The H1N1 Flu Vaccine Debate: Should You, or Shouldn’t You?
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October 24, 2009

The H1N1 Flu Vaccine Debate: Should You, or Shouldn’t You?

AD-Flu Vaccine Bottle I’ll admit right up front that I have a bone to pick when it comes to flu shots, but not because I’m a hemp-wearing hippy drinking my kombucha in a yurt. It’s because I believe in science, and so far science doesn’t back up flu vaccines. Period. 

So why are they being so heavily pushed onto the general public? Why is there so much enthusiasm for flu shots in general, and especially the new H1N1 flu shot or nasal spray, when there’s basically no proof whatsoever that getting it is any more effective than saying a prayer that you won’t get it?

Why did New York try to force unwilling health care workers to get the H1N1 vaccine, when it’s already known that flu vaccines are not very effective? That’s a good question.

    

Health expert and editor of NaturalNews.com, Mike Adams, points out that there has never been a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial on the efficacy of the flu shot (a fact that even most doctors don’t know). He recommends a tongue-in-cheek way to make a quick $100 bucks off of the confusion.


“If a doctor (or a friend) tries to push a flu vaccine on you, ask them this one simple question: ‘Do you think there have been any placebo-controlled studies that prove flu vaccines actually work?’ Your doctor will, of course, say, ‘Sure there are. There must be.’ You then answer, ‘I'll bet you my flu shot against your hundred dollars that you can't cite even one such study.’ After a few days of being scoffed at while they try to dig up a study that doesn't exist, you'll walk away $100 richer. Remember, the study has to be a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial on the efficacy of the flu shot. Such studies have never been done!”


But you don’t have to take Mike’s word for it. Here’s a quote taken directly from the flu vaccine FLULAVAL’s package insert (which you likely never see when getting the flu shot) for the 2009-2010 formula (pay special attention to the last line):


"FLULAVAL is an influenza virus vaccine indicated for active immunization of adults 18 years of age and older against influenza disease caused by influenza virus subtypes A and type B contained in the vaccine. This indication is based on immune response elicited by FLULAVAL, and there have been no controlled trials demonstrating a decrease in influenza disease after vaccination with FLULAVAL.”


So you may be thinking how it’s a little strange that such a heavily promoted and administered vaccine has never been rigorously tested for efficacy. You may be wondering why on Earth that would be. So am I. It seems like lunacy. 


There has been an American Medical Association study that concluded that for every 100 people who get a flu shot, it will prevent 1 person from getting the flu. So, even in the most rosy, best case scenario possible, the flu shot still seems fairly ineffective. That you might be that lucky 1 in a 100 for whom the flu shot actually works, doesn’t seem worth the risk that you will be one of the many unlucky ones who develops unwanted side effects.


Believe me, I have nothing against vaccinations in general, and am very glad to be personally vaccinated against various deadly diseases. However, I believe people should only be injected with vaccines that work, and so far the flu shot doesn’t appear to be one of those that actually works—even during the years when they get the right strain, which they often don’t. And since it doesn’t seem to be particularly effective, why bother taking on the risk of the one thing we do know for sure—flu vaccines carry the risk of serious side-effects?


No, there isn’t much scientific research showing that flu vaccines do work, but there are highly credible studies coming out that flu vaccines are actually dangerous. In fact, children who get the flu vaccine are more at risk for hospitalization than their peers who do not get the vaccine, according to research presented at the 105th International Conference of the American Thoracic Society in San Diego. The study found that children who had received the flu vaccine had three times the risk of hospitalization, as compared to children who had not received the vaccine (read more at http://www.physorg.com/news161971715.html).


No, science hasn’t validated the flu shot, but here’s what rigorous scientific studies have concluded:


§    The flu vaccine is no more effective for children than a placebo, according to a large-scale, systematic review of 51 studies, published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.

