According to Art Caplan, Ph.D. of http://vitals.nbcnews.com/, How widespread is the flu this year? Very. So far, it's spread to 47 states and it hasn't even peaked yet, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The effects are being felt on an individual level and also on a large scale.
The mayor of Boston, Thomas Menino, has declared a public health emergency because of an explosive rise in flu cases. In Kiefer, Okla., with the absentee rate in schools due to flu hitting 25 percent, the school district announced it would cancel classes. In Cleveland, a flu task force meets for 20 minutes every morning to handle the overflow of those sick with the flu at the University Hospitals Case Medical Center. The emergency room at Ohio State University's Wexner Medical Center in Columbus has instituted a fast-track system to move college students with the flu quickly through the emergency room to keep space free for older, more vulnerable patients.
Some say, "The best defense we have against the flu is a shot. Still, some people resist getting one. Others say they just don't work that well. Many have concerns about the contents of the vaccine. Others just think the shots aren't that necessary and they'd rather take their chances and power through the flu if they get sick. But there are yet others who say, "a flu shot isn't just for you -- it's also for those around you."
Others say, "vaccination is the sole reason you exist. People who are mythological minded drive me crazy. Get your flu shot and don't be a bio- warfare delivery mechanism. People owe it to each other to be vaccinated. A good example of why is Pertussis. Whooping cough had been nearly eliminated due to vaccination but then dolts like you came along and made it come back stronger and with a vengeance."
For those who still say the flu isn’t really serious, consider the death toll so far — Minnesota has had 27 flu-related deaths reported; Pennsylvania 22; Massachusetts, 18; Oklahoma, 8, Illinois, 6, and Maryland 1. Nine nursing home residents have died in New York. Twenty infants and children have died nationwide. And those are just the confirmed flu death cases. When someone starts to go on about the risks and dangers of flu shots a quick visit to the morgue should suffice to shut them up.
The CDC reports, "Things are only going to get worse. We are barely half way through the flu season. It's a nasty flu, making healthy people very sick and sick people in need of intensive care or worse."
This year the efficacy of the flu shot is about 62 percent. That is not a great number, but it is not bad. It's still worth getting one. The ethical reasons go far beyond your personal self-interest.
First, you ought to get a flu shot in order to protect those who cannot benefit from them. Second, the more folks who get vaccinated the harder it is for the flu to spread. Flu vaccination does a community a lot of good.
Newborns and those who are immune-compromised due to diseases, transplants, or cancer therapies cannot benefit from flu shots — they lack enough immunity capability. The elderly don’t build as much resistance to flu from a shot as do the young. And fetuses are at risk of dying from the flu unless their mothers get a shot.
The best protection those in these high-risk groups have is for those they come in contact with to have been vaccinated. Doing the right thing means protecting your grandma, your neighbor’s new baby and your son’s friend with primary immunodeficiency disease from being infected by -- you. You may not die from the flu. They could.
In addition to protecting those who cannot protect themselves there is strength in numbers in flu vaccination. The more of us who get vaccinated, even with a less than perfect vaccine, the harder it is for the flu virus to spread. This is called "herd immunity" and it applies to people as well as animals. If you think of yourself as a good neighbor and a responsible member of your community then you ought to get a shot so everyone gets the maximum benefit.
That is a hard message to get across. Most people naturally assume that if someone is sticking a needle in their arm it is to prevent them from getting sick. In fact, flu vaccination is for your family’s good, your neighbor’s good and the good of the newborn baby down the street.
A lot of us don’t like needles. But that is not enough reason to put others at risk. Many think they never get very sick from the flu. Some don’t, but they can still infect someone else.
Some still worry about the safety of the vaccine even though study after study shows the shots are safe and that getting a shot is far, far more beneficial than not getting one.
Arthur Caplan, Ph.D., is the head of the Division of Medical Ethics at NYU Langone Medical Center. His advise is, "the best arguments for everyone to get a flu shot is that if we all do, the most vulnerable will be far less likely to die and we will be far less likely to infect one another. Don’t be selfish. Take care of your neighbor. Find a store or doctor that still has vaccine and get a shot. "
“It’s about five weeks ahead of the average flu season,” said Lyn Finelli, lead of the surveillance and response team that monitors influenza for the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. “We haven’t seen such an early season since 2003 to 2004.”
JoNel Aleccia, Staff Writer at NBC News reports: The nation’s early flu season continued to grow in the U.S. this week, with no sign yet of a peak in the spread of coughing, achy, feverish illness, health officials said Friday.
