I've been through so much these past few months that I'm terrified to get the flu. I work at a college and just had a student come in who I know is quarantined bc of the flu. He's not supposed to be in class for another week and a half. He came in all sweaty and shook my hand. I recognized the name asked him to communicate with me via email instead. I then proceeded to disinfect my desk and wash my hands. 

Is there anything I can do to prevent the flu? Other than wash my hands, etc. I went to the CDC website and they don't recommend any vitamin C or anything like that. 

I should also say my mother just got it as well. I don't live with her but I see her a few times a week. I think I saw her last week when she had it, but didn't know she was contagious yet. I feel fine, but just another point of contact that makes me nervous!

Original Post

I have worked with pre-schoolers and toddlers for years!  I carry hand sanitizer with me.  Believe me, I have been sneezed on, coughed on, had kids with pink eye, stomach viruses etc.  I don't seem to get any of these illnesses.  Maybe because of all the exposure I've had.

Yes, Jan, I get the flu vaccine every year and also had the pneumonia vaccine as well.  Not worth tempting fate.  While we're on the topic, I had shingles a while back during a UC flare.  Just wondering what thoughts are about the shingles vaccine.  I understand there may be a new one.

I have hand sanitizer on my desk and disinfect it every few days. I wash my hands often (we have an office kitchen so that’s convenient). I also will be bringing Lysol spray into work. We see about 50-60 students a day so we get a lot of traffic! 

I get the vaccine every year, usually as year in the season as I can. I saw on the news it was only 20-25% effective this year. When I started Remicade, I had a few vaccinations- I think the Pneumonia and shingles. I agree- it couldn’t hurt. 

Even at reduced effectiveness, the flu vaccine should reduce the severity of illness if you get the flu. Try not to stress about it. The people that get deathly ill wait too long to get treatment. Not because they are foolish, but because they are used to being healthy. 

Jan

Will catching the flu with a J pouch be any different to that of person without a j pouch....  is there a risk to the J pouch ?

Here, In the Uk, certain vulnerable groups are entitled to the flu vaccine via the NHS, which as a sufferer of UC and now having a J pouch, I fall into such a category, although during the last 23 years, I've always declined the vaccine.

 

Yes, in the US it is recommended for everyone to get a flu vaccine, unless there is a shortage. The higher the percentage of vaccination, the higher the effectiveness. That is what herd immunity is all about. Having a j-pouch is no reason not to vaccinate.

I am not sure why flu vaccine is not offered for healthy adults in the UK, unless it is purely a cost saving issue. In the US the cost is determined by an individual’s health plan coverage. I have Kaiser and immunizations of all types have always been at no charge. I guess they figure it is cheaper to vaccinate than treat illnesses.

Jan

Scott F posted:

The elderly catch the flu from unvaccinated people. Then, all too often, they die. Unless the vaccine is being rationed everyone for whom it is safe should be vaccinated.

So Scott, are you regularly  vaccinated against the flu then ?

Although, I wouldn't want to suffer from the flu again, I'm certain the flu isn't the pandemic of which you're insinuating, otherwise governments such as the UK, the USA and the likes, would ensure everyone had the flu vaccine and they're not.

During the last 40 years; personally, I've only ever come across one other person who has genuinely suffered from the flu, as well myself when 14 yrs old; therefore;  it's certainly not as prevalent as you appear to proclaim.

Within the UK, anyone who is 65 years old and over, as well as anyone who falls within the vulnerable category, such ss myself; can, by choice,  have the flu jab vaccine, it's not compulsory, which is another example of the Governments threat assessment in relation to the risk.

 

  When I use the term flu; I refer to the viral infection influenza and NOT the common cold.

This year is particularly bad for the flu. Yes, influenza, not cold viruses. Worldwide it is bad, including the UK. It is currently widespread in the US, with increased hospitalizations and unusual deaths in young adults. I personally have been getting flu vaccines annually for at least 40 years. 

Part of the issue is that you do not know how bad the flu strain is going to be early in the season, but you want some time for antbodies to build before it hits your continent. 

https://news.nationalgeographi...utbreak-vaccine-spd/

Jan

Yes cases of the flu are probably  increasing year on year, however, the WHO and Governments of the first world have not issued a statement, stressing that each and every member of the population be vaccinated to prevent flu.

