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Seasonal Flu Shots Double Risk of Getting Swine Flu, Says New Study 258

Posted by Soulskill
from the twice-as-nice dept.
krou writes "A Canadian study currently under peer review apparently suggests that individuals given seasonal flu shots are twice as likely to get swine flu. The 'perplexing' study has thrown influenza health plans into disarray, with Quebec, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario and Nova Scotia all suspending seasonal flu shots for anyone under 65 years of age. The study appears to be confined to Canada; the US, Britain, and Australia have not reported the same problem, so some are suggesting that the research has 'study bias.' However, the research appears to be 'solid' according to Dr. Ethan Rubinstein, head of adult infectious diseases at the University of Manitoba. 'There are a large number of authors, all of them excellent and credible researchers. And the sample size is very large — 12 or 13 million people taken from the central reporting systems in three provinces.''
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Seasonal Flu Shots Double Risk of Getting Swine Flu, Says New Study

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  • Don't forget: (Score:3, Interesting)

    by elsJake (1129889) on Sunday October 04, 2009 @09:13AM (#29634609)
    Flu shots are for people with weak immune systems and old people that are at higher risk to "die" from it. Never get one done if you don't _need it_. I've see more people almost die due to allergic reactions to shots than i have due to a bad case of the flu.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Except, most areas I have been push the flu shot for everyone, not just the weakened.
      I'de much prefer they phrase it in such a way as - If you have a weak immune system, get this shot.
      Instead, it seems it's presented as a way to prevent a mass outbreak.

      CVS now advertises on their street sign "Flu shot while you wait".....
      ? who gets the shot without waiting?
      Here's my arm, I'll be right back, just making a quick run to Starbucks for a double latte.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Mr. Slippery (47854)

      Flu shots are for people with weak immune systems and old people that are at higher risk to "die" from it.

      And as it turns out, there's evidence that flu shots benefit to the elderly has been grossly overetimated [nytimes.com], that previous studies claiming a benefit did not control for differences in the populations that get flu vaccines versus those that don't.

      It's also interesting that (according to the story I linked above) there has not been a placebo-controlled trial of the flu vaccine. So, anyone out there who r

      • Re:Don't forget: (Score:5, Informative)

        by geekboy642 (799087) on Sunday October 04, 2009 @10:08AM (#29635041) Journal

        Actually, a blanket statement that surgery had no placebo-controlled trials is false. Googling for 'surgery placebo trial' results in a first page full of links to double-blind studies done of various surgical techniques, including a trial indicating arthroscopy of the knee is essentially pointless, and several talking about tests of specific drugs during and after surgery. It may be true that some surgeries haven't received a double-blind test in full. I certainly wouldn't wish my name attached to a double-blind study involving kidney transplants for end-stage renal disease patients, on humanitarian grounds alone.
        Secondly, it is not true that the flu vaccine has not received double-blind testing. Just last year, Australia ran a study to determine the effectiveness of the flu vaccine for the strains common in 2008. The mechanism of flu vaccines has been quite well studied and tested. The specific variant of the flu vaccine that affects the swine flu has also been individually studied. I haven't read of any placebo-controlled studies for it, but it would certainly be unusual if that hadn't occurred. Of the half-dozen tests a cursory search was able to dig up, all indicated a positive result with very low side-effects. It would be preposterous for any researcher to publicize the results of a trial without a control group, so I think that railing against the vaccine because of a presumed lack of placebo-controlled tests is, simply, inane.

        And as a final dig, if you continue to get your medical news from the NY Times, you'll live in a constant state of near-panic from whatever health scare they've dug up to boost ratings this month. They begin by talking about the elderly, then reference a study 'not designed to look at this age group' as their supporting evidence to disparage vaccines for the elderly. They may have a point that vaccines for octogenarians are not as powerfully protective as previously believed. However, spreading FUD about our best weapon against the flu is irresponsible at the very least, and slanders the doctors and researchers who've spent their lives doing good.

      • Re:Don't forget: (Score:5, Informative)

        by sohare (1032056) on Sunday October 04, 2009 @06:27PM (#29639055)

        It's also interesting that (according to the story I linked above) there has not been a placebo-controlled trial of the flu vaccine. So, anyone out there who rails against any sort of complimentary/alternative medicine and says they would never receive a treatment that can't produce placebo-controlled trials, can't get flu shots. (Of course, you also can't get surgery...)

        Widespread flu shots are a great subsidy to big pharma, but as a public health measure, they're a questionable use of resources.

