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Medicine Science

For Some Medical Workers, a Flu Shot Or Possible Job Loss 541

Posted by timothy
from the greater-good-as-defined dept.
theodp writes "Want to work at Winthrop Hospital? Roll up your sleeve, and we'll talk. TIME reports that every employee at the Long Island hospital — from doctors and nurses who care for patients to the administrative, housekeeping and food-service personnel — must be vaccinated against both seasonal and H1N1 flu or face termination. The mandate comes from the health department of New York, the first state to require all health-care workers to be vaccinated against influenza. Meanwhile, two-thirds of parents say they'll avoid flu shots for their little ones like, well, the flu. So who should you believe — Dr. Bill Frist or 'Dr.' Bill Maher? Before you decide, perhaps a consultation with Dr. Google is in order."
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For Some Medical Workers, a Flu Shot Or Possible Job Loss

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  • by SoVeryTired (967875) on Saturday October 10, 2009 @07:08PM (#29706803)

    The summary is a little sensationalistic. It says 2/3 of parents are avoiding 'flu shots, whereas the article quotes 22% as the figure, with the remainder saying they would definitely vaccinate, or that they would try to vaccinate.

  • by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdo ... g ['ish' in gap]> on Saturday October 10, 2009 @07:20PM (#29706891)

    This isn't new; if anything, mandatory vaccination laws have become much more lenient in the United States than they used to be. In the early 20th century, 11 states had fully mandatory vaccination laws, not just "must get vaccinated as a condition of attending public schools" or "must be vaccinated as a condition of working in certain occupations" sorts of things. Rather, it was a requirement for living in the jurisdiction that you must be vaccinated. Massachusetts's mandatory smallpox vaccination law was upheld by the Supreme Court in Jacobson v. Commonwealth of Massachusetts in 1905, which is still the main precedent on the subject.

  • by R2.0 (532027) on Saturday October 10, 2009 @07:24PM (#29706919)

    "Why is it you can't sue the makers of vaccines, if the vaccine makes you sick?"

    In order for vaccination to "work" - from a public health standpoint - a majority of the population needs to be vaccinated. (I think the number's 75%.) If you are giving that many people a shot someone is going to get sick, even if there is nothing "wrong" with the vaccine. Add to that the fact that vaccines are a low margin product - per the supply/demand curve, it needs to be cheap as possible so the most people will get it.

    So, you have a product that:
    1) will definitely make someone sick and/or kill them
    2) You are barely making any money on it
    3) there is no "informed consent" defense - most vaccines are mandated.

    Why would any company make such a product when they will inevitable get sued for far more than the profit from it? No one would. So the US government, in order to induce the production of vaccines, gave vaccine manufacturers immunity from suit and set up a fund to compensate the people they KNOW will be hurt.

    Short answer - you can't sue for injury from a vaccine because, if you could, there would be no vaccines.

  • Re:Captain Obvious (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 10, 2009 @07:45PM (#29707051)

    And if you've had one, keep away from me - you're more, not less, likely to have a compromised immune system in the long run if you get annual flu shots.

    May you please provide some evidence for this claim? If you are talking about antigenic sin, that only applies if you get the shot regularly, but then skip a year:

    http://www.sciencentral.com/articles/view.php3?article_id=218392095 [sciencentral.com]

    The flu shot is a crap-shoot in terms of effectiveness

    From http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=113154000 [npr.org],

    "If you are vaccinated with the injected vaccine, you have about a 70 percent chance of preventing influenza."

    70% is a crap-shoot? Really?

    latest virus is no more fatal than the average

    About 36,000 a year die on average from the flu each year.

    Anyway, the flu shot isn't a "crap-shoot" and an immune system destroyer as you claim... it is exactly the opposite, actually.

  • by HangingChad (677530) on Saturday October 10, 2009 @08:12PM (#29707249) Homepage

    On our volunteer fire department. Particularly the EMS people. We see a lot of people with chronic respiratory diseases, COPD, and the elderly and people with weakened immune systems. The flu could kill them. Since they spend most of their time shut in, first responders are a possible vector.

    So, yeah, we're getting flu shots and so are the ambulance and hospital people. If you're in the military, they vaccinate you against shit I've never even heard of.

