Friday, October 27, 2006


Okay, not really. But now I have a few more points on my side of the argument.

For years, to the chagrin of certain family members, I have refused to get a flu shot. I have argued that given the varriable effectiveness of the flu vaccine and that I am a young, healthy, adult, with a history of a ridiculously strong immune system, the shot, for me, is not worth the time or public expense.

I have made these arguments, as with so many arguments against things that I don't really want to do, having done little research into the topic.

Now, today the British Medical Journal is publishing a commentary that supports the basic gist of my stance.

There isn't enough proof that flu vaccine is effective to support public programs advocating widespread use of flu shots, a controversial vaccine epidemiologist is suggesting. [...] "There's a huge gap between policy and evidence," Jefferson, who is co-ordinator of the Cochrane Vaccines Field in Rome, said in an interview Thursday. [...] In the journal, Jefferson argued too few good quality trials have been conducted to be certain flu shots are worth the time, effort and cost of flu vaccine programs.
Of course, not everyone in the medical community agrees:
"Even a vaccine that is not as effective as we would like could still have a substantial benefit," said Tam, who noted that as far as the agency is concerned, there is enough evidence to conclude vaccinating people against the flu lowers the annual toll of the disease.
The question seems to be, is the widespread public vaccination program ballanced by a corresponding benefit? I don't know. But, personally, I don't think there is a need for me to increase the demand for a flu shot.

Posted by Matthew @ 10:19 a.m.

Read or Post a Comment

I have a rock that keeps away tigers. Does it work? I don't know. But I don't see any tigers around here.

The flu shot is clearly beneficial, on average, for some - the old, the young, the chronically ill - but for most of us, a brisk half hour walk ever day might do more good.

Posted by Anonymous Anonymous @ October 27, 2006 11:33 a.m. #

For you and I Matt, the question is: am I happy getting the flu as often as I currently do, or would I like to have it less often. The tradeoff is that if I want to be sick less often, I have to A) pay for the shot (indirectly) and B) go out & actually get the thing.

It seems you and I both pefer to get sick when we get sick, but on our healthy days have the freedom of not worrying about the flu.

However, "feel crappy for a while, or don't" is not the question for everybody. For some people it's "live or die".

The question can be framed more broadly as well, when we recall that the only way you get the flu is from another person. If I don't get it, I don't give it to anybody. So maybe the my options are: "I stay healthy and so does my family, or I get the flu and maybe one of my (or someone else's) grandparents dies from it"

Is the goal of the flu shot to decrease instances of influenza, or deaths from influenza? I think those are two perspectives on the same question. The more people in the population that have the flu, the more likely high-risk people are go get it & die from it.

Posted by Blogger Cam Smith @ October 27, 2006 3:02 p.m. #
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