        Utter nonsense. Unlike virtually the entirety of Complementary and Alternative Medicine, vaccines work via relatively well understood mechanism. The mechanisms for most CAM modalities (such as say, homeopathy) are usually highly implausible and often would require a complete reworking of the Standard Model. Then throw in the fact that rarely is there even good scientific evidence that shows CAM modalities do anything at all and where are you left?

        Moreover, there is a perfectly good reason why there is not nor will there be double-blind placebo controlled trials for vaccines. It's simply unethical. Anti-vaccine nuts love to point to the lack of placebo controlled trials for vaccines in an attempt to explain away the lack of any good evidence for their own favorite CAM modalities.

        To suggest that vaccination is a plot of "Big Pharma" is to (1) have no understanding of vaccines and the incredible evidence for their general efficacy (2) have no understanding of the relationship between pharma and physicians. You are basically accusing most physicians of being corporate shills. That's a quiet a disgusting sentiment, really.

        You know what the true travesty is? The fact that things like herbal supplements are more or less highly unregulated. In the USA at least we have "Big Natural" and various CAM quacks to thank for that. If you are upset about the tactics of Big Pharma I suggest you learn more about the history of the CAM movement and how exactly it has gained popularity over the last 30 years.

    • by geekboy642 (799087) on Sunday October 04, 2009 @10:13AM (#29635071) Journal

      And as we all well know, the plural of anecdote is "a population-controlled double-blind study"!

    • Re:Don't forget: (Score:4, Informative)

      by redcaboodle (622288) on Sunday October 04, 2009 @11:38AM (#29635895)

      You are forgetting something. If you catch the flu and can bear it you are a vector to infect others who might not be able to survive an infection. So if you regularly see your old granny or mother-in-law you might want to get the shot anyway if you'd like to be able to see her again.

      Apart from that - flu is one ugly disease to have. It just doesn't put you down flat with 40 fever but the other infections that sneak in while your immune system is overwhelmed will give you trouble for weeks. Of course, if you get pneumococci into your lungs, you won't have to worry about that, you'll just drown in your own mucus.Flu is rarely deadly, but the opportunistic infections that follow are.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Acidangl (86850)

        wait....why is mother-in-law someone you want to not get sick?

      • by iggymanz (596061)

        I don't buy that, very old people have survived the past occurrences of swine flue, that's why they are old and living. they have advantage over younger generations. They might be recovering nicely or barely infected from a round of flu that will kill *you* off.

        • I don't buy that, very old people have survived the past occurrences of swine flue, that's why they are old and living.

          No they haven't. They've survived different versions of flu. It changes, the sneaky little bastard.

          Unless you were talking about shoving pigs up chimneys...

        • by JDevers (83155)

          No, granny survived heart problems and cancer, she very well might die of the flu though. Not just swine flu though...seasonal flu kills them quite effectively. 90% of the deaths every year in this country from the flu are from elderly people.

      • Apart from that - flu is one ugly disease to have. It just doesn't put you down flat with 40 fever but the other infections that sneak in while your immune system is overwhelmed will give you trouble for weeks. Of course, if you get pneumococci into your lungs, you won't have to worry about that, you'll just drown in your own mucus.Flu is rarely deadly, but the opportunistic infections that follow are.

        According to the lab, I had H1N1.

        For three days.

        First day I hurt all over, and had a fever, so I stayed in bed and kept warm. Piled the sheets on top, so I was sweating and uncomfortably hot. I ate an apple mid-afternoon, and went back to sleep. Aching and tired was pretty much it - had no other symptoms.

        Second day I was feeling a bunch better, except my back really hurt, so I slept on the couch. Watched some TV and also ate another apple. Oh, and I still had blankets piled ontop to keep warm.

        Third day I wa

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Flu shots are for people with weak immune systems and old people that are at higher risk to "die" from it. Never get one done if you don't _need it_.
      I've see more people almost die due to allergic reactions to shots than i have due to a bad case of the flu.

      Ah, the wonders of small sample size, especially when combined with selective memory. Exactly how many people have you personally seen die from allergic reactions to shots? And exactly how many have you personally seen die from a bad case of the flu?

      I realize some people benefit from this sort of thinking - but they're usually older professional baseball players. They get hot for a month, and suddenly people think "they've got the magic back" - completely ignoring the steady decline they've demonstrated for

    • Re:Don't forget: (Score:5, Informative)

      by quantaman (517394) on Sunday October 04, 2009 @03:16PM (#29637715)

      Flu shots are for people with weak immune systems and old people that are at higher risk to "die" from it.

