Beta

Slashdot: News for Nerds

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Seasonal Flu Shots Double Risk of Getting Swine Flu, Says New Study

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the twice-as-nice dept.

Medicine 258

krou writes "A Canadian study currently under peer review apparently suggests that individuals given seasonal flu shots are twice as likely to get swine flu. The 'perplexing' study has thrown influenza health plans into disarray, with Quebec, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario and Nova Scotia all suspending seasonal flu shots for anyone under 65 years of age. The study appears to be confined to Canada; the US, Britain, and Australia have not reported the same problem, so some are suggesting that the research has 'study bias.' However, the research appears to be 'solid' according to Dr. Ethan Rubinstein, head of adult infectious diseases at the University of Manitoba. 'There are a large number of authors, all of them excellent and credible researchers. And the sample size is very large — 12 or 13 million people taken from the central reporting systems in three provinces.''

cancel ×

258 comments

Don't forget: (3, Interesting)

elsJake (1129889) | more than 4 years ago | (#29634609)

Flu shots are for people with weak immune systems and old people that are at higher risk to "die" from it. Never get one done if you don't _need it_. I've see more people almost die due to allergic reactions to shots than i have due to a bad case of the flu.

Re:Don't forget: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29634645)

why the hell is die in quotes?

Re:Don't forget: (2, Informative)

elsJake (1129889) | more than 4 years ago | (#29634687)

Because that's the main selling point to the shots , get it or you die , even if you're not part of the risk group. Probably should have used another symbol and explained this point in the first post.

Re:Don't forget: (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29635555)

Here in the UK they don't try and sell flu shots, they're free. The only reason they push people to have them is it costs the health services more to clean up the mess than prevent it in the first place. That says to me that flu shots actually work, not that they're just flogging medicine to people.

Re:Don't forget: (3, Insightful)

kdemetter (965669) | more than 4 years ago | (#29635683)

Where i live , there are not , but i can get them for free at the company i work.
Pretty much for the same reason : it costs my company more to pay me when i'm sick , than the costs of the flu shots.

On a large scale , yes , they certainly work.

Re:Don't forget: (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29634723)

Except, most areas I have been push the flu shot for everyone, not just the weakened.
I'de much prefer they phrase it in such a way as - If you have a weak immune system, get this shot.
Instead, it seems it's presented as a way to prevent a mass outbreak.

CVS now advertises on their street sign "Flu shot while you wait".....
? who gets the shot without waiting?
Here's my arm, I'll be right back, just making a quick run to Starbucks for a double latte.

Re:Don't forget: (2, Insightful)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | more than 4 years ago | (#29634751)

Flu shots are for people with weak immune systems and old people that are at higher risk to "die" from it.

And as it turns out, there's evidence that flu shots benefit to the elderly has been grossly overetimated [nytimes.com] , that previous studies claiming a benefit did not control for differences in the populations that get flu vaccines versus those that don't.

It's also interesting that (according to the story I linked above) there has not been a placebo-controlled trial of the flu vaccine. So, anyone out there who rails against any sort of complimentary/alternative medicine and says they would never receive a treatment that can't produce placebo-controlled trials, can't get flu shots. (Of course, you also can't get surgery...)

Widespread flu shots are a great subsidy to big pharma, but as a public health measure, they're a questionable use of resources.

Re:Don't forget: (5, Informative)

geekboy642 (799087) | more than 4 years ago | (#29635041)

Actually, a blanket statement that surgery had no placebo-controlled trials is false. Googling for 'surgery placebo trial' results in a first page full of links to double-blind studies done of various surgical techniques, including a trial indicating arthroscopy of the knee is essentially pointless, and several talking about tests of specific drugs during and after surgery. It may be true that some surgeries haven't received a double-blind test in full. I certainly wouldn't wish my name attached to a double-blind study involving kidney transplants for end-stage renal disease patients, on humanitarian grounds alone.
Secondly, it is not true that the flu vaccine has not received double-blind testing. Just last year, Australia ran a study to determine the effectiveness of the flu vaccine for the strains common in 2008. The mechanism of flu vaccines has been quite well studied and tested. The specific variant of the flu vaccine that affects the swine flu has also been individually studied. I haven't read of any placebo-controlled studies for it, but it would certainly be unusual if that hadn't occurred. Of the half-dozen tests a cursory search was able to dig up, all indicated a positive result with very low side-effects. It would be preposterous for any researcher to publicize the results of a trial without a control group, so I think that railing against the vaccine because of a presumed lack of placebo-controlled tests is, simply, inane.

And as a final dig, if you continue to get your medical news from the NY Times, you'll live in a constant state of near-panic from whatever health scare they've dug up to boost ratings this month. They begin by talking about the elderly, then reference a study 'not designed to look at this age group' as their supporting evidence to disparage vaccines for the elderly. They may have a point that vaccines for octogenarians are not as powerfully protective as previously believed. However, spreading FUD about our best weapon against the flu is irresponsible at the very least, and slanders the doctors and researchers who've spent their lives doing good.

Re:Don't forget: (1)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 4 years ago | (#29635783)

And as a final dig, if you continue to get your medical news from the NY Times,

Where do you suggest plebes like us to get our medical news from? JAMA? NEJM?

Re:Don't forget: (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29635901)

Your doctor.

Re:Don't forget: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29635923)

And as a final dig, if you continue to get your medical news from the NY Times,

Where do you suggest plebes like us to get our medical news from? JAMA? NEJM?