Although cases of the flu are increasing year on year; how does that equate to the majority of the population who don't catch the flu.

Yes, I get vaccinated every year. In addition to protecting me personally, it helps ensure that I’m not part of the path that leads to serious illness or death for others. In the US everyone is encouraged to get vaccinated, and the Affordable Care Act requires insurance policies to cover the cost. As Jan wrote, herd immunity can help protect an entire population, at least when the vaccination rates are significant. Herd immunity is remarkably effective even in years (like this one) when the efficacy of the vaccine isn’t ideal. Herd immunity doesn’t work properly if you limit the vaccine to those at risk, though.

I can’t speak to the politics or economics of the NHS, but if they are treating vaccination as a individual (rather than a population) solution they are acting like the UK is a very poor country. There is a predictable surge in flu each year, though it varies in intensity, and waiting for an epidemic to be declared is too little, too late. In addition to the direct effects of the flu, large seasonal increases crowd out ambulances, emergency departments, and hospitals, leading to additional health issues and deaths.

Jan, Scott..... Thank you for your very informative replies and opinion, however, I read Newspapers, watch Tv News and various political Tv programmes on a regular basis and the flu epidemic is not depicted as gravely by Governments or Health Organisations as you're both implying.

I'm not suggesting or advising anyone not to be vaccinated against the flu; I just believe if it is such a pandemic, then yearly vaccination would be compulsory for all age groups, rather than voluntary, like it is now.

Scott.... you've even stated that "in the US, everyone is encouraged to get vaccinated"  why only encouraged ?

So, who do I believe; the opinions of two, normally well informed forum members or the advice provided by UK NHS and the Government of the day ?

At present, although my previous diagnosis of UC and now my J pouch places me within the vulnerable group and therefore entitled to the vaccine, there is currently no widespread NHS/Government campaign to encourage those younger than 65 and not in the vulnerable group to get the flu vaccine.

Due to my age, level of fitness and wellbeing, I don't see myself as vulnerable or at risk.

The US has almost no method of requiring universal flu vaccination, so widespread availability and no cost are the next best thing. It’s helpful to remember that almost nothing is free in the US - certainly not health care.

When to call an outbreak an epidemic is a political decision, in large measure. In the case of flu, waiting until an epidemic is declared to think about population-level vaccination is almost completely worthless. I understand that they are saving money, and it’s even possible that in a good year that money is better spent elsewhere, but it’s terrible public health policy. The price of that is paid in a bad year, which officials will always describe as a surprise. The UK epidemic is likely to be declared in the next week or two, at which time the public health response will be, essentially, “oops.” Here’s a Telegraph article that tells the current story.

Your personal vaccination decision is yours alone. By viewing the vaccine as purely being about personal health care (and skipping it) you increase the risk of getting the flu, of course, but you also increase the risk of helping to worsen a significant and deadly problem in your community. When you spread the flu, people really will die from it, usually the very young and the very old.

I get vaccinated every year but this past year, in October, I got hit with what was either the flu or the worst cold of my life and it took me around 3 weeks to get over it. I posted about it in the Remicade thread because I thought it was a sign that my suppressed immune system was weak in fighting it off. I don’t think it effected my Pouch per se but the myriad medications I threw at it, including medicated and Codeine cough syrups, most definitely did. The Codeine cough syrups are constipating and one must be careful in using them. 

Anyway, you can get vaccinated and you can also follow all the common sense hygiene steps recommended by Jan and others, but it simply doesn’t guarantee you will not get sick. Sometimes it just happens. I put it in the same category of risk as flying or driving, you might get in an accident or crash despite doing everything right. So in the end you can’t worry about it beyond what you can control. 

It also reminds me that my sister had to travel for her job to some African countries afflicted by the Ebola virus outbreak a few years ago. My mother, who is a bit of a drama Queen, was frantically emailing her every day to make sure she wasn’t in the hospital with Ebola, or dead. I doubt my sister was doing much except focusing on her job and not doing anything stupid. Beyond that you just cross fingers and hope for the best.