"I think we're still accelerating," said Tom Skinner, a CDC spokesman.
Twenty-nine states and New York City reported high levels of flu activity, up from 16 states and NYC the previous week. Flu was widespread in 41 states, up from 31 states, according to the latest figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
As of the week ending Dec. 29, 2,257 people had been hospitalized with flu, and 18 children had died from complications of the illness, CDC reported.
During that season, illnesses peaked in early to mid-December, followed by a peak in flu-related pneumonia and deaths in early January. It was over by mid-February and was considered a “moderately severe” season for flu, according to the CDC. Finelli and other CDC officials say it’s too early to tell exactly how bad this year’s season will be.
But over at Google Flu Trends, which monitors flu activity in the U.S. and around the world based on internet search terms, this year’s season has already topped the bright-red “intense” category.
And at Flu Near You, a new real-time tracking tool that’s gaining about 100 participants each week, about 4 percent of the 10,000 users say they’ve come down with flu symptoms.
CDC data, which is based on visits to doctors for influenza-like illness, can lag two weeks or more behind real-time activity.
By contrast, Flu Near You can paint an immediate picture of what’s new with flu.
For instance, Brownstein said his data show that cough is the most frequently reported flu symptom this season, at 19 percent. It’s been followed by sore throat, 16 percent; fatigue, 15 percent; headache, 14 percent; body ache, 10 percent and fever, just 7 percent.
More telling, for people who reported both flu symptoms and vaccination status, of those who got the flu, three out of four were not vaccinated, while a quarter had gotten their flu shots.
The CDC says that in the 2010-2011 flu season, vaccine effectiveness was about 60 percent for all age groups combined.
The agency has received reports that people who were vaccinated still developed laboratory-confirmed strains of flu. CDC officials said it’s not possible to know whether that’s happening more this season than usual and that the agency is “watching the situation closely.”
Overall, this year’s vaccines appear to be well matched for the two strains of influenza A and one strain of influenza B that are circulating this year, CDC officials have said.
The dominant strain this year is the H3N2 strain, which can cause more serious illness. Flu seasons can vary widely, but some years are severe, with hospitalizations of up to 200,000 people and between 3,000 and 49,000 deaths during a season.
As of December 14, the latest CDC figures available, about 127 million doses of flu vaccine had been distributed, from about 135 million doses produced for this season.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, flu season is here early in all 50 states, and it could be very serious. Dr. Nancy Snyderman explains the spike and says it is still not too late to get a flu shot.
Joe Lastinger was one of the first to sign up for the Flu Near You tracking program after its test phase. The health care executive and father of three surviving children said it gives participants information they can act on about flu in their communities.
“That was the first really bad season for children in a while,” said Lastinger, 40, who lives near Dallas, Texas. “For whatever reason that’s not well understood, it affected her and it killed her.”
Information about vaccination is particularly important, said Lastinger. Flu vaccinations weren’t routinely recommended for healthy children Emily’s age back then, and Lastinger and his wife weren’t worried about it.
“For us, vaccination was the thing we should have done, had we known,” he said. “Flu needed to be up there on our parent radar of things to worry about. We think it should be on every parent’s list.”
“I’m always excited about getting ahead of it,” he said. “This is a tool you can use. If everybody starts reporting these symptoms, you’re ahead.”
CDC: Flu in 47 states, but waning in some areas
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More evidence of a nasty flu season ahead
Flu season could be a bad one, health officials say
Flu shots still a hard sell, health experts find
related topics: cdc, flu-season, fluview
Don't be selfish: Get a flu shot and protect the most vulnerable, bioethicist saysTom
The flu doesn't have a cure.... one of these years, a major flu outbreak like the Spanish Flu is gonna happen and youll be SOL if you don't have a Flu shot... they think the Spanish Flu in 1918 killed about 2% of the world population... today that would be 140 million people... in 1918 they were stacking bodies in the street in cities like Columbus OH
it's no joke and sticking your head in the sand doesn't work
oh, and 38,000 people died in last years Flu season because they didn't get shots
the factors that have changed since the 1918 outbreak are all bad: higher density population that is more mobile, organized meat production, various more transmissible strains...
show me the mainstream study stat that flu vaccine killed more than 38,000 people last year.... that is total BS. Live virus vaccine is about 75% effective, so if we have a nasty outbreak in the US that gets to 20% of the population and has a 10% mortality rate... it's gonna save 5 million people....you definitely don't know what you are talking about.