How about asking your doctor?

Re:Don't forget: (4, Funny)

overcaffein8d (1101951) | more than 4 years ago | (#29636049)

the onion?

Re:Don't forget: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29634755)

Flu shots are for people with weak immune systems and old people that are at higher risk to "die" from it. Never get one done if you don't _need it_.
I've see more people almost die due to allergic reactions to shots than i have due to a bad case of the flu.

And I've seen exactly the opposite thing. Almost everyone at the company I work for has to get the flu shot every year. I've seen 100 people a year for 25 years get the flu shot and we've never had a reaction.

Right, just like Bruce Lee won over Chuck. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29635467)

And as you can see, the injuries caused to Chuck all healed the same day of defeat. As for Bruce, out of nowhere, those roundhouse kicks caused a demure in the brain-swelling and Bruce is dead nearly 3 years after getting kicked by Chuck Norris.

I'll stick to my non-GMO dolphin-safe tapiocas, choi, and runny-egg cereal.

Re:Don't forget: (4, Funny)

geekboy642 (799087) | more than 4 years ago | (#29635071)

And as we all well know, the plural of anecdote is "a population-controlled double-blind study"!

Re:Don't forget: (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29635741)

not a troll

Re:Don't forget: (3, Informative)

redcaboodle (622288) | more than 4 years ago | (#29635895)

You are forgetting something. If you catch the flu and can bear it you are a vector to infect others who might not be able to survive an infection. So if you regularly see your old granny or mother-in-law you might want to get the shot anyway if you'd like to be able to see her again.

Apart from that - flu is one ugly disease to have. It just doesn't put you down flat with 40 fever but the other infections that sneak in while your immune system is overwhelmed will give you trouble for weeks. Of course, if you get pneumococci into your lungs, you won't have to worry about that, you'll just drown in your own mucus.Flu is rarely deadly, but the opportunistic infections that follow are.

Re:Don't forget: (2, Funny)

Acidangl (86850) | more than 4 years ago | (#29635947)

wait....why is mother-in-law someone you want to not get sick?

Maybe... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29634615)

...they catch the swine flu while waiting in line for the seasonal flu shot.

Nothing new... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29634641)

It just means more profits for evil companies like Baxter International.

Yo dawg, we herd u like makin money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29634647)

so we put swine flu in yo swine flu vaccine, so u can make tons of cash while people die

As usual, correlation is not... (4, Insightful)

fph il quozientatore (971015) | more than 4 years ago | (#29634651)

IF you have health problem, or a weak immunitary system, then you are likely to have had flu shots in the past, AND you are likely to catch swine flu now that a shot for it does not exist yet. So nothing particularly stunning here.

Re:As usual, correlation is not... (2, Interesting)

tinkertim (918832) | more than 4 years ago | (#29634719)

IF you have health problem, or a weak immunitary system, then you are likely to have had flu shots in the past, AND you are likely to catch swine flu now that a shot for it does not exist yet. So nothing particularly stunning here.

Though it isn't exactly spelled out in TFA, I would _hope_ that their conclusion was drawn after noticing the trend in ordinary / normally healthy people. I think what they mean is, ordinary / healthy people who get the flu shot seem to be twice as likely to contract Swine Flu.

Not a lot of information regarding the study itself is in the TFA, unfortunately. Most of the article just states current and potential ramifications.

Re:As usual, correlation is not... (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#29635449)

Okay random guess - perhaps preparing your body for a specific strain of influenza, weakens its ability to deal with other generalized attacks from other strains (including H1N1). Kinda similar to studying for a test - if you put all your focus on chapter 9 of the textbook, it diminishes your ability to deal with chapters 1-8 because you're not properly prepared.

(shrug)

Re:As usual, correlation is not... (1)

schon (31600) | more than 4 years ago | (#29634803)

Wait.. so you're saying that Swine flu isn't directly caused by flu shots!?!?!

Wow, thanks for clearing that up!

Re:As usual, correlation is not... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29634895)

IF you have health problem, or a weak immunitary system, then you are likely to have had flu shots in the past, AND you are likely to catch swine flu now that a shot for it does not exist yet. So nothing particularly stunning here.

Funny, the medical community DOES seem surprised. Why are you not? Do you have a medical background?

Re:As usual, correlation is not... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29634907)

Except that the pattern is different in other countries...

Re:As usual, correlation is not... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29634957)

Its been really difficult to get information about this study. The problem is that with the sample size being so large, it is not isolated to the high risk categories. Some reporting here is that the flu shot suspension is just a knee jerk political reaction not based on good science. Go figure.

Re:As usual, correlation is not... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29636037)

The sample size may be large, but it's not everyone. I've never gotten a flu shot. I rarely get the flu, and generally don't need to see a doctor when I do. So I am not counted in studies like this.

The reality is that people who think they're at risk for getting the flu tend to get flu shots. All this study proves is that people who think they're at risk, actually are at risk.

Re:As usual, correlation is not... (1)

andymadigan (792996) | more than 4 years ago | (#29636177)

If this is 12-13 million people in Canada, that's nearly half their population. (No I'm not kidding)

Re:As usual, correlation is not... (1, Insightful)

Pigeon451 (958201) | more than 4 years ago | (#29635085)

Thank you Dr. Quozientatore for pointing out the obvious.

