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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 Anonymous Coward on Friday February 22, 2013 @12:52PM (#42980981)

    The CDC just keeps shooting themselves in the foot. Admit the problem and QUIT telling everyone to get the flu shot every year. It doesn't work as advertised and should not be relied on a the main defense against the flu.

    - Cochrane Review - Vaccines for preventing influenza in healthy adults

    - Dr Lisa Jackson's out of season influenza vaccine research

    Using the proper tools for the job is very important and vaccines work best against stable targets like smallpox. Against the influenza virus it is a total joke. They go to manufacturing in June/July and the flu has 3-6 months to mutate and they wonder why it fails? Give it up. It does not work.

    The more the CDC promotes something that clearly does not work the more people are going to throw out the baby with the bathwater and think that they are lying about all vaccines. Good to hear there are some advances in stopping the flu because the current approach has been a total failure.

  • by hedwards ( 940851 ) on Friday February 22, 2013 @12:57PM (#42981067)

    This is a virus, your two main options are to either have people avoid human contact or give them a vaccination. Sure, things like washing hands might help a bit, but ultimately, there aren't a lot of options for something like the flu.

    What's more, you're ignoring the fact that this year it worked for 9% of the people over 65 who got it. That's really not a good number, but it's better than zero and ignores the other people who received the vaccination as well.

  • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Friday February 22, 2013 @01:06PM (#42981181)

    What's more, you're ignoring the fact that this year it worked for 9% of the people over 65 who got it.

    And YOU are ignoring the increased risk of exposure to flu people have by going to wherever the flu shot is administered.

    That 9% number does not stand in a vacuum. There are many other factors and with that protection number being so low, to me it makes little sense to go somewhere and risk greater exposure to other people from which you would get the flu to begin with.

  • by nblender ( 741424 ) on Friday February 22, 2013 @01:19PM (#42981343)

    My wife, my son, and I have received the flu shot at least 10 times each and none of us have ever come down with the flu so using your logic, I can confirm that the flu shot is 100% effective...

    Or perhaps your logic is wrong and your data points probably fabricated.

  • by hedwards ( 940851 ) on Friday February 22, 2013 @01:25PM (#42981397)

    No, I'm not ignoring that. If they knew what the efficacy rate was like without administering the injections, that would be a completely different thing. But, you can't sit there with the numbers from the real world and judge the doctors for not having access to them before they even existed.

    I said, that 9% isn't a good number, but pretending like they were giving these shots out knowing that whom they would and would not work for is just plain wrong. You're also assuming that these people are shut ins. If they were shut ins, then there would be no point in vaccinating them as they wouldn't be exposed to the flu in the first place. For the folks that actually go outside, they're already going to be exposed, suggesting that this is represents a greater exposure is just the typical anti-vaccs bullshit.

  • by nblender ( 741424 ) on Friday February 22, 2013 @01:51PM (#42981731)

    Yet more displays of terrible logic on your part. My data points disagree with yours, therefore I must be a big-pharma shill...

    Laying it out in plain english: You used 3 data points to conclude the flu shot was bullshit. I countered with 10 equally useless data points that conflicted with yours. You throw a hissy fit.

  • by daem0n1x ( 748565 ) on Friday February 22, 2013 @02:07PM (#42981837)

    And YOU are ignoring the increased risk of exposure to flu people have by going to wherever the flu shot is administered.

    And YOU are ignoring the increased risk of exposure to flu people have by going to anywhere where there are people.

  • by The_PS4_Will_Fail ( 2847449 ) on Friday February 22, 2013 @02:29PM (#42982099) Journal

    Millions of years of evolution are more effective than a buch of vaccines made from questionable materials, under questionable manufacturing circumstances, and being monitored by a government agency that was probably bought and sold to the pharmaceutical industry decades ago.

    Our, you know, continue to throw money at big pharma and have another double cheeseburger and a Coke. I'm sure they and their lobbyists have your best interest in mind.

    Is that how you avoided polio? Better living through exercise and eating broccoli?

  • by h4rr4r ( 612664 ) on Friday February 22, 2013 @02:38PM (#42982191)

    Way to ignore the important part of this. For the rest of people it was 50% reduction meaning lots of those oldsters avoided it because others got immunized.

