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Flu shot only 9% effective for one strain in oldsters

Discussion in 'The OT' started by phrelin, Feb 21, 2013.

  1. phrelin

    phrelin Hall Of Fame DBSTalk Club

    Jan 18, 2007
    The last time I knew for sure I had the flu was in 1959. I was bedridden for six weeks and almost died. Since then, I have had a flu shot every year and after we got married in 1972 so did my wife at my insistence. We've never had symptoms of anything more than a mild cold even though we both got old. Until this year.

    This year at Christmas our youngest granddaughter was visiting and obviously had something. On December 30 both my wife and I were sick. It wasn't until the last week in January that we thought we were about recovered. Then on February 5 we relapsed putting us both down in bed for a couple of days. By then I had to concede to my wife's insistence that it was the flu.

    Naturally, I was puzzled at both the fact that I got the flu and it was pretty bad. Finally, the answers have come forth in this AP article Flu shot did poor job against worst bug in seniors.

    In summary and in plain language, us old people who had the flu shot didn't build a resistance to the current strain of Type A H3N2. The extremely long article as usual didn't describe the symptoms. But I found this article that clearly listed every symptom we had:
    • Runny nose
    • Sore throat
    • Aching muscles
    • Headache
    • Cough
    • Nasal congestion
    • Malaise
    • Fever
    • Watery eyes
    • Aching joints
    • Sore throate
    • Aching body
    • Chills
    • Fatigue
    • Red eyes
    • Red skin
    • Red nose
    • Red throat
    • Loss of appetite
    • Weakness
    Both of us had a fever for a day, not the same day. Perhaps the vaccine kept us from having a debilitating fever.

    It is clear to me now that at the moment we felt sick, we should have gone to the doctor and gotten one of the two antivirals oseltamivir or zanamivir, except that we might have been treated with one of the adamantanes to which the H3N2 is resistant. We didn't seek treatment as we did not get the information that the vaccine wasn't working because the CDC didn't know until now.

    It's been 53 days and we both still have symptoms, though just mild nasal congestion, cough, occasional headache, and malaise (meaning a vague or unfocused feeling of mental uneasiness, lethargy, or discomfort).

    If you're Medicare age or older and start feeling the symptoms, go get an antiviral even if you have had the flu shot.

    And in the future, I'll remember that flu shots aren't perfect and not all influenza is the same - for instance the 1918 Spanish Flu struck the adult population harder than kids and seniors.

    By the way, "they" are offering a large dose shot for seniors now hoping to stimulate a better antibody reaction.:rolleyes:
  2. fluffybear

    fluffybear Hall Of Fame DBSTalk Club

    Jun 19, 2004
    One should never assume just because they get a flu shot, they won't get the flu.
  3. phrelin

    phrelin Hall Of Fame DBSTalk Club

    Jan 18, 2007
    Yeah, I became too confident because it seemed like the shots had worked for so many years.
  4. Polardog

    Polardog Legend

    Mar 4, 2008
    Same here. After developing Muscular Distrophy (Myasthenia-Gravis) in 1996 I followed my doctors orders to get a flu shot every year. And for all those years following my diagnosis I have not had the flu. That is until this week. I have had about half the symptoms Phrelin posted. The scariest was a fever that peaked at just over 101 last evening. Although fever has dropped today everything still hurts and eating is a chore because I just don't have an appetite. I had serious Malaise for several days and spent hours sitting on the edge of my chair unable to relax, pacing the floor believing something real bad was about to happen. The high fever was the biggest scare. I live alone, gonna be 67 next month and know high fever in older people is not a good thing.
    Its good to know about the two antivirals oseltamivir or zanamivir which I was unaware of till reading this post.
    Next time....
  5. scooper

    scooper Hall Of Fame

    Apr 22, 2002
    Youngsville NC
    I haven't had a flu shot nor the flu in about 5 years now. Except for work, I tend to be sort of a hermit, just ocaisionally going out for restaurant meals and groceries
  6. spartanstew

    spartanstew Dry as a bone

    Nov 16, 2005
    Wylie, Texas
    Exactly. They'll even tell you when you get it (or they should), that it doesn't guarantee you won't get the flu.

    Other than perhaps when I was a kid, I've never had the flu, and never had a flu shot.
  7. phrelin

    phrelin Hall Of Fame DBSTalk Club

    Jan 18, 2007
    The problem is when you go 53 years getting the shots without getting laid low by the flu a certain level of confidence develops into imprudence. This one has been a comeuppance.
    If you sense a relapse go get an antiviral. It may only help slightly, but there is a comparatively high risk with this bug.

    I worry about my wife because I was the idiot that told her "oh no, we got our flu shots so even if we get it the symptoms should be mild." According to the CDC this one can kill. :eek2:
  8. wilbur_the_goose

    wilbur_the_goose Hall Of Fame

    Aug 16, 2006
    Trust me - if you have the flu as an adult, you'll get a flu shot annually. It's the sickest I've ever been (back when I got it when I was probably 45, and I'm just over 50 now)
  9. davring

    davring Hall Of Fame

    Jan 13, 2007
    My wife has gotten the flu shot for many years with good results while I had never had one. In the last 30 years, or so, i had what I thought to be the flu maybe twice. My neighbor, a fellow vet, suggested I go down to the VA and get the shot. Within a few weeks I got sicker then I ever remember being, and as I began to recover, my wife came down with it as well. I now have doubts whether I'll do it next year.
  10. 4HiMarks

    4HiMarks Hall Of Fame

    Jan 21, 2004
    Laurel, MD

    My old boss used to get a flu shot every year and still got the flu about every two years. I never got the shot, and never got the flu, either. I don't get colds much either.
  11. fluffybear

    fluffybear Hall Of Fame DBSTalk Club

    Jun 19, 2004
    I got a flu shot once in my life. After receiving it, I had the flu twice. I can not say if the flu was any shorter or better as I typically tend to suffer for only about 2 to 3 days with the first 24 hours being it's worst.
  12. phrelin

    phrelin Hall Of Fame DBSTalk Club

    Jan 18, 2007
    At best, flu shots are typically only 70% effective - meaning 30% of people who get the shot still get the flu. But that represent a decent shift in the odds to make it worthwhile to me.

    However, had I known that this year the shot we received would be only 9% effective for old people I might have worn a mask and gloves around my sick 9-year-old granddaughter at Christmas. ;)
  13. acostapimps

    acostapimps Hall Of Famer

    Nov 5, 2011
    Just because you don't get the flu shot doesn't mean you'll not get the flu and vice versa, usually if you get the flu one year sometimes you'll get it the next maybe, don't get me wrong it's always better to get the flu shot just not every year(maybe once in three years IMO) Usually if one member of the household get it sometimes other people in the house get it too.

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