Friday, December 5, 2014

So much for the vaunted 'flu shot'

You know how everyone in health care advises you to get a flu shot every year?  Not so fast.

A sampling of flu cases so far this season suggests the current flu vaccine may not be a good match for the most common seasonal flu strain currently circulating in the United States, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Wednesday.

. . .

The CDC said flu shots may still offer some protection against drifted viruses, which could help reduce the risk of the most severe complications from the flu, such as hospitalization and death. The current seasonal flu shots will still protect against flu strains that have not mutated, such as the influenza A (H1N1) virus and the B viruses contained in the vaccine.

The CDC is stressing that doctors should be prepared to use antiviral medications when needed.

There's more at the link.

So . . . if I've had the flu shot, but get flu anyway because the shot's ineffective this year, do I get a refund of my $20 co-payment for the shot?  And does my medical insurance get refunded whatever it paid?

Yeah.  Right.



Anonymous said...

If your seatbelt and airbag combo don't save your life when your car goes off a river embankment and you drown, does your family get a refund from the car manufacturer for the cost of those safety systems?

The epidemiologists who come up with the flu formulation each year try to find the best fit from the available information and likely patterns of propagation. Most years they save hundreds of thousands of lives. Some years they only save dozens of thousands of lives. They do their best.


Anonymous said...

P.s. the AVERAGE flu season in the U.S. kills 15-35 thousand people. But it kills people we're used to seeing die (the very old, the very young, the immuno-compromised, etc.), so we're used to it. I cannot tell you the number of infectious disease people we work with that are frustrated to tears over the money being diverted to Ebola. We have plenty of actual, working, killing bugs in the U.S. right now that could use some attention.


The Raving Prophet said...

I'll take protection against some strains and an easier time if I get one of the others against the annoyance of getting a booster shot every year.

I'll take that bet every day and twice on Sundays.

c w swanson said...

I raised three kids, and all the bugs they brought home from school over the years pretty much inoculated me against everything. I haven't had the flu or much of any cold for years. Thanks, kids!

Will said...


your fellow workers may end up pining for the rosy days of the pre- flu shot era, if our current "never let a crisis go to waste" regime succeeds in letting Ebola get loose here. The idiot-in-chief seems determined to accomplish it. I just read that there are over 1500 people in the US that are being monitored due to contact with Ebola.

Anonymous said...

Yes, we are monitoring over a thousand patients with potential Ebola contact. This is a necessary precaution.
We are NOT universally monitoring the 500,000+ MDR-TB (Multidrug Resistant Tuberculosis) patients world wide. Every country in the world now has MDR-TB, with a prevalence rate over 3% of the TB population. TB is ACTUALLY airborne, and actually fatal, just more slowly. MDR-TB is economically un-treatable in most of the world. You want a pandemic? Here's a strong candidate.
Ebola is less dangerous to the population as a whole precisely because of what makes it scary. It is fast, highly infectious, and with high mortality. That's bad news for any one infected patient but good news for populations. Easy to identify means easy to isolate.
but the flu is going to kill hundreds of thousands EVERY YEAR world wide, and MDR-TB could kill tens of MILLIONS if it becomes prevalent.
We would all be better off if we were more capable of identifying and quantifying risk, and acting accordingly, rather than worrying about what we're told to worry about. I'm concerned about Ebola, but I'm much more concerned with half a dozen other diseases that most people can't name.