Setting the record straight on the flu vaccine
October 30, 2013 3:20 PM   Subscribe

Setting the record straight: Debunking ALL the flu vaccine myths [via]
posted by brundlefly (79 comments total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
 
26: The Flu virus will make children autistic.

NO! NO! NO!
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 3:24 PM on October 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


Heh. Mine weren't on there! That the flu vaccine makes my arm sore for a while, and that to get it I've gotta wait in a line for like half an hour with a bunch of weird sickos at the local Kaiser Permanente.

(I still try to get it every year, if only because my dad's a diabetic and I believe in herd immunity.)
posted by klangklangston at 3:28 PM on October 30, 2013 [6 favorites]


They also don't explain how the Flu vaccine is part of a mind control experiment run by the secret organization that pulls the strings at the United Nations. OR DO THEY?!?!
posted by blue_beetle at 3:30 PM on October 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


No matter if you're pro-vaccine or pro-reactionary ignorance, everyone can agree that the phenomenal country sounds of Slim Cessna's Auto Club make a personal narrative on the subject a matter of rocking. "Mark of Vaccination"
posted by FatherDagon at 3:30 PM on October 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


And how does this relate to chemtrails, blue_beetle?
posted by brundlefly at 3:31 PM on October 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


A week ago, I decided to risk it all and submit to a radical medical procedure.

I went to an unassuming building in a nice part of town, headed to the back counter, and signed up. It was that easy.

Now my blood courses with the strength of a trillion organisms! I am FLU-MAN!
posted by curious nu at 3:35 PM on October 30, 2013 [5 favorites]


They also don't explain how the Flu vaccine is part of a mind control experiment run by the secret organization that pulls the strings at the United Nations. OR DO THEY?!?!

They only address the myths, man.
posted by The World Famous at 3:38 PM on October 30, 2013 [20 favorites]


Wake up. The nanobots in the flu shot reprogram your brain to be supportive of the vaccine program. Say no to the nanobot lie perpetrated by the singularity algorithm.
posted by planetesimal at 3:43 PM on October 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


I already have a hang up with #1. Yes, its not possible to get the flu from an inactivated sample of virus but this doesn't address a bad batch of vaccine that hasn't been inactivated slipping through the cracks.

Incredibly improbable but not 'scientifically impossible'.
posted by Slackermagee at 3:45 PM on October 30, 2013


They also don't explain how the Flu vaccine is part of a mind control experiment run by the secret organization that pulls the strings at the United Nations. OR DO THEY?!?!

OMFG they TOTALLY DO! If you look at the last word in each of the parenthesis you get this (capitalization/emphasis/punctuation added):
Reasonable Person: Doesn't dangerous?
UN Mind Control: Should.
RP: Doesn't.
UNMC: Nope, can't.
RP: What!?
UNMC: Work! Work harder!
RP: Don't!
UNMC: Can't others?
RP: It does.
UNMC: Can't!
RP: Bad! Flu vaccine!
UNMC: Can't risk future.
RP: Doesn't?
UNMC: Doesn't.
RP: Aren't doesn't.
Now, upon first glance, this might seem pretty confusing, but that's probably because you've already gotten the flu shot and thus the UN is already controlling your mind. If you look under the surface, just a little bit, you can see the conversation translates to this:
Reasonable Person: Isn't the flu shot dangerous?
UNMC: You should get it.
RP: Doesn't that seem like a bad idea?
UNMC: Nope! Not for us! You can't be trusted to make your own decisions.
RP: What!?
UNMC: Work! Work harder! The day is coming when we will have world domination over you and injecting mind control stuff into your blood through the flu shot is step one on this road.
RP: Don't!
UNMC: Can't you see that we've already won? Others have submitted to our Illuminati-style will. Why won't you?
RP: It does seem like you have control over the globe.
UNMC: Can't you see that there is no point in resisting our globalization efforts?
RP: Bad United Nations! Shame on you! The flu vaccine is just a ploy to control us all!
UNMC: We can't risk a future in which people have free will.
RP: Doesn't that make you evil?
UNMC: It doesn't.
RP: You aren't right that it doesn't.
OMFG! PROOF! This article is just a way to warn us about the dangers. Thanks, medical journalist!
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 3:46 PM on October 30, 2013 [11 favorites]


I already have a hang up with #1. Yes, its not possible to get the flu from an inactivated sample of virus but this doesn't address a bad batch of vaccine that hasn't been inactivated slipping through the cracks.

Incredibly improbable but not 'scientifically impossible'.


But those are two different things. It is scientifically impossible to get the flu from the killed virus vaccine; the imperfect batch hypothesis would involve active virus. I rate this excessively nitpicky!
posted by rtha at 3:57 PM on October 30, 2013 [5 favorites]


Unfortunately, the effectiveness of the flu vaccine varies quite a bit from year to year and is among the less effective vaccines compared to ones like the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine, whose effectiveness is in the high upper 90%s. (The more people who get the vaccine, though, the better herd immunity is and the more effective it can be.)

