Parenting & Family

Does anyone not get the flu vaccine for their kids?

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  • Apr 30th, 2017 10:10 am
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TrevorK wrote:
Apr 19th, 2017 9:47 pm
1/2: Seem fair - not reasons to skip the flu shot but are accurate statement.
3: Incorrect - for example the mumps vaccine is only about 88% effective after two shots: https://www.cdc.gov/mumps/vaccination.html
4: The researchers do not just guess - they use their education, experience and research to dictate what strains are most likely to be common. You are insulting their work by equating it to a "guess". Where are you getting your effectiveness numbers from? The CDC shows that the 2014-15 flu vaccine was not 0% so I am curious where these numbers are coming from
5: True but I don't see why that' a reason not to get it
6: Many people die from the flu. The CDC estimated in 2012-13 about 56,000 people died from influenza related causes in the United States alone. That classifies as serious to me when we have something that may prevent some (not all of course) of them.
7: I'm sorry your province does not cover it. If you cannot afford it, that's certainly a reason to skip it. But the province does not cover many things that you would not typically skip - for example my province does not cover dental care but that does not mean dental care is not a good idea.

Everyone is able to choose what vaccines they would like to get for themselves and their dependents. What is important is having accurate information to make your decisions.
Trevor, can you talk more about 6 - estimated deaths? I was under the impression these numbers are by and large an estimate, with a huge variance, hardly ever the primary reason for death, nor are they even TESTED to have influenza. Not saying it cannot be fatal for the immune compromised, but that speaks more to it's efficacy for people who are vulnerable, which doesn't include most. Please help me understand this from this CDC article:

https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/disease/u ... act-number

"Does CDC know the exact number of people who die from seasonal flu each year?
CDC does not know exactly how many people die from seasonal flu each year. There are several reasons for this. First, states are not required to report individual seasonal flu cases or deaths of people older than 18 years of age to CDC. Second, seasonal influenza is infrequently listed on death certificates of people who die from flu-related complications. Third, many seasonal flu-related deaths occur one or two weeks after a person’s initial infection, either because the person may develop a secondary bacterial co-infection (such as bacterial pneumonia) or because seasonal influenza can aggravate an existing chronic illness (such as congestive heart failure or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). Also, most people who die from seasonal flu-related complications are not tested for flu, or they seek medical care later in their illness when seasonal influenza can no longer be detected from respiratory samples. Sensitive influenza tests are only likely to detect influenza if performed within a week after onset of illness. In addition, some commonly used tests to diagnose influenza in clinical settings are not highly sensitive and can provide false negative results (i.e. they misdiagnose flu illness as not being flu.) For these reasons, many flu-related deaths may not be recorded on death certificates. These are some of the reasons that CDC and other public health agencies in the United States and other countries use statistical models to estimate the annual number of seasonal flu-related deaths."

How many people die from seasonal flu each year in the United States?
"a single estimate cannot be used to summarize influenza-associated deaths. Instead, a range of estimated deaths is a better way to represent the variability and unpredictability of flu."

It goes to list that annual estimates change over the years based on numerous data points, some range from 3000 to 49000, another from 12000 to 56000

So, while even a low estimate is not something to ignore, isn't this still estimates at best? And how many otherwise healthy individuals (non immune compromised) are part of the total estimated deaths? Being immunocompromised, IMO, would be the only reason why I would get the flu vaccine. And since these aren't even verifiable tests, but estimates, can't we have some healthy scepticism of those figures? (which can vary so wildly from year to year)

One more serious question: Since we're clearing up myths, I have a question. I've been told that getting the vaccine will protect your family, or those who cannot/do not receive the vaccine. However, isn't the spread of flu bacteria on surfaces, handles, etc. How does having the vaccine prevent me from touching a surface with the bacteria, forgetting to wash my hands, going home, etc...
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Shaner wrote:
Apr 21st, 2017 1:05 pm
The CDC is not Canadian. Perhaps their stats are correct at 23% (which is still mediocre protection at best) and perhaps the BC center for disease control is also correct at 0% because they are two completely different countries. Perhaps the vaccine used was slightly different between both countries. Perhaps the strain of flu circulating varied. Perhaps their method of screening for the flu is different. There's a lot of reasons why the numbers may be different. Either way, I choose to pay attention to Canadian numbers considering that's where I live. Plus the study was partly based on Ontario numbers, which is the province I live in.

