Stories tagged flu


Flu shot: A new study shows that flu shots are effective, at best, up to 59 percent of the time. Researchers are encouraging drug companies to develop new and better flu shots for the future.
Flu shot: A new study shows that flu shots are effective, at best, up to 59 percent of the time. Researchers are encouraging drug companies to develop new and better flu shots for the future.Courtesy r Joseph R Schmitt
Hey, I got my flu shot last week. It's been about 10 years now I've been able to get a free flu shot covered by my health insurance plan. And I'm happy to say I've never had the flu in all that time.

That, of course, is all anecdotal evidence. But some researchers at the University of Minnesota have been studying the issue of flu shots and have some new ideas on the matter. Based on their findings, they're encouraging new research to find a "game-changer" new vaccine to make flu shots more effective.

The Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the U released its findings yesterday. And overall, they found that flu shots had, at best, a 59 percent effectiveness rate for adults ages 18 to 64. Effectiveness rates for flu shots for people younger and older than that age group were inconsistent. The nasal-spray vaccine was found to have an efficacy of 83 percent in children ages 6 months to 7 years.

Vaccine manufacturers haven't made any significant changes to flu vaccine formulas for many years, mostly based on the idea that the flu shots were highly effective. But the new report challenges that theory and encourages new research to find different approaches to flu vaccines, with those new approaches aiming to have a higher rate of prevention.

In the meantime, the researchers are still encouraging people to get a flu shot this season. Some protection is better than no protection, they point out. And they also said that their findings showed no reason to believe that flu shots cause any harm to people who receive them.

What do you think? Are you getting a flu shot this year? Share your thoughts here with other Science Buzz readers.

The hype of H1N1 flu has run its course. News reports say that 40 million doses of unused vaccine (valued at $260 million) have been destroyed and that the flu impacted much fewer people than the regular seasonal flu. And there are millions more doses of the vaccine are set to expire at the end of this month. What just happened?


Vitamin D supplement study in children reduced catching flu almost in half

Vitamin D: Calcitriol is the active form of vitamin D found in the body.
Vitamin D: Calcitriol is the active form of vitamin D found in the body.Courtesy JaGa

Last week I blogged about why Vitamin D is needed for health.

This week I came across another study showing that Vitamin D is a flu fighter. The study has just been published online, ahead of print, in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
In the study children were asked to swallow six pills a day (25% dropped out). Half of the children's pills were placebos (fake). The pill givers did not know which pills were fake (double blind).

Incidence of influenza A was 10.8 percent among the 167 kids who received vitamin D pills. That's in contrast to a flu rate of 18.6 percent among an equal number of children getting identical looking inert pills. Doctors monitoring the trial confirmed flu cases using a test to assay for the influenza-A germ.

Vitamin D group had fewer asthma attacks

The study also noted that two asthma attacks occurred during the trial among kids getting the vitamin, compared to 12 in the unsupplemented group. The study doesn’t say whether the same number of kids with a history of asthma were in each group so this result may not be valid.

Better protection after 3 months of Vitamin D

The researchers also stated that it may take almost three months “to reach a steady state of vitamin D concentrations by supplementation". I interpret this to mean that takes our bodies about 90 days to accumulate an effective Vitamin D concentration (less illness after 3 months of taking vitamin D than during initial 3 months).


Chicken soup
Chicken soupCourtesy Mullenedheim
I am frugal and am careful when spending money. I remember a businessman telling me there was lots of money to be made in soap and food supplements. They both end up "going down the drain".
Billions of dollars are spent every year on vitamins, medicines and doctor visits. Are there scientific studies that verify how effective various remedies are in our battle against the common cold or flu?

Learn what science says about cold or flu remedies

I think most people accept that adequate rest, water, exercise, hand washing are fully supported by science. What does the scientific literature say about doctor's visits, antibiotics, vitamin C, echinacea and zinc, cough medicine, "Airborne", or chicken soup. I recommend you read the Patient Money column in the Jan 1, 2010 New York Times. Here are just a few tidbits from the article.


