Tag Archives: flu

Pediatric flu deaths 2015-16 – Update 2

In the USA, we’re nearing the heart of the flu season, with pediatric flu deaths peaking during the next 8-10 weeks. So far in the 2015-16 flu season (which generally starts on October 1), the CDC has reported that there have been 7 pediatric flu deaths through the 4th week of December. This is unchanged from the previous report.

Now, I know some of you may say “only 7,” but since pediatric flu is mostly prevented with a vaccine, we could prevent these 7 deaths. Moreover, it’s early. During the last 3 years, there were 171 pediatric flu deaths in 2012-13, 11 in 2013-14, and 148 in 2014-15 – most of the pediatric flu deaths happened after this week.

It seems that the the numbers are lower, so far, than in previous years. However, this flu season may be several weeks late, probably as a result of warmer weather (no, warm weather does not block the flu). Flu mortality across all ages crossed the threshold for an “epidemic” last week, so these numbers might increase. Let’s hope they don’t, but as opposed to what people believe, flu is dangerous.

Continue reading Pediatric flu deaths 2015-16 – Update 2

New York City flu immunization requirements – court ruling

On December 11, 2013 the New York City Board of Health adopted a rule – which we will refer to as New York City flu immunization requirements – establishing that children aged 6-59 months attending full time daycares that meet certain criteria to receive an annual influenza vaccine (see Resolution NY Influenza vaccine rule, pdf).

On December 16, 2015 Justice Manuel J. Mendez from New York’s Supreme Court (which, in spite of the name, is not the highest court in New York state) granted certain petitioners’ motion to declare the rule “invalid and unlawful” (see NY mandate decision, pdf). Note that although there is a higher instance, in this case, I doubt the decision – which is well reasoned and appropriate, in my view – would be overturned.

This post explains what the court decided and what it means.  Continue reading New York City flu immunization requirements – court ruling

Another flu vaccine myth – Big Pharma profits

There is a more general article – about the myth of Big Pharma vaccine profits – which has recently been updated and republished. 

The 2015-16 flu season is upon us, and that means it’s flu vaccine time again. And flu vaccine myth time. There is another flu vaccine myth – Big Pharma profits – that needs to be debunked.

Despite the availability of several flu vaccines, many people think that the flu is a painless, harmless disease, a belief belied by evidence. Wrong.

To put flu in perspective, in the USA, depending on the severity of the flu season, from 3,000 (which happened 25 years ago, and hasn’t been that low since) to 49,000 people die every year. Worldwide, about 250,000 to 500,000 people die from the flu every year. A flu pandemic, like the one in 1918, killed 50-100 million humans, much more scary than Ebola.

Of course, a fairly large group of people, including some who are pro-science (read, pro-vaccine), will fall into the arms of their favorite flu vaccine myth, and then refuse to get the flu vaccine. Given the dangers of the flu, and given the loss in productivity, income, and lives, you’d think that the flu vaccine would be near the top of health care needs for the average person.

My fellow blogger, Tara Haelle, spent numerous hours putting together the Top Myths about the flu vaccine. She debunks these myths completely out of the water. But antivaccination myths are never static, there’s always a new variant. Continue reading Another flu vaccine myth – Big Pharma profits

Worrying about my baby during flu season

My younger son is growing. He is now rolling back and forth. He’s big for his age; not yet five months, the six months outfits are too small, and most nine months outfits are just right. He’s a happy baby. Smiles easily, laughs easily most of the time. He loves when we pay attention to him, talk and sing, and he likes to be tickled. He has the cutest laugh.

He is fascinated by his older brother; these days, if his brother sits with us during nursing, he stops eating and stares. His brother is wonderful with him: comes over when he cries, and makes him laugh, holds his hand in the car, wants to help with baby care.

So far, my baby has not had any real health problems; even when the rest of us got a cold, the worst he had was mild congestion. We have been lucky.

He has quite the appetite, though we are down to two feedings a night, which is much better than nursing every hour or two, which was the case during his first four months. He’s vaccinated on schedule, of course, like most kids in the United States. That means he is, at this point, protected against several dangerous diseases, though he has not yet completed any series of immunizations.  Continue reading Worrying about my baby during flu season

The flu can kill – get the seasonal flu vaccine

Every year I, and a lot of other pro-science bloggers, write article after article about getting the seasonal flu vaccine, which, of course, prevents most types of flu. I even have a very popular article that calls health care workers who don’t get their flu vaccines “dumbasses.”

The seasonal flu vaccine saves lives. There is almost no evidence contrary to that fact.

And this week, California public health officials confirmed the first flu-related death of the 2015-16 flu season. The flu victim was under 65 years old and lived in Santa Clara County. Yes, the flu can be most dangerous to the elderly, but it’s also dangerous for those with chronic diseases, the very young, and, frankly, everyone else.

And just as frightening, a baby, less than 1 year old, died of the flu this week in Stanislaus County, CA. If the baby was less than six months old, then she wasn’t eligible for the vaccine, so she was at risk of contracting the disease. I cannot think of anything more painful than imagining what these parents are feeling.