As a mom that just had the flu go through the house with the kids (us parents survived), I can tell you that I've never seen anything work so well as Tamiflu!  I brought my son into the pediatrician office within a few hours of the fever starting.  He tested positive for influena A.  He was a mess, 103 fever, lethargic, body aches, and coughing.  She said most people with this flu strain are sick for about 7-10 days. Started him on Tamiflu right after we left the office.  He woke up the next day fever free and cough and pains gone!  He recovered very quickly.  Tamiflu only works if you start it as soon as your symptoms start and the sooner you start, the sooner you stop the viruses from replicating so you'll recover sooner.

I don't think it is normally recommended to take it preventatively in a typical, healthy person, but if you have a household full of people with the flu, doctors may prescribe it for you.  My PCP said she would give it to me if I wanted it, but I declined and said I'd call her if I started a fever.  I never did catch it.

Scott.... I'm not stupid and I certainly don't believe the flu outbreak is the epidemic or pandemic you believe it to be.

I'm certainly not to blame for the spread of the virus either, you'll be blaming homosexuals for spreading HIV next.

Would it not be best to educate rather than cast blame.

During my battle with the flu as a teenager, no one I came into contact with died as a result, nor have I infected or caused anyone to die during the 36 years since.  

I often respect your knowledge, opinion and contribution in regard to topics raised and discussed within this forum, however on this occassion, it's best we agree, to disagree.

I don’t think anyone is trying to lay blame or imply that anyone is stupid. If you read the link that Scott posted, there is indeed a big increase in serious flu cases over last year in the UK, and the fact that the NHS did not encourage flu vaccines for everyone is part of the reason. Also, not getting vaccinated does put others at risk, including people you have never met. This is because the virus spreads rapidly. Someone coughing on the bus can spread the virus to people that others on the bus meet later on, even in passing. Ordinarily, it is not that big of a deal, but this year’s strain is very virulent and anyone with a comorbidity is at a higher risk. The flu is still spreading, but perhaps at a slower rate compared to last week. Unfortunately, nobody has a crystal ball.

Below is a link from the source: Public Health England

https://www.gov.uk/government/...ng-to-phe-statistics

Jan

By explaining how the virus is spread is implying I'm stupid.

Criticising and blaming those who are not vaccinated or those who don't deem it necessary to be vaccinated for the spread of the virus is an overreaction. 

Might as well blame all public transport commuters. 

So, is everyone in the U.S vaccinated against the flu; as that's what appears to be implied.

I'm not disputing how the flu virus is spread, nor am I claiming it's not a devastating illness, which in some instances can lead to death but I don't believe it's as prevalent as some may believe; if it were, every bus, train and plane passenger, visitors to a Doctors waiting room, diners of a restaurant, students of a College or University would be infected and they're not.

 

Strange,

Your posts imply a level of trust in what the government is saying or not saying about a public health issue. I don’t live in the UK but I agree with Scott that when to call an outbreak an epidemic or something else is left in the hands of politicians and it’s dangerous, regardless of what country you live in or what government is in power, to put blind faith in a government proclamation or the lack of one.

I traveled to Jamaica back in 1995, about a week after the US Center for Disease Control issued a travel advisory on Jamaica based on an outbreak/epidemic of Dengue Fever. After the advisory was issued I conferred at length with my travelling companion. We collected all the information we could and in the end we decided not to cancel our trip. When I got to Jamaica the locals I spoke with spoke as if the Dengue Fever was only a real issue in the mountainous areas and that since we were on the coast, there was no concern whatsoever and they basically laughed it off. However it’s a mosquito borne illness, and during my stay at that resort on the water in Negril, I didn’t notice any bugs. I learned later on that the resort had invested heavily in spraying insecticides and repellants in the area, perhaps to reduce mosquito infiltration in part.

The bottom line is that one should have healthy skepticism of Government pronouncements on public health issues or qualifying them. Personally I think your decision should be guided by what your personal physician says and not what the UK government is or is not saying. I personally get flu-vaccinated and am encouraged to do so by my doctor, my health insurance company and wouldn’t want to be a person who exposes anything to others because I have contact with elderly people, including my parents who are in their 80s.