  • Re:Hmmmm (Score:5, Informative)

    by niko9 (315647) on Saturday October 10, 2009 @08:21PM (#29707317)

    It's kinda obvious that you have never worked in health care. Let me 'splain Lucy:

    Aside from actually getting health care providers to _actually_ wash their hands, sinks and hand washing don't do much against aerosolized particles especially when someone is coughing in your immediate vicinity.

    You can also spread nasties in all sort of interesting ways, like say, EKG leads, which have been proven to be a vector for MRSA. That reusable blood pressure cuff in the emergency room triage that has been used on all sorts of patients? Think it gets "disinfected" after every patient by the triage nurse? Ha!

  • Re:Mods (Score:4, Informative)

    by bsane (148894) on Saturday October 10, 2009 @10:05PM (#29708059)

    Rapidly mutating

    This is _exactly_ why we need to all get some immunity to H1N1 now- the vast majority of the population has no previous exposure to H1N1. Luckily whats currently circulating isn't that bad. If it mutated to a more deadly variety- and there was _no_ natural immunity and _no_ artificial immunity (via the vaccination) then things would be bad.

    Only in danger if you're a 'fat slob'? Then you're a fucking idiot.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1918_flu_pandemic [wikipedia.org]

    'Most of its victims were healthy young adults'

    'global mortality rate from the 1918/1919 pandemic is not known, but it is estimated that 10% to 20%'

    I'm not panicking, but I'm going to take my 1 in a million chance of negative side effects and get the shot- not just for myself, but in the hope the world never sees 1918 again. We have the means to prevent it, its cheap, its simple, and it'd be a fucking travesty if morons like you were the vector for another occurrence.

  • by raddan (519638) * on Saturday October 10, 2009 @10:12PM (#29708093)
    Nonsense. My wife, a former lab researcher and now doctor, worked with many people involved in communicable diseases and public health (she worked on yersinia pestis). These people devote their lives to understanding these diseases, and take the job very seriously. Another good friend of mine studies brain diseases. If he's in it for the money... well, he's an idiot. You see the same kind of dedication in these people that you do with firefighters. They do it because they're helping people.

    Why is H1N1 a big deal? Since you're here at Slashdot, you probably have some computer background, so I suggest you read this [bunniestudios.com]. Money quote:

    Some of these mutations make no difference; others render the virus harmless; and quite possibly, some render the virus much more dangerous. Since viruses are replicated and distributed in astronomical quantities, the chance that this little hack could end up occurring naturally is in fact quite high. This is part of the reason, I think, why the health officials are so worried about H1N1: we have no resistance to it, and even though it’s not quite so deadly today, it’s probably just a couple mutations away from being a much bigger health problem.

    It's good to be a skeptic, but when you're too "skeptical" to accept what experts tell you (oh, wait, you're a biologist specializing in human disease?), you're willfully ignoring the obvious.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 10, 2009 @10:49PM (#29708269)

    Well, how about some data [healthemergency.gov.au] from the Australian Government? They're not renowned for inflating the numbers of people affected by a disease.

    - 1 in 199.something (ok, call it 200) people who have been confirmed to have the swine flu have died from it.

    - 1 in 7.64 people confirmed to have swine flu has been sick enough to require hospital treatment.

    I dug this up while I was responding to a post on a forum, where a guy posted a link to an anti-vaccine video, which was referring to the 1976 swine flu vaccine in the US. In that case, 25 people died as complications from the vaccine, and about 500 more got Guillain-Barré syndrome.

    But considering they vaccinated slightly north of 48 million people for swine flu in 1976 (48,161,019 according to Wikipedia), that's a death rate of 1 in 1,926,440, and a serious-side-effect rate of 1 in 90,528.

    I'll take those odds over swine flu's 1-in-200 lethality rate any day! (Or even 1 in 500 if you assume for every confirmed case there are two or three who get a mild version and don't get tested)

    To make it perfectly clear: For every person who died from the 1976 swine flu vaccine, it's possible that nearly ten thousand would have died from the swine flu itself, if not for the vaccine.

    That's just deaths. Ignoring non-fatal complications, like having to have both of your feet amputated [news.com.au] (and that was an otherwise healthy young person - you know, like you're claiming to be).