Glad that this is being mentioned though I'm surprised it isn't going into as much detail about how effective or how common it is for the wrong strains to become prevalent. Also seeing (and I'm paraphrasing here): "This meta-analysis showed some measure of protection against different strains". 'Some measure' isn't reassuring. Did the meta-analysis actually use the right statistics (for once) or would this 'measure' look a lot less measurable if the stats were corrected (not that I'm actually going to burn my evening doing this...)?

I am for efficacious vaccines (seeing as its kind of funding my income now). I am terribly skeptical of influenza vaccines. Flu can be deadly though I've yet to be convinced that the risk(perhaps better to say burden)/reward is worth the slew of side effects and expense. And yes, I've had proper 7-day death-flu before, I know how shitty that can be. And I'm still skeptical.
posted by Slackermagee at 3:57 PM on October 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Anecdotally, I get consistently sick every time I take a flu vaccine. Usually I'm just weak and mildly coldish for a few days, seem to recover and then an opportunistic respiratory infection decides it's a party and goes nuts. I'm pro-vaccine, think vaccines are awesome and fascinating and weird (virology is just weird all around), work in healthcare and am required to get vaccines and want to get vaccines, promote vaccines and education, and can't really figure it out. All of the possibilities that have flashed through my mind are all kind of iffy.

It's rare, but it's a consistent idiosyncratic reaction and I don't know what to do about it. It may all be coincidental, but it's a series of coincidences that are consistent, which would be just as weird.
posted by byanyothername at 4:00 PM on October 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


26. A flu shot requires a sharp jab with a needle, right into your arm.

True!

Case closed, your honor.
posted by SpacemanStix at 4:03 PM on October 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


Mrs. Pterodactyl- that doesn't get you proof of a global mind control conspiracy. It just gets you a lost Samuel Beckett play.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 4:18 PM on October 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Anecdotally, I get consistently sick every time I take a flu vaccine. Usually I'm just weak and mildly coldish for a few days, seem to recover and then an opportunistic respiratory infection decides it's a party and goes nuts. I'm pro-vaccine, think vaccines are awesome and fascinating and weird (virology is just weird all around), work in healthcare and am required to get vaccines and want to get vaccines, promote vaccines and education, and can't really figure it out. All of the possibilities that have flashed through my mind are all kind of iffy.

This doesn't happen to me every time, but it happens often enough that every flu season, I find myself trying to schedule my flu shot for a time when I'm not super busy and could potentially carve out a day or two to deal with side effects, or to schedule it when I feel like my immune system is strong (i.e. not tired, not stressed, lots of sleep) and then whoops, it's January and it feels like it's too late to bother. Ugh, I should probably suck it up and get my flu shot this weekend.
posted by yasaman at 4:18 PM on October 30, 2013


Anecdotally, I get consistently sick every time I take a flu vaccine.

The flu vaccine is given just as "cold and flu" season is starting. It is more than likely a combination of dry air, shifting allergens, more time spent indoors with people, and all the other factors that add up to a higher risk of getting a cold or sore throat. The killed virus vaccine (i.e. the shot) itself can't cause a cold or flu-like illness.
posted by jedicus at 4:22 PM on October 30, 2013 [5 favorites]


The flu vaccine is given just as "cold and flu" season is starting. It is more than likely a combination of dry air, shifting allergens, more time spent indoors with people, and all the other factors that add up to a higher risk of getting a cold or sore throat.

I'd like to see an in depth study that evaluates whether the stress of having a long, sharp needle jabbed into your arm without proper warning by the nurse and it's coming at you right now and I just rolled up my sleeve no fair why did you do that so quick compromises your immune system.
posted by SpacemanStix at 4:26 PM on October 30, 2013 [5 favorites]


Anecdotally, I get consistently sick every time I take a flu vaccine.

You might be tempted to think you only get two points for an anecdote and a correlation/causation problem, but here you get a 15 point combo bonus.
posted by The World Famous at 4:27 PM on October 30, 2013 [7 favorites]


all i know is that for the 2nd year in a row, i've gotten the flu two or three weeks before the vaccine was available

lucky me
posted by pyramid termite at 4:32 PM on October 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


I laugh whenever people describe the flu as "trivial" as it is, without hyperbole, one of the biggest killers in human history.
posted by jason says at 4:32 PM on October 30, 2013 [13 favorites]


The nanobots in the flu shot reprogram your brain to be supportive of the vaccine program. Say no to the nanobot lie perpetrated by the singularity algorithm.

This message has been brought to you by the Toxoplasmosis Brain Reprogramming Council. "Toxoplasmosis: We Were Here First."
posted by Halloween Jack at 4:35 PM on October 30, 2013 [11 favorites]


I'm pregnant. I got the flu shot. It wasn't even gasp the preservative free version. I also had a can of tuna last week.