      Where do those people with weak immune systems get the flu from? Could it be from us healthier people don't get shots because we can handle the flu?

      Never get one done if you don't _need it_. I've see more people almost die due to allergic reactions to shots than i have due to a bad case of the flu.

      Well the only real serious allergic reaction I'm aware of is Guillain-Barré syndrome, which literally affects 1 in a million people who get the shot and has a mortality rate of 2-3% and 5-10% of recovery with a severe disability.

      The flu however kills about 36,000 people in the states each year, so a little more than 1 in 10,000.

      So the numbers seems to indicate that the flu shot is still a LOT less likely to kill you than the flu.

    • Re:Don't forget: (Score:5, Informative)

      by sohare (1032056) on Sunday October 04, 2009 @06:14PM (#29638957)

      Flu shots are for people with weak immune systems and old people that are at higher risk to "die" from it. Never get one done if you don't _need it_. I've see more people almost die due to allergic reactions to shots than i have due to a bad case of the flu.

      There is actually a good reason for healthy people to get vaccinated in general. We have been able to eradicate various viruses because enough of the population in the world gets vaccinated so that it makes it incredibly difficult for the viruses to spread. This phenomenon is called herd immunity. If you look at local populations where vaccination rates are poor (usually due to parents being duped by anti-vaccine pseudoscience) you see outbreaks of all kinds of viruses that have not been an issue since aggressive vaccination programs took effect.

    • by jwhitener (198343)

      I'm not sure why this was modded interesting:

      "Flu shots are for people with weak immune systems and old people that are at higher risk to "die" from it. Never get one done if you don't _need it_. I've see more people almost die due to allergic reactions to shots than i have due to a bad case of the flu."

      Everything I've heard about H1N1 is that healthier immune systems are actually more at risk. This particular flu makes your immune system go into over drive.
      http://www.upi.com/Health_News/2009/05/06/H1N1-fl

  • by fph il quozientatore (971015) on Sunday October 04, 2009 @09:19AM (#29634651) Homepage
    IF you have health problem, or a weak immunitary system, then you are likely to have had flu shots in the past, AND you are likely to catch swine flu now that a shot for it does not exist yet. So nothing particularly stunning here.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by tinkertim (918832)

      IF you have health problem, or a weak immunitary system, then you are likely to have had flu shots in the past, AND you are likely to catch swine flu now that a shot for it does not exist yet. So nothing particularly stunning here.

      Though it isn't exactly spelled out in TFA, I would _hope_ that their conclusion was drawn after noticing the trend in ordinary / normally healthy people. I think what they mean is, ordinary / healthy people who get the flu shot seem to be twice as likely to contract Swine Flu.

      Not a lot of information regarding the study itself is in the TFA, unfortunately. Most of the article just states current and potential ramifications.

      • Okay random guess - perhaps preparing your body for a specific strain of influenza, weakens its ability to deal with other generalized attacks from other strains (including H1N1). Kinda similar to studying for a test - if you put all your focus on chapter 9 of the textbook, it diminishes your ability to deal with chapters 1-8 because you're not properly prepared.

        (shrug)

        • by ceoyoyo (59147)

          That's one of the suggestions - your body is so busy making seasonal flu antibodies it has less ability to make swine flu antibodies. It seems people vaccinated last year have the same problem though, which should be plenty of time for the immune system to recover.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          I think you are onto a good theory there. After all, the body has an end game resource limit, so it tends to put the response where it seems to do the most good. If it perceives an attack by the seasonal version, it quite likely won't react fast enough when H1N1 comes calling.

          I found it interesting that us old farts, those of us that managed to survive the 1957 swine flu are said to be less susceptable by a large margin to the current H1N1. I survived it, on a just barely basis I think, the landlady foun

      • by jmv (93421)

        Compensating for how healthy the people are is probably not too hard (and they probably did it). What's harder to compensate is the fact that people that are more exposed to the flu (e.g. nurses, school teachers, daycare children) are also more likely to get a flu shot. If you never get the flu, how likely are you to get the vaccine?

    • by schon (31600)

      Wait.. so you're saying that Swine flu isn't directly caused by flu shots!?!?!

      Wow, thanks for clearing that up!

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Pigeon451 (958201)

      Thank you Dr. Quozientatore for pointing out the obvious.