    Now, I understand that modern influenza vaccines don't have anywhere near the rate of serious side effects as that 1976 swine flu vaccine. You'd think we'd hear about it if they did, considering there are literally hundreds of millions of doses given each and every year. But even if they did, they would still be saving tens of thousands of lives.

    Another consideration - most of the people who have died from swine flu in Australia have died despite the best care modern medicine can provide. Some of the people who survived only did so thanks to lung machines, because their lungs are so filled with fluid that they can't breathe, at all.

    That's with less than 1 in 600 of the general population getting the disease. What happens if as little as 10% of the population of Australia comes down with swine flu?

    Well, then, we could expect to see something like 2.2 million cases, which means 290,000 people would get sick enough to require hospital treatment. In a country that only has a total of 80,000 hospital beds.

    I'll let you do the math, but I suspect that 1-in-200 death rate might climb a little, and instead of 10,000 dead, we might see several times that. If it was really virulent and infected a quarter, or half, or even the whole population? Then it's 1918 all over again. There just aint that many anti-virals around, and there definitely aren't enough hospital beds.

    And that's why our governments are so damn keen on getting us vaccinated.

  • by lucifuge31337 (529072) <daryl@@@introspect...net> on Saturday October 10, 2009 @10:55PM (#29708281) Homepage

    In order for vaccination to "work" - from a public health standpoint - a majority of the population needs to be vaccinated. (I think the number's 75%.)

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

  • Re:Mods (Score:2, Informative)

    by tomhudson (43916) <barbara.hudson@ ... a - h u dson.com> on Saturday October 10, 2009 @10:58PM (#29708295) Journal

    Since it's rapidly mutating, you CAN'T be guaranteed to "get immunity" to it from a targeted vaccine, duh! and the natural progression is to mutate from more to less lethal, not the other way around.

    'global mortality rate from the 1918/1919 pandemic is not known, but it is estimated that 10% to 20%'

    What a bullshit way to purposefully mis-quote: You left out the most important part:

    but it is estimated that 10% to 20% of those who were infected died.

    And even that isn't backed up further in the article, when it gives a much lower "lower bound" even among the infected:

    the unusually severe disease killed between 2 and 20% of those infected

    The fact that the numbers are so uncertain shows that they're totally unreliable.

    Also, flu didn't directly kill most of those who died

    The majority of deaths were from bacterial pneumonia, a secondary infection

    We have these neat things called antibiotics, so most of the deaths would have been avoided today. We also have better living standards than the people in war-torn Europe.

    Also, if H1N1 follows the path of the 1918 pandemic, it should mutate to a much less virulent strain in November. Of course, the drug cos will claim responsibility, but it's just the nature of the beast.

    Most people aren't at any more risk from H1N1 than from any other flu. The at-risk are fat slobs, those between 6 months and 5 years, pregnant women, and those with chronic debilitating diseases. Pretty much everyone else is low-risk.

    So yes, if you're a fat swine, fear the aptly-named swine flu.

    And no, the current vaccine is not guaranteed to confer complete immunity. It imparts a partial immunity, over a short term, because it's not that great a vaccine. Even if you had H1N1 last year, you're not necessarily safe. However, if you were around prior to 1957, you've probably got a better natural immunity because you've already been exposed to a similar but more virulent, real live flu virus. (and lets face it H1N1 isn't all that virulent. The numbers have been exaggerated from the beginning. Starting with the 151 "deaths" in Mexico turned out to be 6. Most people who get H1N1 won't die, same as any other flu. Even governments have admitted that they don't test cases as being H1N1 before reporting them as H1N1, they just report anything suspicious as H1N1. Fucking retarded, but it means bigger budgets).

    So get off your indignant moral high horse - you're fear-mongering, and the drug companies are using you. Or you're a fat slob ... (and yes, the connection between mortality and obesity is easy enough to find). the original is now gone (probably removed by some fat slob), but here's google's cached copy

    Reuters Health
    Saturday, July 11, 2009

    Obesity emerges as risk factor in severe flu
    By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Editor

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - People who are obese but otherwise healthy may be at special risk of severe complications and death from the new H1N1 swine flu virus, U.S. researchers reported on Friday.