I'm living large! Watch out for my future mutant baby!
posted by lydhre at 4:35 PM on October 30, 2013 [31 favorites]


As long as you didn't eat the can, you should be OK.
posted by The World Famous at 4:36 PM on October 30, 2013 [9 favorites]


I get a flu shot honestly for entirely hedonistic and selfish reasons, and it's so hard for me to understand people who don't share my experience.

I love, LOVE, not being sick. LOVE IT SO MUCH. Or at least drastically reducing my chances of getting sick, since the flu is mysteriously attracted to me (along with its loser friends, pneumonia and tonsillitis.)

I have had the flu so, so many times that I almost couldn't finish my first semester of university because of it. I had pneumonia as a kid, and then again as an adult because of it, and almost ended up in the hospital. I spent more holidays than I care to remember totally incapacitated. Nearly missed a career-making training session.

Then I started getting the flu shot, and each year I get it, I don't get sick.

I LOVE NOT BEING SICK

LOVE

IT

Honestly how couldn't you.

Yeah I got my flu shot like a week ago.
posted by Ouisch at 4:48 PM on October 30, 2013 [16 favorites]


The main problem with flu vaccines is that the efficacy is entirely dependent on the body receiving it having an adequate immune reaction. Some of us don't have that, including many or most of the young, the old, and the immune-compromised. Note that these are the same populations who are at greatest risk for fatalities from the flu.

How is this an effective vaccine?
posted by vers at 5:09 PM on October 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm living large! Watch out for my future mutant baby!

Bow down to lydhre's future mutant baby, the future mutant baby ruler of us all!
posted by gkhan at 5:09 PM on October 30, 2013


vers: "The main problem with flu vaccines is that the efficacy is entirely dependent on the body receiving it having an adequate immune reaction. Some of us don't have that, including many or most of the young, the old, and the immune-compromised. Note that these are the same populations who are at greatest risk for fatalities from the flu."

This is a good reason for everyone else to get their jabs, so those vulnerable people can benefit from herd immunity.
posted by brundlefly at 5:11 PM on October 30, 2013 [12 favorites]


There was mention of a public health study from Japan that I ran across in the last couple of years, and if I'm remembering right, there were many fewer deaths among the elderly and hospitalizations in workforce-age people from flu and pneumonia when most schoolchildren were vaccinated.

It's not just that flu kills people, which is bad. It also hospitalizes hundreds of thousands of people in bad years in the US alone. That's a shitload of lost productivity and just general lack of life quality.
posted by rtha at 5:32 PM on October 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


I have either had the worst luck, or I've had bad reactions to my last three flu shots. And we're talking +2.5°F fever reactions. It's *possible* that I just happened to get sick just at the right time to coincidentally be sick after the flu shot, but Occam's razor says flu shots make me rather sick. And I'm not the only one. Let's see what the CDC has to say about it.

----
Mild problems following inactivated flu vaccine:
soreness, redness, or swelling where the shot was given
hoarseness; sore, red or itchy eyes; cough
fever
aches
headache
itching
fatigue
If these problems occur, they usually begin soon after the shot and last 1 or 2 days.
----

Gee. Fever, aches, fatigue for a couple of days. It's almost as if the shot made you sick. Note that "mild", here, is "mild compared to full blown influenza". It's a pretty crappy couple of days. You defiantly feel like shit. Not like the seven metric tons of shit that the flu makes you feel like, but a couple of hundred kilos of shit. Anybody having this reaction is going to say they're sick.

Beats the hell out of full blown flu, of course, which is why I deal with it.

That first statement -- that flu shots will not make you sick -- is a flat out lie. This isn't ancedata. Some people have reactions to them, some are allergic to the growth medium, and so forth. Yes, the link to Guillian-Barre is at best unproven, and even if it exists, the link to influzena itself is far stronger, so take the chance on the vaccine. Yes, the thimersol link to autism was outright fraud.

But claiming that the influenza vaccine -- or any vaccine -- absolutely will not make you sick is just as much of lie as claiming that influenza vaccines will give your children autism, and it deserves basically the same level of condemnation. Why? Because then someone reads that, believes it, gets the flu shot, gets a fever and fatigue for a couple of days -- you know, what almost anybody would consider "sick" -- and then know you lied to them and never listens to you, and never gets a flu shot again, because flu shots make you sick.

NEVER lie about the side effect. EVER. Statements like that are why we have a vaccine problem.
posted by eriko at 5:56 PM on October 30, 2013 [19 favorites]


If there's one thing that I've learned, it's that if someone believes in myths and conspiracies, the more educated they are, the harder it is to get them to see reason. This myth summary is great, but the people I know who *need* to read it won't bother with it. The effort required is almost the same as trying to break someone out of a cult.
posted by crapmatic at 6:00 PM on October 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


In just the last six weeks of my pediatrics clerkship, I've heard 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 8, 12, 15, 16, 19, and 20 in reference to vaccines in general, and flu is *by far* the most refused vaccine in clinic.

