Tag: influenza

When should I get the influenza vaccine?

I was asked this question by one of my infection control practitioners. We started offering the flu vaccine the first week of October and some have delayed getting the shot for fear that immunity will not last the season. She pointed me to this NPR article, “Yes, It Is Possible To Get Your Flu Shot Too Soon,” as driving the fear of...

/ October 14, 2016

Influenza Eye Roll

I don’t know the best metaphor. What comes around goes around. The more things change, the more they say the same. Sisyphus. Whack-A-Mole. So what to do when the same old same old rears its head yet again? There are 2,545 posts on this blog, and I suppose I could just point to prior posts. But a blog entry that consists of...

/ December 11, 2015
Me, snubbing the neighbors.  GET OFF MY LAWN!

Medical Theater: Vaccines and Ebola

And all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances, And one man in his time plays many parts, His acts being seven ages. At first, the infant, Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms. Then the whining schoolboy, with his satchel And shining morning face, creeping like snail Unwillingly to school. And then the lover, Sighing...

/ August 21, 2015
Bill Maher (right) pays rapt attention to Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (left) as he gives pointers about how to be a crankier antivaccine crank.

Bill Maher: Still an antivaccine crank after all these years

It is with reluctance that I decided to write about this topic again, given how many times I’ve written about it over the last decade, both here and at my not-so-super-secret other blog and given how little his fans seems to care when I do. I’m referring to the antivaccine stylings of comedian and political pundit Bill Maher, something I’ve been writing...

/ April 27, 2015

No, the CDC did not just “admit” that this year’s flu vaccine doesn’t work

Since the press release was originally issued on Thursday by now surely most of you have seen the news stories that popped up beginning yesterday morning with headlines like “CDC Warning: Flu Viruses Mutate and Evade Current Vaccine“, or “Flu vaccine protects against wrong strain, US health officials warn“, or “Flu shots may not be good match for 2014-15 virus, CDC says“,...

/ December 7, 2014

New evidence, same conclusion: Tamiflu only modestly useful for influenza

Does Tamiflu have any meaningful effects on the prevention or treatment of influenza? Considering the drug’s been on the market for almost 15 years, and is widely used, you should expect this question has been answered after 15 flu seasons. Answering this question from a science-based perspective requires three steps: Consider prior probability, be systematic in the approach, and get all the...

/ April 10, 2014

False “balance” on influenza with an appeal to nature

One of the encouraging shifts I’ve seen in health journalism over the past few years is the growing recognition that antivaccine sentiment is antiscientific at its core, and doesn’t justify false “balance” in the media. There’s no reason to give credibility to the antivaccine argument when their positions are built on a selection of discredited and debunked tropes. This move away from...

/ February 13, 2014

Does treating fever spread influenza?

Treating a fever with medication like Advil or Tylenol is reflex action when we come down with colds and influenza. But could treating fevers actually worsen an illness and contribute to its spread in the population? That’s the impression you may have gained from the headlines and press last week, where antipyretics (fever-reducing medications) were described as some type of “anti-vaccine”: Fever-reducing...

/ January 30, 2014

Even in 2014, influenza kills

I don’t think it can be repeated too many times during flu season: People can die of the flu. The flu vaccine is one of the two vaccines most easily demonized by the antivaccine movement. The first, of course, is Gardasil (or Cervarix), the vaccine against HPV. The reason why Gardasil is so easily demonized is because it protects against an infection...

/ January 11, 2014

Beyond the flu shot: A closer look at the “alternatives”

Once again, it’s influenza season. The vaccine clinics are open, and the hysterical posts about the vaccine’s danger are appearing in social media. There’s familiarity to all of this, but also a big new change – at least in Canada, where I am. Pharmacists can now administer the vaccine. And it’s completely free to anyone in Ontario (where I am), so the...

/ December 5, 2013