      However as you may not know, H1N1 is different from general flu strains as it tends to have the strongest and deadliest effect on healthy people in their prime. Who do NOT generally get the flu shot.

      Unfortunately for experts like you, we don't have the original data to analyze and come to our own conclusions, we only have a general news report (which we know is always scientifically sound and full of correct facts). Researchers are reviewing the paper

    • I wonder if they also found that people who got flu shots were 100% more likely to have gotten a flu shot than those who didn't, and additionally 99% more likely to have decided to get a flu shot than those who didn't.
    • by shentino (1139071)

      That's the trouble with vaccines for seasonal diseases.

      Vaccines are good for germs that don't change, like smallpox, polio, and other things that you stay immune to forever.

      Flu is a different story because it mutates. It is like the borg, it adapted.

    • There is a misconception that being "healthy" will prevent you from getting a primary viral infection, but this is not true. For example if you have never been exposed to varicella-zoster virus (the virus that causes both chicken pox and shingles) and if you inhale viral particles then you WILL come down with chicken pox - I don't care how "healthy" you think you are. Being healthy will, however, usually limit the severe the primary infection.

      Being healthy will also allow you to build up a strong specific

  • Poor Logic (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Culture20 (968837) on Sunday October 04, 2009 @09:23AM (#29634685)
    Don't get vaccinated for multiple strains that are more deadly because it makes you twice as likely to catch only one strain?
  • by vxvxvxvx (745287) on Sunday October 04, 2009 @09:25AM (#29634693)

    I can see several reasons that those who obtain flu vaccines are more likely to contract the swine flu (as well as all the other versions of the flu.) First there's the age issue. The elderly are more likely to obtain a flu vaccine and are a higher risk group to begin with. But you also have the problems of people choosing to obtain the vaccine or not. Those who have never had a problem with the flu aren't likely to vaccinate themselves while those who have are more likely to obtain the vaccination. So in general you would expect those who obtain the vaccine to have more problems with the flu than those who don't.

    That said, it's entirely possible the study accounted for all that, but we have no way to know as the study hasn't been published yet . It's only been distributed for peer review at this point.Until the actual methods are available, I consider this just another example of media sensationalism regarding the swine flu.

  • by PaddyM (45763) on Sunday October 04, 2009 @09:39AM (#29634791) Homepage

    I did a little googling, and found this via the who's article site: http://repository.searo.who.int/

    http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20090930/h1n1_vaccine/20091001?hub=Health&s_name=

    One day after the above article was published.

    I think this is the case of the media reporting some scientific findings before it went completely through the peer review process. Sounds like it still isn't decided yet.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ukyoCE (106879)

      From that article:

      Several infectious disease experts and researchers have suggested the study work could be flawed. A commonly heard suggestion is that there was "selection bias" at work, meaning the type of people studied were not representative of the population in general and therefore the findings can't be generalized.

      It also mentions that data from every country other than Canada fails to support the claim.

      My first thought after hearing this "unpublished claim" was that there's heavy selection bias here. People who get flu shots are primarily people who have higher exposure to infectious diseases, such as hospital workers and teachers. If it's true for influenza (spurring them to get a shot) it would be true for H1N1 as well.

      Without hearing anything to the contrary (and esp. PaddyM's link showing oth

      • by ukyoCE (106879)

        Some links down below talk about possible biological reasons a flu vaccine could increase *severity* of other flu strains. A post or two claim that selection bias isn't at work here, but fail to point to any evidence.

        It could go either way of course, but I'm shocked that such an obvious question of selection bias hasn't been addressed directly while this latest "scare" is being plastered all over the news.

  • by JWman (1289510) on Sunday October 04, 2009 @09:52AM (#29634899)
    This is most likely a case of media hype driving public policy.
    I heard a segment on NPR on this. Basically, it's just one study still in the very preliminary stages as studies go. Moreover, thee experts they interviewed said that there was no known biological reason why this would happen.
    Given the amount of research into influenza, how to vaccinate against it, and how the bodies immune system responds to these vaccines, I think it's pretty safe to say that there won't be any medical surprises regarding the interaction between two such vaccines.

    Until this is vigorously peer reviewed and at least another supporting study by other researchers is done, I call this a definite correlation (which we ALL know does not equal causation....right?).
  • People who bother to get flu shots do so because they are more at risk of catching the flu (regardless of the type)?
    • by vlm (69642)

      People who bother to get flu shots do so because they are more at risk of catching the flu (regardless of the type)?