Flu kills ~40,000 every year-- so many that the CDC doesn't even count cases anymore; they just report a percentage of deaths attributable to P&I. Pediatric mortality is smaller, usually between 100 and 500, but nonetheless incredibly tragic. It also bears repeating that vaccination of children is incredibly important for the safety of our elders. Some folks have never had the flu, and who knows, maybe they've got crazy mutant anti-flu genes. I suspect, however, that they owe at least some of their luck to the 45% of folks in the US who *do* get their yearly flu vaccine. And for those who are suspicious of flu vaccine effectiveness, CDC reports year-to-year effectiveness to be between 50 and 70%.

I've written about our nation's robust vaccine safety system before, but I wanted to expand a little on the nature of the 13 lot recalls issued since 2004. The data is freely available, but it's also mixed in with recall and prescribing information corrections for all sorts of other medical devices and biologics, so I went through the records and pulled out all recalls of flu vaccines and others that are listed on the pediatric schedule. Here's the table I created.

There have been thirteen vaccine recalls issued since 2004. Five flu, three pneumococcal, and one each of Hep B, HiB, meningococcal, MMR, and Td. Of these thirteen recalls, only three (13 lots of HiB vaccine, and one lot each of Hep B and flu due to cracked vials) were due to questions of sterility. Some searching failed to identify any adverse events associated with these lots. The majority (7 of 13) were due to potency concerns, either identified through routine stability testing or supply chain issues (got too cold/warm). An additional three recalls were for corporate/internal reasons (released prior to internal approval, release of noncommercial vaccine, and release of vials with rubber caps that had not been approved). In all three cases, subsequent review found no risk to patient health or safety.

So please please please get vaccinated, or maybe stay away from grandma if you won't. If you've got concerns, research them before glibly trolling facebook or your peer groups. For better or for worse, people probably listen to you, so please be responsible when you talk about this stuff. At the very least, you'll be saving me quite a bit of clinic time I could devote to preventive medicine rather than having to carefully rebut a tenacious pack of canards.
posted by The White Hat at 6:09 PM on October 30, 2013 [28 favorites]


I lost a dear friend to flu vax propaganda. Fuck them all.
posted by Splunge at 6:26 PM on October 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


This is the time of year when I always catch myself mentally marking those coworkers who can keep their fucking hands off my stuff.

You got a soft copy of that document, man? I'm, uh, trying to keep my paper usage down.
posted by middleclasstool at 6:29 PM on October 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: carefully rebut a tenacious pack of canards.

(oh, c'mon that's a beauty of a tagline. "rebut a pack of canards" and variants are going to be in heavy rotation in my interstitial speech. "I'd like to rebut that canard." "I, for one, welcome canard rebuttal." "You know who else used to rebut canards?" etc etc.)

Most of the flu vaccine myths seem predicated on the same snake oil psychology that the person selling you something is more honest than the person trying to save lives (including their own).
By the same token I think SpacemanStix points out the dissemblance involved. That is, the motives and the realities are often at odds.

For example it’s perfectly true that female hysteria is(was) a bullshit medical problem for which “pelvic massagers” and the like were invented to cure.
On the other hand, people weren’t buying them for purely medicinal reasons and everyone sort of knew the score there (some Victorian Era husbands excepted).

I think a lot of people just don’t like shots and look for ways to excuse themselves. And it’s very easy to rationalize and perfectly understandable to be reticent in getting a shot.
But y’know, we cross the lights against traffic, and we’ve got far less ground to trust complete strangers not to run us over. But we trust the process in that way.

The snake oil types (Kevin Trudeau comes to mind, only because I was mere feet away from him and didn’t do the obvious thing and snap his neck) and plenty of them are big corporations, exploit these notions to the fullest. And it really, really screws us. I mean, you can’t determine intent, so perhaps they don’t intend to do serious harm – like using mercury to cure syphilis (sure, it might kill you, but it definitely clears up the syphilis) - but it’s clear the bottom line is making money.

In the case of flu it’s not so much a belief in conspiracy but a belief in the virtue of not believing in certain institutions. For example Trudeau says it’s a virtue to not have medical training so he isn’t brainwashed by the FDA, pharmaceutical companies and the medical establishment.

And certainly, there’s a case to be made because pharmaceutical companies have and do sold snake oil.

But the flu shot doesn’t depend on that kind of institutional trust but rather the same kind of social trust in the process that we have when we cross the street.
So the proper analogy would be that 46,000 pedestrians were killed over the past ten years and the NTSA and big auto manufacturers refuse to make hoods that absorb impacts with people on foot.

But that obviously isn’t the problem. We’ve set up processes (crosswalks for example) for moving and cues for each other and we have social trust (I won’t run you over for no reason) which are roughly equal to ‘I won’t sneeze and wipe my hand in your eyes’ sort of thing.