§    A study published in the Lancet just found that influenza vaccination was NOT associated with a reduced risk of pneumonia in older people. This is VERY important to note, because 35,000 of the 36,000 “flu” deaths the government reports each year are caused by diseases like pneumonia, and NOT the flu itself.

§    Research published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine also confirms that there has been no decrease in deaths from influenza and pneumonia, despite the fact that vaccination coverage among the elderly has increased from 15 percent in 1980 to 65 percent now.

§    Giving young children flu shots appeared to have no impact on flu-related doctor visits or hospitalizations, according to a study published in the October issue of the Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine. (Well, that’s sort of good news for flu shot supporters, because at least they found the shots were completely ineffective, which is still better than the studies showing that flu vaccines are actually dangerous.)


So, should you get the regular flu vaccine or the H1N1 flu shot this year? That’s your call. Why not if it makes you feel better, or if you think getting shots is pleasurable? But if you decide not to, then from a scientific perspective—no one who believes that scientific based evidence is worth something will blame you.


Posted by Rebecca Sato 

Comments

I live in Mexico and no, i will not get the AH1N1 flu shot (its 300 $ pesos like 24 US dlls) i think some people are bound to get the AH1N1 due to their genetics (flu shot or not).

Oh, gimmie a break. Flu vaccines are developed on such a short timescale that there is no possibility to make the vaccine and conduct a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study of efficacy. Immunology is a reliable indicator of whether or not a particular vaccine is effective against a particular pathogen.

Also, flu vaccines are for a few particular flu varieties. Because there are so many varieties and only a few can be chosen for each year's flu vaccine, the vaccine may not protect you against the particular flu virus you come into contact with.

I also question the statistic that 1 in 100 people benefits from the flu vaccine. Is this 1 in 100 people are protected who are exposed to the flu virus? Is this 1 in 100 people are prevented from getting the flu who would have gotten it otherwise? Or is it 1 in 100 people who get the vaccine are prevented from getting it, whether they would have gotten the flu or not? Without a link or citation to this "American Medical Association study," I cannot make heads or tails of your argument.

I think you should go back to your medical journals and look at immunology reports and the reasons for vaccination recommendations.

Duncan Townsend

There is so much confusion about this shot but this article goes against everything the WHO said. I am unsure if I will get it or not. it's not because of money because the shot is free(Canada), but I would like to hear more info on it.

I would like to hear more on both sides of the issue. All I know is that here in Canada, the flu shot is paid for by our tax dollars. It's a serious issue

In Mexico the vaccine is free as well (in the sense that the person getting the shot will not pay there for getting it). It would be illegal to charge for the flu shot; if there's anyone charging for it, it should be reported to the authorities (Though it would be useful to know which authorities are those).

Regarding the article's main subject, I would say the same as Derrick that "There is so much confusion about this shot [. . .]" But this is the rule when public health issues come out; it is very difficult to decided rationally since there are so many cross messages, biased information and ethical issues at stake.

Science-Based Medicine: "Flu Vaccine Efficacy" ~ http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=2040

Wait a minute:

Paragraph 4: "there has never been a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial on the efficacy of the flu shot"

vs.

Bullet point 1: "The flu vaccine is no more effective for children than a placebo, according to a large-scale, systematic review of 51 studies"

So, there have been "no studies" or there have been "51 studies."

I'm confused.

Karl,
the article was stating that there hasn't been any "randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial on the efficacy of the flu shot," that does not necessarily mean that there hasn't been any type of study done whatsoever.

It is irresponsible to post this without a link to information about the author and her qualifications in medical matters. Please post this soon so we can judge for ourselves if this person's opinions are worth considering at all.

People who do not actually understand science should not write scientific articles.