    They described the cases of 10 patients at a Michigan hospital who were so ill they had to be put on ventilators. Three died. Nine of the 10 were obese, seven were severely obese, including two of the three who died.

    The study, published in advance in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's weekly report on death and disease, also suggests doctors can safely double the usual dose of oseltamivir, Roche AG's antiviral drug sold under the Tamiflu brand name.

    "What this suggests is that there can be severe complications associated with this virus infection, especially in severely obese patients," said CDC virus expert Dr. Tim Uyeki.

    "And five of these patients had ... evidence of blood clots in the lungs

  • by Michael G. Kaplan (1517611) on Saturday October 10, 2009 @11:18PM (#29708373)

    "151 dead from Swine Flu in Mexico", on recounting, turned out to be 6.

    I don't know where your non-cited figure of "6" deaths from the original swine flu outbreak in Mexico came from, but maybe it was from a misinterpretation of a report detailing the deaths of 7 patients at a single tertiary care hospital in Mexico city during a single month. The New England Journal of Medicine article [nejm.org] that detailed the fate of the 98 patients acutely ill with the swine flu in that hospital at that time also references that 85 people in Mexico were known to have died as of May out of 4910 confirmed cases, a fatality rate of 1.7%.

    Fortunately only Mexico during the initial outbreak reported such a high fatality rate. This is very fortunate as almost no young person in the world had any kind of immunity to this strain. In all likelihood when you come down with it you will be 'lucky' enough to only have to suffer a few days of bed-bound misery.

    I'm a healthy skeptic.

    Skepticism is good, but you've jumped way beyond that into conspiracy theories and paranoia.

    I'll stick with preventative measures, as opposed to a shot that may or may not be effective this season

    Doing nothing does not count as a preventative measure. It is true that usually with the seasonal flu vaccine scientists must guess months beforehand what strains to put in the vaccine and since they don't always guess right the vaccine is usually only about 70% effective, but as for pandemic H1N1 the vaccine is an excellent match and it should give almost everyone who gets it protection.

  • by RedSteve (690399) on Saturday October 10, 2009 @11:19PM (#29708375)

    Well, I know that they don't prescribe medicine.

    I have no beef with nurses; in fact, i respect and appreciate their role in the medical profession. But seeing as how they don't prescribe medicine and don't undergo the same training as physicians, the fact that one RN notes that pharmaceutical companies contribute to textbook production is an interesting anecdote and nothing more. It is just as meaningful as my observation that I know a lot of doctors who refuse any sort of drug rep gifts on the grounds that it might influence their decision to prescribe.

    What neither anecdote indicates is that there is just as much skepticism within medical colleges to the relationship between funding sources and conclusions as there are outside of the walls; that there are ethics courses focused on the critical analysis of pharmaceutical claims; that, in general, no serious text can get around scientific fact just to present and position their own product. (The faculty, after all, have to approve the referenced texts, and precious few of them desire to be perceived as corporate shills.)

  • by roystgnr (4015) <`roystgnr' `at' `ticam.utexas.edu'> on Saturday October 10, 2009 @11:23PM (#29708395) Homepage

    The vaccine if they really worked it wouldnt matter how many people got the vaccine. The people who got the vaccine would be protected, and the people who didnt would only be harming themselves.

    That would be true if "really worked" was a binary, 100% or 0% status. This is not the case.

    Vaccines do not protect everyone they are given to (the vaccine merely trains immune systems, after all, which differ from person to person). Even if they were foolproof, vaccines cannot be administered to everyone - even if the risk of complications is far less than the risk of the disease in most people, there may be individuals (e.g. very young infants for the flu vaccine) for whom that is not the case. These still-vulnerable individuals benefit instead from "herd immunity":

    One way to make yourself safe from a disease is to make yourself immune, so you can't get the disease. If that is impossible, another way to make yourself safe is to live in a population who have mostly made themselves immune, so you have no contact with anyone who can give you the disease.

    Unfortunately, herd immunity also allows people to "defect" from their vaccinations; that's the entire reason why people would even consider skipping a vaccination in the first place! Why expose yourself to the nocebo effect, when you can simply free-ride off the immunity of others? They say that confusing correlation and causation leads to autism, you know!