Flu shots are the rough equivalent of walking in the crosswalk. Folks who spread the myths, while they may look respectable or create the inverse feeling, are the maniac street preachers that squick people out enough – in the aggregate – to die jaywalking.
posted by Smedleyman at 6:33 PM on October 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


When did it become normal to get a flu shot? I have never had one and the whole idea seems a little weird.
posted by Mars Saxman at 6:39 PM on October 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


I got the flu shot this week. Along with the shot, however, ---just to warn you,--- came two things that I didn't anticipate....

A free sticker and a free pen!
posted by Morrigan at 6:54 PM on October 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


" a tenacious pack of canards."

Surely, "a tenacious flock of canards."
posted by klangklangston at 6:59 PM on October 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


No, no. You're thinking of canaries. Or maybe toucans.
posted by The White Hat at 7:06 PM on October 30, 2013


And I've never felt more ashamed for failing to learn French.
posted by The White Hat at 7:08 PM on October 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


This year's flu shot coincided with my 10 year tetanus tdap booster shot.

And since I've never broken a bone or even had a cavity I might, dare say, be Unbreakable...
posted by Sprocket at 7:13 PM on October 30, 2013


When did it become normal to get a flu shot? I have never had one and the whole idea seems a little weird.

Same here. I think we missed the memo. I guess I'm a bad person for not immediately getting it and helping bolster herd immunity! Cripes!
posted by schwa at 7:14 PM on October 30, 2013


I think a lot of people just don’t like shots and look for ways to excuse themselves.

That was me until this year. I'm a great, big 'fraidy cat about needles, but I have two close family members with compromised immune systems, and one of them is receiving chemotherapy and can't get the vaccine himself. My needle fear felt a little small next to that.

So this year, my apartment building invited CVS to the lobby to administer flu vaccines, and I got my first one. It was the tiniest, least painful needle I've ever had; the only one to ever live up to the description of "just a little pinch." Happy to be part of herd!
posted by gladly at 7:21 PM on October 30, 2013 [5 favorites]


Quick! Someone puts up 25 straw men and sets them on fire, then someone else claims ALL myths "debunked". Is this locally sourced organic straw for these men? I'm guessing there are more than 25 myths.

Wake up. The nanobots in the flu shot reprogram your brain to be supportive of the vaccine program.

Naw, its part of plan to keep ya'll down when the collapse happens.
http://billhweld.blogspot.com/2013/10/classified-docs-on-nano-domestic-quell.html - no link because there is no need to feed a link back to it.

(Really? And how is that gonna work Dr. Weld? RF levels with devices so small/such small antennas are gonna work how? No one doing dialysis haven’t scraped these off the filters? No one is having 'em ripped outta their bodies when they undergo magnetic res. scans? )
posted by rough ashlar at 7:24 PM on October 30, 2013


(Really? And how is that gonna work Dr. Weld? RF levels with devices so small/such small antennas are gonna work how? No one doing dialysis haven’t scraped these off the filters? No one is having 'em ripped outta their bodies when they undergo magnetic res. scans? )

You realize it's trivially easy to come up with crackpot answers to all those questions, right? It's not like you're going to turn a corner in the rabbit hole and A-HA! find the end of it.
posted by The World Famous at 7:26 PM on October 30, 2013 [5 favorites]


It's not like you're going to turn a corner in the rabbit hole and A-HA! find the end of it.

Usually when one turns a corner in a rabbit hole you find fleas.
posted by rough ashlar at 7:28 PM on October 30, 2013


Wait wait wait...
So you're saying a flu shot DOES reduce the (average) days per year that I'll be sick, but at the same time it DOES NOT reduce the days per year of sick leave from work I get?!

Hmmm.

I would like to subscribe to this vaccine thing.
posted by anonymisc at 7:35 PM on October 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


The flu vaccine gives my arm the flu and I am very whiny about it ... and I always get a psychosomatic flu when I get it. BUT I ALWAYS GET IT.

vers: "Some of us don't have that, including many or most of the young, the old, and the immune-compromised. Note that these are the same populations who are at greatest risk for fatalities from the flu. How is this an effective vaccine?"

Uh, it prevents you from infecting YOUR BABY with the flu when you as a healthy reproducing adult get the vaccine? When I was pregnant we reminded all of our relatives to get their DPT up to date, and when we had the baby we asked all the relatives to be flu vaccinated before Baby's First Christmas for the big family gathering.

I also have an immunocompromised relative and it's REALLY IMPORTANT that everyone around them get vaccinated because they cannot get vaccinated and it's life-threatening if they get the flu.

I got the flu vaccine when I was pregnant, and my kids got it as soon as they were old enough (6 months, I think). It's safe and (if you're not pregnant or breastfeeding) it's THE TINIEST NEEDLE EVER, you can barely feel it. (If you're pregnant or breastfeeding you have to get the older, bigger-needle shot.) You can go get it at the pharmacy. Your arm will only have the flu for like two days. Don't be dumb. Don't give my babies the flu.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:39 PM on October 30, 2013 [8 favorites]


The "sickness" after the shot is probably your immune system at work. A large part of flu-like symptoms when you are actually sick is attributable to its reaction (example).
posted by hat_eater at 8:03 PM on October 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


But claiming that the influenza vaccine -- or any vaccine -- absolutely will not make you sick

Good thing I didn't use as generic a word as "sick" but rather said "The killed virus vaccine (i.e. the shot) itself can't cause a cold or flu-like illness." That is true, and nothing you have said contradicts that.

