Sunday, October 18, 2009

Flu Shots

We had to into town for a couple things today.

We decided to swing by the clinic and see if we could get flu shots for my son and myself (my wife got hers at work last week).  I can get them free through the military or VA, but I’m never in the neighborhood and never have enough time to stand in line.  I’d rather just pay the $25 and get it done.

And with the pig flu scare, most places are actually out of the regular vaccine (and the swine flu vaccine is rare and non-existent so we haven’t even tried to get that), and the few times I’ve stopped by the base clinic or the VA, they’ve been out.

So, we dropped into the Palmer clinic today.

Sure, said the receptionist, we’ve got the shot.

We’ll take two, says we.

The son and I went in the back and rolled up our sleeves and the shot guy asked if we wanted the H1N1 vaccine too. Buwah? I thought we were out of that here in the Valley? Nope, they just got in 20 doses.  Hot damn, we’ll take it – and I had the guy go tell my wife in the waiting room. She joined us a minute later.

The son and I got the shot for the seasonal crud, and all three of us got the Flu-Mist version of the hiney swiney flu vaccine.

I’ve never had the Flu-Mist inhaler vaccine before. People have told me that it tastes horrible. They must have have gotten the rotten egg and gasoline variant, the stuff I had today tasted vaguely fruity and was gone in a second with no aftertaste. Easiest inoculation ever.

So, I’m now flu-proof. Woot!

Which, of course, means I’ll probably get strep throat or pink eye or something…


How about you people? Do you get the flu shot every year? Have you gotten yours this year? What about the swine flu inoculation? Do you think it ought to be mandatory?


  1. I've never gotten a flu shot beyond the mandatory disastrous first swine flu shot in 1976 (at least mandatory in the military). It made me very ill, and I wasn't the only one.

    I have problems with the H1N1 vaccine being mandatory. I'm working on a blog post on why I feel this way.

    Nice to see a post, by the way. Welcome back!

  2. I've never made it in for a flu shot, the closest I came was in at O'Hare airport last year. This year I'm going to make much more of an effort and get both shots. I've been relying on co-workers getting vaccinated and washing hands for too long.

  3. I've never gotten a flu shot. The last time I had any serious flu was in 1999 - and like every other serious flu I've had, I just hid in my bed for a few days until it went away.

    Since then, some of the "colds" might've been flus, but I don't get many of those either. Either I have a topnotch immune system or I need to get out more. ;)

  4. When I went to Iraq, and then a year later when I was in S. American hunting drug cartel assholes, I got every shot you can imagine, from Small Pox and Anthrax to yellow fever, malaria, and vaccines for dozens of exotic tropical diseases. Because of the nature of my job, I also got the gamma globulin booster every other month or so.

    I didn't have so much as a sniffle for years. Mosquitoes would bite me and die screaming.

    I wish I was still that bullet proof.

  5. No point in getting the flu shot here - 4 of 6 Cassie-ites now have the swine flu. The other two will likely follow, despite massive uses of Lysol on all surfaces touched by the inflicted souls. It sounds like a TB ward around here.


  6. Good Grief, Cassie, hope you and yours are doing better soonest and no complications.

  7. My family and I have had the seasonal shot. We're waiting for the H1N1 to become available here in LA. Even Children's Hospital's Oncology Clinic doesn't have them yet. The director of the oncology clinic, who is my son's doctor, is not happy. He is seeing more and more flu come in to the ER and he wants his clinic kids protected!

  8. My family and I have had the seasonal shot. We're waiting for the H1N1 to become available here in LA. Even Children's Hospital's Oncology Clinic doesn't have them yet. The director of the oncology clinic, who is my son's doctor, is not happy. He is seeing more and more flu come in to the ER and he wants his clinic kids protected!

  9. I never get flu shots anymore. I got that first swine flu shot back in whenever the hell it was... and was laid out for a week with the flu. I've gotten the seasonal shots a few times, and have been deathly ill each and every time. When I DON'T get flu shots, I might get the week-long "I think I'd like to die now" version once in a decade... if that often. I might get the less virulent type (three days of "Ugh, I feel kind of rotten") every three or four years... maybe every five.