Here's the full study that you requested.
http://www.eurosurveillance.org/Viewart ... leId=21022
Thank you - I will read through it!
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onlineharvest wrote:
Apr 21st, 2017 1:26 pm
So, while even a low estimate is not something to ignore, isn't this still estimates at best? And how many otherwise healthy individuals (non immune compromised) are part of the total estimated deaths? Being immunocompromised, IMO, would be the only reason why I would get the flu vaccine. And since these aren't even verifiable tests, but estimates, can't we have some healthy scepticism of those figures? (which can vary so wildly from year to year)
You're absolutely right - they are just estimates. If you are doubting their numbers I can completely understand why - their numbers are not based on facts because they are not recorded in a way.
One more serious question: Since we're clearing up myths, I have a question. I've been told that getting the vaccine will protect your family, or those who cannot/do not receive the vaccine. However, isn't the spread of flu bacteria on surfaces, handles, etc. How does having the vaccine prevent me from touching a surface with the bacteria, forgetting to wash my hands, going home, etc...
I am unsure how long the influenza virus stays "alive" on a surface. I suspect it will also differ based on the type of surface. This is a link from a reputable source that may help shed some light, or at least give something to apply when researching further:
"Flu viruses
Flu viruses capable of being transferred to hands and causing an infection can survive on hard surfaces for 24 hours. Infectious flu viruses can survive on tissues for only 15 minutes.
Like cold viruses, infectious flu viruses survive for much shorter periods on the hands. After five minutes the amount of flu virus on hands falls to low levels.
Flu viruses can also survive as droplets in the air for several hours; low temperatures increase their survival in the air.
Parainfluenza virus, which causes croup in children, can survive for up to 10 hours on hard surfaces and up to four hours on soft surfaces."
http://www.nhs.uk/chq/Pages/how-long-do ... -body.aspx

I would think more research needs to be done to confirm whether this source is accurate or not, but I think it is definitely a reputable source to start with.
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TrevorK wrote:
Apr 21st, 2017 12:22 pm
You're adding in too many variables that are personal. You have no idea who around you actually has the flu, and you have no idea whether you yourself have the flu. Further, probability does not work the way you are defining it - you could have very well had the flu each of the ten years. You could have had it none of those years. You cannot derive a statement of "2-3x in the last 10y" from the percentages given.

The reason we use statistics is to remove personal experience, because it's not verifiable or measurable. Essentially, it's not valid. We look at larger samples in a more academic way and try to provide explanations as to why they occur and how to interpret the results. Instead you are extrapolating your personal experience and expecting the results to fit it - that's not an appropriate use of the data.

There is no question to address - the flu vaccine is different every year and it addresses different flu strains. The composition of it may also change. There is literally no way to know the long term side effects of each flu vaccine until they have happened. And, if the method of creating the vaccine or the strains change dramatically, but the time long term results are provided, they may not be valid on the current vaccine.

You are asking a question no one can answer, and therefore will always be unsatisfied with the answer.

So why keep asking the question if, even when it can be answered, the answer may not be applicable any longer?

Source? All I see is that there was a study about the 1976 swine flu shot that slightly increased the risk. Otherwise, I direct you to the following statement from the CDC:
The link between GBS and flu vaccination in other years is unclear, and if there is any risk for GBS after seasonal flu vaccines it is very small, about one in a million. Studies suggest that it is more likely that a person will get GBS after getting the flu than after vaccination.
https://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/vaccine ... nbarre.htm

These studies would suggest you are more likely to get GBS after getting the flu, not after getting the vaccine. The flu shot helps prevent you, and others, from getting the flu - that's established. That's actually a fact. By extension, is it reasonable to conclude that if fewer people are getting the flu, fewer people are then getting GBS? Well it would seem that way but we would need to evaluate the studies to determine that before we attempt to call it a "fact".

