

That's because global health experts say the data aren't there yet to support this kind of blanket vaccination policy, nor is there enough money. In fact, some scientists say the enthusiasm for mass vaccination in the United States may hurt efforts to create a better vaccine.

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Response to Celebration (Original post)

Thu Jan 17, 2013, 02:08 PM

1. I Grew Up as Kid of the 60's-70's - Don't Remember Flu Shots Then

I was born in 1964 and grew up in the 60's-70's. I do not remember there being calls for vaccinating everyone. Heck I don't even remember calls for the elderly who might be more susceptible to getting the flu getting the shots. The CDC doesn't have the data to correlate flu shots with a drop in flu deaths over the last decade (if there is one) because states are not required to report flu deaths. I was just on their site trying to find out if they had stats.

Somehow I smell a marketing campaign for the drug manufactures who make the vaccine. Call me cynical.

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Response to dballance (Reply #1)

Thu Jan 17, 2013, 06:46 PM

2. All the hype is fairly recent

and I've seen no independent studies that support mass vaccination. Nor have I seen anecdotal evidence. Seems that those who get the shots are just as prone to getting sick as those who don't get the shots. The vaccination is formulated on guesswork, so perhaps because the strains that they guess are going to be prevalent are not, perhaps the strains have evolved past the formula, or perhaps even because the vaccinations just don't really offer blanket immunity... who knows. I do wish there was some objective answers regarding flu vacs instead of all the hysteria generated around valid questions.

But every year at this time the media frenzy around the flu rises to more insane levels than the previous year. I simply despise all their fear mongering.

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Response to Celebration (Original post)

Fri Jan 18, 2013, 12:06 PM

3. Speaking of media hype - a few years back there was a vaccine shortage -

I checked the following year and more people got the shot when the news was all about the shortage than the following year when there was plenty of vaccine.

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Response to Celebration (Original post)

Fri Jan 18, 2013, 01:23 PM

4. I've been wondering exactly that.

Every single year there's the overwrought hype that this year's flu season is going to be the worst ever and if you don't get your flu shot you'll die or you'll be responsible for someone else getting the flu and dying.

I was talking with my 25 year old son last night, and that's exactly how he recalls every flu season for as long as he can remember.

I have likewise been very disturbed by the blanket recommendations that every single person get a flu shot. I never get the shots, haven't had flu in about 30 years, probably because I got it several times while growing up, and so have a natural permanent immunity.

I also believe that the deaths attributed to flu haven't changed noticeably with flu shots.

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Response to SheilaT (Reply #4)

Fri Jan 18, 2013, 01:28 PM

5. medicine is as much cultural as it is scientific

I have a daughter living in Japan, and I could write a book about the subject! There are so many different ways that health care is practiced there.

The Europeans think that the science is not there to recommend flu shots for all.

Just depends on the Powers That Be in each jurisdiction and their guesses as to the appropriate recommendations. It doesn't depend on "science."

One option is to follow the money, of course.

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Response to SheilaT (Reply #4)

Fri Jan 18, 2013, 04:36 PM

7. Those are some unproven, unsupported beliefs you have.

No one has "natural permanent immunity" to the flu because the flu isn't just one virus. You don't have super powers. I am astounded you don't understand this but yet feel qualified to make such sweeping judgments and declarations anyway.

Do you still believe it's impossible to be an asymptomatic carrier?

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Response to trotsky (Reply #7)

Mon Jan 21, 2013, 02:04 AM

10. I have been accused more than once of being an asymptomatic flu carrier on this very board.

I've had it said that just because I don't get the flu shot and I never get the flu I must therefore be an asymptomatic carrier. I'm sorry, I just don't buy that. And yes, I do believe that it is possible to have a permanent natural immunity after getting flu several times. I do know that in the 1918 flu epidemic, it was a huge mystery at the time as to why older people almost never got the flu, or if they did they mostly recovered. The mystery was connected to the fact that it was understood that older people usually got flu faster than younger folks, and with worse consequence. However, in 1918, all those over the age of 50 had lived through a previous epidemic of a type A flu (the type that was so deadly in 1918) and therefore, huge number of them had (are you ready for this?) a natural immunity.