It looks like the flu shot may not be as accurate this year either. As the article says, 25% of those who tested positive with influenza got their flu shots. I believe I may have had influenza with a fever, body aches, and respiratory illness in early December, but I did not go to a doctor, and I got the flu shot this year. A family member who I live with also got the flu shot this year and did NOT get my illness. Other family members who were NOT vaccinated got this or a similar illness around the same time.
Oldman "...show me the mainstream study stat that flu vaccine killed more than 38,000 people last year.... that is total BS.." I said the US you moron, not the entire world, which is what you are quoting, with nearly all those deaths in 3rd world sh1tholes. Medicine has improved here in the US since 1918, people survive the flu here. The only ones who die have other serious health issues that killed them, they just happened to have the flu when they succumbed to their other problems.
A friend of mine's son succumbed to complications from the flu less than a week ago. He had the shot! He was 17, healthy, active ... It was a staph infection that came with the flu. As of dinner-time yesterday there was a 14 year old girl in the hospital fighting for her life with the same darn thing ... She had the flu shot as well. This strain is virulent and should not be messed with! Do not play doctor, if you the fever is persisting, or there any changes in urination, or you cannot keep yourself hydrated, get to the hospital, please!
#1.20 - Fri Jan 4, 2013 2:20 PM EST
It takes at least two weeks for the flu shot to be effective. So if you got a flu shot today, your protection would not begin until about January 18. You can still catch the flu in the meantime. Bottom line: don't delay. Get your flu shot now.
#1.21 - Fri Jan 4, 2013 2:36 PM EST
I know it's just anecdotal evidence, but there are a number of people close to me who get a flu shot every year. Every year, each and every one of them feel like crap within a day. It has varied from simply feeling crappy for as long as two weeks to being down and out for 3 days with what seemed to me to be the full blown flu itself. As a result, I don't get the shot. I'll take the chances of not contracting anything vs. what appears to be a guaranteed malaise if I would get the shot. Granted I did get the swine flu a few Septembers ago but the 3 other people in my house didn't contract it despite them not having shots. Washing your hands and being super diligent about what comes in contact with your mucous membranes is the best defense against the flu (and many other illnesses) in my opinion.
#1.22 - Fri Jan 4, 2013 2:52 PM EST
Last time I had a flu shot I probably already had the flu in me because I had the flu within a couple days after. Every time in the past when I had a flu shot I was sick the entire season- missed lots of work and was miserable. It was like my immune system was being compromised by the shot.
The last several years I have not taken the shot and have been far healthier taking basic good care during these months. The times I was sick lasted less duration and intensity too. I do not intend on taking the flu shot ever again- if you want it, you can take my place in line.
#1.25 - Fri Jan 4, 2013 3:25 PM EST
This article should be marked "Advertisement for the pharmaceutical industry." Every year they wildly exaggerate the threat of flu, solely to sell drugs.
#1.26 - Fri Jan 4, 2013 4:03 PM EST
Exactly.....KarlStevens-2597445. EVERY damn year they do this....and most fall for the BS! I don't ever get the flu shot and I never get sick!
#1.27 - Fri Jan 4, 2013 4:27 PM EST
I think many of you, especially Al-2891780 are being a bit harsh on "Tommy" and I see no reson why his comment should have been colapsed by the community. There are many reasons for people NOT to get a flu shot. Statistics from the CDC it's self warns of the risks of receiving flu vaccines. If you are a healthy individual and have no underlying medical problems consistent with Cardiac or Respiratory problems, you probably will want to weigh the risk of getting a flu shot versus the benefits. I think that is what Tommy was trying to say. 9% of people receiving flu shots have reactive symptoms following injection. 3% actually get sicker from the inactive live virus than getting influenza. People allergic to eggs can't receive a flu shot, and there is a 1.7 average rise in developing Guilian-Barre syndrome in those receiving a flu shot than those who get the flu and don't. Not to mention that the public pays no attention to the fact that you are also being injected with aluminum, mercury and squalene depending on the manufacterer your health care provider gets their vaccine from. So there are options and reason to really think through the risks vs. benefits of a flu shot. And whether you choose to be vaccinated or not, there are simple things you can do to avoid catching the flu......WASH YOUR HANDS, and stay away from people who appear sick.
and, oldhamletman, it's not 1918. Medicine has come a long way. Modern medicine can treat Bronchitis, fevers, coughs, and pneumonia with a few days of Levequin and other 3rd generation Antibiotics and a host of Antivirals. I don't think you need to worry about Columbus, OH anymore.
