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Response to womanofthehills (Original post)

Sat Dec 2, 2017, 10:45 PM

4. Yup. But let's fire everyone in health care who hasn't gotten a flu shot.

The particular flu strains covered by vaccines in any given year are an educated guess. With the flu, as often as not, the guess doesn't pan out.


Data from the CDC (https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/season/index.html)

2017/18 - bad match (10% for the worst strain of influenza A; 50-70% for the others)

2016/17 - According to data from the U.S. Flu Vaccine Effectiveness Network, interim estimates show flu vaccine has been 48% effective in preventing medically-attended influenza A and B illness. Interim effectiveness estimates against the predominant influenza A (H3N2) viruses are 43% while the interim effectiveness estimate against influenza B viruses is 73%.

2015/16 - CDCís adjusted overall VE estimate against influenza A and B viruses for all ages was 47%. The overall VE against A(H1N1)pdm09 was 41%] and the overall VE against influenza B was 55%.

2014/15 - CDCís adjusted overall VE estimate against influenza A and B viruses for all ages was 23%. The adjusted VE estimate against influenza A (H3N2) viruses for all ages was 13%.

2013/14 - Influenza A - 98.9%; influenza B - 70.6%

If predictions were perfect, and we could create something close to herd immunity - or even reliable protection of a class of workers more likely to transmit it to a vulnerable population, I would be more supportive of at least requring health care workers to get the shot.

As it is, people get the shot - feel invulnerable because they are immunized - and then come to work and infect everyone around because they can't believe they actually have the flu. In addition if you feel there is not a real risk of acquiring the flu, you are likely to be less likely to use best practices to avoid transmission. I used to work for people who religiously got the flu shots - and then came to work sick because they couldn't possibly have the flu - because they got immunized. Because they were pretending they were not ill, they put their germy hands all over everything in the office. Then pretty much everyone in the office got sick. Except me.

It is not that hard to stay reasonably safe from transmission of the flu or colds. I have not had a flu shot (ever) and have not had the flu since 2009.

*Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently.
*Never touch door handles/knobs/anything else that people frequently touch with your bare hands. In winter it's relatively easy - I just pull my hands inside my long sleeves. In warmer times, when it is usually the bathroom door I have to touch, I use my paper towel to open the door and either toss it into the can in the bathroom, or if it isn't properly positioned I take the towel with me.
*Keep your hands away from your eyes, nose, and mouth, especially if you accidentally touch something with your bare hands.
*Carry hand sanitizer and use it - on your hands, and on your things that someone else has touched (once they are out of sight)
*Stay home if you're sick; encourage your workers/fellow employees to stay home if they are sick
*If you aren't staying home, redouble your efforts at the above and wear a mask.

It has been 100% effective for me for the last 8 years, since I started being very attentive to my own behavior. That was in advance of a surgery that I didn't want to postpone due to illness when the aforementioned boss came to work sick within 2 weeks of my scheduled surgery. I knew not only did his behavior put me at risk, but that before my surgery nearly everyone in the office would (and did) catch it from him. That's a much better track record than flu vaccination has, and my current job puts me in close enough contact with about 100 people a week to catch it from any one of them.

I haven't ruled it out in the future, as I get frailer - but for now, me and my immunologically challenged system will take our chances.

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