      Or, people who get flu shots are more likely to engage in risky behavior around people with a different type of flu because they mistakenly believe vaccination against disease A is 100% effective against disease B? Never underestimate the ability of those in the left 10% of the bell curve to screw up...

  • by Myji Humoz (1535565) on Sunday October 04, 2009 @09:59AM (#29634953)
    Please consider the following from the article and the paper:
    1) The vast majority of provinces have suspended vaccinations for people not over 65. These provinces likely have several individuals on their health boards with more qualifications than the average SD poster.
    2) The sample size was 12 to 13 million people. The paper was written by a large group of very high level names, and the initial peer review results don't involve "sampling bias" or "conditional probability" attacks.
    3) The vaccination DOES NOT boost the chances of normal flu, but DOES boosts the chances of swine flu. Accounting for age group and health differences, the trend still remains. People who have gotten vaccinated up to two years ago still show a statistically significant difference in their chance of catching swine flu.
    4) Before the bandwagon leaves on the "people who are more likely to get sick are more likely to get vaccinated, accounting for the 100% increase", people who get vaccinations aren't twice as likely to catch flu as people who don't get vaccinations. There's definitely something going on here.

    TLDR: This isn't some crackpot study or some anti-vaccination study. They noticed something weird, and like a good pack of scientists, are investigating it.
    • by Hatta (162192) *

      The vaccination DOES NOT boost the chances of normal flu, but DOES boosts the chances of swine flu.

      Why would you expect the seasonal flu vaccine to boost the chance of normal flu? Seems to me the expected result is for the seasonal flu vaccine to reduce the chance of seasonal flu, and make no difference to the swine flu.

      • by Kythe (4779)
        Given the fact that the people who received this vaccine should now have immunity to the normal flu, it stands to reason their chances of getting normal flu would not be boosted. If, on the other hand, people who get the vaccine tend to be people at high risk of getting flu in general due to occupational risks, travel habits, etc., or they tend to engage in more risky behavior because they've had the regular flu vaccine, a correlation with an increased incidence of the novel H1N1 simultaneously makes sense
    • That the article still got the "woo" and "antivac" tags says how eager some people are to "defend science" before looking.

      Really, people. Don't throw around accusations like these, it doesn't help in the fight against real woo and antivac ideas.

    • by Vellmont (569020)


      4) Before the bandwagon leaves on the "people who are more likely to get sick are more likely to get vaccinated, accounting for the 100% increase", people who get vaccinations aren't twice as likely to catch flu as people who don't get vaccinations. There's definitely something going on here.

      Which shouldn't be surprising at all, since the season flu vaccination is designed (and in fact does) protect people from seasonal flu. Of course vaccinated people are less likely to get flu, there'd be no point in vac

  • Fallicy (Score:4, Insightful)

    by CheshireCatCO (185193) on Sunday October 04, 2009 @10:07AM (#29635031) Homepage

    "'There are a large number of authors, all of them excellent and credible researchers. "

    You do realize, sir, that this really proves little, right? I'd say around 90+% of scientists I know are credible and excellent researchers. We all *want* to do good work and few of us would willingly or knowingly compromise that.

    This doesn't stop us from making honest, hard-to-spot mistakes. It's one thing to be sloppy (and that does happen sometimes) or to be dishonest (that also happens, rarely). But in any research, there will be factors you simply didn't know about and, let's be fair, shouldn't be expected to anticipate.

    So saying that these are good researchers is, at best, suggesting that you think that they didn't lie or miss something obvious that they should have noticed. At worst, it sounds dangerously like an argument from authority.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      No, all we are saying is that if you are going to *publish* as an authority on the matter. I.E. *as* a scientist, that you know WTF you are talking about.
      <p>
      Missing an important underlying correlation, and implying a causation where one does not exist is beyond irresponsible.
      • Scientists are not authorities. We're experts, on our good days. Never, ever authorities.

        Beyond that, I have no clue what you're saying and how it relates to my post.

    • by ceoyoyo (59147)

      It doesn't prove anything, but it does suggest that they probably haven't made obvious mistakes that less experienced researchers might have.

      They're experts so they're right is an argument from authority, which is a logical fallacy. They're experts so they're more likely to be right is not.