The "flu shot" vaccine side effects are usually the normal common reactions, and usually minor. some reactions are: about one in three people get a sore arm, little redness, or low fever from the shot, and an average of 10-15% of people feel tired or get a headache. The flu itself can cause serious problems, including GBS (Guillain-Barré Syndrome); the body's immune system attacks part of the peripheral nervous system.
A large proportion of the world population will get H1N1 and the vaccine side effect risk is far smaller than the sickness. When vaccines are approved, which includes the H1N1 vaccine, they are guaranteed to be much less risky than the sickness they prevent. "There could be unknown side effects. Something could happen, but it hasn't, but we think that is highly unlikely," infectious disease and vaccine expert Mark Mulligan, MD, executive director of the Hope Clinic of the Emory Vaccine Center in Atlanta.
An interview with the health teacher, Mr. Mcginnis at Central Sr. high school, gave a new direction for this topic. He explained to me that when people encounter the H1N1 flu, teenagers and young adults are not in the high level of complications and death. As to the age range of an elder, or 7 and under, are at the high risk. Students at Central Sr. high have encounter with the H1N1, and at least 1 in 10 people at Central knows who has or had it. Teenagers to get the H1N1 vaccine aren't on the top of the list but, as a matter of fact they really don't need it. Their bodies can fight it off and can get it out of their body systems. There has been little deaths so far relating teens dying from this vaccine. Mr. Mcginnis added that "we should still stay home when we have signs of the flu. It could happen to be something else, and getting the vaccine should be kept a priority to get done for everyone."
Interview with a staff member Edward Cullen*, was a first hand look at the H1N1 virus. He had recently encounter the H1N1 late October in 2009. He first came down with the symptoms after the school homecoming game. The next morning he had a very high fever of 104 degrees, and all the symptoms of a regular cold. After about four days he scheduled an appointment with his doctor, and after about a few questions it was confirmed that he has had the H1N1 for about the last 4 days. He was given Tylenol, Advil, and Delsym to treat the virus. Looking back now he says "it was horrible and hope to never experience it ever again." Adding on he missed a whole week of school, and the teachers compromised for him to catch up on assignments. As to his plans to get the H1N1 shot, he doesn't need it. The virus is already immune to his system. Edward Cullen's* advice to everyone is to " GET THE H1N1 VACCINE!".
All vaccines aren't safe, but we've been using them for years so adding the H1N1 vaccine doesn't make a difference. The vaccines we have used and still using has side effects but people still get the shots for it. The H1N1 has not shown any real side effects other then the usual side effects of the other vaccines. It should be fine and be used to stop the spread of the H1N1. Have you gotten the shot? Do you know someone who has the H1N1? What are your plans to not get the H1N1?

* Name has been changed.

Officials in Cardiff confirmed today the world's first cases of human-to-human transmission of Tamiflu-resistant H1N1 influenza. It's not unexpected, but it is worrisome. Even though flu cases are down here in Minnesota and across the US, keep washing your hands!

Feeling under the weather and not quite sure if you have H1N1 flu? Here's an online survey you can take to see if you need to get things checked out by a medical professional. Want to pass the URL along to others? It's


H1N1 vaccination
H1N1 vaccinationCourtesy AJC1

How do I know it is safe?

"The recurring question is, 'How do we know it's safe?'" said Dr. Gregory Poland of the Mayo Clinic. What if, after getting a flu shot, a person goes home. then suddenly has a heart attack. Was the heart attack a side effect of the flu shot?

More than 3,000 people a day have a heart attack. This happens when no flu shots are given. When no flu shots are given, from 14,000 to 19,000 miscarriages happen every week.
When we start giving flu shots to 100s of millions of people, how do we differentiate side effects caused by the vaccination, from what would have happened even without the vaccination?

Intensive monitoring of side effects planned

This year there will be intense new monitoring.

Harvard Medical School scientists are linking large insurance databases that cover up to 50 million people with vaccination registries around the country for real-time checks of whether people see a doctor in the weeks after a flu shot and why. The huge numbers make it possible to quickly compare rates of complaints among the vaccinated and unvaccinated, said the project leader, Dr. Richard Platt, Harvard's population medicine chief.

Johns Hopkins University will direct e-mails to at least 100,000 vaccine recipients to track how they're feeling, including the smaller complaints that wouldn't prompt a doctor visit. If anything seems connected, researchers can call to follow up with detailed questions.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is preparing take-home cards that tell vaccine recipients how to report any suspected side effects to the nation's Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting system.

However the flu season turns out, the extra vaccine tracking promises a lasting impact.

"Part of what we hope is that it will teach us something about how to monitor the safety of all medical products quickly," said Harvard's Platt.

Source: Associated Press

How much do you really know about the new H1N1 flu? CNN's testing your knowledge about the virus. Answer these 10 questions and see how you do.