#1.28 - Fri Jan 4, 2013 4:49 PM EST
I got a flu shot and just had the flu a few weeks ago. My daughter got a flu shot and she had the flu a few weeks ago. Same with my wife. So no the flu shots dont always work and they only protect you from one strain of the flu.
#1.29 - Fri Jan 4, 2013 4:58 PM EST
So true Karl Stevens. The CDC does not require testing of so-called influenza cases to make sure individuals actually have the flu versus some other illness that vaccination couldn't prevent anyways. They over estimate the number of actual flu cases each year. Never had a flu shot and never had the flu 50+ years and counting.
#1.30 - Fri Jan 4, 2013 5:10 PM EST
Its odd I have one side of the family that swears by the flu shots. And the other wont get them. I go with the ones that wont get them. Due to the fact that the ones that get them are sick more often. I think of it this way it is like taking antibiotics when you are not injured or sick. Viruses and germs mutate to stay alive and thrive. Getting stronger each time. While our immune systems get used to having something ward off infection. Thereby getting weaker. Let your immune system adapt and get stronger. And you will get sick less often.
Use natural foods to ward of the flue like onion and garlic. Add them to your diet. They have natural antimicrobial properties that ward off infections. A simple search will show what I am talking about.
#1.31 - Fri Jan 4, 2013 6:21 PM EST
Yes get a flu shot, especially if you have underlying conditions such as a respiratory problems or a heart condition. I am a health care professional and this year I have vaccinated over 110 people myself. Generally within a few weeks your body should begin to develop antibodies to the strains included in the vaccine. Yes it is possible that a pandemic could occur such as the 2009 H1N1 and getting the Flu shot each and every year help you to produce antibodies to the 3 most commonly occurring flu viruses that are present. These viruses are used to make the vaccine which usually include circulating strains of flu within the previous year. I myself have been getting a flu shot each and every year for the past 6 years.
I typically don't get the flu, but am traveling overseas and decided to get the flu shot this time. There was no pain involved. None. My arm wasn't sore afterwards and I've had no flu-like symptoms several days after receiving the shot.
Yes of course, take good care of yourself. Wash your hands. etc. But if insurance covers the cost of the flu shot, why take a chance? Even if it doesn't, you'll spend more on drugstore stuff if you get sick than you'll pay for the shot.
A family member died of the flu as a small child, which was devastating. If you get sick, your loved ones could catch it from you. Wishing everyone a healthy 2013. #1.36 - Sat Jan 5, 2013 7:59 AM EST
Oh my, those of you who are arguing that modern medicine has come so far that we will never see a 1918 again are the most terrifying of all. I know we are talking flu vaccine, but while we are on that topic, I hope all you vaccine-lovers will at least temper your stance a little. With our lust for Zpax (however you spell it) and our mindset that as soon as we feel sick we need drugs from the doctor, our vaccines and antibiotics are becoming less effective with every passing year.
Indeed, I believe most of us will see a 1918 event in our lifetimes because there is going to come a tipping point when the constantly mutating viruses and bacterias are going to overpower our ever weaknening supply of modern medicine. As usual, lack of restraint, desire for instant gratification, and greed for the money brought in by this business is what will bite us humans in the behind in the end (puns abound!) Yes get a flu shot, especially if you have underlying conditions such as a respiratory problems or a heart condition.
What are you to do if you're allergic to the flu shot like I am? Thankfully, I've never had the flu or a flu shot until I entered the military. Turns into anaphylactic shock for me so I really can't have one. I just end up with the flu if I get it and will be miserable? I thought I had it once, but it turned out to be a kidney infection, which is how I found out I was allergic to 2 different types of antibiotics. Only one with hives, the other again anaphylactic shock which that time sent me to the hospital in a mad dash.
My only real question is that my health has really taken a dive over the past year. Lost 20 lbs and am down to about 82-85 lbs now - I'm 44 and pretty damn tiny anyway. That worries me. Also that a dr. told me once not to let my daughter get the flu shot because allergies can run in families and pretty much what I'm allergic to, she is as well, including medicines. I don't want to take the chance.
Thankfully she's 14 and healthy aside from physical injuries as she's an athlete, but I don't think those things matter. She's never had the flu either so maybe we're just automatically immune or something. Wouldn't that be nice?
The main theme here is, get your flu shot!