  • by malilo (799198) on Sunday October 04, 2009 @10:07AM (#29635033)

    This is not necessarily surprising or a new idea. A researcher at Rice University (Michael Deem, whom I have heard speak on this) studies the genetic basis for the vaccine and the resulting efficacy in any given year and there are MANY years in which getting a flu vaccine the previous year will actually increase your chances of getting the flu the next, or make it worse. You can find an interesting calculator here: http://www.mwdeem.rice.edu/pepitope/ [rice.edu], where there is also a link to his most important paper on it at the bottom (no registration req.). Here is an excerpt:

    Vaccine efficacy can even be negative, however, due to original antigenic sin [7-9], the tendency for antibodies produced in response to exposure to infl uenza vaccine antigens to suppress the creation of new, different antibodies in response to exposure to new versions of the infl uenza virus. The efficacy of the annual in fluenza vaccine, and whether original antigenic sin may occur, depends sensitively on how similar the vaccine and circulating viral strains are. Current state of the art measures of antigenic distance are based on ferret antisera hemagglutinin inhibition assays [10-12], and these distances are assumed to correlate well with vaccine efficacies in humans. However, to our knowledge no such good correlation has ever been shown for an experimental or theoretical measure of antigenic distance.

    Ever since I heard this talk, and learned that the flu vaccine is actually a random guess each year, I don't bother with it. I'm young, strong, and tough and very very unlikely to die, I figure.

    • by John Hasler (414242) on Sunday October 04, 2009 @10:17AM (#29635105) Homepage

      Ok, but when you do get it stay home, ok? Don't try to prove how "tough" you are by going around coughing on people. Just stay home in bed until all the symptoms are gone. Or you are dead.

      • by LanMan04 (790429)

        Tell that to the company I work for, with its 5 days of sick leave per year.

        • So it's ok to make other people sick because you need the money?

          • by iggymanz (596061)

            considering most of them are in either marketing, sales or management...yes, damn straight. they treat me like expendable asset, so why not return the favor?

          • by AK Marc (707885)
            It's corporate policy. If they don't want the risk, they can stay home when I'm sick. But I'm not going to take leave without pay (not only lose pay, but it essentially is a mark on my permanent record, as companies don't like LWOP). When companies encourage wellness, then you have a point. Otherwise, anyone working at a company with such policies has explicitly agreed to them and either understands what it means for them and their coworkers, or is too dumb to notice when they or anyone else is sick any
        • Tell that to the company I work for, with its 5 days of sick leave per year.

          Or tell it to my boss, who made it a point last week to tell us all how "the swine flu is a mild flu" and "university policies related to it are hype-driven and overblown".

          Of course this is a guy who's demonstrated on several occasions that he can't tell the difference between the flu and a cold. At least once each winter he'll have the sniffles, and generally says he "has a touch of flu".

      • by Bruce Perens (3872) * <bruce@perens.com> on Sunday October 04, 2009 @03:37PM (#29637869) Homepage Journal
        I know a little girl who has cancer. At times she's been immunocompromised due to chemotherapy. Folks who eschew vaccine probably become carriers more often, and increase the danger that she'll catch something her immune system can't handle.

        It's not just your health that you effect when you choose not to be vaccinated.

      • by Maxmin (921568)

        Or you are dead.

        Vague threats of violence have no place in civil discourse. And your strawman statement about how he'll try to prove how "tough" he'd be by purposely coughing on people? How stupid was that?

        You might as well amp it up with one more specious statement, then you'll be free and clear to call him a terrorist, phone it in to DHS, and get his ass tossed into Gitmo!

        When my 76-y.o. father caught the flu last year, around a week after receiving his flu shot, I was somewhat shocked. Isn't that what

        • by Big Boss (7354)

          Your grandfather was likely exposed before he even got the shot. Flu virus takes time to make you notice symptoms. And the shot takes a week or so before it can prevent infection. This effect is why there are so many people that think the shot gave them the flu. They already had it, but just didn't know about it yet.

          • by Maxmin (921568)
            I was curious about it at the time - from all I read, the gestation period is 1-3 days after exposure, and the fever peaking within 2-4 days. That his symptoms showed up a week later doesn't explain if the shot gave him the flu, either, but boy did it make me wonder. Also made me wonder if the reason why some vaccines are effective long-term (small pox), and some need frequent updating (flu) has to do with varying rates of speciation.
    • by vlm (69642)

      Ever since I heard this talk, and learned that the flu vaccine is actually a random guess each year, I don't bother with it. I'm young, strong, and tough and very very unlikely to die, I figure.

