News: Flu Shots Reduce by Half Risk of Death, Any Cause

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by pearls, Apr 3, 2003.

  1. pearls

    pearls New Member

    I read with great interest about an article printed in the New England Journal of Medicine about flu shots greatly reducing heart disease and stroke hospitalizations. In a study of more than 286,000 people older than 65, people who had received flu shots had substantially reduced numbers of hospitalizations for heart disease or strokes.

    Now any study that looks at 286,000 people gets my attention. But when I looked further, the study was even more impressive. The latest government figures show that flu contributes to an average of 36,000 deaths annually in the U.S. The vaccine also reduces deaths overall and prevents pneumonia in the elderly. Some studies had suggested that it also would reduce heart disease and strokes.

    So researchers checked medical records for those older than 65 in three major cities across the country during two flu seasons: 1998-99 and 1999-2000. Flu vaccination cut hospitalizations for heart disease by 19 percent both seasons. The hospitalizations for stroke were cut by 16 percent the first season and 23 percent the second season.

    This next part really impressed me: "The researchers also found immunizations cut hospital stays by about one third for the flu and pneumonia, a common comoplication, and REDUCED BY HALF THE RISK OF DEATH FROM ANY CAUSE." [My capitalizations.]

    One researcher said, "This is huge." That sounds like an understatement to me, considering that last sentence. When study is this large and the numbers are this big, even an unusual circumstance can't much alter the premise that flu shots are valuable. My only question now is if or how having fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome changes any of this. My gut reaction to this report is to continue the shot.

  2. Mikie

    Mikie Moderator

    She had FMS and had no adverse reactions.

    I have always gotten sick from them and finally just stopped taking them. It may be because I am much sicker from having both FMS and CFIDS that I was unable to tolerate them. In any case, I think each of us must decide for ourselves whether or not to take the shots.

    I will never have another vaccination unless the risk is great enough that I think it justified.

    Love, Mikie
  3. beckster

    beckster New Member

    I read the same article in several papers. One also said that flu shots have an efficacy rate of about 80% for healthy people and about 55% for elderly or immunecompromised. I wonder if the complete article mentioned any downside or people getting sick; that is why I wonder about who funded it. The Bush family has big ties (ivestments) in vaccine companies.

    My mother is elderly and always takes the flue shot. For the last 6 years she is constantly in and out of the hospital in the winter (Apparently has no efficay for her.)
    I don't take them as I did once and it made me extremely sick. I wonder why our health system doesn't bother to go by its own research; is the research so far ahead of practice?
  4. cristine04

    cristine04 New Member

    I am 22, I was just getting over a bad cold/low fever episode when I had the flu shot. Since then, November 2002, I have been sick, exhausted, soar, achy, feverish, MISERABLE. As i've mentioned before, quit my new job and now might have to put grad. school off. Flu shots are risky business for some of us..research it a lot before you get the stick. It has really put a damper on my life.
  5. nct

    nct New Member

    and was really really sick.
    After that, I started getting the shot every year. I have no adverse reactions to the shot, and can get it free here at work. I will keep getting it.

    I only developed CFS recently, and have had 2 flu shots since, with no particular reactions.

    Oh yeah, I meant to say that while I'll get flu shots, I won't get the anthrax vaccine. I have asthma and rosacea, so no thanks to that.

    Have a good weekend!!

    [This Message was Edited on 04/04/2003]
  6. pearls

    pearls New Member


    What difference does it make if the Bush family has big ties (investments) to vaccine companies (if they do)? It sounds like a good thing to have big ties to, if one has the means. Are you implying that if the Bush family has investments in vaccines this research can't be any good?

    (In my edit, I'll leave in my following hair-brained idea of the next two paragraphs and refute my own ideas here in my post below):This kind of research is easily checked. The numbers are either there - or they aren't. I doubt a researcher can draw more objective conclusions than they can from this many hospital records which were already compiled before the research was done.

    Now, this part of your message was personally useful: "I read the same article in several papers. One also said that flu shots have an efficacy rate of about 80% for healthy people and about 55% for elderly or immunecompromised." My newspaper didn't mention this and it was what I wondered about.

    To everyone who had a story of someone - perhaps yourself - getting sick or even dying after the shot, these things do happen. That doesn't, of course, alter efficacy data over the general population. Still, I have wondered if I personally should take it because of the FMS or avoid it because of the FMS.

    One of you wondered why the health system doesn't bother to go by its own research and asked if the research is so far ahead of its practice. That's indeed the way it is. It takes a long time for research to trickle down into general practice. That's true for several reasons:

    1) keeping up a practice takes a lot of time in itself. There are doctor shortages in many places. It takes a lot of time to read up on the latest, too. Both have to be done, but I am sure there is a sort of triage of time working here. There's only so much time.

    2) Often, in spite of research, I believe I've read that doctors will take a "wait and see" attitude before adopting new practices based on recent research. Sometimes the research base is too small, or the research perhaps flawed. Either that, or it will turn out that way. The motto, remember, is "First do no harm." As to this flu shot research, again, the base is huge and the methodology objective. But the results were just now published. So, I wouldn't expect practices based on it to be adopted universally tomorrow.


    [This Message was Edited on 04/04/2003]
  7. pearls

    pearls New Member

    I went to my pain doc today and told him about this thread. He explained the difference between retrospective studies (the flu study seemed to him to be retrospective, ergo: worthless, based on the little he had seen on it) verses prospective studies, which are much better. I'm too tired to go into it now. Suffice it to say, what I shot off my mouth about - the idea that just because there is a wide base of people studied makes the study automatically worthy of belief - has been shot down by a doc I admire.