I do not have a problem with people thinking different for their own reasons - such as if you had someone you knew who contracted something because of the flu shot, and that being your reason for not having it because you feel it could happen to you. But your reasoning needs to be based on something - if it's a gut feeling that things are not studied enough, that's great, because as I agree, there is no real way to study a specific vaccine until it has been used for a period of time and the flu vaccine is ever changing. If it is based on incorrect information, such as many posters in here have made, then the individual needs to reevaluate their knowledge and put a little more effort into determining if their beliefs are incorrect.

There is nothing wrong with changing your thought - we all grow throughout our lives and learn new information. Often people are stuck with the same biases they acquired years and years ago, never looking to reevaluate their information and knowledge.
I know it's not the proper interpretation, I knew as I typed it. It doesn't matter how I use your stats, it won't satisfy you unless it favours your opinion. The bottom line is we don't get the annual flu shot, none of us have been sick with influenza A or B since my first was born over a decade ago. If we were indeed infected and fought it off with little or no symptoms, good for us, it was done naturally. If you rather be injected unnaturally year after year, that's your prerogative. If you believe people like you help protect my family, that's also your choice, I didn't ask you to do that. It's not a requirement for school, so it's OUR choice, keep that in mind whether you think people are making bad informed decisions or not. It's the way our health care works. I see it all the time, I don't always like it, and I have to abide by it. You need to respect that.

I completely understand your line of thinking. You are putting something inside you that is causing fundamental changes in your immunity and you're hoping it's all positive and innocuous every time you get injected, now and in the future. There is currently no validation to refute it so that's your reasoning. You want to believe its contributed to your own self-preservation and others by association. To believe that it may cause chronic debilitating illness from cumulative risk is madness because you subscribe to it. Surely you are not doing something that will eventually harm you? So you dismiss possibilities, you say it can't be done, because honestly, for it to come to fruition would be a personal disaster.
Diseases are both extrinsically and intrinsically mediated, we can't ignore the latter. The flu vaccine components can change year to year, the goal is the same, to elicit an antibody response. Rewind 70 years ago, it's like saying you can't measure the harm of cigarettes, they change year to year. Go ahead, analogies are flawed, pick that apart too. Unless you're a specialist in epidemiology and conduct peer reviewed research on flu vaccines, you don't have the authority to say no one can derive relationships from studying its repeated use. Is that not a flag that some year 2 people fair worse than those who didn't receive it in year 1? How do we know that receiving it after an extended period will not stunt the response prematurely? We do know as age advances, the effectiveness diminishes, it's that immunity clock, everyone has an expiry date. Do you exercise it by attacking it every year?

You might be surprised that I was once affiliated with Public Health and directly involved with their influenza vaccination program. I understand pathophysiology and know how to evaluate research studies. I've read tons of them and have a binder full of flu vaccine literature, I know what's out there and what's missing. GBS is actually rarer than 1 in a million but we did encounter someone who developed it 1 week after receiving the flu shot. On top of her initial symptoms, her one-sided facial droop lasted months. "Fact" or not, it happened, it's real to her, a personal experience that's shaped her beliefs. Why don't you convince her to get it again and again?

Don't assume that I think the flu vaccine is ineffective. It works at various percentages for what we define as its goal, at the acute level. Don't also assume that I want you or everyone else to stop getting them every year. If you wish to continue, by all means do it. Rather, respect people's choices even if they don't align with your own or they do not seem rationale to you. The right to choice supersedes here. That's the society we have evolved into, "it's your life, it's your choice", as flawed as you or I think it might be under the circumstances.
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AncasterRFD wrote:
Apr 22nd, 2017 2:08 pm
Don't assume that I think the flu vaccine is ineffective. It works at various percentages for what we define as its goal, at the acute level. Don't also assume that I want you or everyone else to stop getting them every year. If you wish to continue, by all means do it. Rather, respect people's choices even if they don't align with your own or they do not seem rationale to you. The right to choice supersedes here. That's the society we have evolved into, "it's your life, it's your choice", as flawed as you or I think it might be under the circumstances.
I do not have a problem with people making a choice, but I think it's important we all make our choices with as much information that is available. If someone were to suspect that we are putting ourselves at risk of GBS because of the flu shot then they need to re-evaluate their choice based on the new information they are presented.