However as you may not know, H1N1 is different from general flu strains as it tends to have the strongest and deadliest effect on healthy people in their prime. Who do NOT generally get the flu shot.

Unfortunately for experts like you, we don't have the original data to analyze and come to our own conclusions, we only have a general news report (which we know is always scientifically sound and full of correct facts). Researchers are reviewing the paper extensively to ensure there was no unintended bias and the research is valid. Until then, please wear your tinfoil hat and facemask. Thanks.

Re:As usual, correlation is not... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29635299)

"strongest and deadliest effect on healthy people in their prime"

Any proof of that? It just doesn't sound right. Weren't almost all the people that died from it so far either sickly, old, or very young? Do you have any source? Also, based on the number of cases and number of deaths, do we really have any reason to believe the swine flu is any worse than the normal flu?

All this fear mongering and lacking facts scares me more than the flu. Especially in states like like Massachusetts where the state senate unanimously used the fear to pass a terrible bill allowing warrantless home invasions and forced vaccinations with excessive fines or imprisonment if you refuse. (http://www.infowars.com/swine-flu-martial-law-bill-clears-massachusetts-senate/)

So, if you have facts, please show them. I, and I'm sure many others here, have yet to see facts, and this all seems like a lot of FUD.

The real purpose clearly is the side effect of the vaccine that makes the patient impotent, and will allow Obama's Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to finally bring down the population! :)
http://survivalstation.org/blog/swine-flu-population-control-52.html

Re:As usual, correlation is not... (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 4 years ago | (#29635563)

I wonder if they also found that people who got flu shots were 100% more likely to have gotten a flu shot than those who didn't, and additionally 99% more likely to have decided to get a flu shot than those who didn't.

Re:As usual, correlation is not... (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 4 years ago | (#29635579)

That's the trouble with vaccines for seasonal diseases.

Vaccines are good for germs that don't change, like smallpox, polio, and other things that you stay immune to forever.

Flu is a different story because it mutates. It is like the borg, it adapted.

Health doesn't prevent a primary viral infection. (3, Informative)

Michael G. Kaplan (1517611) | more than 4 years ago | (#29635719)

There is a misconception that being "healthy" will prevent you from getting a primary viral infection, but this is not true. For example if you have never been exposed to varicella-zoster virus (the virus that causes both chicken pox and shingles) and if you inhale viral particles then you WILL come down with chicken pox - I don't care how "healthy" you think you are. Being healthy will, however, usually limit the severe the primary infection.

Being healthy will also allow you to build up a strong specific immune response after exposure to an antigen, so secondary infections by the same or similar viruses can be prevented. As we age and our immunity wanes then the varicella-zoster virus that has been stored in our nervous system for decades will have a chance to erupt again - now you have a case of shingles.

Being "healthy" can prevent a primary bacterial infection, just not a viral one.

If you are young and healthy and think that you don't need the vaccine because you "never get the flu" then you need to realize that you are actually the most likely person in the world to get the flu. Older people are more likely to be resistant to swine flu because many have been exposed before and they carry specific neutralizing antibodies.

So one of the reasons that the conclusion of the article is unlikely to hold up under analysis is that if you've never been exposed to the pandemic H1N1 virus then you are completely vulnerable. Getting the seasonal flu vaccine can't make you any more vulnerable than you already are. Actually I think that the best reason not to draw conclusions from the article is the fact that multiple other countries failed to observe what the Canadians observed.

There is so much paranoia about vaccines that people will seize on any bizarre pseudo-scientific reason not to get one. Unless you are anaphylactic to egg proteins (and I know you aren't) the only non-paranoid reason you should be giving for not getting vaccinated is that you are too lazy and unmotivated, or maybe you have a crippling phobia of needles. Everyone else who gives a different reason is just wearing a tin-foil hat.

Re:As usual, correlation is not... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29636263)

My friend works at a preschool. Kids show up sick all the time. My friend gets a flu shot every year.

I work at a tech company writing software. I don't interact with many people. I don't get flu shots.

Who do you think is more likely to get H1N1? The flu shot is not the cause.

Poor Logic (4, Insightful)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 4 years ago | (#29634685)

Don't get vaccinated for multiple strains that are more deadly because it makes you twice as likely to catch only one strain?

Virus mutates too quick, use Blood Electrification (0)

NRAdude (166969) | more than 4 years ago | (#29635591)

Don't get vaccinated for multiple strains that are more deadly because it makes you twice as likely to catch only one strain?

And you should know as a fact that all the recent flue vaccine have been advertised before the mutation took place. Either someone's an insider on this Vaccine stock or someone is internationally playing their cards. Of'course the only remedy for communicable disease is to avert from all the public offices and nasty-personality people that intend to manhandle children and prisoners in every contactable way like this is Rome or Sodom/Gomorah.

There has been more than one herbalist that has recommended Oregano oil drop on the back of the tongue and Hydrogen Peroxide in the ear canal, though Blood Electrification [youtube.com] tools have been perfected by a doctor Robert Beck to solve the issue of disease all-together.

How did they collect their data (4, Interesting)

vxvxvxvx (745287) | more than 4 years ago | (#29634693)

I can see several reasons that those who obtain flu vaccines are more likely to contract the swine flu (as well as all the other versions of the flu.) First there's the age issue. The elderly are more likely to obtain a flu vaccine and are a higher risk group to begin with. But you also have the problems of people choosing to obtain the vaccine or not. Those who have never had a problem with the flu aren't likely to vaccinate themselves while those who have are more likely to obtain the vaccination. So in general you would expect those who obtain the vaccine to have more problems with the flu than those who don't.