Good health and wishes to all of you in the UK.

 

Of course everyone in the US do not get a flu vaccine. If they did, then we would not have these huge outbreaks and overwhelmed emergency rooms. It is not required, but recommended for everyone, and specifically for those most at risk. People get complacent, especially if the prior year was mild and news reports that this year’s vaccine will be less effective. I don’t see how discussing how contagion is spread implies that anyone is stupid. I know people who avoid the flu vaccine because they are afraid of catching the flu from it. They are not stupid either, but make false assumptions.

And sure, you can blame people who ride public transit while sick, and go to work or school while sick. In my health clinic, workers who choose not to get a flu vaccine must wear a mask all day at work. It is a free country, so they are not forced to vaccinate. But, they know they will be in contact with people likely spreading virus, so they either have to vaccinate or wear a mask. 

Anyway, it really does not matter what any of us think or believe. It does not change the reality. It used to be thought that measles was a harmless childhood disease, until they considered that children actually die from it. Kids can’t go to public school here without it, and many other vaccines. Since the flu is different every year, it is a moving target. Health departments do the best they can.

No offense intended. Just trying to get the word out that the flu vaccine is a good thing.

Jan

Your preaching to the wrong  person.

I'm NOT disputing all that you say in regard to the flu, how it's spread etc.

However, the UK and US Governents are obviously of the same opinion as myself and don't believe the flu epidemics are in fact pandemics, otherwise a compulsory vaccination programme would be implimented rather than voluntary vaccination of the 65's yr olds and over, those deemed at a greater risk and the vulnerable. 

I get the flu vaccine due to the fact that I work with young children and their families.  In addition, I see my father, who is 95 and in assisted living with other elderly residents and would not want to be responsible for spreading the flu to anyone else.  From  my understanding this strain of the flu is pretty serious, and I hope to avoid it, if possible.  Of course, I was with a family today, with 3 young children who have been offered the flu vaccine by their doctor, but have refused it because as the mom put it, they are afraid to get the vaccine. I have had many people say they don't get the vaccine because it makes them sick.  I have been getting the flu vaccine for years and never had any reaction to it and can't remember the last time I had the flu.  I'd like to keep it that way! 

 

 

 

 

No government can shift in January from a high-risk-only vaccination plan to a compulsory one. The amount of vaccine available is based on what’s ordered the previous Spring (less any production failures). If you ordered less and want more you’re generally out of luck. They can declare an epidemic or pandemic whenever they want, and they can probably squeeze a few additional vaccinations out of any extra supply that might otherwise have gone to waste, but that’s about it. The doses available are a matter of policy based on long-range predictions, and cannot be adjusted upward significantly.

The US has an awkward history with compulsory flu vaccination. In 1976 the swine flu was forecast to be horrific, on a par with the Spanish flu catastrophe in 1918. A more-or-less compulsory vaccination program was undertaken. Some serious side effects (500 cases of Guillain-Barre syndrome) made headlines and were politically costly; additionally, the flu pandemic never materialized. Ultimately 24% of the US population got vaccinated before the program fizzled out. Gerald Ford did not serve another term as president. I don’t think another compulsory program is likely.

Whether the current situation is serious or not is partly a matter of personal perspective. I have made no representation about the prevalence in the UK or the US. The numbers, however, are the numbers, and whether your personal circle has gotten sick yet is generally an unreliable way of counting. 

The numbers are the numbers and regardless, no Govenment of a first world country seems to agree with your philosophy.

If the flu virus is so contagious why are only the elderly, the vulnerable and those at a greater risk being vaccinated, within both the UK and the US.

In regard to compulsory vaccination, I don't mean issue such a mandate this particular month, I meant last year, the year before, the year before that or now for next flu season.

Based on your own reasoning; "another compulsory flu vaccination program is unlikely" does that not conclude the US Government doesn't share your philosophy as the risk to the population at large is not under the grave threat of which you imply.

Not only do I base my theory on my personal circle who hasn't got sick yet, I also base it on the fact that two of the most poweful Governments of the world havent deemed it necassary to declare a flu epademic within their respective countries and implement a compulsory vaccination program; and 40 years of life experience.

