The Flu Shot Is Still Worth Getting

Andrew Sullivan —  Jan 20 2015 @ 3:19pm

Aaron Carroll begs everyone to get some perspective:

I see headlines telling people the vaccine is “only 23% effective”. I’d like a list of all medicines people take, diets they go on, behaviors they change, devices they employ, and procedures they undergo which are better than 23% effective. I’m willing to wager the number is quite low.

In other flu news, Kaleigh Rogers covers research on a “universal” flu vaccine:

If clinical trials go well, a new u​niversal flu vaccine that would treat all strains of flu with a single shot could be just five years away. That would mean a future where nearly 20,000 p​eople won’t die due to a pandemic of the virus. A future where we wouldn’t have to spend a week in bed in misery even though we got​ a fucking flu shot this year.

Researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and at Canada’s McMaster University began developing the vaccine three years ago after the discovery of a subclass of antibodies. When the body encounters influenza, it naturally produces these antibodies, which are able to recognize all strains of flu and mutations of the virus.

Until such a vaccine becomes a reality, Meeta Shah warns that emergency departments (EDs) are being overrun:

When interviewing emergency department directors regarding their experiences with this year’s flu season, I was shocked to hear the numbers.  Some EDs reported volume increases 15 to 25 percent higher in December compared to November or when compared to last December.  One director I interviewed joked that this epidemic was so significant he had colleagues who had coined it “The Flunami.”

Why is this important? Well, increased volumes like this don’t make it easy for an ED to function normally, and puts a strain on resources and staff. You or your loved one may need treatment from an overcrowded ED that is struggling to be efficient amongst this chaos.