And we're talking +2.5°F fever reactions

The degree of fever is uncorrelated with the severity of the illness below about 106º or so. Everything below that is just "fever."

Anyway, the shot didn't cause an illness, just as I said. What it did was cause a well-documented set of mild side effects that everyone getting the vaccine is informed of beforehand. You can quibble and call that "making you sick" if you like, but it doesn't change the fact that I wasn't saying that the shot has no side effects, only that it does not cause a cold or flu-like illness. This is different from the live-virus spray, which can cause mild disease in some cases.
posted by jedicus at 8:15 PM on October 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Glad this exists, I am waiting for the Facebook anti-vac parade to be rolling through any day now.
posted by gucci mane at 8:32 PM on October 30, 2013


Well, on Tuesday I was stuck spending all day and night with people who were obviously coming down with the flu ("i'm so hot...why is it so hoooooot....I'm achy....my back hurts...."), and I had to share potluck dinner with and sit next to those people. And I have impending jury duty that I'm sure I cannot call out "sick with the flu" for.

Yay flu shot.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:55 PM on October 30, 2013


Well, according to the CDC site the flu shot absolutely can cause a flu like illness. In particular, they list 7 symptoms of flu, and 7 symptoms of reaction to the flu shot. FIVE of the symptoms are THE SAME! Here is the link, see for yourself: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/vis/vis-statements/flu.html
Also according to the CDC efficacy is cited as 50-70% in a year where the match is good. It can be virtually useless in years when the match is not good.

I do not say this as a vaccine basher, quite the contrary, but people playing fast and free with the facts as a way to bolster the vaccine argument just do more harm. The truth is it usually works a lot better than nothing, but as vaccines go it is actually one of the least effective. I will certainly get vaccinated, for me it is a simple economic choice of upside downside assessment.
posted by jcworth at 8:56 PM on October 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Does Blasdelb get flu shots or not? drops mic
posted by lordaych at 9:35 PM on October 30, 2013


Hell - I had a flu shot one year, and it exacerbated my Spastic paraparesis to where I had to use crutches again for a month or so, until it all settled down.

This is still preferable to having the actual Flu. Last time I had it was a case of Swine Flu, and it was nasty.

I'm getting this year's shot on Friday.
posted by spinifex23 at 12:36 AM on October 31, 2013 [2 favorites]


The 2009-10 swine flu vaccine given in Europe seems to have caused ~900 cases of narcolepsy:
Swine flu vaccine can trigger narcolepsy, UK government concedes

Review of fresh evidence finds jab given to 6 million people in Britain can occasionally cause sleep disorder

The government is to reverse its stance on the safety of a swine flu vaccine given to 6 million people in Britain and accept that on rare occasions the jab can trigger the devastating sleep disorder narcolepsy.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has contacted people turned down for compensation last year to explain that, after a review of fresh evidence, it now accepts the vaccine can cause the condition. The move leaves the government open to compensation claims from around 100 people in Britain, and substantial legal fees if a group action drawn up by solicitors is successful

The government U-turn follows a major study of four- to 18-year-olds by the Health Protection Agency which found that around one in every 55,000 jabs was associated with narcolepsy. A spokesman for GSK said it had details of around 900 people from 14 countries who had narcolepsy and were vaccinated.
The CDC says that the adjuvant used in Europe is responsible, and that no adjuvant is or has been used with flu vaccines in the US:
CDC statement on narcolepsy following Pandemrix influenza vaccination in Europe

An increased risk of narcolepsy was found following vaccination with Pandemrix, a monovalent 2009 H1N1 influenza vaccine that was used in several European countries during the H1N1 influenza pandemic. Narcolepsy is a chronic neurological disorder caused by the brain’s inability to regulate sleep-wake cycles normally. This risk was initially found in Finland, and then some other European countries also detected an association. Most recently, scientists at the United Kingdom’s (UK) Health Protection Agency (HPA) have found evidence of an association between Pandemrix and narcolepsy in children in England. The findings are consistent with studies from Finland and other countries.
...
Pandemrix was not licensed for use in the United States. In fact, no adjuvanted influenza vaccines are licensed in the United States, and no adjuvanted influenza vaccines were used in the United States during the influenza pandemic or in any other influenza season.

In response to the events in Europe, CDC reviewed data from the U.S. Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) and the Vaccine Safety Datalink (VSD) and to date have found no indication of any association between U.S.-licensed H1N1 or seasonal influenza vaccine and narcolepsy.
posted by jamjam at 12:51 AM on October 31, 2013


I always get my flu shot on a Friday, because the next two days after the shot I run a low-grade fever and feel out of sorts. It's my immune system reacting to the killed virus. It happens every time.

