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Flu vaccine risks and benefits

Video transcript

so a lot of people trying to decide about whether flu vaccine is for them they want to know what are the risks and what are the benefits of getting the flu vaccine so I'm going to write up here the risks and benefits we're going to go through them kind of systematically and hopefully by the end you'll have a nice little table you can look at to take a look at kind of both sides side by side so let's start with some of the common issues what are them some of the common things we know are are going to be a risk with the vaccine well when you walk in to get a vaccine you kind of know if it's an injectable vaccine that the injection is not going to be pain free I mean most injections are going to hurt a little bit and so this actually for some people is not a big deal but for others like me it is a big deal you know I always remember people would tell me oh it doesn't hurt that much and I would feel like like they lied to me because I always felt like it did hurt and so I always got some arm soreness and it's not pleasant and that was one of the main reasons I often kind of dragged my feet about getting the vaccine I thought well you know do I really want to go in today and get a you know injection in my arm and the one that causes arm torn is the one that we inject is the dead vaccine I just want to make it very clear we call it TIV that's the name of the vaccine so if you don't like getting an injection in the arm if you're like me then you can also get the other vaccine there's this other vaccine out there and it's going to cause potentially a little bit of a runny nose this is something that some people get I've actually always opted for this one whenever it was available it's the live vaccine and it's you know not for everybody some people are actually not going to be able to get this one now in all the years I've had it I've actually never had a runny nose although I know a lot of people say that they've had that so these are the common issues or the common risks you take when you get a vaccine right now another thing is that they often are thought to cause the flu but they actually do not cause flu this is a huge misconception so I make it very clear something that is dead a virus that is dead is not going to cause flu for sure so that was kind of obvious but even this weak virus this weakened virus that's in the vaccine is also not going to cause the flu it causes symptoms that sometimes are unpleasant like a runny nose usually but it doesn't cause the flu so what about the other side what are the benefits the common benefits that we we know you can get from the vaccine what is it one of the reasons we even take vaccine well you want to stay healthy right you don't you don't eat flu and that's the whole point behind this and this is kind of how I qualify it to myself I think well you know what I even be okay with getting an injection in the arm probably yeah because I know that in terms of pain and I might hurt a little bit but being on your back in bed for three or four days sometimes more because of the flu that's awful and that's real suffering so I would definitely opt for getting a vaccine over getting the flu now you know we measure something called vaccine efficacy kind of the ability of the vaccine to prevent us from getting ill and the vaccine efficacy of this vaccine is not perfect that's something we have to remember right it's not a hundred percent it's actually we think somewhere between 60 and 70 percent so if I'm going to draw a little force field a purple force field showing that I'm protected from the flu I've got to actually also show a couple little holes in my force field to say that it's not a perfect bit of protection but it's pretty good and that's the whole point right so those are the common benefits that you can expect now let me draw a little bit more space up here so I can continue with this risk benefit analysis what are some uncommon things what are some uncommon more rare events that you may have heard of people sometimes talk about with the vaccine and there are a couple there - that kind of jumped to mind I'll talk about one of them is called G hombre Gyan bere kind of a tough word to even spell but it's basically a nerve disease a nerve disease that causes problems actually set a disease let me write syndrome it's basically going to cause problems with muscles and so you get muscle weakness so Gyan bere syndrome sometimes we call this GBS so you might see GBS is essentially a nerve disease and the reason we even talk about gamba you might think well what do nerve have to do with the flu vaccine well it turned out interestingly enough that back in 1976 so we've been giving flu vaccine for a long time back in 1976 it was observed and this is unbelievable how they were able to find this but they found one extra case one extra case approximately of Gihon beret so one extra case of Gilmer a syndrome among 100,000 individuals that were vaccinated so they said well that's interesting you didn't expect this person to have a hombre and there seems to be an association with the vaccine so as a result of finding this kind of risk back in 1976 we've been looking ever since so in the last 3040 years we've been kind of looking every year and people are kind of encouraged to report if they have gamma-ray and we have not seen you know a real association between flu vaccine and yam Bray ever since this year but we still continue to look and people still talk about Gil Marin and ask questions about it so that's why I wanted to bring it up now the other thing that actually I think people talk about maybe even more commonly than gamma ray is febrile seizures and if you've ever seen one these things are pretty frightening these are basically a seizure in a young child after a fever and I completely understand why parents would be worried if they ever see one like this and you wouldn't want to see one in your own child of course but the risk of febrile seizures with flu vaccine is also quite low so you usually see about one case among let's say about a thousand a thousand vaccinated kids so it's also pretty low and here the reassuring part the thing that is is probably most helpful for parents to know is that if your child has a febrile seizure they almost always get better quickly and