Flu Vaccine side effects, benefit and who should get it, reliable information
November 16 2016 by
Ray Sahelian, M.D.

Influenza, also called "the flu," is a viral infection in the nose, throat and lungs. About 10% to 20% of Americans get the flu each year. Each year, in the US, about 150,000 people go to a hospital with the flu, and 25,000 people die because of the flu and complications. The flu may cause fever, cough, sore throat, a runny or stuffy nose, headache, muscle aches and tiredness. Some people describe the flu as being like the worst cold of their life. Most people feel better after 1 or 2 weeks. But for some people, the flu leads to serious, even life-threatening, diseases, such as pneumonia. Influenza vaccine (the flu vaccine or flu shot) is recommended for people who are more likely to get really sick to protect them from the flu. The flu vaccine can slightly raise the risk of a potentially disabling neurological disorder called Guillain-Barre syndrome. Canadian researchers, writing in the journal of the Archives of Internal Medicine, estimated that one to two people per million who get the flu vaccine will develop Guillain-Barre syndrome as a result. The ailment normally affects about one of every 100,000 people per year.

March 1, 2015 -- This season's flu vaccine is less effective than experts had hoped. New research by the CDC shows that this batch of flu shots cuts the risk of needing medical treatment for flu symptoms by about 18% on average. Compared to past seasons, that's on the low side. Since the CDC started measuring how well flu vaccines work in 2005, their effectiveness has ranged from 10% to 60%.

FDA Grants CLIA Waiver to Flu Test. In-office test confirms influenza A and B in 15 minutes. January 20, 2015

Find out how to improve your immune system and reduce your risk for catching the flu.

How to reduce your chances of catching the flu
Dr. Allison E. Aiello of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor reports college students living in residency halls who wore the masks for a few hours a day and regularly used alcohol-based hand sanitizer cut their risk of coming down with flu-like illness by up to half. Dr. Allison E. Aiello thinks that this finding would likely generalize to other settings in which people live in close quarters and eat in shared facilities" -- for example military barracks or nursing homes. Journal of Infectious Diseases, February 15, 2010.

Flu Vaccine - Does it really help?

Vaccination is one of the most effective and cost-benefit interventions that prevent the mortality and reduce morbidity from infectious pathogens. However, the licensed influenza vaccine induces strain-specific immunity and must be updated annually based on predicted strains that will circulate in the upcoming season. Influenza virus still causes significant health problems worldwide due to the low vaccine efficacy from unexpected outbreaks of next epidemic strains or the emergence of pandemic viruses. Current influenza vaccines are based on immunity to the hemagglutinin antigen that is highly variable among different influenza viruses circulating in humans and animals.

Q. Ive followed your work, personally and professionally, for years now. In recent years Ive noticed some untoward effects from the flu vaccine, this year 2016 more than ever. I truly could go on with my concerns, Im looking for others that are seeing and believing that it may be more harmful than helpful.
   A. Each year the vaccine is made differently and each person has a different benefit to risk ratio. It is difficult to give suggestions or advice that would apply to everyone.

2006 - Tom Jefferson of the Cochrane Collaboration in Rome says that because the flu virus changes from year to year, it is difficult to assess how good the flu vaccines, which contain dead virus, are in reducing deaths, hospital admissions or time off from work because of flu. There is evidence that inactivated flu vaccines have "little or no effect on the effects measured," he said in an editorial published in the British Medical Journal. Jefferson, the coordinator of the vaccine group at the Cochrane Collaboration which produces reviews of health treatments, said most research into the effects of flu vaccines is of poor quality. There is also little evidence about flu vaccine safety. Jefferson believes part of the problem is the difficulty in distinguishing between flu and flu-like illnesses and the lack of accurate and fast surveillance systems.

2006 - Although national and international health organizations urge anyone over age 65 to get yearly flu shots, the flu vaccinations are only modestly effective in preventing flu and its complications among older adults. There is a little evidence that vaccinating healthcare workers protects their elderly patients from flu complications.

2007 - Studies to date have not proven that flu vaccine shots prevent flu-related deaths in people over the age of 65.

FluMist flu vaccine
2007 - A new formulation of an inhalable flu vaccine can be stored refrigerated instead of frozen. The new version of FluMist should allow for expanded use of the vaccine in places like schools, pharmacies and grocery stores, where the requirement that the original version of the vaccine be kept frozen presented difficulties, according to its manufacturer, MedImmune Inc. The Food and Drug Administration originally approved FluMist in 2003. The nasal spray delivers weakened live viruses to patients. FluMist is approved for healthy people ages 5 to 49

Two Drugs No longer effective for Flu
The government, for the first time, is urging doctors not to prescribe two antiviral drugs commonly used to fight influenza because of concerns about drug resistance. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in January 2006 that the recommendation covers the drugs rimantadine and amantadine for the 2006 flu season. Results of lab tests on influenza samples showed that the predominant strain this season the H3N2 influenza strain was resistant to the drugs.
     Older antiviral drugs amantadine and rimantidine should not be used to treat seasonal or pandemic influenza because they are not very effective and have serious side-effects. And newer drugs including Relenza and Tamiflu should only be used in serious flu epidemics and to fight bird flu with other preventive measures such as masks. There is no evidence that Relenza, which is sold by GlaxoSmithKline, or Roche's Tamiflu are effective against avian flu.
     Misuse of amantadine and rimantadine anti-viral drugs in China, Russia and other countries likely led to the development of resistant influenza strains against which the drugs are now nearly useless. Amantadine and rimantadine are used to treat common seasonal influenza but not intended to combat the avian flu strain that has killed at least 100 people from 2003 to February 2006, and which experts fear could mutate and cause a global pandemic.

