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10 January, 2013

National Flu Outbreak Widens

And this is a prime example of why it is irresponsible for health officials to advise everyone to get a (seasonal) flu shot every year.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not bought-in to the whole anti-vaccine movement, and I do think health workers should get them.  The problem arises when perfectly robust people, who have no underlying health issues that make them particularly susceptible to illnesses, are encouraged to take these shots every year.

For some, flu shots are a matter of life and death, but for others they're only a convenience.  Overusing the flu vaccine has the same effect we're beginning to see now, caused by the overuse of antibiotics: we are forcing these viruses to mutate (here and here) into superbugs.

And, as if that weren't bad enough, we're toying with viruses on purpose, just to prove we can.

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Photo courtesy of Slate.com
National flu outbreak widens - CBS News: The national flu epidemic is getting worse by the day: On Wednesday, Boston -- with a population of at least 600,000 -- declared a public health emergency after the virus killed more than a dozen people.

At least three more states -- Montana, South Dakota and Arizona -- are now reporting widespread flu, bringing the total to 44 states. And the CDC says the percentage of people going to the hospital for treatment of flu symptoms has doubled in the past month.

The emergency in Boston was declared after confirmed cases of flu reached 700. There were just 70 at this time last year. Across the state, 18 patients have died...

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In closing, school-age kids should be the ones getting vaccinated, not healthy adults: "... Most importantly, what have we learned about flu control?  We found that vaccinating the elderly failed to cut hospitalizations; therefore, doctors hypothesized that children are responsible for spreading most flu to older people.  In 2010, a large study of elementary-school-based flu vaccine in Bell County, Texas achieved 50 percent vaccination rates of students and protected people of all ages from the flu (the so-called “herd immunity” effect).  Similar findings were seen in a Canadian study..."


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