That said, it's entirely possible the study accounted for all that, but we have no way to know as the study hasn't been published yet . It's only been distributed for peer review at this point.Until the actual methods are available, I consider this just another example of media sensationalism regarding the swine flu.

Re:How did they collect their data (1)

uassholes (1179143) | more than 4 years ago | (#29635139)

No. If that were the explanation, then they would be more likely to get any kind of flu, not just H1N1.

Re:How did they collect their data (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29635971)

That would be a marvelous theory if not for the fact that the age group most susceptible to H1N1 is pretty much entirely under the age of 30...

Is there a correlation between ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29634695)

Those individuals who are likely and willing to receive a flu shot and those who are likely to be exposed to swine flu? In other words, if you're a reclusive hermit, why get a flu shot and you're also unlikely to shake hands with anybody who has swine flu, while a person who's out in public is both going to get a flu shot and a case of the flu that the shot doesn't cover?
So it's not the flu shot that makes it likely that to get swine flu, it's just that you're either likely to get both or neither.

Re:Is there a correlation between ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29634833)

Those individuals who are likely and willing to receive a flu shot and those who are likely to be exposed to swine flu?

My first guess would also be that the correlation is caused by differences in exposure. But that's not the only possibility. From TFA:

Even if the statistical link is proven, the medical link between seasonal flu shots and H1N1 remains mysterious. One hypothesis suggests seasonal flu vaccine preoccupies the cells that would otherwise produce antibodies against H1N1.

But, according to Dr. Rubinstein, the research shows that people who received the seasonal shot during the 2007-08 flu season remained vulnerable to swine flu well into 2009 â" an interval that should provide most immune systems ample restoration time.

This was my guess, also (3, Insightful)

Kythe (4779) | more than 4 years ago | (#29635995)

To me, the most logical explanation is that people who tend to get regular flu vaccines (e.g. teachers, etc.) are generally at higher risk of contracting the flu in the first place due to occupational risk factors, etc.

Swine flu: THE GAY DISEASE (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29634713)

Faggots spreading their faggot germs

could it possibly be from... (0, Redundant)

hebetudinous_rectum (1583011) | more than 4 years ago | (#29634715)

...to much back bacon, eh?

Re:could it possibly be from... (0, Redundant)

hodet (620484) | more than 4 years ago | (#29635155)

Did you just propose a toast to back bacon? Cheers then!

still worth it (1)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 4 years ago | (#29634735)

Get the vaccine to avoid a virus you will probably get, but it puts you at higher risk for a virus you have a tiny chance of catching. Sold.

Re:still worth it (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#29635443)

H1N1 is going around because its transmission rate is high. People all over the country have had it. The mortality rate is slightly lower than other, similar flu viruses, which increases transmission. (Not saying that's the only or primary factor there.) Some people are claiming that Tamiflu injections in the first 48 hours of symptoms are supposed to provide some benefit, but I don't see how and others are claiming that nothing helps once you have it except supporting your immune system, which is a good idea anyway.

Already possibly debunked (5, Informative)

PaddyM (45763) | more than 4 years ago | (#29634791)

I did a little googling, and found this via the who's article site: http://repository.searo.who.int/

http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20090930/h1n1_vaccine/20091001?hub=Health&s_name=

One day after the above article was published.

I think this is the case of the media reporting some scientific findings before it went completely through the peer review process. Sounds like it still isn't decided yet.

Re:Already possibly debunked (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29634991)

How did this crap get modded "informative"? What in the HELL do Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend have to do with influenza?

Re:Already possibly debunked (4, Funny)

Colonel Korn (1258968) | more than 4 years ago | (#29635137)

How did this crap get modded "informative"? What in the HELL do Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend have to do with influenza?

I won't believe anything until Oprah tells me it's right.

Re:Already possibly debunked (1)

The_Wilschon (782534) | more than 4 years ago | (#29635395)

Don't forget John Entwistle and Keith Moon. Zombies are^Wwere people too, you insensitive clod!

Re:Already possibly debunked (1)

zarzu (1581721) | more than 4 years ago | (#29635225)

it has to be pointed out that the independent review they talk about in the article seems to only look at the link between seasonal flu shots and severe cases of swine flu, while the original study looks to be about the link between seasonal flu shots and swine flu, which is obviously not at all the same thing. obviously there are still a lot of questions around selection bias etc, but there is nothing in the article that would be any indication of it being debunked.

from the article:

Butler-Jones says so far, the independent assessment that it commissioned has found no evidence of a link between seasonal flu shots and severe swine flu.

(...)

"The most important question is: Is the seasonal flu vaccine associated with enhanced severity of disease? And there's no evidence whatsoever from Canadian data that there is," Plummer said, referring to the analysis done by PHAC.

No biological reason for this (4, Interesting)

JWman (1289510) | more than 4 years ago | (#29634899)

This is most likely a case of media hype driving public policy.
I heard a segment on NPR on this. Basically, it's just one study still in the very preliminary stages as studies go. Moreover, thee experts they interviewed said that there was no known biological reason why this would happen.
Given the amount of research into influenza, how to vaccinate against it, and how the bodies immune system responds to these vaccines, I think it's pretty safe to say that there won't be any medical surprises regarding the interaction between two such vaccines.

