Tag: flu

283 tweets about flu today

I wanted to use the TwitteR package for R since a long time, I tried but didn’t do much of it. Today I found a few minutes, followed simple recipes (I admit), and looked at the number of tweets about flu today (November 13, 2018). Result: 283 tweets in English (I wanted to focus on the USA but, for some reason, I couldn’t … yet!). That’s not a lot. But remember we are only at the beginning of the influenza season 2018-2019 in the Northern hemisphere.

After some very basic cleaning, here are the words most used: flu, influenza (obviously: I was looking for them!), rt (note to self: remove this indication of a retweet), vaccine, health and get. As I mentioned: we are at the beginning of the flu season in the Northern hemisphere, it’s still time to get vaccinated and protected against flu!


Now of course, I wanted a word cloud 😉 Here it is:


It’s basically the same graph as above. You don’t get the count but you get the feeling of how important each word is (and you get more words).

I also recently read the recent WIRED article about the need of less stats and more stories about the success of vaccines. And I was wondering if, by following tweets and people on Twitter, tweeting about flu, we could reconstruct stories about influenza and vaccination against it. I’ll try to dedicate a few minutes every now and then, during this season, to this. In the meantime, if you have additional ideas, don’t hesitate to send them to me, comment below, or contact me … on Twitter, obviously! (I’m @jepoirrier)

Increasing certainty in flu vaccine effectiveness

According to CDC data, studies are getting better at estimating the influenza vaccine effectiveness.

With the 2017-2018 flu season still going on in the USA, there are already some indication that vaccines have some effectiveness (although its target strains were mismatched). The CDC reports how it measures vaccine effectiveness here and I was interested in their confidence intervals (the interval that takes into account uncertainties to extrapolate to the broader, unknown population).

Here is the same graph as on the CDC page, but with confidence interval:

* 2016-2017 VE are still estimates. ** 2017-2018 interim early estimates may differ from final end-of-season estimates.

You can already notice it above but the graph below confirms that the confidence interval becomes narrower with the various flu season. This can come from various reasons. One obvious reason is that early seasons (< 2007-08) had a very small sample size (< 1,000). But overall, we can notice a gain of certainty around the effectiveness (the lower the line below, the more certainty).

* 2016-2017 VE are still estimates. ** 2017-2018 interim early estimates may differ from final end-of-season estimates.

As usual, the dataset (and code to generate the graphs above) are on my Github repo.