Anti-vaxxer madlibs

I filled in the blanks!

Don’t you hate that you get sick every time you go to Canada? It certainly can’t be because you got infected before you went to Canada, because we all know correlation implies causation, and that no other variables other that you going to Canada preceded getting sick. Therefore, crossing the border made me sick. I knew this would happen! …What, confirmation bias? What’s that?

Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? Except people say this same exact thing about getting flu shots, not crossing the border. Sigh.

But yeah, apparently I have some non-strep throat virus that’s been going around campus. You know it’s good when the nurse exclaims, “Wow! [Your tonsils] look God awful!” Thankfully it’s not too bad since there’s nothing they can really do about it other than decrease some of the throat pain. Last time I had codeine I had Iron Chef sleep walking hallucinations, so this may be interesting.


  1. Abeille says

    Doesn’t going to Canada make more sense? After all, you’re being (potentially) exposed to colds your current group hasn’t been yet.Did that even make sense? Its hard to think through the fog of a head cold.

  2. says

    Oh no! Well, it is well known that Canada is a hotbed of evils… and evil, of course results in illness, so I guess you ought to have expected this. Hope you feel better soon… and thank you for risking that border crossing (and associated illness *grin*) for us!

  3. Moonablaze says

    lucky! I had tonsillitis 5 times in one summer. not once would they give me Codine. I was told to alternate ibuprofen and Tylenol. They did give me the good stuff (percoset) when I finally got the suckers out last Christmas eve. Was a fun holiday vacation for me!

  4. says

    ??? So It’s okay to tickle your tonsils with regular bacon? That is Bacon Discriminaiton. Where is the Breakfast squad when we need it? I mean come on, long live Canadian Bacon.

  5. Hans says

    You probably forgot to take your crystals with you, and don’t get me started what the border guards do to peoples’ shakras. Take one ounce of the US Code, dilute it in one quart of water (essential to use good old-fashioned American units, like Jesus). One drop and dilute that in one quart, and so on. You’ll be right as rain by the next cusp of Scorpio.

  6. That Guy says

    Jen comes back from Canada with some deadly throat virus thingie.I read Jen’s blog regularly.I woke up with morning with sore throat thingie.Thanks a lot, Jen.

  7. Erp says

    I’ve not had problems with tonsils but my brother once had the experience in an emergency room of having the doctor pulling in all the interns there to look at his tonsils (they were bad enough he was having problems breathing). I believe it is an excuse for ice cream though on a student stipend you might have to eat the snow.

  8. Mp249 says

    Wow! That sounds a lot like what I’ve had this past week. Here’s to hoping yours clears up as fast (or faster!) than mine. Feel better! :)

  9. says

    Okay, I am going to sound stupid, but vaccination does not make you feel sick? I have heard from plenty of people that they felt sick after getting their shots and they are completely convinced it happened because they had gotten vaccinated. I always presumed it was a nocebo causing them to feel that way. Is that the case or is it really just coincidence?

  10. says

    There are some study-confirmed side effects of some vaccinations. Like all intramuscular injections they can cause local soreness; other things depend on the jab. The seasonal flu jab can cause very mild flu-like symptoms, which are actually an effect of the immune system waking up and going “ooh, something to do!”. It cannot cause flu, or any other infectious illness. It’s all dead. That is, the virus in the jab is dead.This is as opposed to a few vaccinations that use live virus, which cannot be given to immunosuppressed or otherwise immunocompromised folks, like me.

  11. says

    Codeine is fun if you’re not used to it (developed tolerance) and you’re not a poor metaboliser of it. It is certainly weaker than hydrocodone (vicodin) or oxycodone (percocet/oxycontin, I think). Eat plenty of fibre and drink plenty of water, though.Drugs aside, I do hope you fell better soon. Keep warm, drink plenty of fluids, and get some rest, okay? :)

  12. lomifeh says

    Isn’t it obvious? Canada has cooties. If you cross the border you will get cooties and then get sick. Canada is actually an Inuit word that means “cooties.”

  13. says

    I’m skeptical of flu shots. I found a study recently, (or a review, not sure what the proper name for this type of published work is.)…This particular study looks at the influenza vaccine.Here’s a brief copy and paste:Main resultsWe included 50 reports. Forty (59 sub-studies) were clinical trials of over 70,000 people. Eight were comparative non-RCTs and assessed serious harms. Two were reports of harms which could not be introduced in the data analysis. In the relatively uncommon circumstance of vaccine matching the viral circulating strain and high circulation, 4% of unvaccinated people versus 1% of vaccinated people developed influenza symptoms. The corresponding figures for poor vaccine matching were 2% and 1% . These differences were not likely to be due to chance. Vaccination had a modest effect on time off work and had no effect on hospital admissions or complication rates.There’s a lot more, but it seems from this example at least that infection rates are only minimally influenced by the flu vaccine.I would love to hear your thoughts on what I’m reading here, (and in the rest of the work). To me, it seems like this is proving that these vaccines are at best only mildly helpful at reducing infection rates and at worst they’re complete wastes of time and money. I don’t bother wasting either on the flu shot. (addendum, I’m a healthy 20-something with no elderly or immune-compromised people living with me.)

