Nasty flu bugs going around this year, and the every-year epidemic has hit about two months early. One part of the good news is that the vaccines this year are especially well-suited to target the viruses that cause the trouble. The vaccines work well every year, but especially well in 2012 and 2013.
The bad news is that millions of people haven’t bothered to get vaccinated. That’s not good.
- Under Obamacare, there’s no copay for insurance for a flu shot. It’s “free” if you have any kind of insurance. In addition, county health offices offer the vaccines for free to any comers. A couple of weeks ago at the pharmacy I stood behind a woman who confessed she’d not gotten a flu shot (pharmacies are pushing vaccinations these days, to promote their mini-clinics). “I’ve got that crappy teachers’ insurance,” she told the technician. “It never pays for anything like that.” The tech looked it up, and told her that her copay was zero, and her insurance paid for it — essentially a free shot, to her. On the way into the clinic she said, “I’ve never gotten a flu shot before.” Oy.
- Think Herd Immunity: Are you usually healthy? Great. But if you’re pregnant, or you work around people who are or may be pregnant, or if you’re over 60, or if you have any chronic condition like diabetes, high blood pressure, chronic sinusitis, or a raft of other things, you’re at risk, and you put others in those risk categories at risk. My grandfather worked at a hospital while my mother and my oldest brother were living with him; after a week of my grandfather’s working in the polio ward, my brother came down with the disease. Of course we don’t know for sure, but my grandfather kicked himself for 40 years, until his death, because he thought he’d brought home the disease my brother caught. With vaccines, those incidents become much more rare.
Risking this blog’s G rating, I’m going to post this film, “V for Vaccine.” Found it at New Anthropocene. Turn up your offense filter, or ignore the language — but pay attention to what this guy says, PowerM1985:
Is it worth getting your children vaccinated if it risked them becoming autistic? In this video I give a short demonstration of why I personally believe that even if there was a risk of my child becoming autistic (AND THERE IS NOT!) I would still get them vaccinated.
You should probably know that the work of the Centers for Disease Control to correctly predict which strains of the viruses will be most prevalent, and get vaccines that will fight those viruses, has been very, very good this year.
- Influenza A (H3N2), 2009 influenza A (H1N1), and influenza B viruses have all been identified in the U.S. this season. During the week of December 23-29, 2,346 of the 2,961 influenza positive tests reported to CDC were influenza A and 615 were influenza B viruses. Of the 1,234 influenza A viruses that were subtyped, 98% were H3 viruses and 2% were 2009 H1N1 viruses.
- Since October 1, 2012, CDC has antigenically characterized 413 influenza viruses, including 17 2009 influenza A (H1N1) viruses, 281 influenza A (H3N2) viruses and 115 influenza B viruses.
- All 17 of the 2009 influenza A (H1N1) viruses were characterized as A/California/7/2009-like. This is the influenza A (H1N1) component of the Northern Hemisphere vaccine for the 2012-2013 season.
- Of the 281 influenza A (H3N2) viruses, 279 (99%) were characterized as A/Victoria/361/2011-like. This is the influenza A (H3N2) component of the Northern Hemisphere influenza vaccine for the 2012-2013 season.
- Approximately 69% of the 115 influenza B viruses belonged to the B/Yamagata lineage of viruses, and were characterized as B/Wisconsin/1/2010-like, the influenza B component for the 2012-2013 Northern Hemisphere influenza vaccine. The remaining 31% of the tested influenza B viruses belonged to the B/Victoria lineage of viruses.
What are you waiting for? Go get a flu shot!
- Have You Gotten Your Flu Vaccine Yet? (slog.thestranger.com)
- Fatal flu season: How to stay healthy (abcactionnews.com)
- Early Flu Season Hits Hard (abcnews.go.com)
- Shortages of flu vaccine, medication reported across North Texas (wfaa.com)
- Nurses Fired for Refusing Flu Vaccine (mcntalk.com)
- Free Flu Shots Now Available as Flu Spreads (wreg.com)
- More Eastern Iowans Look for Flu Vaccines as Cases Spike (kcrg.com)
- Menino Declares Health Emergency Due To Flu Outbreak (wbur.org)
- National flu outbreak widens (cbsnews.com)
- When fighting flu was more deadly than fighting war (bangordailynews.com)
- U.S. Centers for Disease Control site on flu
- Mayo Clinic page on influenza, and how to prevent it
- American Lung Association page on influenza
- National Library of Medicine/NIH page on flu
- “Influenza 1918,” PBS American Experience film on the flu epidemic that killed millions coming out of World War I (hey, this is a history blog, after all); you may watch the film in its entirety online (teachers, see teachers guide and other classroom materials at that site)