CDC Recommends Antiviral Drugs For At-Risk Patients : NPR

CDC Recommends Antiviral Drugs For At-Risk Patients : NPR.

The flu is awful this year. I’m in the bathroom washing my child’s hands all Lady Macbeth the second he gets home from school. In this interview Tom Freiden, Director of the CDC, explains plainly why the flu is so bad right now and why people who have gotten the flu shot are still getting sick. He also talks about antiviral use in flu patients.

I’m concerned for public health and the future success of flu shot campaigns. The strain that is infecting people despite vaccination was chosen for the vaccine, but between it’s selection and the beginning of our flu season it mutated. ARGH. This wasn’t a failure on the part of the CDC but it will lose them good faith in a year where we already had our eyes set to roll at their very next press release. So now add to the giant list of reasons people won’t get their flu shot “they messed it up last year.” Which is bad for community immunity.

Below, data for health districts reporting in VA (two weeks old). The red is the sub-type of flu the vaccine does not cover.

flu data

Knowledge cures ignorance so here is the back story of the flu vaccine and why this year was a one-off to convince you to please get your flu shot next year, too:

How are the viruses selected to make flu vaccine?

The influenza (flu) viruses selected for inclusion in the seasonal flu vaccines are updated each year based on which influenza virus strains are circulating, how they are spreading, and how well current vaccine strains protect against newly identified strains. Currently, 141 national influenza centers in 111 countries conduct year-round surveillance for influenza and study influenza disease trends. These laboratories also send influenza viruses to the five World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Centers for Reference and Research on Influenza located in Atlanta, Georgia, USA (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC); London, United Kingdom (National Institute for Medical Research); Melbourne, Australia (Victoria Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory); Tokyo, Japan (National Institute for Infectious Diseases); and Beijing, China (National Institute for Viral Disease Control and Prevention) for additional analyses.

The influenza viruses in the seasonal flu vaccine are selected each year based on surveillance-based forecasts about what viruses are most likely to cause illness in the coming season. WHO recommends specific vaccine viruses for inclusion in influenza vaccines, but then each individual country makes their own decision for which strains should be included in influenza vaccines licensed in their country. In the United States, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) determines which vaccine viruses will be used in U.S.—licensed vaccines.


4 thoughts on “CDC Recommends Antiviral Drugs For At-Risk Patients : NPR

  1. My whole house got the flu. Gibby was the only one without the flu shot. His lingered a little longer than the rest of us but the severity of it was no different. Sick as shit for lack of a better word. I turned down Tamiflu. My doctor said it can have some rough side effects and she viewed the flu shot as a version of tamiflu since it does help to reduce the duration so long as you don’t have a compromised immune system. Berkeley had the nasal flu shot (bad idea) and she was the sickest of us all. I believe she probably was blowing her nose after the spray due to irritation which makes it null and void. This was the second time she has ever visited the ED or doctor because of illness. She was lifeless, high fevers, coughing, and vomiting. Pretty scary for this mommy. 😉

    The flu scares me. Mostly due to fear mongering from the media. I don’t get the scare tactic in lieu of just proper education on the flu (symptoms, ways to not spread, what to look for if its progressing to pneumonia etc.) Putting in the headlines “10 children dead” is not the answer in my personal opinion.

    I hope your house stays healthy. Happy New Year sweet friend!


  2. I’m so sorry! I hope you all are on the mend, that sounds absolutely awful. I did look at Cochrane and PubMed to see if I could find any evidence for antivirals as good therapy for flu and, just like your doctor told you, there was scant evidence (according to sys review and meta analysis) that it reduced symptoms and duration, and there were significant side effects. So I think antivirals being held up as an effective treatment is a little hasty!

    I also totally agree with you–the messaging needs to be much more on prevention and less on people dying. For example, parents know that if one person is sick everyone is going to get it. What can we be doing to help prevent spread in our own households?

    Happy New Year to you too, good health and success in 2015!


  3. I took Tamiflu last year when I got the flu. Barf city. Like, urgently pulling over and vomiting out of my car in public places. Never again! I did have the flu shot and I think that helped. I had one day of misery and four days of lethargy/Netflix.


  4. So I don’t understand why it’s being pushed by the CDC. And for a healthy adult like you, Amy? Who is making these call and based on what. (The AMA? CDC? and based on ?) I wish I had better context and more skill at interpreting studies.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s