For example, if my choice to get the flu shot was based on it catching all strains of the flu - I would appreciate someone pointing out it does not and providing the evidence so that I can say "Oh gee, it is only designed for a handful of strains" and then I can re-evaluate my decision. All too often people make up their mind and never re-evaluate as the evidence changes (or at least they are exposed to new evidence).
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TrevorK wrote:
Apr 22nd, 2017 2:19 pm
I do not have a problem with people making a choice, but I think it's important we all make our choices with as much information that is available. If someone were to suspect that we are putting ourselves at risk of GBS because of the flu shot then they need to re-evaluate their choice based on the new information they are presented.

For example, if my choice to get the flu shot was based on it catching all strains of the flu - I would appreciate someone pointing out it does not and providing the evidence so that I can say "Oh gee, it is only designed for a handful of strains" and then I can re-evaluate my decision. All too often people make up their mind and never re-evaluate as the evidence changes (or at least they are exposed to new evidence).
On top of making decisions based on information that is available, we also need to respect the fact that there's a lot we don't know. Look at how the stigma of eating fat has changed over the years. Once upon a time everyone ate bacon for breakfast. Then over the years we were told all fat was horrible and fat free products filled grocery shelves. Now studies are showing that fat free products may actually contribute to diabetes, obesity, etc and many fats are good for us.

Just like the links I posted earlier showing that annual flu vaccinations may make you more susceptible to the flu then someone getting the vaccine for the first time. There doesn't appear to be known reasons for that yet. Is repeated exposures to the vaccine actually reducing our ability to fight off the flu? Is it just a statistical anomaly? Is it one of 1,000 other possible reasons? When I created this thread, I was torn. Now I'm convinced that at this time, the flu vaccine isn't the right choice for me or my son. That's based on what I know, but it's also based on what is yet to be discovered.
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I'm pro-flu shot, but appreciate the reasoned responses of why some choose not to get it.
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Shaner wrote:
Apr 22nd, 2017 3:37 pm
On top of making decisions based on information that is available, we also need to respect the fact that there's a lot we don't know. Look at how the stigma of eating fat has changed over the years. Once upon a time everyone ate bacon for breakfast. Then over the years we were told all fat was horrible and fat free products filled grocery shelves. Now studies are showing that fat free products may actually contribute to diabetes, obesity, etc and many fats are good for us.

Just like the links I posted earlier showing that annual flu vaccinations may make you more susceptible to the flu then someone getting the vaccine for the first time. There doesn't appear to be known reasons for that yet. Is repeated exposures to the vaccine actually reducing our ability to fight off the flu? Is it just a statistical anomaly? Is it one of 1,000 other possible reasons? When I created this thread, I was torn. Now I'm convinced that at this time, the flu vaccine isn't the right choice for me or my son. That's based on what I know, but it's also based on what is yet to be discovered.
I think that's a perfectly acceptable reason - it is not based on a myth or fallacy. Instead, it's based on not knowing what the consequences are - which I think everyone can agree are unknown for your specific vaccine. Not everyone will agree, but the important part is making a decision you are comfortable with based on the reasonable evaluation of the material at hand. My problem is those that base their decision off a fallacy (e.g. those that do not vaccinate because of autism fears).
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TrevorK wrote:
Apr 22nd, 2017 2:19 pm
I do not have a problem with people making a choice, but I think it's important we all make our choices with as much information that is available. If someone were to suspect that we are putting ourselves at risk of GBS because of the flu shot then they need to re-evaluate their choice based on the new information they are presented.

For example, if my choice to get the flu shot was based on it catching all strains of the flu - I would appreciate someone pointing out it does not and providing the evidence so that I can say "Oh gee, it is only designed for a handful of strains" and then I can re-evaluate my decision. All too often people make up their mind and never re-evaluate as the evidence changes (or at least they are exposed to new evidence).
I'm not sure you're being rhetorical. Depending on the clinic setting, they have their own standard consent form and they may ask about your neurological/GBS history. It's quite rare as an adverse effect but not completely negligible so it has to presented as a risk for legal reasons.

