I Sure Wish We Had a Vaccine, Don’t You?

I hope the swine flu outbreak focuses attention on the importance of vaccination.


When you consider seasonal (annual) influenza (which kills ~36,000 per year) and how lackidaisical people are about vaccination, I can only hope that this makes people realize just how important vaccination for annual influenza is. Because I’m guessing, that right about now, people would be lining up for a vaccine.
It’s easy to be sanguine about vaccination, or to ‘debate’ whether vaccines actually work, when such beliefs are viewed as having little or no consequence. But the specter of a pandemic has a funny way of focusing attention. You have to work much harder to justify not getting a flu shot. Suddenly, echinacea and grapefruit seed extract don’t seem so useful (I CAN HAZ VAKSEEN?). As I quipped last week, if influenza were taken seriously, vaccination would be a sacrament.
I don’t want anyone else to die from this, but hopefully, many people will have learned from these deaths, and when the influenza vaccine is released later this year, get a flu shot.
And, of course, WASH YOUR DAMN HANDS!

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4 Responses to I Sure Wish We Had a Vaccine, Don’t You?

  1. Onkel Bob says:

    Have there been any studies that confirm the statement that “while vaccines may not prevent influenza, they lessen the impact”? I was given an influenza vaccine (sometimes two) every year during my military service. Since my discharge I haven’t bothered with one. While my contraction of influenza has been rare, I don’t recall being any better or worse off in either case.
    As for deaths, excuse my cold-hearted response but is the cost really worth the benefit? 36K isn’t very many when considered in the big picture. This society spends a great deal of money conditioning people that a pill or a shot or other some such miracle of science will cure them of their ills, when (as you rightly suggest at the end) simple common sense and hygiene would have a more substantial impact.

  2. Eric says:

    It’s easy to be sanguine about vaccination, or to ‘debate’ whether vaccines actually work, when such beliefs are viewed as having little or no consequence. But the specter of a pandemic has a funny way of focusing attention. You have to work much harder to justify not getting a flu shot.

    I agree with you that vaccines are important, but this reasoning seems to be nothing more than an emotional appeal. Instead of making it about vaccines, try replacing vaccines with “believing in God” and derivatives, and pandemic with “death,” etc. It becomes something akin to Pascal’s Wager, or an attempt at a converting a dying person. I think instead, we should be debating and discussing and thinking rationally, both when under imminent threat, and when not.
    Now, ‘debating’ on the other hand – the thing anti-vaxers do – that I have no problem eliminating. But it should be eliminated because it’s bad, not because we’re suddenly in danger.

  3. llewelly says:

    Have there been any studies that confirm the statement that “while vaccines may not prevent influenza, they lessen the impact”? I was given an influenza vaccine (sometimes two) every year during my military service. Since my discharge I haven’t bothered with one. While my contraction of influenza has been rare, I don’t recall being any better or worse off in either case.

    Sample size: 1

  4. red rabbit says:

    Interesting thought Bob:
    I am probably near your age and I have NEVER had influenza. I have had a load of colds though.
    This is one of the greatest myths out there: the flu shot does not prevent colds. It does not make them less serious. It does not prevent “man flu.” It does not prevent sniffles, runny noses, “chest colds” or “stomach flu.”
    It prevents influenza, and can mitigate infection in patients not 100% protected.
    Many studies have been done: do a google scholar search using the keywords influenza and vaccination. 5 of the first 8 hits are clinical trials addressing your question.

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