  • by Dahan (130247) <khym@azeotrope.org> on Saturday October 10, 2009 @11:24PM (#29708397)
    There's an analysis of Bill Maher's anti-medicine stance on the Science-Based Medicine [sciencebasedmedicine.org] blog. It points out how he's considered an informed "skeptic" due to his anti-religious views, despite him embracing medical quackery.
  • by karmarep (1529775) on Saturday October 10, 2009 @11:39PM (#29708455)
    http://www.cdc.gov/H1N1flu/vaccination/pregnant_qa.htm [cdc.gov]

    "Does the 2009 H1N1 flu shot have an adjuvant or squalene in it?"
    "Adjuvants are agents that are sometimes added to a vaccine to make it more effective. There are no adjuvants (such as squalene) in either the 2009 H1N1 or seasonal flu shot used in the United States."
  • by raddan (519638) * on Sunday October 11, 2009 @12:53AM (#29708769)
    This simply means that you willfully misunderstand statistics. A vaccine that saves millions of lives at the risk of a few hundred is a justifiable risk. The same logic applies to warfare: we sacrifice the lives of the few to save the many. It is painful and regrettable, but it must be done.

    That is a FAR cry from saying that vaccines "cause disease" or that this is a manufactured pandemic to make money.

    At least 62% of the U.S. population is under the age of 45 [infoplease.com]. How does conferred immunity from the 1957 asian flu help them? What about the world?

    You may have only gotten the flu once. The plural of anecdote is not data. Epidemiology is data, and it argues against you.

    If your car never fails in the 10 years that you drive it, does it mean that mechanics are perpetrating fraud? Think about it.
  • by raddan (519638) * on Sunday October 11, 2009 @01:16AM (#29708875)

    The statistics are hard to make out, but it seems that doctors were more likely to kill you than cure your for a large portion of history

    You might enjoy reading Trick or Treatment [amazon.com]-- they cover this topic in some detail. You right, statistics are hard to come by, mainly because no one was keeping statistics at the time. Florence Nightengale [wikipedia.org] changed that.

    And water had nothing to do with that.

    Clean water and disease/infection are two sides of the same coin. In fact, Florence Nightengale herself worked over the course of her life to show that things like water quality, open sewers, air pollution, and nutrition had dramatic effects of the health of a population.

  • by tomhudson (43916) <barbara.hudson@ ... a - h u dson.com> on Sunday October 11, 2009 @02:21AM (#29709121) Journal
    Guess what - epidemological studies say there is NO epidemic. Actually, the WHO put the total number of deaths world-wide at only 7 as of April, 2009 [smh.com.au] - all in Mexico. This flu is the mildest we've seen in decades.

    April 29, 2009
    A member of the World Health Organisation (WHO) has dismissed claims that more than 150 people have died from swine flu, saying it has officially recorded only seven deaths around the world.

    Vivienne Allan, from WHO's patient safety program, said the body had confirmed that worldwide there had been just seven deaths - all in Mexico - and 79 confirmed cases of the disease.

    "Unfortunately that [150-plus deaths] is incorrect information and it does happen, but that's not information that's come from the World Health Organisation," Ms Allan told ABC Radio today.

    Also, it appears that the oft-repeated "36,000 people die from the flu every year" number is also bogus [wsj.com], being a bad extrapolation from a set of people who are already seriously ill, and not numbers taken from actual sampling the population at large. The actual toll may be well under 1,000. So much for any epidemological studies that support big numbers with bad guestimates instead of hard counts.

    Anyway, on to your other remarks ...

    So even you admit that for at least, say, 30% of the population (I'll let you keep 8% for the chronically ill), the vaccine is not really needed, since they already are immune to swine flu from past exposure? Well, that's a start.

    So how about removing the other low-risk groups - those over 5 years, under 6 months, the non-pregnant women? That's the vast majority of the population who simply aren't all that much at risk.

    I'll give you the obese, because they ARE at risk, but that can't be more than ... oops, we're talking America ... 67% of the population over 20 are either overweight or obese. Fuck, why are you people even worried about swine flu when you've got a pandemic of excess flab? Okay, let's see - morbidly obese - 3%. I'll give you the fatties. Pick a reasonable number for the number of pregnant women, and the number of kids between 6 months and 5 years old ... both combined, along with the Lardos certainly won't bring you to even 20% of the population. ALL the under-5 is only 7%, and if we take 10% of the people between 20 and 45 and say they're pregnant, that still only yields 3.5%, and we have to remove half of them, because they're men ... which gives us 1.75% of the population who are pregnant (still high, but who cares).