One such example of this, from your pseudo "scientific" article. You cite a Lancet study (without actually citing the article) that states "influenza vaccination was NOT associated with a reduced risk of pneumonia in older people. This is VERY important to note, because 35,000 of the 36,000 “flu” deaths the government reports each year are caused by diseases like pneumonia"--- The inherent problem in this is that while the Influenza virus can cause pneumonia the #1 microorganism responsible for causing pneumonia is not the influenza virus. It is Streptococcus pneumonia, a bacteria. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs331/en/index.html

Also, at one point in your article you mention that flu shots carry the risk for side effects. Which side effects are you talking about? Unless you have Guillain Barre syndrome or have a serious anaphylactic reaction to eggs, then what side effects exist? (Don't cite Jenny McCarthy, she knows less about autism than my little finger)

In fact, there have been plenty of randomized double blind studies on the flu vaccine. For instance on people with HIV (Tasker, Treanor, Paxton, & Wallace, 1999) showed the efficacy of it in this population. The writer here is correct that the jury is out on the efficacy of these vaccines in children. So, why is it being pushed on us?

To Nechakogal:

Your question is this: Why is it being pushed on us?
Because H1N1 is a pandemic with a predicted kill rate of 1% and a predicted attack rate of 30%. Attack rate is the predicted percentage of the (United States) population that will contract the disease.

If you do the math on that, that means we have 300 million americans, and 30% get sick, that's 100 million who could contract the illness. From that, 1% could potentially die. This means that if a vaccine works, up to 1 million preventable deaths could happen this flu season.

Now, here's the interesting part about H1N1. That number, 1% death rate, that's an average. The populations that are actually dying are pregnant women, children with asthma and other respiratory issues, diabetics, and people with heart disease. This disease is ridiculous, pregnant women shouldn't DIE just because of the flu! But they are dying. The CDC is attempting to focus vaccination efforts on those populations who are at risk, including health care workers (for obvious reasons). That is why the vaccine is being pushed on us so adamantly.

To avoid easily preventable deaths. It's a public health issue, and is that really such a bad thing?

Nope, Karl is right. This article makes no sense. It cites studies when it wants to, then claims there's never been any studies. This is total nonsense. The author clearly doesn't know what she's talking about.

I don't think this article is claiming anything outrageous. The author merely quoted valid studies and shares her opinion. It doesn't matter if you agree with the author or not, but you can't argue the scientific facts here.

Plus, it's ludicrous to argue that flu makers can't do a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial on the efficacy of the flu shot because they "don't have time". That makes zero sense. It would be relatively easy to set up such a study, all you'd have to do it administer a real vaccine and placebo vaccine to two different groups and then track how many of which get the flu that season (using a five month period in the winter, or whatever time-frame criteria the researchers want).

Some of you people commenting on here sound brain-washed and are just writing angry knee-jerk reactions not based on the facts.

I agree with ~C4Chaos...There were studies or there weren't. You can't have it both ways. Rebecca says "Doctors push" flue shots. How does your Doc benefit from talking you into an inoculation you don't need? She sites no information derived from anyone with a DR. preceding their name and she doesn't claim to have any medical background herself. It's simply her opinion. What we DO know is that our body's immune system normally responds to a vaccine by making us less likely to become infected by the virus it is derived from....and that is Science....not opinion.

Sry...that post i agreed with was by Karl.

...and Duncan Townsend makes some good points as well.

Approx 500,000 people worldwide die yearly from your common garden variety influenza.

Approx 5,000 people worldwide have died from swineflu.


So yeah, I'm real scared. The big bad boogey man swine flu is gonna get me. Just like the big bad avian flu back in 2005, just like the big bad swine flu back in 1976. I think I just pee'd my pants. You should all run out and spend as much of your money as you can.

About the time required for efficacy tests: I believe the point was that there is not time to do such tests BEFORE the flu season hits.

lol. So yeah, there's a conspiracy out there to innoculate people for no reason!
Conspiracy!
I think it's bizzare that this is one of those things that extreme righties and lefties agree on, and the rest of the sane population actually trusts doctors and researchers.
That there's any debate is idiotic and a waste of time that could be used for debating real issues.