    Make it mandatory, and I'll be a criminal and avoid it. Like the plague. I think it's enough that I am kind of obsessive-compulsive about hand washing anyway and have no problem telling my coworkers to get the hell out of the office if they're sick. ;)

  10. I got the seasonal shot - first time in years. I did it through work, and I may try and see if we can do the swine via the same route.

  11. I'm very much a wuss. I've never gotten a flu shot, but because there's a part of me that would rather die than get a shot. (Yes yes, I told you I was a wuss)

    If they'd give me a shot in the hiney (har har, pun not actually intended) I might be more willing. My rear end has gotten so many shots for migraines it's not traumatic for me anymore.

    I dunno, maybe this year I'll get both. I work at a school, so I'm on the short list for the H1N1 shot...

  12. I got only one flu shot in the past few years and was sick as shit within a day of getting it. But given what I've read about this H1N1 virus and the 1918 flu epidemic, I got the seasonal flu mist vaccine at the end of September. Nary a sniffle. I will be getting the H1N1 vaccine through my daughter's pediatrician. No waiting, but we pay for it (they don't bill insurance for vaccines, because the reimbursement sucks).

    Hmmm, Jim, TheHusband was in S. America doing the same sort of stuff, but probably in the early 90's. He has some interesting stories. :-)

  13. As for mandatory -- I can see the lure of that from the public health perspective, especially with the specter of 1918 always in the backs of the public health professionals' minds.

    Herd immunity is a great thing. As for how well it works for the influenza viruses, which are tricky bastards, I'm not sure. Probably reasonably well, which impacts people who can'tbe vaccinated. The vaccines do seem to be pretty effective at the individual level.

    Also reducing the numbers of people who get sick with the flu does theoretically free up hospital beds for patients with other severe sicknesses that are preventable.

    The libertarian part of me thinks "hmmm, you want to catch swine flu and possibly die of it, go ahead. Don't come crying to me afterwards."

  14. Shawn -- no shots needed. Just get the mist version. Freezing cold misty stuff right up your nose. No ouchy at all.

  15. The seasonal flu shot is offered to us free, at work, since we are in a health sciences center. I've gotten it every year since they started offering it for free, and since Grandmom moved in with us, I make Michael get the vaccine as well.

    Unfortunately, I still tend to catch the off variants of the flu every other year, because of where I work.

    I have never, however, gotten sick from a flu shot, or any other shot.

    Although I am usually for mandatory vaccination, I'm not sure about the flu shot. But what I would like to see is forcing those who are sick to wear masks, so they don't contaminate the rest of us.

    I've seen pictures from 1918 when masks were mandatory if you wanted to take public transportation etc. Favorite was a baseball game where everyone--players and fans alike--was wearing masks. It's strange looking, but taken with increased handwashing, it might really help stem the tide of the flu.

    Re the H1N1 flu in general, I heard last week we've had more flu deaths from H1N1 than we usually get during an entire flu season. We've had several deaths in WV, and as of last week there had been more than 450 cases of the swine flu at WVU.

    It's serious public health problem, and now that temperatures are dropping and people will be confined indoors, I expect it to get worse.

    If I can get it, I'll take the H1N1 vaccine. Between my job and my grandmother, I'd be a fool not to do so.

  16. I'm sure I got them when I was a child, but I've never had a flu shot as an adult. I may actually get one this year because:

    a.) I'm not immune to paranoia...and there's a bunch of it out there.

    b.) I have a tradition of "letting myself" get sick at the end of a show, and since I'm about to start shooting in a week, I suppose I'm ripe to get whatever will be going around.

  17. (1) I got the 1976 swine flu shot -- figured going off to college would be just a cesspool of disease -- and it was. No problems.

    (2) We'd gotten flu on and off for years, and then they got better in Ottawa County after we moved down here of getting flu shots available. And then the university used their nursing students to administer to faculty, staff and dependents. Since we started doing that, at least ten years ago, we've not had any bad flu.

    (3) Have the regular vaccine this year. Waiting for supplies of H1N1 vaccine to come in. At over 50, I'd heard it best that we get injectable over nasal mist.