    So, between the morbidly obese (3%), the pregnant women (1.75%), and ALL the kids under 5 (7%), you're only at 11.75% of the population. How is giving the other 88.25% of the population a vaccine they don't need going to help the situation? And if the virus mutates, the vaccine is useless anyway. Now, since it's more likely that the vaccine will mutate to a weaker form, as happened in the past, people will crow about "how the vaccine worked", when it did nothing of the sort.

    There is NO justification for hyping vaccines to people who aren't at risk. That's 88.25% of the population who are being buffaloed into doing something that only profits the drug companies, as opposed to simpler (but less glamourous) solutions that will also help prevent them from catching other variants of the flu, and colds.

    And what about the latest study (look elsewhere in the thread) that shows that if you had a flu shot in the past, you double your chances of catching H1N1? Double! A study with 13 million subjects is not anecdotal - it's far more subjects than the other studies to date, which may explain why we're only making the connection now.

    As for the pandemic, it IS bullshit. 7 deaths in more than half a year. Even a death a day would not be a "serious pandemic", and we're nowhere near that.

  • by Dhalka226 (559740) on Sunday October 11, 2009 @04:15AM (#29709513)

    Vaccines do not protect everyone they are given to (the vaccine merely trains immune systems, after all, which differ from person to person).

    You're correct that vaccines don't protect everyone, but it's not because they "just train" the person's immune system. It's all about whether or not the strain of a particular disease you catch is the one you were vaccinated for.

    Every year, before flu season, some medical people get together and make a list of what they feel will be the most common strains of flu that year, then they pick one to mass produce a vaccine for. It's essentially nothing more than an educated guess. Hopefully they're right, but whether they are or not is only matters slightly; you can still catch the other strains, either because of bad luck or maybe they simply picked wrong.

    One way to make yourself safe from a disease is to make yourself immune, so you can't get the disease.

    Well, you do actually get the disease.

    If I remember my biology correctly, you don't actually catch the same disease twice, you catch a different strain. IE, a mutated version. The vaccination actually gives you a version of the disease, usually in an inert form so you don't actually develop symptoms. Your body still creates antibodies for it though. Again, if I'm realling it correctly, anti-bodies essentially are puzzle pieces: They fit up against the particular bacteria and destroy it. If it doesn't fit, it doesn't work.

    Once you've created the anti-bodies, they stay with you a long time (forever?). Meaning you may actually be exposed to the same thing again, but it's quickly destroyed. To use a military example, it's the difference between happening to have a standing army where you're attacked and having to create one and transport it where it's needed. The bacteria (or virus) never has a chance to get a foothold.

    The rest of your post is pretty much spot on, though I would suggest "ZOMG POSSIBLE SIDE EFFECTS!" is a bigger reason that people don't get vaccinated than "meh, enough other people will do it to protect me." I think the latter is giving the average person too much credit for actually understanding what's going on.

  • by compro01 (777531) on Sunday October 11, 2009 @04:24AM (#29709529)

    If the vaccination works, you won't get sick, no matter what the rest of the world does.

    Incorrect. With a sufficient number of vaccinated individuals in a population, an effect call heard immunity comes into play. This protects people who cannot get the vaccine (people allergic to it, etc.) or who the vaccine does not work on.

    There has been a 4 year study done in Ontario on this with respect to seasonal flu vaccines and found favorable results.

    http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/science/july-dec08/fluvaccine_10-31.html [pbs.org]

  • by RightsWhore (1649663) on Sunday October 11, 2009 @07:43AM (#29710245)
    You obviously have no idea how much it costs in money and in time to do science. Before the vaccine even gets produced, there are development costs, which are astronomical. You have to pay dozens or hundreds of people (depending on the organization) for months/years of work, and you have to buy supplies which are very expensive. You would be shocked if you looked in a biological supply catalog. I work in an academic lab, and even with the deep discounts we get, we spend over $1M/year on supplies, easy, probably more. Oh, and don't forget animal care costs. You've got to show that the vaccine does SOMETHING and that it is not harmful at least in mice. ANYWAY, I don't want to support drug companies any more than I have to, but they do deserve something for their efforts. They make a profit thanks to government intervention, but thank goodness they do. I like my vaccines!
  • by canadian_right (410687) <alexander.russell@telus.net> on Sunday October 11, 2009 @02:01PM (#29712131) Homepage

    But most disease requires immunization rates of about 85% to confer herd immunity.