@bumpy: *But*, if those tests were being done over the course of many flu seasons, you'd at least get a sense of the overall efficacy of influenza vaccines. That's not been done -- according to this article, at least. I've not independently confirmed that. If the tests were being done than at least there'd be, ideally, historical evidence pointing towards higher odds of the thing actually working. Or evidence pointing towards *lower* odds. Or nothing at all. As it is, we don't really seem to know if the shots actually work. Our best guess is that they might.

Suggest sticking to outer space for your subject matter ....

Please remove this author from Daily Galaxy. This is a science site and anti-science idiocy belongs on either HuffPo or AoA. I will keep Daily Galaxy in my reader for one week, waiting for a retraction AND an apology. If after one week passes and I've seen nothing, I will be removing the site from my reader. And no, I will not be satisfied with a "This author was just editorializing." as this is obviously an article.

Oh, and from the Science Based Medicine (http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=2040) blog:

“randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study investigated the efficacy, safety, and immunogenicity of LAIV in community-dwelling ambulatory adults >/=60 years of age in South Africa in 2001. Nose and throat swabs were obtained for influenza virus culture based on the symptoms of influenza-like illness. A total of 3242 subjects were enrolled, with a mean age of 69.5 years. The efficacy of LAIV against influenza viruses antigenically similar to the vaccine was 42.3% (95% CI, 21.6-57.8%). Efficacy against A/H3N2 viruses was 52.5% (95% CI, 32.1-67.2%); vaccine efficacy was not observed against antigenically similar B strains (PubMed).”

That would be a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. From PubMed.

Remember, no retraction, no reader.

I'm going based off of my own experience. For the last three winters my job has offered flu shots at work, for the special discount price of something like $18 to &20 (USA) I want to say. For the first two winters I got the flu shot I remember being congested and tired, all the way into spring. Every time anyone got sick around the office I seemed to pick it up and it would linger and not go away. Last winter I decided not to get the flu shot and I hardly got sick at all. I did get a pretty bad cold at the end of the winter but it did not lurk into springtime like when I had gotten the flu shot. Personally I'm choosing not to get one this year either. So far there have been two rounds of colds running through my office and a few people from a social group outside of work have gotten H1N1, fortunately I have not caught any of it despite being around it fairly regularly. It makes me wonder if it works differently for different people. Have they done any studies to show how long these flu strains stay active in the body or if the "dead" strands reproduce? It just feels like when I get the flu shot the flu is always lurking around and just gets flared up anytime it comes in contact with another flu strain...or maybe the flu shots I got two years ago are just starting to kick in...does anyone really understand what exactly this shot is doing, do we know it's consistent for everyone?

I was surprised by the general negative tone of this article. I decided to check up on one of the claims - that there are no placebo-controlled studies showing that flu vaccines work.

The claim is false. I quickly found many such studies. It literally took me a couple of minutes and I have included just one citation to the scientific literature from each of the last 3 years.

There are properly controlled studies showing that the flu vaccines are effective in children, healthy adults, elderly, and various groups with specific health conditions.

This article misrepresents what the science shows, apparently in order to scare people away from one of the most important health steps they can easily take. What a disservice.

Title: Comparative Efficacy of Inactivated and Live Attenuated Influenza Vaccines
Author(s): Monto AS, Ohmit SE, Petrie JG, et al.
Source: NEW ENGLAND JOURNAL OF MEDICINE Volume: 361 Issue: 13 Pages: 1260-1267 Published: SEP 24 2009

Title: Correlation of cellular immune responses with protection against culture-confirmed influenza virus in young children
Author(s): Forrest BD, Pride MW, Dunning AJ, et al.
Source: CLINICAL AND VACCINE IMMUNOLOGY Volume: 15 Issue: 7 Pages: 1042-1053 Published: JUL 2008

Title: Safety and immunogenicity of a baculovirus-expressed hemagglutinin influenza vaccine - A randomized controlled trial
Author(s): Treanor JJ, Schiff GM, Hayden FG, et al.
Source: JAMA-JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION Volume: 297 Issue: 14 Pages: 1577-1582 Published: APR 11 2007


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