I have already made it through at least two type A epidemics, the Asian flu in1957, and the Hong Kong flu in 1969 or so. I know for sure I didn't get sick during that latter epidemic. The earlier one I think I got. I do know that in my first ten years of life (I was born in1948) I got sick often enough, and had flu at least several times. I've had it a couple of times since, but not in the last 35 or so years. This despite never getting a flu shot.

I know a reasonable amount about flu, and I do clearly understand that it mutates every year. Actually the flu virus is probably the best evidence we have of evolution. I also know that you do get immunity after having it, and that immunity does depend on which type you got and who knows what else. I do know that the hype that we get every year about how everyone must get a flu shot no exceptions or OMG we're all going to get the flu and maybe we'll all die is overblown. I have read more than once that there's really not a lot of clear evidence that the flu shots in the end make a lot of difference in who gets it and who dies. I also know that the notion that another 1918-type epidemic is just lying in wait to strike us all down is also over blown. I want to point out one simple difference (of many) between now and a century ago. Hand washing. People are far more likely to wash their hands regularly than they were back then. A century ago most homes in this country did not have indoor plumbing, which meant hand-washing wasn't even as easy to do then. It's been said more than once that regular hand washing is the single best public health measure ever.

Anyway, I don't have super powers, but I do have a good immune system. Which I trust.

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Response to SheilaT (Reply #10)

Mon Jan 21, 2013, 11:05 AM

12. Some questions for you.

1) Please provide a link to the post where someone said that because you "never get the flu (you) must therefore be an asymptomatic carrier." I would like to read those exact words. What I suspect is that someone told you that if your claim is true, that you never get the flu, that you could still be an asymptomatic carrier - you don't know for sure. Can you provide the link so I can find out what was really said? Thanks so much!

2) Consider the following two people:
* Person A contracts the flu, but is an asymptomatic carrier. They never experience any symptoms of having the flu, and so aren't even aware that they had it.
* Person B has hypothetical "permanent natural immunity" to all strains - past, present, and future - of the flu. They never contract the virus, and never experience any symptoms of having it.
* Person C has had multiple bouts with the flu in the past, but hasn't had it in many years. They are partially immune to one or more strains but susceptible to others that they haven't yet been exposed to.

How can an individual tell if they are Person A, B, or C? Please be specific with your reasoning.

3) You are correct, the flu does mutate every year, but there are also multiple strains. People who have had exposure to one strain may be partially or even fully immune to certain other mutations of that strain, but not to all strains. Do you agree?

4) Has anyone said anything to the effect that "everyone must get a flu shot no exceptions or OMG we're all going to get the flu and maybe we'll all die" or were you exaggerating?

5) Do you think it's reasonable to encourage vaccination against the flu to help create herd immunity to protect society's more vulnerable individuals - those with compromised immune systems or other conditions which makes the flu a lot more than just a week of feeling bad for them?

6) Do you believe it's possible for an individual with a good immune system to get sick, whether from the flu or another transmitted disease? Even if they wash their hands religiously?

I would very much like to hear your honest answers to the above. Please feel free to ask me any questions in return and I will respond in kind.

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Response to trotsky (Reply #12)

Mon Jan 21, 2013, 12:51 PM

13. I am not going to search through a couple of years of posts to find the one

where I was accused of being an asymptomatic flu carrier.

And you are basically suggesting the same thing in your point number 2. All I can tell you is that I haven't had flu since some time in the mid-1970's and I do not notice people all around me coming down with it. In fact, oddly enough, I know very few people who have gotten the flu other than one son who got it this year and he lives in Portland, OR, and the other son who got it last year and he lives in Overland Park, KS. I haven't seen either one of them in over two years now. Oh, and are persons A, B, and C somehow only two people? I'm confused.

And yes, there are many many posts here every year at flu season saying everyone should get the shot, and clearly implying, if not saying in so many words that anyone who doesn't is personally responsible for everyone else around them who gets the flu.

The rest of your questions are condescending enough that I'm not going to bother with them.