    Dr. Phil

  18. I get the regular flu shot every year- 1)I'm diabetic, and 2) my mother was a public health nurse, so we were raised on vaccinations. (I practiced my reading as a child on sexually-transmitted disease brochures. Too bad 'gonorrhea' never came up in a spelling bee)

    I work at a university, surrounded by high-risk college students, so I'm definitely getting the H1N1 as soon as I can.

    Mandatory- I'm not sure we could make that work.

  19. I get the seasonal flu shot every year, and so does the Smart Man.

    As for the H1N1, I will probably not get the shot, as I am not considered high risk by any measure, and the vaccine is scarce. I'd like the Smart Boy to get it since he's a college student, but he probably won't because he's all invincible and in charge of his own health care, now.

    Lauren, my local contact at our Children's Hospital PICU indicated on 9/28 that over a quarter of his patients were testing positive for H1N1 - and the vaccine isn't yet available for him, either. Pretty scary!

  20. My boss has paid for the seasonal flu shots for the last couple of years. Everyone else here at work is going for the H1N1 shots this week, now they're available. We're heading out of flu season here though, so I'm not sure how good they'll be, as it'll probably have mutated by the time winter arrives here again.

    I'm not getting it, as I already caught it off my fiancée after she got it at the hospital she works at. We know she had it for sure, as the hospital checked, as they wanted a list of people to stick in the front line if needed. Most people who got the flu here were never tested for it - there's not much point, as by the time you know if you had it or not, it's already over.

  21. In Georgia the state medical folks announced a couple weeks ago if you have the flu, it's the H1N1.

    Used to work in a hospital, we got our flu shots free even if we didn't work in patient contact areas. It was not mandatory, but strongly recommended, and if you did come down with the flu managment reserved the right to send your ass home until they deemed it safe for you to return.

    Funny story about that. I worked in the Admin building for the IT department, part of my job was trouble shooting the Executive floor's tech issues. I was crawling under a desk one afternoon, ass all up in the air, when a familiar voice asked if she should shoot me there or did I want to get up and use my arm like everybody else. It was the head of Employee Health making the rounds to make sure everyone that wanted a shot could get one.

    I also had the 1976 swine flu shot, the county health department set up shop in the mall I worked in and my store manager insisted we get shots since we had so much public contact. So we all trooped down at lunch with our little forms and got shot. They were using these early pneumatic innoculation guns that pounded the needle into you, and were told to use ice if we had a little redness or swelling at the injection site.

    A little redness? Swelling? Those damn guns were so bad we all looked like we'd been beaten by prize fighters by the time we got home! I had a knot the size of an egg. The next day we could barely raise the arm we'd gotten the shot in. But none of us got sick or got the flu that year, so it must have worked.

    I'm in the age category just above where I can get an H1N1 shot right now. But I will get the seasonal shot just as soon as I find a pharmacy that has it in stock. I had a my first real cold in many years last winter, would rather not repeat that experience with any version of the flu that's going around this year.

    Plus, as I am both unemployed AND use public transportation, I'm kind of in a risky category at the moment.

  22. I remember those damned pneumatic injectors, with the air hose dangling off the bottom like something you'd find in the hands of a NASCAR pit crew.

    When I joined the Navy, the first day in bootcamp we formed up in a line at RIF (recruit inprocessing facility) in our skivvies and there were four corpsmen, two on each side of the line. As you walked forward they hit you in both arms simultaneously. BANG BANG BANG BANG. Then there was a lone corpsman giving the TB prick in the forearm a bit further on.

    The next day everybody was black and blue and sicker than a dog - no problem, they made us do pushups and run in 100 degree Florida heat until it went away.

    Good times, good times.

  23. The NROTC unit at Northwestern used the time honored tradition of shots before you got your paycheck. Pneumatic guns in both arms. The day before Final Exams started.

    I had friends who could barely lift a calculator let alone write.

    My '76 Swine Flu shot was at an Armory in Greensboro NC. They had pneumatic guns, but I don't recall much more than a raised warm lump for part of a day.