Until this is vigorously peer reviewed and at least another supporting study by other researchers is done, I call this a definite correlation (which we ALL know does not equal causation....right?).

Re:No biological reason for this (5, Insightful)

JWman (1289510) | more than 4 years ago | (#29634931)

Oh, and this story made me think of this comic [phdcomics.com] . Applies perfectly here.

Re:No biological reason for this (2)

the plant doctor (842044) | more than 4 years ago | (#29635091)

Actually I thought of this XKCD comic. http://xkcd.com/552/ [xkcd.com]

Re:No biological reason for this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29635035)

Learn the truth or please shut the hell up. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5r4B9oIc0hA&feature=PlayList&p=A0EB6B42649CB282&playnext=1&playnext_from=PL&index=1

Re:No biological reason for this (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29635047)

Youtube is not a source.

Simple explanation? (1)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 4 years ago | (#29634913)

People who bother to get flu shots do so because they are more at risk of catching the flu (regardless of the type)?

Re:Simple explanation? (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 4 years ago | (#29635055)

People who bother to get flu shots do so because they are more at risk of catching the flu (regardless of the type)?

Or, people who get flu shots are more likely to engage in risky behavior around people with a different type of flu because they mistakenly believe vaccination against disease A is 100% effective against disease B? Never underestimate the ability of those in the left 10% of the bell curve to screw up...

Well, I have a small sample size... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29634919)

My wife any myself both were told to get the seasonal flu vaccine because we have two small children under two in our house. (They actually gave us the shot during a wellness check for our 3 month old three weeks ago.) So, we both just got over the H1N1 and were out all last week due to it. We don't know of anyone else around us that had H1N1 nor the seasonal flu shot. A coincidence, you decide.

Before the outcry of "foolish fools!" (4, Interesting)

Myji Humoz (1535565) | more than 4 years ago | (#29634953)

Please consider the following from the article and the paper:
1) The vast majority of provinces have suspended vaccinations for people not over 65. These provinces likely have several individuals on their health boards with more qualifications than the average SD poster.
2) The sample size was 12 to 13 million people. The paper was written by a large group of very high level names, and the initial peer review results don't involve "sampling bias" or "conditional probability" attacks.
3) The vaccination DOES NOT boost the chances of normal flu, but DOES boosts the chances of swine flu. Accounting for age group and health differences, the trend still remains. People who have gotten vaccinated up to two years ago still show a statistically significant difference in their chance of catching swine flu.
4) Before the bandwagon leaves on the "people who are more likely to get sick are more likely to get vaccinated, accounting for the 100% increase", people who get vaccinations aren't twice as likely to catch flu as people who don't get vaccinations. There's definitely something going on here.

TLDR: This isn't some crackpot study or some anti-vaccination study. They noticed something weird, and like a good pack of scientists, are investigating it.

Re:Before the outcry of "foolish fools!" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29635005)

Citation needed.

Re:Before the outcry of "foolish fools!" (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 4 years ago | (#29635631)

The vaccination DOES NOT boost the chances of normal flu, but DOES boosts the chances of swine flu.

Why would you expect the seasonal flu vaccine to boost the chance of normal flu? Seems to me the expected result is for the seasonal flu vaccine to reduce the chance of seasonal flu, and make no difference to the swine flu.

Exactly (1)

Kythe (4779) | more than 4 years ago | (#29636021)

Given the fact that the people who received this vaccine should now have immunity to the normal flu, it stands to reason their chances of getting normal flu would not be boosted. If, on the other hand, people who get the vaccine tend to be people at high risk of getting flu in general due to occupational risks, travel habits, etc., or they tend to engage in more risky behavior because they've had the regular flu vaccine, a correlation with an increased incidence of the novel H1N1 simultaneously makes sense.

also tripple risk of normal Flu (0)

citizenr (871508) | more than 4 years ago | (#29634973)

Every year at my gf's work at least half of the workforce takes Flu shots. Later in the winter that half walks around with running noses. Not only they aren't immune, they spread around infection. To make it funnier this is a Medical facility, and people getting the shots rationalize they would get much sicker without them. All they do is spread last years Flu variants among the rest.

Re:also tripple risk of normal Flu (5, Insightful)

germansausage (682057) | more than 4 years ago | (#29635067)

1. Look up Rhinovirus and Influenza.

2. Notice that they are not the same thing.

soo... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29634987)

it's not AIDS, or even cancer, that's gonna do the world in, it's gonna be Canadian Bacon!

Re:soo... (1)

EQ (28372) | more than 4 years ago | (#29636073)

it's not AIDS, or even cancer, that's gonna do the world in, it's gonna be Canadian Bacon!

No. You have to find something that's limited to Canada. Something widely consumed, deadly to your health, and something that doesn't exist outside of Canada: Poutine.

You have to love it... (1, Redundant)

SuperNumberOne (1635789) | more than 4 years ago | (#29634989)

..when an article about stunning new findings that will scare everyone says "currently in peer review". People who leak this stuff should have their funding sources revoked.

Fallicy (3, Insightful)

CheshireCatCO (185193) | more than 4 years ago | (#29635031)

"'There are a large number of authors, all of them excellent and credible researchers. "

You do realize, sir, that this really proves little, right? I'd say around 90+% of scientists I know are credible and excellent researchers. We all *want* to do good work and few of us would willingly or knowingly compromise that.