      And, if you're extremely old, and almost dead from emphysema, etc, the flu won't remove many days from your lifespan anyway, maybe a week or two at most, sucks but its true. The only people whom benefit from a flu vaccination might be the small fraction of children whom might have lost decades of lifespan, except for the roughly equally small fraction whom have a "negative reaction", and except for the media having programed the drones to believe vaccines cause autism despite the considerable medical evide

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by uassholes (1179143)
      This is not meant to scare, but young, strong, and tough people are dying from H1N1. It's probably a vaccine worth getting. Even if you survive it, you could pass it to someone who won't.
      • by Hatta (162192) *

        But we're not talking about the swine flu vaccine. We're talking about the seasonal flu vaccine.

        I'm still pretty wary to take the swine flu vaccine. Remember what happened in 1976? More people died from the vaccine than the flu. H1N1 mortality for humans is something like .1%, like any other flu, and that's IF you get it. The vaccine on the other hand hasn't gone through the normal safety testing and vaccine makers have been granted legal immunity if there are side effects. The actual efficacy of the va

        • by HiThere (15173)

          I haven't gotten the flu in that time either. OTOH, at that time I lived in close proximity to *many* other people. I haven't done that since I moved out of the dorms. (A single family doesn't count as *many*.) I doubt that there's a definite boundary, but I'd tend to place the lower edge at 15 people. There is no upper edge, except that implied by bodies occupying space.

          IOW, lifestyle is a very important factor. You might wear gloves when you use public transit, and wash them after one wearing. That

    • malilo writes: I'm young, strong, and tough and very very unlikely to die

      [malilo steps outside and is crushed by a truck rushing flu vaccine to a clinic]

  • Interferon effect? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by SlowGenius (231663)

    In addition to the selection bias already mentioned (people more likely to get the flu are more likely to get flu shots), there's another good reason why it might be that people who didn't get the seasonal flu vaccine are less likely to have gotten the H1N1 flu--that's because they're far more likely to have gotten the regular ("seasonal") flu instead! Turns out that whenever we get a viral illness, our bodies ramp up production of interferons and generally "batten down the hatches" to make us more resist

    • > If I'm right...

      If you are right these researchers are completely incompetent and failed to allow for such obvious "biases". Not likely.

  • by joocemann (1273720) on Sunday October 04, 2009 @10:38AM (#29635335)

    So... which is it? 12.. or 13? Thats a million person difference. Why the hell is this number not solidly reported?

  • media bias (Score:3, Insightful)

    by frovingslosh (582462) on Sunday October 04, 2009 @10:55AM (#29635497)
    This is interesting, but I expect this is the last that I will hear of it and that this story will never make it into the main stream media, by which I mean outlets like the three major U.S.A. network TV news shows. It sends a message contrary to what they seem to want to preach, and almost encourages people to think and make informed choices for themselves.
    • by evilviper (135110)

      I expect this is the last that I will hear of it and that this story will never make it into the main stream media

      Let's see... It's a single paper, hasn't been peer-reviewed yet, and runs contrary to every expectation...

      Yeah, we should broadcast it far and wide.

  • by Judinous (1093945) on Sunday October 04, 2009 @11:03AM (#29635585)
    Disclaimer: I am not an anti-vaccination nutjob. The following post refers to the flu vaccination, and the flu vaccination only.

    First off, with regard to TFA, this alone should not discourage people from getting the flu shot. The simple fact is that the "swine flu" is the same as the "regular flu" that we get every year. It is not particularly more infectious or deadly in any segment of the population than any other flu strain. The fear surrounding this particular strain is simply manufactured by the media. If the flu vaccine reduces the chance of getting the other 15-20 strains of flu by a significant amount, but doubles your risk of this particular strain, you still come out ahead.

    However, most people should not even consider getting a flu shot in the first place. If you are between the ages of ~15 and ~60, and are in general good health, you should not get the flu shot. It terrifies me when I see flu shots being given out to students at local schools and colleges. These are the people who have absolutely zero risk of dying from the flu. None. Even if it leads to pneumonia, there is only a risk of death if proper medical treatment is not given. The worst that can happen is, well, that they catch the flu for a week or so.

    The flu shot, on the other hand, can be extremely dangerous. My aunt was a nurse, and thus was required by her job to take the flu shot every year. She had been taking them for nearly a decade when, in her mid-thirties, she was paralyzed from the waist down by the side-effects of the flu shot. Had she not taken the shot, the worst that would have happened to her would have been simply getting the flu. She got a large settlement from the vaccine manufacturer and her employer. It was a rather fast process, as they knew beforehand that a certain percentage of people who take the flu shot would have this reaction. The cost of the settlements is simply rolled in to the cost of the vaccine. A couple of years later, a friend of the family suffered similar complications from the flu shot, and died. He was only 28 at the time, and in perfect health. Had he not taken the shot, the worst that would have happened to him would have been simply getting the flu.