    Dr. Phil

  24. Saying this with a bit of foolhardiness... this isn't as bad a flu as you may expect. It's certainly pandemic here in our spot of northeastern Ohio (can't speak for Steve) but while it's miserable, it's responding well to judicious applications of Nyquil and Tylenol Cold and Flu caps. Two of my daughters look like they're past the worst (pending the predicted relapse) and the third is still in the throes of the desperate exhaustion, but we're hoping to have the initial two functional again on Tuesday or Wednesday.

    For all the hysteria, this is nothing like what we had in the '67 flu season (I was 8 and still remember it) or that nasty bug in the mid '70s.

    I know that the CDC is saying we've already had the usual number of deaths from flu that one sees in the entire flu season. I'm not belittling it at all, just saying it's less obnoxious than it could be. It's certainly more contagious.

    Thanks for the well-wishes, Jim.

    Cassie, who hasn't yet started coughing.

  25. Got the seasonal shot a couple of week ago, for free at work. The kids got theirs at the pediatrician last week. The wife, stubborn martyr that she is "doesn't have time" to get one. We will all get the H1N1 shot/mist when it becomes locally avialable.

    H1N1. Remember H5N1? Was that only two years ago?

    My sister, who used to sell drugs (but for Pfizer not for S. American cartels) says it's a bunch of hooey because ALL influenza starts out as H1N1 and then mutates from there. So calling H1N1 "swine flu" is nonsense, according to her. (NB -- she is NOT a MD, and likely got this wrong. But still. ...)

    So if there is no 1919 pandemic, it will be because of the flu shots, and not because there never was going to be a pandemic? And if there is one it will be because there were not enough flu shots in time or not enough folks took them, and not because the vaccine was ineffective? Is that the story? My cynical mind wants to know.

    What's interesting to me is how the DOD is preparing for the pandemic. The contracting offices are putting special clauses into contractor support contracts for "mission essential" services, that mandate contingency planning (on the part of the contractors) and give permission for the DOD to staff contractor positions with government personnel -- or personnel from other contractors -- if the contractor can't get its workforce sufficiently together to support the mission critical ops. Even more interesting is that DOD has classified some FMS (Foreign Military Sales) contracts as "mission essential" which seems kind of weird to this outsider. But at least there's one group (DOD) who's taking it all very seriously.

    Here's hoping we all stay healthy.

  26. Cassie,

    This strain of the flu IS different in that like the 1918 strain, it's hitting the young and healthy, and we're seeing deaths in that category which we should NOT be seeing.

    Yes, the death rate so far is low compared to 1918, but we are not yet in flu season.

    Nick, I wouldn't take medical advice from your sister if I were you. The flu is a very complex virus and not one to be taken lightly.

    Regarding the H5N1 bird flu from China, such flus remain a threat, and could be deadly if they gain the ability to spread from human to human, since we'll then have no residual immunity like we do with H1N1.

  27. Nick, I'm not an MD, but I am a Ph.D. and at one point in my career, I worked for Pfizer.

    Pfizer has never sold a flu vaccine or a flu antiviral such as Tamiflu. Their sales rep training has never included anything about influenza aside from infection rates as a side effect in HIV. Nor has their training ever included anything about the basic biology of influenza. If your sister was a drug rep, then she has no especial knowledge of the flu unless she studied somewhere else.

    She is clearly, demonstrably wrong about H1N1 mutating into other H and N forms. The 1918 H1N1 strain is most likely an avian virus that jumped straight to humans rather than going the usual route and mutating via pigs, but we gave it to pigs in 1918, and a mutated form (but still with H1 and N1 proteins) is jumping back to us now from pigs. Viruses play species hopscotch all the time.

    As for the ability to tell how effective an H1N1 vaccine is, there will be geographical areas that are not vaccinated (think Mexico). Monitoring the spread of H1N1 in those unvaccinated communities that do contract the flu will give an adequate control to predict how effective the vaccine is, if effective. In the case of a non-effective vaccine, the percentage of coverage can be estimated by comparing the rates of transmission between vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals. Most flu vaccines come in around 80% coverage, which is enough to significantly slow a pandemic.

    The problem is, which is what I think you are referring to, that without doing the experiment, we really can't predict with 100% accuracy how effective the vaccine will be before the flu hits.

