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View Diary: Flu And You - Part VII (94 comments)

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  •  Hunter Pope--age 12--RIP... (0+ / 0-)

    Boston just lost a vibrant, loving boy to heart failure caused by flu. Still not sure though, that the answer is flu shots...

    •  that answer won't prevent every death (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      OLinda, riverlover, mamamedusa, mollyk

      but it will prevent a lot of deaths.

      "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

      by Greg Dworkin on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 05:53:17 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'm Sorry, But (0+ / 0-)

        You link to statistics about the deaths of a few children out of over 70 million in the U.S. (and don't consider at all any other underlying health issues that may have been at play in these individuals).

        Meanwhile, over a third of those 70 million children are overweight or obese.

        Sorry, but the flu isn't the biggest risk to America's children.

        •  So I guess we should just forget about it (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          OLinda

          then, applying your apparent logic. I don't see where anyone here implied that the flu is the biggest risk to America's children. Your comment is not helpful.

          "And tell me how does god choose whose prayers does he refuse?" Tom Waits

          by madaprn on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 07:59:48 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  What's Not Helpful (0+ / 0-)

            Is that American medicine is plagued by this kind of myopic, short-sighted concentration upon the trees while studiously ignoring the forest. We love our little pills and shots, and will pour millions of dollars into them, but don't even try to deal with the big picture, which is far more important.

            Millions upon millions of children eat diets that are not only nutritionally lacking, but which actively undermine their health. Millions upon millions of children lack access to basic health and dentistry care.

            Vaccinating them against flu pours millions of finite dollars into propping up one small tree (the incredibly rare possibility that they may have serious health complications from a case of the flu) while much of the forest is on fire (they're chronically overweight and their cardiovascular system is already being degraded and their diet's lack of nutrition make them more susceptible to getting sick in the first place).

            •  Flu is pretty serious in terms of acute illness. (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              pletzs, elfling, mamamedusa

              I think I understand your sentiment about health resources but that does not obviate the fact that
              we need to continue to study flu and other viruses that affect public health especially those that are transmitted by respiratory droplets like influenza.

              Prevention and treatment of chronic illness is another matter entirely as is "health". Medical education focused on treatment of illness with scant attention paid to prevention other than hygiene and vaccination.

              Why pick on the flu? Why not reflux or impotence meds? Why not a serious diary about the extent to which Pharma dictates medical and agricultural research and the collusion of Pharma and some public health policies?

              "And tell me how does god choose whose prayers does he refuse?" Tom Waits

              by madaprn on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 08:31:12 AM PST

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              •  I Agree (0+ / 0-)

                I just think the annual "you've got to get your flu shots" plays into the overall Pharma strategy, which is to parse and commodify "health" into easily manipulated (and sold) packages that depend on irrational fear.

                The vast, vast majority of people don't need an annual flu shot and the overall benefit of these shots is far outweighed by the fact that people who don't really need them help clog up an already overburdened health care system.

                •  the lost productivity is highest among (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  mamamedusa

                  young adults (i.e., parent age), so on economic terms and not pure health terms, that's exactly who should be vaccinated.

                  What's this got to do with pharma? is that your underlying beef?

                  "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

                  by Greg Dworkin on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 09:35:17 AM PST

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                  •  A Bigger Beef (0+ / 0-)

                    Is the blind faith that economic productivity is what life's all about.

                    Manipulating our lives so that we're perfect employees who never get sick, never take a day off, or, horror of horrors, have to stay home a couple of days with a sick kid is a sickness in and of itself.

                    Sorry, we're not just units of production that need to be given shots against every potential risk of taking a day off of work.

                    Again, big picture versus little picture. I'm far more worried about millions of people not having any access to health and dentistry care than I am about people "needing" flu shots so they don't take a couple of days off from work.

                    •  so am I but it's not either-or (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      elfling, madaprn

                      health care reform is about much more than who gets flu shots (and I write about it extensively during the week, because it is so important). But no one has ever said otherwise.

                      As for big picture-little picture, SCHIP is important but not the whole picture. Public health is important, but not the whole picture. Hospital overcrowding is part of the picture, but not the whole picture. health in a recession  is part of the picture, but not the whole picture.

                      I've written about all of the above. Sometimes the only way to eat an elephant is to break it up into bite sized pieces.

                      "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

                      by Greg Dworkin on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 10:27:10 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                  •  And children are the worst vectors (0+ / 0-)

                    From my experience as a parent, I'd estimate that for every child under 8 or so that gets sick with any disease involving coughing or snot, 4-5 other people will also get sick. They just don't have the maturity to practice good hygiene reliably. I've always thought it made more sense to vaccinate kids than elderly for that reason, if you have to ration vaccine.

                    Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

                    by elfling on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 02:44:56 PM PST

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            •  Even if all the kids get is the normal flu (0+ / 0-)

              That's a week or two of not going to school and not learning, and/or spread to other kids, and/or spread to their grandparents with weakened immune systems, and/or spread to their parents who have to take time off of work and have a resulting loss of income. It's a week of dinners of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese when the parents are too sick to cook.

              Even when people don't die, flu is a nasty illness and worthy of attention.

              And then there's the fact that every once in a while it goes super virulent and causes people with strong immune systems to drown in their own immune response.

              I don't think we overallocate resources to flu.

              Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

              by elfling on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 02:42:01 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

        •  um... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          OLinda, mamamedusa

          Chronic illnesses including obesity are a huge problem. So is smoking (hello, the topic of this diary?)

          What's that got to do with the need for flu shots or the 36K deaths related to flu per year, including the cite that I responded to? And what's that got to do with my answer about a specific individual?