 

I think it's fair to say, why not agree to disagree, as too much of our precious time is being wasted expressing our differing opinion.

At least we have one thing to agree on! We do disagree (and my time is not all that precious). I don’t believe we’ve indicated that this is pandemic or epidemic, but serious. And yes, the CDC does recommend flu vaccines for everyone over age 6 months. It is just especially important for high risk groups.

Jan

CTB23, sorry I missed your question about the shingles vaccine. Yes, it is recommended even if you have had shingles before. There is a new shingles vaccine and it has only been out a few months. It is Shingrix, and what makes it different is that it is NOT live vaccine. This means you can have it while taking immune suppressing drugs. You do need two doses spaced a couple of months apart. It is also recommended for everyone over 50 years (compared to the 60 and older for the live vaccine Zostavax).

I got the Zostavax vaccine when switching from Cimzia to Remicade, but I had to be off biologics for 4 weeks before and after it.

https://www.gsk.com/en-gb/medi...ults-aged-50-and-up/

Jan

I got the live version of the shingles vaccine some months before I went on Remicade.  I had chicken pox when I was 6, so that virus is still in my body.  I actually saw my Grandfather go through a bout with shingles and it can be painful and prolonged.

I was also recommended by my PCP to get the pneumonia vaccine.  I can't recall if that was before or after I went on Remicade.

Yes, CT, the flu is serious business in the US. A lot of people take their chances for a variety of reasons, but not me. 

From the link you posted:

“There's no question that the people who got their flu shots this year got less sick than the people who didn't," said Ardolic. "The sickest people are still clearly the ones who did not get their flu shots."

Jan

So lucky me...the first week in January I was hospitalized with a SBO.  While in the ER, I came back positive for Influenza A, and one week later diagnosed with a sinus infection.  Yeah...Go Big or Go Home!  After a flu shot, IV Tamiflu, followed by 5 days of oral Tamiflu and 10 days of Augmentin, I'm still a little coughy and coldy. 

I have been getting vaccinated since a few years after moving to Paris (1984) and getting the worst flu of my life only weeks after arriving. I was down and out for days of painful vomiting and running my pouch, dehydrated and dizzy...took me a week to be able to stand up again. A month to get back to normal.

I would get one about every 2 or 3 yrs and finally got smart and started vaccinating. 

I made hubby start after his heart attack. I cannot afford to lose him to a stupid virus. 

I do not care if they call it an epidemic, pandemic or just a virus...what I do care about is not getting sick and not getting others sick. I am a teacher. I live in Europe where we have huge, mobile, non-vaccinated migrant populations. The spread of all sorts of previously eradicated diseases are back because people choose not to get vaccinated (Rubella or Pocks and Tuberculosis are making incredible inroads and were in the news last night...).

I honestly believe that all public servants should be vaccinated if their job brings them in contact with the public...as a university teacher I feel it's important for both my and my students' protection.

I take public transportation 2-4xs/day for about 2 hrs and am exposed to coughers and sneezers and sticky, snotty fingers on railings...Darned right I vaccinate...I also push all of my family and students to do the same...

With all of our 'overly clean' environments and sterilized surfaces, we tend to have lower resistance to those nasty viri than if we were 'less clean'...our antibodies are not getting enough exercise.

The U.S is very liberal and gives people the freedom to choose, so do most democratic European countries. That means that it is up to you to protect yourself and your loved ones as well as the stranger at the pump or the coffee bar.

 

Sharon

ps. This year alone I have at least 5 students out of 30 out with the flu each week in each class. I have 15 classes. Yes, here they have announced that it is at the peak of the epidemic. 

 

SKN - I agree- best to keep both yourself and your students from the virus if you can. Its the least we can do.

I didn't know this would be such a hot topic! 

I read there is another type of flu-like virus going around that people are getting, and most are getting it diagnosed as the flu. It is similar with symptoms but also comes with pink eye - yuck! As if the flu isn't bad enough!

The last time I was in the hospital the nurse told me studies found that the inside nook between your thumb and pointer finger -that area is where most forget to use/wipe in the hand sanitizer. Also, after 3x of using sanitizer, they say you should wash your hands.

Stay healthy everyone!

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