WhiteCoat

Vaccinate Now?

Flu season is late, but it is upon us.

Is it only my experience, or does it seem to be the following:

1. Those patients and parents who most vehemently refuse influenza vaccines are the same ones who complain the loudest about their symptoms and their childrens’ symptoms when they actually come down with the flu. And I wish I had a dollar every time I hear someone say they don’t get vaccinated because “I get sick from the flu shots.” Since the virii in the shots are dead, getting sick from the flu shot is highly unlikely. But hey, enjoy your fever, headache, cough, and muscle aches for the next week or so.

2. Entirely too many people think that the “flu” is vomiting and diarrhea. It isn’t. The “stomach flu” is a misnomer. Symptoms of influenza are fever, cough, runny nose, sore throat, headaches, muscle aches, and fatigue.

3. People whose insurance does not cover Tamiflu demand amantadine even though amantadine doesn’t work on the circulating strains of influenza. In other words, people would rather take a free medication that doesn’t work at all rather than pay for something that could conceivably help them.

And while I’m on an influenza rant, remember the 26 million treatment courses of Tamiflu that the US government stockpiled? Yeah. That’s all past its expiration date now. At about $100 per treatment course, that’s $2.6 billion that the government can now flush down the crapper. I’m sure that there was bulk pricing for the government’s stockpile, but even half that amount of money is a lot to be throwing away.

 

10 Responses to “Vaccinate Now?”

  1. David Wander says:

    “that’s $2.6 billion that the government can now flush down the crapper. ”

    Drop in the bucket.

  2. NJ Ferguson says:

    I think we all the expiration date is a ‘magic’ number. The wiser thing to do would be to take random samples from each and test them for activity of the active ingredient. We assume that these drugs have been stored in an optimal environment. If the drug is stablle make it available to the public free of charge. After all, the public has already paid for it. So before we trash what is most likely not trash. Spend a million to save 2.6 billion.

  3. E says:

    Actually, we take every vaccine but the flu vaccine, and nobody in my family gets it much, or if we do, it seems to be milder than a lot of folks. You don’t hear the people whining who don’t go to the doctor for things like the flu, because such folks don’t go to the doctor for the flu at all. I would never go to the ER for the flu, although I can understand when folks who are at a greater risk of complications such as the elderly do occasionally go to ER with flu-related complaints.

    So, I don’t think you have any hard evidence in suggesting that “Those patients and parents who most vehemently refuse influenza vaccines are the same ones who complain the loudest about their symptoms and their childrens’ symptoms when they actually come down with the flu.” Like I said, there are many of us who don’t go to the doctor for the flu and don’t take the shots, not because we’re afraid of vaccines (I understand their value for things like polio, measles, etc.), but because we don’t really feel the need for them for the flu.

    • Even healthy people can die from the flu, or be ill enough to require hospitalization. Health Care workers with the flu put vulnerable patients at risk (some of whom are too ill for vaccination). Even those not in a healthcare environment when ill can infect those around them and put them in danger. Although there are risks they are outweighed by the benefits.

      • midwest woman says:

        So why are sick call-in policies so punitive in the healthcare setting.
        Even vaccinated employees will still be susceptible to nasty non flu viruses.
        Am NOT impressed with the febrile hacking puking co-worker at the bedside but happens all the time.
        Mandating vaccines for patient safety and then punishing people for calling in sick is talking out of both sides of your mouth.

    • Teresa says:

      Like I said, there are many of us who don’t go to the doctor for the flu and don’t take the shots, not because we’re afraid of vaccines (I understand their value for things like polio, measles, etc.), but because we don’t really feel the need for them for the flu.

      E, that’s pretty self-centered of you. But you can make up for it if you commit to stay home for for a week every time ANYONE in your family coughs or sneezes more than once. Make sure you begin your absence three days before the first cough or sneeze, too.

      If you had crappy lungs, you would resent people who thoughtlessly spread their germs to others, simply because it’s not big deal to them.

  4. Tarl says:

    Besides, at the time it looked like we were going to be in desperate need of the stuff. Several of my colleagues were part of the panic rush to empty pharmacy shelves of Tamiflu – in spite of my disparaging remarks about hoarding.

    Some better evaluation on how long the stuff lasts (the U.S. Army has done that for its medical supplies) would be better than just flushing it all after a year.

  5. Ruth says:

    To be fair, I’ve never gotten the flu shot. I’ve had the flu twice, once in college, living in a dorm with a shared bathroom, and already diagnosed with pneumona three days prior. The other after some idiot mother dragged her sick child around the furniture store where I was working cause ‘I was bored sitting at home with her’ and over half the store employees got sick with it, including several who’d gotten the shot. On the other hand the only way I’d end up in the ER for it was if I was on vacation or if it suddenly took a turn for the worse on a weekend.

  6. Emily says:

    I’ll speak up as one who’s never gotten a flu shot, even though I am asthmatic. I asked my pharmacist when they were doing vaccinations, and she advised that if I got it at all, I should only do so at my doctor’s office – I’ve had documented allergic reactions to both egg whites and the MMR vaccine, the latter reaction started as an asthma attack and eventually turned into pneumonia. Even my doctor has never pushed me to get the flu shot. So I wash my hands a lot and try to avoid people coughing during flu season. Knock wood, I’ve never gotten the flu that I could tell, just tons of allergy problems and sinus infections.

  7. Frances says:

    For the first time in 20 years, I skipped the flu shot. Last Monday, I realized my asthma attack was more than just asthma and tested positive for the flu. While the flu symptoms have been mild, probably due to early treatment with Tamiflu, my lungs are still not happy. I’ll be first in line for flu shots from now on.

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