This doesn't stop us from making honest, hard-to-spot mistakes. It's one thing to be sloppy (and that does happen sometimes) or to be dishonest (that also happens, rarely). But in any research, there will be factors you simply didn't know about and, let's be fair, shouldn't be expected to anticipate.

So saying that these are good researchers is, at best, suggesting that you think that they didn't lie or miss something obvious that they should have noticed. At worst, it sounds dangerously like an argument from authority.

Re:Fallicy (1, Informative)

EvilTwinSkippy (112490) | more than 4 years ago | (#29635079)

No, all we are saying is that if you are going to *publish* as an authority on the matter. I.E. *as* a scientist, that you know WTF you are talking about.
<p>
Missing an important underlying correlation, and implying a causation where one does not exist is beyond irresponsible.

Re:Fallicy (1)

CheshireCatCO (185193) | more than 4 years ago | (#29636367)

Scientists are not authorities. We're experts, on our good days. Never, ever authorities.

Beyond that, I have no clue what you're saying and how it relates to my post.

would not be surprised (5, Insightful)

malilo (799198) | more than 4 years ago | (#29635033)

This is not necessarily surprising or a new idea. A researcher at Rice University (Michael Deem, whom I have heard speak on this) studies the genetic basis for the vaccine and the resulting efficacy in any given year and there are MANY years in which getting a flu vaccine the previous year will actually increase your chances of getting the flu the next, or make it worse. You can find an interesting calculator here: http://www.mwdeem.rice.edu/pepitope/ [rice.edu] , where there is also a link to his most important paper on it at the bottom (no registration req.). Here is an excerpt:

Vaccine efficacy can even be negative, however, due to original antigenic sin [7-9], the tendency for antibodies produced in response to exposure to infl uenza vaccine antigens to suppress the creation of new, different antibodies in response to exposure to new versions of the infl uenza virus. The efficacy of the annual in fluenza vaccine, and whether original antigenic sin may occur, depends sensitively on how similar the vaccine and circulating viral strains are. Current state of the art measures of antigenic distance are based on ferret antisera hemagglutinin inhibition assays [10-12], and these distances are assumed to correlate well with vaccine efficacies in humans. However, to our knowledge no such good correlation has ever been shown for an experimental or theoretical measure of antigenic distance.

Ever since I heard this talk, and learned that the flu vaccine is actually a random guess each year, I don't bother with it. I'm young, strong, and tough and very very unlikely to die, I figure.

Re:would not be surprised (5, Insightful)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#29635105)

Ok, but when you do get it stay home, ok? Don't try to prove how "tough" you are by going around coughing on people. Just stay home in bed until all the symptoms are gone. Or you are dead.

Re:would not be surprised (1)

LanMan04 (790429) | more than 4 years ago | (#29636117)

Tell that to the company I work for, with its 5 days of sick leave per year.

Re:would not be surprised (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 4 years ago | (#29635121)

Ever since I heard this talk, and learned that the flu vaccine is actually a random guess each year, I don't bother with it. I'm young, strong, and tough and very very unlikely to die, I figure.

And, if you're extremely old, and almost dead from emphysema, etc, the flu won't remove many days from your lifespan anyway, maybe a week or two at most, sucks but its true. The only people whom benefit from a flu vaccination might be the small fraction of children whom might have lost decades of lifespan, except for the roughly equally small fraction whom have a "negative reaction", and except for the media having programed the drones to believe vaccines cause autism despite the considerable medical evidence to the contrary, so the kids aren't getting vaccinated.

So that leaves... big pharma executives ... as the only people whom benefit from the flu vaccination hype industry?

Re:would not be surprised (2, Informative)

uassholes (1179143) | more than 4 years ago | (#29635185)

This is not meant to scare, but young, strong, and tough people are dying from H1N1. It's probably a vaccine worth getting. Even if you survive it, you could pass it to someone who won't.

Re:would not be surprised (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 4 years ago | (#29635825)

But we're not talking about the swine flu vaccine. We're talking about the seasonal flu vaccine.

I'm still pretty wary to take the swine flu vaccine. Remember what happened in 1976? More people died from the vaccine than the flu. H1N1 mortality for humans is something like .1%, like any other flu, and that's IF you get it. The vaccine on the other hand hasn't gone through the normal safety testing and vaccine makers have been granted legal immunity if there are side effects. The actual efficacy of the vaccine is unknown. Still, vaccine technology has come a long way since 1976, and I don't think the risk of Guillian Barre syndrome is credible. (You're more likely to get GBS from the flu than from the flu vaccine)

So I'm split on the issue. I haven't had a flu shot since college, and haven't gotten the flu in that time either. So I'm not that concerned about the seasonal flu. H1N1 I have no exposure to, and so no immunity. People in their 20s are at the highest risk for death if they get H1N1. So I'm leaning towards getting the H1N1 vaccine when it's available to the general public. Still, it's not cut and dried either way.

Re:would not be surprised (1)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 4 years ago | (#29635369)

malilo writes: I'm young, strong, and tough and very very unlikely to die

[malilo steps outside and is crushed by a truck rushing flu vaccine to a clinic]

Interferon effect? (2, Interesting)

SlowGenius (231663) | more than 4 years ago | (#29635177)

In addition to the selection bias already mentioned (people more likely to get the flu are more likely to get flu shots), there's another good reason why it might be that people who didn't get the seasonal flu vaccine are less likely to have gotten the H1N1 flu--that's because they're far more likely to have gotten the regular ("seasonal") flu instead! Turns out that whenever we get a viral illness, our bodies ramp up production of interferons and generally "batten down the hatches" to make us more resistant to viral illnesses in general for a short period of time (weeks) afterwards.