  • by Overzeetop ( 214511 ) on Friday February 22, 2013 @03:00PM (#42982513) Journal

    I actually considered this once. I don't pay anything directly because it's a "covered" item in my health plan, but I would pay $25 out of pocket if I got one. So here goes:

    When I was younger - in my 20s& 30s I got a flu - or flu-like symptoms requiring I miss work for 3 or more days - four times. I started getting the flu vaccine about 8 years ago, and I haven't had the flu for about 11 or 12 years.

    Let's say my typical chance is once every 5 years. (4x in 20 years). If I were only to get the flu once every 10 years (56% effective in my target age group), that means that, on average I will miss 3 days less of work in 10 years. I'm a consultant, so I bill $150/hr, and I get nothing if I don't work. Whether I show up at the office or not, I pay for rent, electricity, licensing, insurance, etc. So...3 days at 6 billable hours in a typical day is $2700 is lost income (note I'm not counting the 3-4 hours of admin time a day, which is all rolled into those billable hours). $2700 a year over ten years is $270 a year, or an 11:1 payback on my "investment" of $25. As a bonus, I don't end up paying for a doctors visit, or for medications, or for the general crappiness I feel, or take the chance that my wife and daughter are then more likely to get it as well. Break even, without medication costs and such, would be around $13.60/hr.

    If it were the worst case of 9% if I were over 65 and still working, then we're really talking statistical, but that would mean a theoretical reduction of 18 hrs/5yrs*9% = $49 a year return on a $25 flu shot, plus the above associated effects and medical costs, and the chance of dying from the flu because I'm just old and more likely to get a secondary infection.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 22, 2013 @03:05PM (#42982567)

    Too bad there is no evidence to support any of that crap. Millions of years of evolutions ensures that the viruses get past our immune systems naturally, and it requires an unnatural act to defeat it. Nothing is wrong with healthy living, but suggesting that it will eradicate the flu like it did for smallpox is both illogical and not supported by any significant evidence. Unfortunately, it looks like you are a victim of marketing, and don't even know it.

  • by flyingfsck ( 986395 ) on Friday February 22, 2013 @04:54PM (#42984077)
    And your homeopathics worked against smallpox too? Go back to the middle ages bozo.
  • by UltraZelda64 ( 2309504 ) on Friday February 22, 2013 @05:50PM (#42984905)

    -Removing chemicals from our water supply

    But... but... then how am I supposed to get my precious H2O if all "chemicals" are removed from our water supply?! In fact, what would even come out without H2O... air? I don't think we'd live very long with "chemicals" coming out of our faucets or at least money to buy bottled chemicals in the store! Never mind those other chemicals naturally available in trace amounts in most water that give us nutrients, like calcium and magnesium... if we don't get those from water, then we'll have to get them from something else instead!

    But really, watch out with the word "chemicals"... it doesn't mean what most people think it does when they try to use the word on its own with a negative connotation. *You* are made up of chemicals. Everything around you is, including the air you drink and the coffee, tea or Coke sitting on your table. This chemical scare is about as stupid as the virus and bacteria scare. How about instead leading up to it with the word "synthetic" or "man-made"? And to be fair, even that would be far from accurate, because nature itself cooks up some pretty nasty chemicals... they just tend to be found in very small quantities and in confined and expected locations.

    I don't know when the word "chemicals" started being used in a negative connotation like the word "drugs," but it's annoying and it needs to stop. Just as not all drugs are bad, and in fact most are not bad when used properly, not all chemicals are bad... when used properly. You need them to live, and so do the plants and animals you have sitting mutilated and seasoned on plates on your dinner table. Fair enough--all drugs are a specific class of chemicals on their own--but you get the point. Like I said, practically everything either is, or is made of, at least one chemical.

    I do agree that we need to rely less on little-tested unnatural crap completely made in labs, but at the same time I will not spin that to make it seem as if "all" chemicals are somehow bad and to be untrusted by misusing the word. I trust natural chemicals, for the most part, over shit that's synthetic and only produced in labs.

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