Even if all the shot did was to reduce my chance of transmission of the virus, I'd still get it. Because there are old and infirm people, and I care about their well-being.
posted by professor plum with a rope at 12:51 AM on October 31, 2013 [2 favorites]


Got mine earlier this week and was treated to a moron anti-vaxxer making speeches in the waiting area. He boasted about how he never gets shots and never washes his hands. Yuck! Did I feel crappy for a couple days post-shot? Yes. Totally worth it. This year there is a shot that protects against 4 strains - as well as the 3 strain variety. It's worth asking around to get the quadravalent shot since more protection is is better.
posted by leslies at 4:24 AM on October 31, 2013


The "sickness" after the shot is probably your immune system at work.

I assume that's also what the article's author is doing - saying that just because you feel sick, it doesn't mean you are sick, no matter how really, really sick you feel. I am not on board with this line of argument. If I feel sick, I am sick, even if I don't have an identifiable disease.

I do get flu shot every year. I'm often sick the next day, as I was this year. As eriko said, denying my reality does enhance your credibility.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:50 AM on October 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


I get a flu shot every year. I'm a singer, and we HATE AND FEAR anything that causes a sore throat/stuffed nose/sinus crap. Protection against one-third of the deadly trifecta of flu/cold/upper respiratory infection is completely worth it.

**PSA**: If you have a friend who's a singer, and you have a cold, we'd rather you stood us up than come to lunch sick. Also, if you have a cold, warn us before you give us a hug, dammit.
posted by Pallas Athena at 4:53 AM on October 31, 2013


Yeah, I'm not a fan of how #1 is worded. It goes on and on about how the flu shot cannot give you the flu, which I can accept, and then it mentions that oh yeah it can make you feel kinda sick for a week but that's a side effect and not the flu. That part would be more helpful and less evasive-sounding if it mentioned that right off the bat: "Yes, the vaccine can cause symptoms, but those are side effects and not the flu, and here's the distinction and here's why it makes sense to get it in spite of that."
posted by Metroid Baby at 6:04 AM on October 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


If I feel sick, I am sick, even if I don't have an identifiable disease.

Sorry for the scare quotes - I just wanted to point out that the symptoms might be not the result of an infection (unlike the 1918 flu pandemic whose young and otherwise healthy victims would probably take little comfort in the fact that it's their immune system killing them and not the flu).
posted by hat_eater at 6:32 AM on October 31, 2013


It goes on and on about how the flu shot cannot give you the flu, which I can accept, and then it mentions that oh yeah it can make you feel kinda sick for a week but that's a side effect and not the flu.

Actually, it gets more general than that. Here's the headline:
Myth #1: The flu vaccine gives you the flu or makes you sick. (No, it doesn’t.)
She's unequivocally saying it doesn't make anyone sick. Maybe she's saying it by mistake, but that's what she's saying. Then later, she goes into the immune response thing.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:55 AM on October 31, 2013


Yeah, I'm not a fan of how #1 is worded.

#2 is no winner either: The myth is - the flu shot contains dangerous ingredients like Mercury et al

Ok so for it to not be true, no flu shots should have Mercury. While attacking that idea an admission that the multi-shot version has Mercury.

A far more useful #2 would have been admitting that yes, flu shots have had nasty stuff and if that is a concern there is the nasal version.

But hey - feel free to use this flawed list of 25 to attempt to convince "anti-vaxers". Odds are if you are that lazy you won't consider the 1st 2 myth responses being weaksauce nor will you consider that "anti-vax" also includes non-flu "vaxes" and this list of 25 is not going to change anyone's mind due to its poor drafting.
posted by rough ashlar at 7:30 AM on October 31, 2013


I get a flu shot honestly for entirely hedonistic and selfish reasons

Me, too! Not only do I love not being sick, I also love the way not being sick lets me spend more time kissing and having sex without feeling guilty that I might be getting the people who are nice enough to kiss me and have sex with me sick, too.
posted by rhiannonstone at 9:50 AM on October 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


The World Famous: "As long as you didn't eat the can, you should be OK."

OMG DON'T EAT THE CAN YOU UNFIT MOTHER YOU!
posted by IAmBroom at 10:15 AM on October 31, 2013


My favorite gem is from FB friends who declare they're "not against important vaccines that save lives, like for polio or TB" (as opposed to all those silly, unimportant diseases we vaccinate for, like "mussed hair" and "slight B.O.").

After we kicked that down, they then went on to say, "Well, I just think we should carefully look at the risks involved first..." - because, of course, no one with access to the risk analysis data has ever yet thought to take at look-see at it and run some numbers.