If I'm right, then the powers-that-be in the Canadian health system may be wearing a lot of egg on their faces in the next few months, as the "real" (northern hemisphere) flu season hits. Over time, the unvaccinated people who initially resisted H1N1 because they caught a seasonal flu will once more become fully susceptible to the H1N1 strain as well.

12 or 13 million people? (2, Interesting)

joocemann (1273720) | more than 4 years ago | (#29635335)

So... which is it? 12.. or 13? Thats a million person difference. Why the hell is this number not solidly reported?

media bias (2, Insightful)

frovingslosh (582462) | more than 4 years ago | (#29635497)

This is interesting, but I expect this is the last that I will hear of it and that this story will never make it into the main stream media, by which I mean outlets like the three major U.S.A. network TV news shows. It sends a message contrary to what they seem to want to preach, and almost encourages people to think and make informed choices for themselves.

Bad Science Meets Slashdot... Again... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29635515)

Nothing to see here, move along.

You probably shouldn't get it in the first place (3, Insightful)

Judinous (1093945) | more than 4 years ago | (#29635585)

Disclaimer: I am not an anti-vaccination nutjob. The following post refers to the flu vaccination, and the flu vaccination only.

First off, with regard to TFA, this alone should not discourage people from getting the flu shot. The simple fact is that the "swine flu" is the same as the "regular flu" that we get every year. It is not particularly more infectious or deadly in any segment of the population than any other flu strain. The fear surrounding this particular strain is simply manufactured by the media. If the flu vaccine reduces the chance of getting the other 15-20 strains of flu by a significant amount, but doubles your risk of this particular strain, you still come out ahead.

However, most people should not even consider getting a flu shot in the first place. If you are between the ages of ~15 and ~60, and are in general good health, you should not get the flu shot. It terrifies me when I see flu shots being given out to students at local schools and colleges. These are the people who have absolutely zero risk of dying from the flu. None. Even if it leads to pneumonia, there is only a risk of death if proper medical treatment is not given. The worst that can happen is, well, that they catch the flu for a week or so.

The flu shot, on the other hand, can be extremely dangerous. My aunt was a nurse, and thus was required by her job to take the flu shot every year. She had been taking them for nearly a decade when, in her mid-thirties, she was paralyzed from the waist down by the side-effects of the flu shot. Had she not taken the shot, the worst that would have happened to her would have been simply getting the flu. She got a large settlement from the vaccine manufacturer and her employer. It was a rather fast process, as they knew beforehand that a certain percentage of people who take the flu shot would have this reaction. The cost of the settlements is simply rolled in to the cost of the vaccine. A couple of years later, a friend of the family suffered similar complications from the flu shot, and died. He was only 28 at the time, and in perfect health. Had he not taken the shot, the worst that would have happened to him would have been simply getting the flu.

The results of this study are interesting, but they make little difference. The vast majority of people should not be getting the flu shot in the first place. Taking it is simply rolling the dice unnecessarily. For those who are very young or old, the risks from the flu shot and the risks from the flu itself start to even out. In that case, the shot may indeed be a better idea. The results of this study do not change that fact.

Re:You probably shouldn't get it in the first plac (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29635757)

From an actuarial stand point, you may still be further ahead on average by getting the flu shot - I don't know the rate for adverse side effects, but if it were 1/10,000 or 1/1,000 or so, the much larger probability of being out for a week with the flu is actually represent a worse risk.

Re:You probably shouldn't get it in the first plac (1)

ridgecritter (934252) | more than 4 years ago | (#29636025)

This is interesting. Can you point me to a source that will help me learn about the side effect profile and frequency of flu vaccines? I know Google Is My Friend, but since you have some family experience with the issue, I thought I'd check with you first, then Google. Thanks.

Re:You probably shouldn't get it in the first plac (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29636029)

Tin foil hat bullshit.

Tin foil hat that is longer winded than normal, but still TFHBS.

Just "side effects" not "xyz syndrome of the liver", all them words and you couldn't recall the name of the shit your aunt told you?

Link to the court case, name the side effects and a paper where they are described and MAYBE I might believe you.

Re:You probably shouldn't get it in the first plac (3, Informative)

JacobSteelsmith (911307) | more than 4 years ago | (#29636107)

I read up on the syndrome you described because I had never heard of it. It's Guillain-Barré (pronounced ghee-YAN bah-RAY) syndrome (GBS) and seems to manifest after a bacterial or viral infection, which can include a flu shot. Other than that, there's not much else known of the syndrome. For what it's worth, the CDC reports only one of many studies found that around one in one million vaccinated persons may be at risk for developing the syndrome.

Still very interesting. Thanks for pointing this out.

Young people get H1N1 vaccine. Old get seasonal. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29635597)

Basically the issue with flu vaccination is this: it's recommended for the elderly and other more-susceptible people, because they have the most to lose if they get influenza. A relatively modest reduction in influenza incidence in this population will save many lives. Young healthy people getting the flu vaccine, unless you are caring for this susceptible population, matters less.