completely there's no kind of long-term brain damage that you get from febrile seizures nothing like that so it is frightening to look at and to see it's scary you know there's no doubt about it but that kids do recover really really well they don't have any long-term problems so let's jump to the other side what are some of the uncommon benefits and actually I'm saying uncommon I should even put it in well I was going to put it in quotes I guess I can do that because actually some of these benefits are more common than you would think and so we talked about hospitalizations right and deaths and people think well you know it's not very common to have to go to the hospital or to die from flu right and actually I wrote died when I met deaths and actually there are many many hospitalizations and deaths happening each year in the u.s. these are us numbers right but you can kind of get a sense for these numbers and project them to your own setting wherever you may be living in the US we see thousands and thousands of deaths a year after year related to the flu this is based on some research that's been done over the last 30 years in hospitalizations as well we see 200,000 per year so these are not uncommon things really and what are people dying of what it was the cause of death and hospitalizations well it's things like pneumonia or bronchitis now these are pretty common ailments and they can land you in the hospital and sadly they can actually land you in the grave because they're so serious and also things like asthma asthma attacks can be triggered by the flu and if you're a parent you can really appreciate things like ear infections and you can get sinus infections related to the flu and more generally bacterial infections so a lot of bacteria like you know kind of to wait for the flu to infect and then right afterwards they kind of jump in and cause infections as well in fact let me just spell this out just to clear up any confusion so these are actually fairly serious issues right these are not trivial and they're much much more common than a lot of people think about all these things right and so when you're comparing them side by side on the one side on the benefit side you're avoiding hospitalization and death from from fairly common things and on the other side you have truly uncommon things things that happened you know and we're know a long time ago or you know people recover completely and fully from so between the two sides again I would say that based on this information the benefits win out over the risks so now let me just make up a little or bring up a little bit more space and I'm going to get into one final issue and this is around something that is really troubling this is around myths things that that simply are not true and there are a lot of them actually around a flu vaccine there are a lot of myths and over the years I've kind of noticed that there's been a shift so a long time ago I would always hear kind of the same question that people would say hey isn't it true that the vaccine that the flu vaccine can cause autism because I heard that on the internet or you know my mom forwarded me an email about that and that is definitely and completely not true so this is not a real thing that does not happen and then later over time I started hearing well maybe it's not the vaccine maybe it's something inside the vaccine maybe it's this thing called thimerosal or maybe something within thimerosal constante Mirasol is actually a preservative maybe it's this mercury within thimerosal and maybe that causes autism that was kind of the new thing I would say a few years ago and that also has been kind of proven and shown in studies not to be the case so what do people actually talk about nowadays what's the new myth on the Block there's always a new myth on the Block and the new one is maybe just generally speaking too many vaccines too many vaccines and nowadays it's funny I don't even hear about autism so much they say maybe too many vaccines are just bad that literally that's exactly what people will say they'll say you know I don't want another vaccine because I've just heard it's bad and maybe more generally might say bad for the immune system the immune system so this is kind of the most common new rumor on the blocker myth on the block and so I want to just kind of go through these and we'll go through these in other videos one by one and talk about why they're not true but it's very clear based on research that these are not true but now separate for myths what's one final argument on the benefits side well it's called herd immunity and you may have heard this term before you may have heard about her bird immunity kind of hard to say a few times out loud but herd immunity is basically the idea let me try to sketch it out for you that you have a community right you've got all these people each white circle is another person and they're all living together in a community and some of these people are going to be what we call vulnerable so let's say this is a three months old beautiful little baby so three months old baby and this baby is too young to get the vaccine right the flu vaccine but of course mom and dad are right here so mom and dad get the vaccine and maybe uncle Joe gets the vaccine and Aunty Smith gets the vaccine and you know grandma grandpa got the vaccine and cousins who also around the baby get the vaccine and so you get the idea basically all the people around this baby are going to get the vaccine and now a stranger comes to visit you know this is a person from another city they come to visit and what they what everyone doesn't know is that this person is actually sick and they come to a dinner and they start coughing and of course they're spreading germs well what what this family has done is that they've created this nice little zone that's called the safe zone between anyone that's sick and the baby so these germs are not going to be able to kind of penetrate this barrier because too many people are vaccinated and so these germs can't cause enough infections to get to this baby so this baby is really protected over here so that's kind of the goals you want to keep vulnerable members of our community including babies and the elderly and other folks you want to keep them safe and the best way to keep them safe is by getting vaccinated creating that protection for yourself