Continue reading The flu can kill – get the seasonal flu vaccine

Miracle immune boosting flu protection – Big Pharma hates it

So what is this miracle immune boosting flu protection – is it being suppressed by the CDC, FDA, WHO and the Illuminati? And why does Big Pharma hate it – is it keeping them from printing money?

These are the important questions.

And of course, there are no immune boosting flu protection miracles. Well, except for the one actual miracle – the seasonal flu vaccine, and that’s not a miracle, it’s outstanding science that created it.

It is very safe, unless you ascribe to myths about flu vaccines. It is usually very effective, although the vaccine is based on reasonable and scientific estimates of what mutations will be prevalent during the flu season, and sometimes, they’re off.

Your immune system is very powerful, and, except for instances of chronic diseases or malnutrition, it is always very powerful. You cannot boost your immune system through junk science – one of the few ways to “boost” your immune system against flu is the flu vaccine.

And why does Big Pharma hate the flu vaccine? Because if more people got sick from the flu, they’d make an economic windfall from all of the stuff they’d sell to hospitals. And Big Mortuary would be just as happy. Even though flu vaccine uptake is not as high as we want, it’s still keeping the gold bars away from Big Pharma and Big Mortuary.

And that is a good thing.

Continue reading Miracle immune boosting flu protection – Big Pharma hates it

A list of flu vaccine refusing dumb asses

Every flu season, I resurrect this hysterical and snarky by Infectious Disease specialist Dr. Mark Crislip which was originally published in A Budget of Dumb Asses, a list of the different types of flu vaccine refusing dumb asses. This list is a tradition that goes back to the early days of this website.

And it’s that time of year to get your flu vaccine, so I resurrect this fine piece of snarkfest.

Yes, complete and utter Dumb Asses. Even though this broadside is about flu vaccine refusing dumb asses, it’s all right to search and replace flu with say meningitis, pertussis, measles or any other vaccine. And just because it’s about healthcare workers, it’s all right to replace that with your neighbor, co-worker, or some other anti-scientific antivaccination Dumb Ass.

The upcoming 2015-2016 flu season is just starting, and many physicians and clinics (along with many pharmacies, government flu clinics, and other places) have this season’s flu vaccine. One of the best ways, if not the only real way, to boost your immune system against the flu is the seasonal flu vaccine.

And it’s time for intelligent, reasonable, and rational people to get their flu shots. We’ve dispensed with many of the myths that are cherished by vaccine refusers, and many reseachers have shown that getting the flu vaccine can improve health outcomes.

Warning: this is funny (unless you’re a vaccine denier, in which case you have no sense of humor, irony or sarcasm, something probably gained by getting vaccinated). So, if you’re reading this list while sipping on coffee, I take no responsibility for damage to your computer, smart phone, or tablet if you snort out your drink. Them’s the rules.  Continue reading A list of flu vaccine refusing dumb asses

Vaccine deniers misuse the Peter Doshi flu vaccine study

Science is built upon the scientific method, which is a logical process of observation, experiment, analysis, and publication. It is simple, but it requires work. Over time, after numerous experiments, nearly always published in peer-reviewed journals, followed by frequent repetition (and sometimes failure) of the experiments and results by other scientists, scientists arrive at a consensus about the evidence that supports a particular set of principles about the science being researched.

As the evidence accumulates and becomes more predictive, it is declared, through scientific consensus, a scientific theory, which is a series of statements about the causal elements for observed phenomena. These theories explain aspects of the natural world. They are predictive. And they can be tested through the scientific method.

Arriving at a scientific consensus is not something that happens overnight–the development of this consensus is rather glacial in pace. That’s a good thing. It keeps out poorly supported ideas, but gives strength to ideas that are supported by a large quantity and quality of evidence. From basic scientific ideas, the scientific method expands or improves these ideas over time. And, one does not simply decide that the consensus is wrong through a debate or argument–changing the consensus requires as much research based in the scientific method, as many peer-reviewed publications and as much critique, repetition, and review as the evidence that built the original consensus. Continue reading Vaccine deniers misuse the Peter Doshi flu vaccine study

Boosting the immune system – sorting science from myth

One of the most ridiculous pseudoscientific claims that I keep hearing from the junk medicine crowd is that this supplement or that food is critical to boosting the immune system – it’s so prevalent that I believe I read it several times a day.

These type of claims ignore one basic physiological fact: the immune system is a complex interconnected network of organs, cells, and molecules that prevents invasion of the body by hundreds of thousands, if not millions of pathogens every day. And no matter how much individuals try to trivialize how complicated the immune system is by claiming that downing a few tablets of echinacea will boost the immune system to prevent colds (it doesn’t), it doesn’t make it science.

And it isn’t that simple.

Continue reading Boosting the immune system – sorting science from myth

Poll–healthcare workers and vaccination

healthcare-worker-protects-patients-vaccine

 

I just wrote a typical Skeptical Raptor screed against vaccine deniers who are supposed to be protecting patients. What do you think?