Now, what about H1N1 strain? The elderly actually have some immunity to this strain. Us younger folks have never encountered it before. This is probably why it's mostly younger people falling to H1N1, more so than older folk.

The vaccination recommendation put forth where I live?... Elderly people should get the "regular" seasonal flu vaccine (ie protection against what has always been a great cause of morbidity and mortality in this population), and everyone else should get the H1N1-specific vaccine, because this population is quite susceptible to it. Makes sense, I think.

Risky behaviour (2, Interesting)

plasmidmap (1435389) | more than 4 years ago | (#29635785)

One mechanism that could account for this is "risky behaviour", which is flu-vaccinated people being less concerned about being in contact with symptomatic people due to their perceived protection through the vaccine. Since the regular flu vaccine does not protect against "swine flu", vaccinated people are more likely to get it. The flip-side being unvaccinated people go out of their way to stay away from symptomatic people, and so are less likely to contract it.

Original Antigenic Sin (4, Interesting)

nukeade (583009) | more than 4 years ago | (#29635807)

This might have something to do with it:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Original_antigenic_sin [wikipedia.org]

The idea is that if your immune system learns to recognize an antigen similar to, but not sufficiently similar to, the antigen of a new threat, then your body may mount a less effective immune defense against the variant than it already knows. In other words, your body learns to fight seasonal strain of flu, then encounters similar H1N1. Now your body produces antibodies to the original flu, which bind more weakly to H1N1 proteins than an antibody that would have been made especially for H1N1, leading to an overall more severe infection than you otherwise would have had.

~Ben

Flu shots (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29636089)

I was in the military for a decade. Every year they tried to force me to get a flu shot. A couple of years they actually succeeded, others, I managed to slip out side-doors, talk my way out, or jump into the 'shot completed' lines. (1990-1999, age 19-29)

In that timeframe, I actually had 3 annual flu shots. Every single time I got the shots, I was ill within about 8 hours and it stayed very sick for about 72 hours. The military didn't CARE. They still tried to give me the stinking shot every year. The entire time, I actually only had the flu ONCE and it was in one of the years they gave me the shot.

The rest of my career I went FLU-free (1990-1999, age 19-29). Since then (another 10 years), I have had no flu shots and have had the flu two more times. Yep, that's me with the actual flu, 3 times in 2 decades. The flu was FAR more pleasant (fever, aches, and tired for about 30-48 hours) than my reaction to the stinking shots (72 hours of fever, vomiting, dry heaves, and flat on my back).

If you love your flu shots, fine, take them. If you don't want them, fine, don't take them. But will someone PLEASE tell the military that it IS NOT NECESSARY to FORCE fit and healthy 19-39 year-olds to take a flu shot, knowing that they will have a stinking reaction.

I understand that they don't want a whole unit to go down with the flu at once. FINE. But otherwise healthy people with documented bad reactions, every stinking time, should be given an exception. BTW, you can expect similar nonsense from the Public Option Healthcare.

"Oh, we see hear that you didn't get your annual FLU shot citizen. No surgery procedure for you. You didn't check our freaking box, and we are a monolithic monstrosity that doesn't recognize individual needs, so yes, your bursting appendix could be easily treated, but we will not perform the surgery." BOHICA.

Expectations (2, Interesting)

westlake (615356) | more than 4 years ago | (#29636409)

In that timeframe, I actually had 3 annual flu shots. Every single time I got the shots, I was ill within about 8 hours and it stayed very sick for about 72 hours.

If a placebo can make you feel better - it strikes me that fear can make you sick.

Many Canadians already had swine flu (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 4 years ago | (#29636101)

Lots of Canadians already had swine flu. It took me about 6 months to recover - from November 2008 till June 2009. I have seen co-workers undergoing the same ordeal - coughing for 6 months straight. So the statiscs may be skewed, but I'll take my common flu shot, since I don't want to get the next one.

Sample size problems (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29636267)

OK, so they claim there is a large sample size for the study. My question is, how large a sample actually had swine flu? I seem to recall that the main reason they declared it epidemic is because of the number of locations it occurred in, not the number of actual cases. Is it possible that this anomaly is coming from something like "the inoculated group showed two cases in 6 million where the non-inoculated group only showed one case in 6 million"?

Consider this.... (1)

EEGeek (183888) | more than 4 years ago | (#29636387)

As a resident of Canada who has faithfully obtained the seasonal influenza vaccination nearly every year for the last 5 years, and the son of someone who works in the our provincial healthcare field, let me raise the following points about this study and the way vaccinations work in Canada, because it is entirely different that in the US or perhaps other areas of the world.

In Canada, it can be rather difficult to obtain the season influenza vaccination, since there tends to be a shortage every year. This means that people who are in at risk groups receive it first. These high risk groups include 1. Canadians aged 65 and over, 2. People with immunodeficiency diseases such as AIDS, HIV, etc., 3. People with diseases such as cancer, and 4. People with chronic conditions/diseases such as asthma, etc.

Canadians under the age of 65 with normal immune systems, and no diseases do not as easy access to seasonal influenza. I find it exceedingly hard to believe that he sample space is 12 million people as there are only 33 million Canadians. You can't tell me that an combined number of 12 million Canadians have received the seasonal influenza vaccination and/or received swine flu to allow this study to be possible. I propose the following reasons for people who received the vaccination are twice as likely are for the same reasons some people in Canada get "first dibs" on getting the vaccination in the first place.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...