    But we do know previous vaccines have worked pretty well in the past, the 1976 rushed-to-market fiasco aside.

  28. Flu shots for me in my previous employment were always mandatory. Last year, I got one because of Papa, and the health risks that a flu would cause for him.
    This year, no job and no Papa, but I will still get the shots. I would rather be safe than sorry...I have never gotten sick from them, nor had any sort of side effect.

  29. I know a lot of people who once they start getting flu shots are likely to continue to get flu shots -- if they are available and affordable.

    My one complaint is with places like the local Walgreen's, which have signs saying Yes We Have Flu Vaccine -- Only $25, but without saying up front that they have the seasonal flu shots. Preying on H1N1 fears to sell the usual flu shot isn't going to make happy people down the line, IMHO.

    Dr. Phil

  30. I do IT in a hospital (no, not "it", "IT"). I've already had the seasonal vaccine, which the hospital gives all their employees unless they decline. If declined they want a signed declination with a reason (which can be "other"). When the H1N1 gets here, we'll all get it, too, unless similarly declined.

    I'm quite happy that I get the flu vaccines every year. I'm sick much less than others, and that means I get to use my sick days as vacation days. I've never gotten the flu from a vaccine, or had any problems because of one.

    I also, like Wendy, take public transportation. Commuter rail, Orange Line (subway), and Silver Line (articulated bus), both ways, every weekday. Between the public transportation and the patients at the hospital, I would imagine I'm being exposed about as much as you could be.

    I'd like to remind people (yes, I know, you're not the ones I need to remind) that modern medicine actually works. Or maybe I just say that because I've been subjected to all the vaccines (including the Polio sugar cubes in the 60's), and the FDA, Pfizer, and the CDC have me totally controlled... :)

  31. I went to get a flu shot this weekend but they were out, indefinitely, in a couple of places.

    I will get it, and the H1N1, even if it isn't a broad spectrum protection. I rarely if ever get sick so it's worked for me in the past.

    I gave my boys a choice this year, and they both chose not. Their thinking is not based on risk, but on a young adult sense of being bulletproof. Sigh.

    Still, when I give them a choice, I have to live with the outcome. And if they get it and I don't, I'll *laugh*. :)

  32. Just for the record, I feel great today. No ill effects for any my clan from the innoculations.

  33. All, thanks for the advice & corrections. To be clear: I rarely if ever take my sister's advice on anything. To some extent, I was throwing her words out to the universe to see what came back, and I'm really not surprised to learn that (once again) she was talking out of her ... hat.

    Thanks again.

  34. I get the flu shot every year I can afford it (since 2003, no coverage other than what I've got in my own pocket).

    Haven't got it this year yet, was sort of waiting for H1N1 availability in order to get it all done at once.

    (Sounds like I should get my rear in gear.)

  35. I suspect the concern over flu vax effects is roughly comprarable to this:


  36. Jeri, we shall *laugh" together.

    Stupid teen invincibility...

  37. I got the regular flu shot, with tetnus booster in the left arm at my annual physicn in sept. The other arm hurt for a couple of days.

    Per my MD, the swine flu is not recomended for people my age, except asmatics and other special cases. This includes my wife, she got both.

    Bug that bite me tend to die unpleasant slow deaths. I get a bad cold most springs and that has been it illness wise. My health problems are all centered on my hands and are not illness as such. Dupytran's Contracture is interesting, but somebody has to pay for the surgeon's children's college.

  38. Jim, in honor of your memories of the pneumatic injector, I have posted something for you on my blog.

  39. I'd never gotten the flu shot before, and never gotten the flu, either. Until last January. It was like being hit by a bus.

    I got the seasonal shot last month and will be getting the swine flu variety soon. And I'll get it every year from now on. If it decreases my odds of feeling like that again, I'll put up with the small discomfort of a needle and maybe some mild side effects.


Comments on this blog are moderated. Each will be reviewed before being allowed to post. This may take a while. I don't allow personal attacks, trolling, or obnoxious stupidity. If you post anonymously and hide behind an IP blocker, I'm a lot more likely to consider you a troll. Be sure to read the commenting rules before you start typing. Really.