I'm healthy. If I get the flu well that's going to be too bad for me, but I honestly do not consider myself at risk, especially considering my own history. I can't control what others do. If they want to get a flu shot, great for them. But notice how many people have posted, especially this year, that they got the shot and still got the flu.


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Response to SheilaT (Reply #13)

Mon Jan 21, 2013, 01:47 PM

14. I fully understand why you can't/won't answer the questions.

Because they completely destroy your credibility on this issue. Thanks for playing!

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Response to trotsky (Reply #14)

Tue Jan 22, 2013, 02:34 AM

15. I don't get the vaccine. I don't get the flu.

This year's vaccine is -- what-- 40% effective. And you think *I* have no credibility?

I'd say it's those who are pushing the flu vaccine on everyone whose credibility is a little shaky.

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Response to SheilaT (Reply #15)

Tue Jan 22, 2013, 08:18 AM

16. You were given a chance to support your beliefs with facts and reasoning.

You declined.

Yes, you have zero credibility with your personal beliefs about the flu and vaccines.

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Response to Celebration (Original post)

Fri Jan 18, 2013, 04:33 PM

6. I hope people read the whole article.

It also helps that the flu vaccine is easy to get, he said. Pharmacies offer it. Companies sometimes bring in nurses to give shots to their employees on site. In Europe, only doctors are legally allowed to administer the vaccine, according to Butler.

There may be another economic reason for more Americans to get vaccinated -- one in three U.S. workers get no paid time off when they are sick, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Generally, Europeans have much more generous sick leave policies.


It's not always a vast conspiracy of big pharma.

Ooh, this part's even better:
"I have received e-mails after people hear me encourage people to get the influenza vaccine, and they tell me I'm part of some sort of pharmacy company conspiracy and that I'm compromised by them. But influenza vaccines are not real blockbuster money-making drugs," Shaffner said.

"If I could take some of these skeptics and bring them to the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices meeting, they would see how carefully the members debate these issues -- and it really is all for the benefit of the children and adults to prevent infectious diseases."

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Response to trotsky (Reply #6)

Fri Jan 18, 2013, 05:19 PM

8. Personally I think this is due to American exceptionalism

We just happen to be exceptional in our recommendation of flu shots for everyone.

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Response to Celebration (Reply #8)

Sun Jan 20, 2013, 10:45 PM

9. http://www.democraticunderground.com/11426809

29 children dead so far. If it would have been 100 children dead if we didn't recommend flu shots, would it be OK then? What if it would have been 50? What if only ONE child's life was saved by recommending flu shots - would it be worth it to you then?

What price do you put on a human life?

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Response to trotsky (Reply #9)

Tue Jan 22, 2013, 09:46 AM

17. What if...?????



"What if it would have been 50? What if only ONE child's life was saved by recommending flu shots..."

Is this what you call 'hard data'???

"What price do you put on a human life?"

In a free market? I can see you have no idea how stupid this sounds.

Answer: How much ya got???

Marketing 101

.

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Response to CanSocDem (Reply #17)

Tue Jan 22, 2013, 12:27 PM

18. No, that's not what I call hard data.

It's what I call a thought experiment. Just want to see how much value we should put on a human life. How much do you think one is worth?

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Response to trotsky (Reply #18)

Wed Jan 23, 2013, 12:55 PM

19. "How much value..."



..."We" put on a human life depends on who "we" is.

Despite your lofty and altruistic aspirations, in a free market economy, your personal survival depends, not on a universal standard of human worth, but of the stark reality of proving your "value" over another person in your community, your workplace, your schools and your culture.

Many of us play that game for awhile, excerting an effort to show everybody how we're all this or all that, how much better, how much more 'valuable' until we realize it is a lot easier to just elevate everyone. The 'free market' objects to the loss of incentive. So, with its' uneasy alliance with government, the free market is allowed to come dangerously close to violating your human rights. Which, by the way, I hold divine.

.


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Response to CanSocDem (Reply #19)

Wed Jan 23, 2013, 03:00 PM

20. So you don't have an answer.

Thanks.

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Response to Celebration (Original post)

Mon Jan 21, 2013, 09:48 AM

11. It's marketing.

When a company goes to all the trouble to make a vaccine, they have to get enough people to take it, or they go broke.

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