  14. says

    I’m immunosuppressed and asthmatic. If I were infected with flu, I would be vastly more likely to suffer complications, although it’s still a low likelihood (with treatment, which I would seek quickly). The complication is also more likely, if it happens, to be *really* bad.Sure, the drop from 2% to 1% (the worst case figure) is only a linear drop of 1%. It’s also halving the likelihood. Even if the chance of a severe complication is very low assuming I get infected, that’s still halved the likelihood of a life-threatening problem.The statement “Vaccination … had no effect on hospital admissions of complication rates” is ambiguous. Do they mean the overall rate of admissions, including those who didn’t get flu, or the rate of those *who caught flu* who were hospitalised or suffered complications? Intuitively, the latter seems more likely. If that’s the case, then it’s what I’d expect. Vaccination makes infection less likely, and leaves the risk of complication given infection unaltered.

  15. Clare says

    I have the flu jab every year as I’m asthmatic. I have a slightly bruised/sore upper arm for two or three days. I sometimes get a headache and/or that slightly woozy feeling you get when you know you’re fighting something off. I guess that’s my immune system kicking in which is, after all, the point of getting the vaccine. But after that, I’m fine again and, more importantly, protected against the chosen (i.e. prevalent that year) strains of flu.I’d rather “suffer” the above than be ill with flu and the potential risk of chest infection, etc.

  16. lomifeh says

    There is also herd immunity. You getting vaccinated makes it less likely you will infect someone else.

  17. says

    Yea, that statement is pretty ambiguous, I read it the same way you did. The complications mostly come from the same subset of people, those with asthma/lung problems, the elderly, the immunosuppressed, etc. and vaccination isn’t going to affect the rates of complications.Yes, I realize their worst case DOES halve infection rates, but is that tiny 1% linear change (or 3% best case) REALLY worth the gobs of money that we as a nation throw at the pharm companies every year to make the vaccine? (make it and advertise it and ship around the country and administer it…)Maybe we could use that money to give everyone an extra sick day or two to stay home when they’re sick and we’d get the same drop in infection rate. (not that there’s an actual way to do that, it’s just an example)I’m just skeptical that the money is being spent well. I think there’s a good chance that we could limit flu infections through other means, but we’re so focused on easy/quick/technological solutions that we miss the other options.And maybe that’s naive of me. Maybe our society isn’t the kind of society that can ask for or take more leave from work. Maybe watching someone’s kids while they can’t go to daycare is too much involvement with real life neighbors, and it’s easier to push for those kids to get the shot so you don’t have to get involved. Maybe the technological fix of a shot is the limit of personal involvement we’re willing to have in the fight against flu infection. *shrug*Does no one else see the disconnect between the “If you have any of these flu symptoms, stay at home until you are fever free for 24 hours” advice from the CDC and the shockingly small number of actual vacation/sick days that Americans get? Corporate America doesn’t really seem interested in preventing flu infections. From my cubicle it looks like they’d rather you paid the 100$ to get everyone in your family the shot, thus halving the infection rate, rather than them ‘paying’ for you to have time off available if one or more of your family gets the infection.That’s a bum deal in my mind.

  18. says

    Small correction here, the chosen strains are actually those that were prevalent LAST year, as the vaccine takes a bit of time to be developed and then made in large quantities. Sometimes those strains are not well matched to what actually breaks out in the US.

  19. says

    baby, lemme tell you: never, and i do mean never, trust the campus health services. they told my sister she was pregnant (she wasn’t), they told me i had an STD (i didn’t), they told my best friend she was going to die from cancer (which she didn’t have and didn’t die from). i could go on and on about who RONG the campus/student health service clinics have been and likely continue to be. buck up and pay for a real doctor, or try to find a way to get real health insurance from a real company that will send you to a real hospital. there are three groups of “insured” people in this country:1. the rich, who get The Best care on Earth.2. the poor, who get screwed at every turn and about whom no one cares, even if they suffer needlessly and die despite “having Medicaid.” 3. the middle class, a subset of which includes students like you and once upon a time, me. do they mandate you must “have health insurance” at your school? they did at mine. what a fucking scam that was. i got to go to the “student clinic” for just thousands per year! thousands my stipend didn’t cover! only to be abused, dismissed, and treated by a) immunology researchers from Germany doing their mandatory time at the student clinic to get certified as MDs or b) totally overworked and over-tired nursing professionals who actually cared about my uterus and/or other parts, but just didn’t have the authority and ability to help poor wimmin students like me with our actual problems.seriously, since i’ve been out of the health care racket, i mean “uninsured” i’ve realized: i get the same or even better treatment… at the ER that is federally mandated to take poor people like me. urgent care clinics? the best, but their bill collectors will follow you everywhere. but run the hell away from the “student clinics.” it’s like when i was in the military. they put the biggest officers who have a proven record of being fuck ups in boot camp. same deal with ‘student health clinics.’ those folks are mostly the rejects who had to leave a hospital so it wouldn’t get sued over their incompetence.