MedImmune Inc.  in 2005 said U.S. regulators cleared its new manufacturing plant that will allow it to increase production of its FluMist intranasal flu vaccine. The Speke, England, facility allows MedImmune to produce up to 15 million bulk doses per month, or about 90 million bulk doses per influenza manufacturing season, the company said. "With this state-of-the-art facility, we can substantially ramp up production," said Bernardus Machielse, the company's senior vice president of operations. Flu mist.

Flu cause
The flu is caused by three types (strains) of viruses - influenza A, B and C. Type A is responsible for the deadly influenza pandemics (worldwide epidemics) that strike every 10 to 40 years, whereas type B causes smaller, more localized outbreaks. Type C flu is less common and causes only mild symptoms.
   The flu virus is generally passed from person to person by airborne transmission (i.e., sneezing or coughing). But, the virus can also live for a short time on objects -- such as doorknobs, pens, pencils, keyboards, telephone receivers, and eating or drinking utensils. Therefore, it may also be spread by touching something that has been handled by someone infected with the virus and then touching your own mouth, nose, or eyes Influenza virus is spread by inhaling droplets that have been coughed or sneezed out by an infected person or by having direct contact with an infected person's secretions. Handling household articles that have been in contact with an infected person or an infected person's secretions may sometimes spread the disease.
   Bank cashiers and others working with large quantities of paper currency may catch various types of flu from the germs living on notes.

Flu season
Flu infection occurs every year in the community. Most cases of flu occur within a 6 to 8 week period mostly in the winter to spring months. This is known as the flu season . Pandemics (involving a high proportion of people in a geographic region or continent) have occurred four times in the past 100 years.

Flu shot fact
The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. One way to reduce catching the flu is by getting a flu shot each fall. Every year in the United States, on average  5% to 20% of the population gets the flu,  more than 200,000 people are hospitalized from flu complications, and about 36,000 people die from flu. Some people, such as older people, young children, and people with certain health conditions, are at high risk for serious flu complications.

Flu symptom
The following are some common flu symptoms: Sudden onset, Fever, Muscle aches including low back pain, Weakness,  Headache, Sore throat and Cough. Cold symptoms are much less than flu symptoms and the common cold rarely causes significant fatigue or severe muscle aches.

Flu pandemic
A flu pandemic is a global outbreak that occurs when a new influenza A virus causes serious human illness and spreads easily from person to person. Influenza virus can live for decades and perhaps even longer in frozen lakes and might be picked up and carried by birds to reinfect animals and people.

Flu shot side effects - flu vaccine side effects - Flu Shot reaction
Side effects of flu vaccination are not common. Side effects symptoms from flu shot include soreness at the site of the injection, muscle aching, fever, and feeling unwell. The most frequent side effect of influenza vaccination is soreness at the vaccination site that normally lasts less than three days. Minimal reactions include: soreness, redness, fatigue, headache, or swelling where the shot was given, mild body temperature elevation, and slight muscle aches. More significant reactions can include hives, facial swelling, and difficulty breathing. Some people may have a hypersensitivity to egg protein.
     Guillain-Barr syndrome (GBS) is an illness characterized by fever, nerve damage, and muscle weakness. In 1976, vaccination with the swine flu vaccine was associated with development of GBS. Studies have been done to evaluate if other flu vaccines were associated with GBS, with only one of the studies showing an association. That single study suggested that one person out of one million vaccinated persons may be at risk of GBS associated with the vaccine.

Flu Vaccine and Medical Conditions
Adults with rheumatoid arthritis  can safely receive the flu vaccine each year as recommended, although their response to the vaccine may be somewhat lower than in healthy individuals.

Flu Vaccine and pregnancy
Women infected with influenza virus during pregnancy are at increased risk for serious complications and hospitalization. The flu vaccine appears to be safe for breastfeeding mothers and their infants and that household contacts with a child aged less than 2 years may consider getting a flu shot.

Flu Vaccination schedule
Call your local flu clinic to find out their flu shot schedule and availability of vaccine in case their is a flu vaccine shortage.

Avian Flu
Bird flu is caused by avian influenza viruses, which occur naturally among birds.

Flu Vaccine and Skin Patch
A skin patch designed to boost the immune response may help stretch out scarce supplies of influenza vaccine at the start of a pandemic. The patch is coated with a strain of Escherichia coli bacteria, known as enterotoxigenic E. coli or ETEC, formulated to pass into the skin. These stimulate the immune system and, in theory, strengthen the immune response to the vaccine. Tests on mice and guinea pigs showed using the patch allowed a much smaller dose of vaccine to be used than normal to stimulate an immune response.

Flu Vaccine side effects and benefit emails
Q. Wild the flu shot prevent the flu?
     A Prevention with a flu shot is not complete, depending on the season, flu vaccinations could prevent could prevent half to 2/3 of potential flu cases.

Q. What do you think of a Tylenol flu treatment?
     A. Well, Tylenol is not a remedy for the flu, meaning it will not make it go away or lead to flu prevention, but it may decrease symptoms such as fever and perhaps relieve certain muscle aches.