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Medicine Science

Flu Shot Doing Poor Job of Protecting Older People This Year 205

New submitter Gunilla sends this news from an AP report: "It turns out this year's flu shot is doing a startlingly dismal job of protecting older people, the most vulnerable age group. The vaccine is proving only 9 percent effective in those 65 and older against the harsh strain of the flu that is predominant this season, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday. Health officials are baffled as to why this is so. But the findings help explain why so many older people have been hospitalized with the flu this year. Despite the findings, the CDC stood by its recommendation that everyone over 6 months get flu shots, the elderly included, because some protection is better than none, and because those who are vaccinated and still get sick may suffer less severe symptoms." An anonymous reader adds information about a new drug that treats influenza by hijacking its own infection mechanism. The compound "binds to an enzyme on the surface of the flu virus called neuraminidase. This enzyme is responsible for severing the connection between the flu virus and human cell so it can move on and infect other cells. The new class of drugs — DFSAs — permanently bind to the enzyme, blocking its action and stopping it from spreading further, the journal Science reported (abstract). Currently available antivirals also work by attaching to this enzyme. But DFSAs do so in such a way that the flu virus cannot evolve to be resistant to the drug without rendering itself useless."
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Flu Shot Doing Poor Job of Protecting Older People This Year

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  • by ColdWetDog ( 752185 ) on Friday February 22, 2013 @01:01PM (#42981107) Homepage

    Got a better idea, bozo? No? Thought not.

    The influenza vaccines are the best tool that we have. It's a lousy tool, but oh well, play the hand that you're dealt.

    And before somebody goes off on and thinks this is Scary New News, influenza vaccine has ALWAYS sucked on infants and older people. Precisely the people that the virus wreaks the most havoc on and likely for the same reason (poorly developed or worn out immune system). This year's vaccine seems to do particularly poorly on the strain of B that we've been seeing. But you never really know how good or bad the vaccine does in any given year until you can tally up all the statistics and look at previous years (and fudge a few numbers).

    The bigger news is that Tamiflu is really worse than it was made out to be [] (which wasn't so hot to begin with). The usual suspects - money and political influence (but I repeat myself).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 22, 2013 @01:17PM (#42981313)

    If you came down with the flu within 72 hours, you got the shot too late each and every time. You do not have much protection yet within 1 or 2 days of receiving the shot, and that's all the time your body had to get to know the flu shot since you usually don't show signs of infection until a day or two after getting most diseases.

    As such, you're just blaming the wrong things. I would suggest you get the flu shot as early as you can, since you seem to be in a rather infected environment, so you can maximize your protection.

  • by smooth wombat ( 796938 ) on Friday February 22, 2013 @01:24PM (#42981385) Journal

    Either I touched a nerve with the homeopathic community or the mods don't understand the subtlety of sarcasm.

  • Re:Makes Sense. (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 22, 2013 @01:28PM (#42981431)

    "Best research we got suggests if you take something like 1000mg a day at the start of a cold you can ease the effects, but you'll also develop nausea, headaches, and kidney stones."

    Sorry but 1000mg of Vit C during a cold will not cause kidney stones or headaches as I take half that much daily each flu season to avoid getting sick(I work with the elderly). I haven't been sick in years, and will never take a flu shot.

    Vitamins alone aren't a magic bullet, Vitamins to supplement a healthy diet and active lifestyle are however. It's just unfortunate that most people still believe tripe like "vitamins aren't that good for you" that big pharma pumps out as fact(with studies such as the ones quoted here paid for by industry shills with degrees), and instead develop preventable diseases to make sure the Sickcare industry continues it's profits.

  • Re:Waste of money (Score:2, Informative)

    by blueg3 ( 192743 ) on Friday February 22, 2013 @01:32PM (#42981491)

    It's 9% effectiveness against one of the strains in one age group. It's 56% effective in general. This year's effectiveness is particularly low relative to other years, so isn't representative of "value for dollar", which should use effectiveness averaged across multiple years.

    Very rough back-of-the-envelope calculations suggest that the cost of saving lives through flu vaccines is on the order of a few tens of thousands of dollars per life. By insurance calculation standards, that makes it worthwhile.

  • by femtobyte ( 710429 ) on Friday February 22, 2013 @01:57PM (#42981747)

    Well, you clearly understand nothing about homeopathy. You think it's about diluting until there is "only one molecule of that substance left in the water." But, at proper homeopathic dilutions of 10^100:1 (100 10x dilutions), you wouldn't have one molecule left among all the other matter in the universe. No wonder homeopathy gets a bad reputation, when quacks are handing out dangerously under-diluted mixtures with an entire molecule remaining --- that'll screw up all the imprinted energy resonances!

The wages of sin are high but you get your money's worth.