Damn you, Connie Willis! You made me abandon my readers to finish your damned book. Stayed up until 7 in the ay-em to finish it, didn’t I? Now I’m dead on me feet. I’m too old for this shit!
Makes me wish I’d got my flu shot a few weeks ago, because it takes two weeks to become effective, and right now people at my workplace are passing around all manner of horrible illnesses. And here I am, exhausted, underfed, and vulnerable! Not to mention, after having been up until well past bedtime, in no condition to go out and get one just now. But I shall be doing it soon as I recover, and with this post from Mark Crislip, I won’t be worried a bit. Those who fear the flu shot should read this post, and take comfort. Here are your risks, laid out in easy-to-understand comparisons:
The influenza vaccine is safe. Serious side effects are extremely rare and the risks from influenza are much greater. The vaccine is far safer than driving (30,000 deaths a year), taking a bath (450), or standing under a coconut tree (130).
How can you be afraid of something that’s less risky than a day at a tropical beach?
For those still worried about potential side effects, Mark cites studies that show just how minimal those side effects really are. For someone like me who’s never thrilled with the idea of someone poking needles into me, it’s a wonderful reassurance that the whole enterprise won’t be as bad as all that – and your risks of side effects go down if you get one every year. Nice, eh?
All right, so you’ve already got your shot, or you have no fear of the thing at all – so why read the post? Well, for one, gives you something to point frightened folks back to when they tell you they’re refusing to get their shot because of x, y and z. If you need to persuade a loved one to protect themselves, it’s handy to have around. It also explores why it’s important for health care workers to get vaccinated, and why mandatory vaccinations wouldn’t be a bad idea at all.
And then there’s moments like this:
The Cochrane review, as always with influenza, gets it wrong. While noting that “pooled data from three C-RCTs showed reduced all-cause mortality in individuals >/= 60.”, they go on to say “The key interest is preventing laboratory-proven influenza in individuals >/= 60, pneumonia and deaths from pneumonia, and we cannot draw such conclusions.” No, it is not the key interest. Most deaths from influenza are secondary deaths from exacerbation of underlying medical problems. All-cause mortality is an important endpoint, especially if you are the one dying. [emphasis added]
So, within the next week, I’ll happily be getting my jab. Just so long as Connie Willis doesn’t ambush me with another book, that is….