    The results of this study are interesting, but they make little difference. The vast majority of people should not be getting the flu shot in the first place. Taking it is simply rolling the dice unnecessarily. For those who are very young or old, the risks from the flu shot and the risks from the flu itself start to even out. In that case, the shot may indeed be a better idea. The results of this study do not change that fact.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      I read up on the syndrome you described because I had never heard of it. It's Guillain-Barré (pronounced ghee-YAN bah-RAY) syndrome (GBS) and seems to manifest after a bacterial or viral infection, which can include a flu shot. Other than that, there's not much else known of the syndrome. For what it's worth, the CDC reports only one of many studies found that around one in one million vaccinated persons may be at risk for developing the syndrome.

      Still very interesting. Thanks for pointing thi
    • by Vellmont (569020)


      The simple fact is that the "swine flu" is the same as the "regular flu" that we get every year. It is not particularly more infectious or deadly in any segment of the population than any other flu strain.

      This contradicts several news stories I've heard. I haven't heard much about H1N1 being more deadly, but I have heard a higher percentage of people are getting it than normal seasonal flu. Can you provide any references to resolve our contradictory stories?

      My aunt was a nurse, and thus was required by he

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by jwhitener (198343)

      Two anecdotal stories doesn't outweigh all the evidence that flu shots save many more lives than they take.

      H1N1, unlike other flu strains, has shown signs of attacking healthier immune systems, producing cytokine storms. The CDC didn't recommend that 19-24 year olds get the vaccine just for the heck of it.

      H1N1 is predicted to have a 0.05 to 0.08 percent chance of death. Multiple that by the number of people that normally get the flu each year, and you can see why the medical community is worried.

      Do me a

  • Risky behaviour (Score:2, Interesting)

    by plasmidmap (1435389)

    One mechanism that could account for this is "risky behaviour", which is flu-vaccinated people being less concerned about being in contact with symptomatic people due to their perceived protection through the vaccine. Since the regular flu vaccine does not protect against "swine flu", vaccinated people are more likely to get it. The flip-side being unvaccinated people go out of their way to stay away from symptomatic people, and so are less likely to contract it.

  • by nukeade (583009) <serpent11NO@SPAMhotmail.com> on Sunday October 04, 2009 @11:26AM (#29635807) Homepage

    This might have something to do with it:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Original_antigenic_sin [wikipedia.org]

    The idea is that if your immune system learns to recognize an antigen similar to, but not sufficiently similar to, the antigen of a new threat, then your body may mount a less effective immune defense against the variant than it already knows. In other words, your body learns to fight seasonal strain of flu, then encounters similar H1N1. Now your body produces antibodies to the original flu, which bind more weakly to H1N1 proteins than an antibody that would have been made especially for H1N1, leading to an overall more severe infection than you otherwise would have had.

    ~Ben

  • Doesn't think much of it either

    http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=1940 [sciencebasedmedicine.org]

    • by ceoyoyo (59147)

      Read carefully. The blog author doesn't think much of the decision to cancel seasonal flu vaccines because a) the paper isn't published yet, so they're working on poor information and b) because it's too late anyway - it's LAST year's vaccine that has the effect.

      The author specifically says that there are plausible mechanisms for this effect.

      I don't know if your post was meant to suggest that Science Based Medicine doesn't think much of the decision to cancel seasonal flu vaccines or doesn't think much of

  • Lots of Canadians already had swine flu. It took me about 6 months to recover - from November 2008 till June 2009. I have seen co-workers undergoing the same ordeal - coughing for 6 months straight. So the statiscs may be skewed, but I'll take my common flu shot, since I don't want to get the next one.
    • by iggymanz (596061)

      how do you know that was swine flu, it could have been fungus and spores in your company's HVAC ducts. Immune reaction to forced air HVAC is quite common.

  • So it has not yet completed peer review.

    Can't say I'd be surprised if it's supported: a certain number of people won't build antibiodies. My wife and I found out this year that I am immunodeficient: I've had pneumonia four times from February through June, fortunately I didn't require hospitalization and suffered no lung damage because of it. I'm sure there's a fair number of people out there who are immunodeficient and don't know it. In my case, we didn't know until June, and we were talking about get

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