The second part of your question is I don't know where you are located, but where I am in Ontario, we administer Fluviral IM (pic from our fridge below) which contains coverage for Type A California/Hong Kong and Type B Brisbane. Knowing the exact strains isn't entirely useful because the PHD declares an outbreak after a facility reports flu-like symptoms and a positive nasopharyngeal swab identifying Type, not strain. The strains in the vaccine are chosen well in advance due to mass production schedules, they are educated guesses and may not be reflective of current outbreaks. If you mount a good antibody response, you may have reduced symptoms against variants than what you would have without the vaccine. It is not completely clear why this happens and I would not exclude stimulating your immune system in general, so I can theorize it's a habit you must keep up if you start or it's a repeated activity that may impede the process down the road. It is not unreasonable to think that like any medication process that requires frequency, you can develop a dependence or tolerance, by which you reach a state it may no longer be effective. It's important to recognize that the vaccine itself is not protecting you, it's your immune response to it. That's why changing the constituents year to year don't exactly matter. If you are immunocompromised, effectiveness may also vary towards nil.

There's a difference between wanting to know and needing to know. If you are the type of person that wants as much data as you can get, information that is current and validated before going forward, then ask questions. HCP's will only go through their standard consent form and follow internal policy. If you're not satisfied, don't sign it, and you won't receive the shot. If they can't answer your questions, go to the PHD, it's more reliable than data mining off google because there are professionals who can help you interpret the information. HCP's administering flu vaccines don't have time to get into long discussions. Needing to know is based on teaching-learning principles. If you overload someone who is not ready or incapable of fully understanding, you may cause confusion, anxiety, doubt, non-compliance. I agree with you that fallacies should not be entered into the decision-making process. There is enough data to quash the autism link and vaccines in general, there is not enough data to evaluate the long term risk of annual flu vaccines over an extended period. That does not mean you shouldn't get it (your age/vulnerability), but it does give me reason to reconsider and in the context of the OP, our children.

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The cause of death of my toddler was Influenza B. I believe strongly that if more people regularly get the flu shot, he would still be alive today. Of course we could never know and nothing we can do would matter anymore.

Most of the time I hear people saying they don't get the shot because of a few reasons:

- they heard somebody got sick, or got sick themselves, because of the shot
- they almost never get sick so why bother
- they think they're allergic to the ingredients
- they saw a bunch of reports online with some compelling stats about why the shot is bad
- they think getting the shot will prevent their immune system from working properly
- they read that last year's shot was only xx% effective

From these conversations, almost none of them actually spoke to a doctor. Until a few years ago I never got the shot either. When it comes down to it for most people, the flu is just an inconvenience and our bodies will be be able to fight off the infection. Often there won't even be any symptoms and we won't realize we passed it along. But for the minority of people that are higher risk of developing complications (young children, elderly, those with compromised immune systems, pregnant women), we can all do our part to help keep each other healthier.

Talking to your doctor about the pros and cons of getting the flu shot along with other vaccinations is the most responsible thing we can all do. Go to them with the mindset that you will be getting the shot and let them suggest otherwise if there is actually a valid reason.

Also, a lot of people mistake colds and "stomach flu" with influenza. Influenza is an infectious respiratory illness in the nose, throat and lungs with symptoms such as fever, coughing, muscle aches, fatigue. There's not usually vomiting, for example.

With or without the shot, we can help prevent the spread of illness in other common sense ways as well: stay home when you're sick, keep kids home when they're sick, wash hands often, clean surfaces regularly - think about things that are often missed like door handles, steering wheels, remote controls, cell phones.

I want my son back. He was a bright, wonderful, funny, amazing little person.

All I can do now is hope that some of this might get people thinking and having conversations with their doctors about it. I'll keep getting the flu shot every year. I hope others do too, but speak to your doctor first before making up your mind one way or another.
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