Reminder: Get your flu shot

People are dying of the flu — young, fit, healthy people.

But days after Christmas, Kyler Baughman was worse — coughing and running a fever, his family told the news station. They said he went to a nearby hospital in western Pennsylvania and, from there, was flown to UPMC Presbyterian in Pittsburgh.

Soon after, on Dec. 28, Kyler died of “organ failure due to septic shock caused by influenza,” his mother told WPXI.

I’m also hearing about friends suffering with this unpleasant disease for a week or 10 days. The flu vaccine is not 100% effective, but if it can reduce the odds, you should get it.


  1. mykroft says

    Had the shot but still got the flu. It didn’t last as long (about 3 days) as it probably would have without the shot, but it still was a few days of misery with a persistent cough afterwards. Not fun.

  2. robertmatthews says

    My husband and I got the flu shot for eight years running: the first six it probably worked, or at least worked more often than not, but the last two it not only didn’t work at all, the shot itself gave us flu-like symptoms (my husband was so sick for so long that it might as well have been the flu). So we both gave up two years ago.

    Since the shot has to be created months in advance of flu season, scientists have to predict which strains of the flu are likely to be prevalent: they’re making an educated guess as to what the composition of the shot should be. Sometimes they guess wrong.

    It the shot works for you, fine. I’m not going to judge. We just don’t think it works for us.

  3. jack16 says

    Veterans should know that the VA will give them a free shot. Others seeking a free shot should check with nurses at local clinics. Schools (nurse) , State and federal sources, etc.

    Flu is a killer! Forty years ago I inquired among my fellow employees at our lunchtime table. All of them, myself excepted, had lost a relative in the 1918 epidemic. Note: An important factor in the “virulence” of that epidemic was poor isolation of afflicted soldiers returning from the war.

    Read “Catching Fire” by Richard Wrangham.
    But first, get your flu shot!


  4. says

    The flu shot can’t give someone the flu. It doesn’t have “live” virus. If someone comes down w/ the flu just after getting the shot, it is because they’d already contracted it and the vaccine hadn’t had time to work. It does sometimes just doesn’t work for some strains, either because of a mismatch or in the case of this year it just not working very well. The reason it doesn’t work very well this year is because the antigens produced during replication in eggs lacks sugars that the circulating stains have, thus making them a poor match. However if you get the nasal or egg free shot, it works fine. If it doesn’t work for specific people ever, then that’s a sign they have some immune problems they should probably look into.

  5. blf says

    the shot itself gave us flu-like symptoms

    Can a flu shot give you the flu?

    No, a flu shot cannot cause flu illness. […] The most common side effects from the influenza shot are soreness, redness, tenderness or swelling where the shot was given. Low-grade fever, headache and muscle aches also may occur.

    In randomized, blinded studies, where some people get inactivated flu shots and others get salt-water shots, the only differences in symptoms was increased soreness in the arm and redness at the injection site among people who got the flu shot. There were no differences in terms of body aches, fever, cough, runny nose or sore throat.

    Possibly unpleasant (if you have side-effetcs) but nowheres near as dangerous as the flu.

  6. Ganner says

    Many people also don’t understand what the flu is. They get a respiratory infection, or a stomach virus, and think they had the flu and so the shot didn’t work. I used to not get the shot because I didn’t think the flu was a big deal (at least if you weren’t old or already weak/ill). Then I got the flu about 7 years ago and it beat the shit out of me. I haven’t missed the shot since.

  7. dragon says

    I heard a news report about a contributing cause. The shortage of IV bags caused by the continued problems in Puerto Rico. Many of the IV bags in the US are produced in Puerto Rico. Use of IV fluids is indicated in many hospitalized influenza cases. The news report said they are giving the patients Gatorade bottles which they must drink instead.
    Unfortunately, I do not recall which news broadcast that was, or whether I saw it online.

  8. says

    My family gets the shot every year. I’ve never had the flu, and I would like to keep it that way. My husband has MS, so he doesn’t need the flu, too. And of course, I want to help protect the people who can’t get the shot.

  9. blf says

    dragon@7, Yes, there is a serious shortage of IV bags in the States. As you indicate, about the only States facility which makes the things is in Puerto Rico and was badly affected by the hurricane. The shortage is being made worse by “wellness clinics” — which tend to have lots of money — buying a disproportionate amount of the available supply, leaving even fewer for the more money-constrained hospitals, etc., Hospitals face critical shortage of IV bags due to Puerto Rico hurricane: “Hurricane Maria crippled a key maker of fluid bags, and as ‘wellness’ clinics pay a 600% markup, hospitals unable to afford them scramble to make do without”.

    And it’s not just IV bags. Quite a few drugs are made in Puerto Rico also, and those facilities are also having problems, US Hospitals Wrestle With Shortages of Drug Supplies Made in Puerto Rico (Oct-2017).

  10. Rob Grigjanis says

    robertmatthews @2: It isn’t just about you. The flu shot will reduce the risk of you passing on certain strains to other people.

  11. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    When the Redhead was in the hospital a year ago, it was disgusting to hear some of the nurses complaining about having to get flu shots. One of the first rules of medicine, is “first do no harm”. Unnecessarily bringing the flu into a place like the ICU can cause some very sick people to catch the flu and possibly die.