          "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

          by Greg Dworkin on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 08:07:09 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Who Are the 36K? (0+ / 0-)

            What is their underlying health (are feeble 90-year old nursing home patients who get the flu included in these numbers)?

            What else could the money spent on flu vaccinations be spent on?

            What about the fact that 36,000 is a tiny, tiny fraction of the U.S. population?

            •  ah... (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              mamamedusa, mollyk

              the argument is over scarce respurces. I love that argument! Chronic disease prevention is underfunded, but changing behavior re obesity and smoking is horrendously difficult (see relentless and Mark27 talk to each other elsewhere.)

              OTOH, the idea that vaccination is a waste of money? here's sopme data to argue otherwise.

              http://www.who.int/...

              In the United States of America, for example, recent estimates put the cost of influenza epidemics to the economy at US$ 71-167 billion per year.

              That's prevention money well spent.

              "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

              by Greg Dworkin on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 08:35:25 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  It May Be Difficult (0+ / 0-)

                But it's what matters. Thirty to forty million overweight kids (who will be carrying chronic health issues into adulthood and, thus, into the health care system) versus thirty-six thousand "flu related" deaths (and I see you're wholly ignoring the question about the age and underlying health of those thirty-six thousand people).

                And those economic numbers are just a broad calculation of losses of workers calling in sick, etc., and are the kind of numbers interest groups come up with to grab headlines. A far more important issue is the corporate ideal of workers never getting sick or needing to take personal days off from work, since Americans are defined by their jobs.

                Getting sick and needing to spend a couple of days getting well is a natural part of life. We'd be healthier, both mentally and physically, if we just accepted that, rather than accepting the rat-race ethics imposed by the workaholic mindset.

                The health care system in this country has, for all intents and purposes, collapsed for a majority of people. Advocating for universal flu shots is just a sideshow.

                •  you're dismissing data because it sinks your (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  elfling, mamamedusa

                  argument, pletzs. I never said (and no one else did) that the only benefit to flu shots is not dying. There's a concept of "morbidity" as well as "mortality", i.e., the cost of being ill.  You're making the argument that none of that counts because you don't want it to, which is absurd. US$ 71-167 billion is a lot of money.

                  Most of the deaths are in the very young and the very old, but not afaik the very overweight. but that has nothing to do with the real cost ofbeing overweight, which, as I said, is a legit and separate issue (part VI interviewed Jeff Levi of trust for america's health, which produced this report: F as in Fat 2008 How Obesity Policies are Failing in America)

                  Note that is this not a zero sum game. if you asked Jeff Levi which of the TFAH reports (one on pandemic, one on obesity, or the one on disease prevention) is the "important one" he'd tell you "all of it", and so will I. Saving money on the health system with flu shots frees money for chronic disease management. So, I'm a bit perplexed that you would argue that taking care of obesity (and smoking) is good but flu shots are bad, because it's not either-or, it's both.

                  "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

                  by Greg Dworkin on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 09:16:34 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  The US Health Care System (0+ / 0-)

                    Is not spending $71-167 billion annually treating the flu.

                    You know that.

                    •  you're misreading that (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      elfling, mamamedusa

                      it's the a combo of cost to the economy of being ill (lost productivity) and health care costs. When parents have their kids sick, they're missing work (or hiring help to watch them.) Etc. From WHO:

                      It is recommended that elderly persons, and persons of any age who are considered at "high risk" for influenza-related complications due to underlying health conditions, should be vaccinated. Among the elderly, vaccination is thought to reduce influenza-related morbidity by 60% and influenza-related mortality by 70-80%. Among healthy adults the vaccine is very effective (70-90%) in terms of reducing influenza morbidity, and vaccination has been shown to have substantial health-related and economic benefits in this age group.

                      and same reference, which I already gave you:

                      Influenza rapidly spreads around the world in seasonal epidemics and imposes a considerable economic burden in the form of hospital and other health care costs and lost productivity. In the United States of America, for example, recent estimates put the cost of influenza epidemics to the economy at US$ 71-167 billion per year.

                      "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

                      by Greg Dworkin on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 09:31:17 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Like I Said (0+ / 0-)

                        The number you quote is a number generated by an interest group, using very broad parameters, to create a dollar number that can then be used to grab headlines. Every interest group and candidate for office does it.

                        Again, calling in sick to work isn't the end of the world, or at least shouldn't be considered such.

                        •  LOL - WHO is an interest group??? (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          mamamedusa

                          That's a new one. What are they selling? World health?

                          Look, as Daniel Patrick Moynahan used to say, you can have your own opinion but you can't have your own facts.

                          A strong case can be made for flu shots, and it's current world policy to encourage them. As a matter of interest, poor countries like Indonesia are fighting the current system (they provide virus, industrial companies make vaccine, and sell it to poor countries at prices they cannot afford), and WHO is assisting with and mediating those negotiations. Some interest group.

                          "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

                          by Greg Dworkin on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 09:40:38 AM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                        •  Calling in sick (0+ / 0-)

                          for many workers means lost income that then affects their ability to pay their bills and care for their children, especially for young families who already are stretched thin.

                          It's also worth noting that if a 6 year old gets the flu, a parent has to stay home with her (can't send them school or daycare) for 4-5 days... and THEN, inevitably, at least one parent will get sick, so you're looking at 10 days of illness, not 2.

                          And that's for a mild flu. Sometimes flu will be multiple weeks of dragging, nasty, lingering illness.

                          Multiply if you have more kids.

                          Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

                          by elfling on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 02:58:43 PM PST

                          [ Parent ]

            •  Strep and flu (0+ / 0-)

              Something to keep in mind is that a flu infection seems to make people much more susceptible to opportunistic infections from various strep bacteria.

              Strep can take down anyone, any time. Jim Henson, for example.

              Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

              by elfling on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 02:53:58 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

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