  20. says

    Which is why healthcare workers and those who work closely with the elderly are supposed to get vaccinated too, but I think in the UK that gets done (or not) by the employer, rather than the NHS. Of course, most healthcare workers work for the NHS, so the NHS covers them too…

  21. says

    I think on an individual level, probably not… but even small percentage differences can make a large difference on large scales… For example take a population of 1,000,000 people… (and taking the simplest case where incidence and resultant spreading effects aren’t taken into account)For good viral matching :4% – 40,000 would get sick if no one was vaccinated and 1% – 10,000 people would get sick if they were all vaccinated. (30,000 people difference)And with the poor viral matching:2% – 20,000 would get sick if no one was vaccinated and1% – 10,000 people would get sick if they were all vaccinated (still a difference of 10,000 people)And the corresponding numbers with hospitalizing complications also increases…So, while on an individual basis the difference is tiny, on the scale of a city or a country (~300,000,000 in the US; ~33,000,000 in Canada) the amount of people that get vaccinated actually does matter… Vaccinations have always worked on the principle that the more people who get them the more effective they are… even with vaccines like mumps/polio etc. vaccination successes are not 100% it is the fact that everyone gets vaccinated that protects those who might otherwise still be vulnerable. And you have to remember that the fewer in the population who get sick the fewer exposures there will be to the rest of the population thereby reducing incidence further.So, while you say you are skeptical of the flu shots I think that you might mean that you don’t see that they will have any measurable difference on your personal chance of contagion… because they do actually work, just at a much lower rate than people expect when they hear the word “vaccine”.

  22. says

    I hope that you will be well soon.Also, I mis-read your title as “Anti-vaxxer muad’dibs” and found myself wondering what anti-vaccination woo had to do with Dune. Obviously, I am a bit off today.

  23. says

    Well, it’s worth it to the vulnerable individuals being vaccinated… a 50% reduction in the chances of complications, when the chance might be low but the repercussions *huge*, sounds good to me.I guess it looks different in the UK. Here, the vaccination of people who are justified in having it (apart from some of those justified by work situation). There’s no advertising of vaccination apart from a little by the NHS to tell people they should get it if they need it – mostly limited to posters in GP surgeries and targeted mailouts. We just pay the companies for the vaccine. Also, people are more willing to take time off work because anyone on salary can get away with a fair amount at nearly all employers (without loss of pay), and those who are paid piece-work or per-hour can get Statutory Sick Pay if they’re off for more than a couple of days (and a doctor signs off). I think it’s similar in most western/developed/European-descended – the US is the odd-one-out for this sort of thing, I reckon. Sure, you’ve got some of the best healthcare in the world, just most people don’t get to use it.

  24. says

    I think that might depend on what campus clinic you are at… and who staffs it…I never had anything but excellent care at my campus clinic, or even heard any stories of anything less than exemplary performance… University of Alberta has exemplary staff at their clinic and I definitely encourage anyone at that university to go there for help if you need it… Of course the system is different in Canada, but still… I can’t see too many campus health services remaining un-sued and open if they allow that much incompetence to continue on unimpeded…

  25. says

    The blurb I got says the the WHO predicts which strains are most worth vaccinating against, with last year’s strains being a significant contributor… don’t forget that flu doesn’t actually mutate *that* much (in terms of what vaccines need, anyway), so what they’re actually doing is predicting which of the many, already catalogued and cultured, strains to vaccinate against.

  26. says

    Okay, I have to qualify that I’m in Canada so I have no idea how the weird system you have down in the States works… so I could be overlooking other factors pushing for not getting the shot…

  27. says

    Whenever anyone native-English-speaking says things like that, I tend to assume they’re being US-specific… but it’s worth speaking out on that one…In the UK, most campus unis (in my experience) have an on-campus GP practice run as a normal NHS GP practice. They often have a different spin on their services, and sometimes some extras based on the idea that there’s such a concentration of people… anything more in-depth is handled through the hospital system, just like it is for everyone else. Most city-centre unis just have people register with whatever local GP practice they want to…Some unis then have some other service, sometimes funded by the uni. We have a nurse-led unit, at Lancaster, who do some useful stuff and cover some times when the only alternative would be A&E (same as an ER in the US). Well, or the out-of-hours GP service, but those *are* usually useless…

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