  12. says

    I got my flu shot, as well as my parents. We do it for years, with mme having a short hiatus for a few years after bad reaction to the vaccine which was probably just a coincidence.

  13. anthrosciguy says

    I got the flu a couple weeks ago. It was not nice at all; for the first four days I was able to choke down perhaps four tablespoons of sweetened yogurt, and that’s it for food. Slept half the day and all night, as well as I could. This is bad stuff.

  14. microraptor says

    I’ve never had an adverse reaction to a vaccine. I get the shot every year: got it early this year given the reports of how early and vicious flu season was shaping up to be. I work with the elderly so I’ve got to stay up to date on vaccinations.

  15. birgerjohansson says

    Goddammit I accidentally posted too soon.
    I don’t know if flu was involved, but he was just 67, which seems odd.

  16. Vivec says

    I’ve got the Flu shot literally every year possible, and while I’ve had the flu before, I haven’t had it anything near frequently.

  17. Janus says

    I don’t think the strain they used in the vaccine this last year is the one causing this several week disease. I got the flu shot. It did not give me symptoms. However I did still catch whatever this thing is that has been going around over the holidays. I was laid out for 2 weeks. Heavy congestion, sore throat, severe exhaustion, constantly coughing up mucous. I still have a lingering sore throat and cough and I’m in week 3.

    Not blaming the flu shot here, I just think it probably didn’t contain the strain of whatever this is.

  18. tacitus says

    janus @18:

    Are you sure you don’t have bronchitis? Your symptoms sound exactly like those I suffered during my last bout of bronchitis. No fun at all, either way.

  19. Rich Woods says

    @robertmatthews #2:

    the first six it probably worked, or at least worked more often than not, but the last two it not only didn’t work at all … We just don’t think it works for us.

    It works for you 75% of the time, but you don’t think it works for you. Hmm.

  20. blf says

    I just think [this season’s vaccine] probably didn’t contain the strain of whatever this is.

    Not quite, Why It’s Still Worth Getting a Flu Shot:

    Even a “less effective” vaccine packs a payoff in averting illness and death.
    This season, the flu vaccine is most protective against an H1NI, an H3N2 and a B/Victoria lineage strain. Some vaccines also protect against a B/Yamagata lineage strain.

    The scientists’ guess wasn’t bad, as it included H3N2, the strain making most of the news right now. Vaccines don’t work as well against it in general because it tends to mutate more than other strains. It’s also harder to produce a targeted vaccine for H3N2 than for other variants, because of the way we produce the vaccine using eggs. That, along with other factors, makes for more infections and more severe illnesses.


    In addition, as the article points out, “Much of the country endured a bitterly cold stretch, causing more people to be crowded together inside.”

  21. susans says

    I get the shot every year. I also got the flu this year and was so sick I passed out on the bathroom floor. Would I have been sicker without the vaccine? Who knows?

  22. Paul K says

    I work with kids. My wife works with kids. My kid’s a kid. We all get the flu shot every year. This year, we somehow missed my son. He got influenza A (tested and diagnosed; not just a guess). He was sick for three weeks. One week of fever, two weeks of just being wiped out. He’s fit and young. He’s over it now, but he’s still catching up at school.

    I’ve never had the flu, that I know of. I know this because I know how sick you get when you have it. I think one reason there’s so much confusion out there — as seen even in this thread — is partially because we use ‘flu’ so casually. Folks think they had the ‘flu’ and it wasn’t so bad, but most of the time, they did not have influenza. It nearly killed my dad when he was already near the end of his life. It routinely kills thousands in the US every year, especially the very young, very old, and the frail, but others as well, as seen in the OP. We all need to get flu shots, every year. A close guess is better than nothing; you will keep it from spreading; you will probably be much better off if you do get it. There is not a good reason not to get vaccinated.

    I know I probably sound like a late-night PSA, but this is real, and it kills people, and we can do something about it. We feel awful for letting our son down.

  23. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    Just to add in: I too have been quite rigorous about receiving the annual vaccine. No other sgoroes to add about experiencing “side effects” (never), nor acquaintances experiencing the disease itself (no one I know has).
    Ding ding … me too ( not the hashtag one)

  24. blf says

    slithey tove, I rather liked “sgoroes” — sortof sounds like what you feel like if you do get influenza. Also goes well with “sniny”.

  25. MattP (must mock his crappy brain) says

    Been getting the flu shot not long after it gets released every year for the last several years when I go to get my refills at the pharmacy. Only reaction has ever been a bit of soreness and stiffness in the shoulder where it was injected.

    I had multiple bouts of strep and bronchitis throughout childhood, and then caught the flu in college. Nothing compared to the flu. Felt kinda tired and iffy around lunch, so went home early and snoozed for a bit. By evening, I had a very high fever with horrific cough and mucus production. Got to the urgent care clinic, tested positive for flu, and got a prescription for tamiflu. Mostly fine a few days later, but still something I never want to experience ever again.

  26. KG says

    Stupidly, the NHS in the UK does not yet offer the flu jab free to everyone – which would obviously improve herd immunity. I did get it free, but I’m not sure why – I don’t fall into any of the groups entitled to it. Maybe my medical practice has more sense than whichever penny-pinching fools have decided most people shgould be charged £13.