IF YOU THINK MEDICAL RESEARCH DOESN'T INVOLVE EXTENSIVE RISK ANALYSIS, YOU AREN'T QUALIFIED TO OPERATE A CALCULATOR TO DO RISK ANALYSIS!!! Leave that job to a trained professional, who won't hurt themselves. (HP-71B's had notoriously sharp edges.)
posted by IAmBroom at 10:23 AM on October 31, 2013 [6 favorites]


The "sickness" after the shot is probably your immune system at work. A large part of flu-like symptoms when you are actually sick is attributable to its reaction (example).
Right, this is what I've thought might be happening with me: immunologic busy-ness, and other viral or bacterial infections sneaking in during that window. Which seems...unlikely? but is kind of not really a light hearted thing and jerky comments with no intention but to make me feel bad are totally helpful, yeah.
posted by byanyothername at 10:32 AM on October 31, 2013


If you don't like injections, you can always get the FluMist (nasal spray) vaccine. I got it last year and have no complaints.

This year I was getting my 10-year booster for DipTetPert at the same time, so I opted for the extra needles!
posted by blue_beetle at 11:16 AM on October 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


You will not regret injecting the track 'Flu Shot', by Brooklyn rapper Awkwafina, into your earholes. [Side effects may include bobbing of the head and cracking up of the ass.]

(Many thanks to user divined by radio for turning me on to Awkwafina's excellent flow, in this very successful AskMe!)
posted by slappy_pinchbottom at 11:24 AM on October 31, 2013


My apologies, byanyothername. I went for a cheap laugh at your expense, and it was not cool.
posted by The World Famous at 11:40 AM on October 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


When did it become normal to get a flu shot? I have never had one and the whole idea seems a little weird.

I'm not sure, but I work at a hospital, so it's pretty much required for us unless there's a strong reason for you personally not to, and a forwarded email or reposted Facebook update from that one cousin who always signal-boosts this crap doesn't count as a strong reason. I used to get the flu every year when I was a kid, living in the Upper Midwest where winter arrives early and stays late, and the general sentiment back then (as with so many things in those halcyon days) was to suck it up and get through it. That was before the possibility of another worldwide pandemic started to get bandied about, though.
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:18 PM on October 31, 2013


It's a pretty crappy couple of days. You defiantly feel like shit. Not like the seven metric tons of shit that the flu makes you feel like, but a couple of hundred kilos of shit.

If that's your experience then that's your experience. For me, though, I get a mild bit of soreness at the injection site for one day. Other than that I couldn't even tell you I had received the vaccine. I feel exactly the same as I did the day before the injection.
posted by Justinian at 2:11 PM on October 31, 2013


People get mild cases of food poisoning because they don't put leftovers away promptly, and call it stomach flu. People get a bad cold and think it's the flu. Stomach flu (usually) isn't influenza. Sometimes it's food poisoning, sometimes it's Norovirus, and, seriously, wash your hands a lot if you get it. Most years, I get a cold or 2, sometimes followed by upper respiratory wretchedness. The flu is nastier than a cold, though it can be hard to tell them apart. What's the difference? No one cares - stay home, wash your hands, and don't bring your contagion to school/work. Thanks.

Flu shot? Absolutely. Being sick is a drag. Not transmitting the flu to others is a social good. I get sick easily, but seldom have ill effects from the flu shot.

There was some discussion of people who had the swine flu vax during the Ford/Carter years being a little bit protected from the more recent swine flu. It seems to me that getting vaccinated every year should have some benefits in subsequent years, when the extant flu virus may have similar characteristics to a previous year's vax. Is this at all likely? The linked article says the Great Influenza epidemic caused 50 to 100 million deaths. That's genuinely scary.
posted by theora55 at 4:51 PM on October 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


The flu is nastier than a cold, though it can be hard to tell them apart.

Ugh, not for me.

Cold: damn it's annoying when my nose is so stuffy and/or runny so I better take some Sudafed. Goddammit the Drug Warriors have made it so awful to get this wonder drug. Screw those guys. I need to go rant about this on Metafilter. (types furiously)

Flu: OH GOD WHY HAST THOU FORSAKEN ME. Am I dying? Is this real life? I think I'll lie here on the floor outside the bathroom for a while.
posted by Justinian at 3:35 PM on November 2, 2013 [2 favorites]






eriko: "
Gee. Fever, aches, fatigue for a couple of days. It's almost as if the shot made you sick. Note that "mild", here, is "mild compared to full blown influenza". It's a pretty crappy couple of days. You defiantly feel like shit. Not like the seven metric tons of shit that the flu makes you feel like, but a couple of hundred kilos of shit. Anybody having this reaction is going to say they're sick.

Beats the hell out of full blown flu, of course, which is why I deal with it.
"

Those are possible, and rather unusual, side-effects; you're making it sound like that's everyone's experience. I have on at least one occasion felt a slight soreness in my upper arm; usually I have no discernable side-effects at all.
posted by IAmBroom at 10:30 AM on November 12, 2013


...you're making it sound like that's everyone's experience.

No, he is not. He's reacting to TFA's strident assertion that the vaccine does not ever make anybody sick. I (and, I assume eriko) am glad you have only minor reaction to the shot. Many of us are not so fortunate, and it rubs us the wrong way to have our experience dismissed.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:45 PM on November 12, 2013


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