    There are well documented cases of small religious communities not vaccinating there kids then having perfectly predictable numbers of kids dying of measles and other preventable disease.
    Measles in Wales [bbc.co.uk]
    Outbreak of measles in Religious communties [nih.gov]

    Not vaccinating your kids is a terrible decision that puts them at risk of permanent crippling injury and death.

  • by RedSteve (690399) on Sunday October 11, 2009 @05:02PM (#29713181)

    Nice try, but squalene and other adjuvants are forbidden in U.S. vaccines by the FDA.

    Yes, but they are not in Europe. It is still a concern.

    Given that the article was about a U.S. hospital, and the bulk of the concerns in the comments were about U.S. vaccination policy, the fact that adjuvants are allowed in Europe really didn't warrant comment. Those vaccines aren't coming here unless the pandemic worsens significantly and there is no way to manufacture additional adjuvant-free vaccine.

    With regards to the mercury, if it's that big of a concern to you, I hope you are on a tuna-free diet because there is more mercury in a tuna sandwich than in the thiomersal of any vaccine available in the U.S..

    Sure about that? First of it's a ridiculous argument, indeed the level of mercury in tuna are alarmingly high, it doesn't make it right. And regardless, you would have to eat a heck of a lot of tuna to equal even one flu shot.

    The FDA lists the mean methylmercury content of canned albacore tuna to be .353ppm. That means 6 ounces (170g) of tuna contains approximately 59.5mcg of methylmercury, or slightly more than a 1mg dose of flu vaccine.

    The point IS salient becuase despite that level, the FDA has indicated that tuna is safe for children to eat up to 6 ounces per week [fda.gov].

    Let me demonstrate and I will give references. The Flu vaccine contains 25mcg of mercury (http://www.cdc.gov/flu/professionals/acip/dosage.htm) this is the seasonal flu link, the h1n1 contains the same amount. Oh sure , you can request the single dose without the mercury, but unless you do, your probably getting the multi-dose. The safe level of mercury is 0.1 mcg per kg body weight, (http://www.gotmercury.org/article.php?id=1169) So a 68kg (~150lb) person safe limit is 6.8mcg per day.

    Kind of. What you're quoting is a reference dose, and it's a rate with a time component, not just a simple level. The RfD that you're quoting is the EPA's reference dose [epa.gov], and yes, it's .01mcg/kg body weight per day. So on one day, your 68kg person would ingest a higher than recommended amount, but if the person avoid tuna melts for the next week, his reference dose is back within the EPA's recommendation.

    It's also worth noting that there are several reference doses issued by different agencies; the EPA's is the most conservative. The World Health Organization has the highest reference dose of 1.6mcg/kg/week of body weight [who.int].

    So you just shot almost 4 times the safe limit for an average adult directly into your blood stream.

    As a point of clarification, vaccines are injected into the muscle, not directly into the blood stream.

    Worse the age group for fluzone is 6months or older... a large 6-7m infant might be 10kg as a high avg, that 1mcg safe limit... great you just shot up your infant with 25 times the safe levels.

    Of course, that concern is why they also make the vaccine available in preservative-free doses. It's also why pediatricians will discuss the risks and benefits with parents.

    This is on top most people already being near or above the safe daily limits taken in from water and foods. Looking at (http://www.csgnetwork.com/hgqtycalc.html) , eating a can of tuna for the same 150lb person a week is just slightly higher than what is considered safe levels. Don't forget children are to get 3 shots, 1 seasonal and 2 h1n1...

    With the exception of broken lightbulbs, thermometers, and dental fillings, you've just outlined the major vectors f

  • by ppanon (16583) on Monday October 12, 2009 @12:50AM (#29715697) Homepage Journal
    You probably know varicella as chickenpox.

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