Flu Shot is Useless
Absolute proof that the flu (shot) is useless
By the time you read this it will be March and the flu season once again is over for another year. Once again we are left with the question, “Was the flu a threat to the health of any Canadians”? Or was it just another inconvenience that comes with our winters?
Every year we are inundated by the media and the government to get our annual flu shot and do people do it because it is considered good civic behavior? Or have we been oversold on the value of the flu shot and are convinced that is really protects our health.
The fact is that influenza is a significant local health problem for about six weeks each year, spread out over twelve weeks for the entire country. The dangers of the flu have been severely overstated in order for the government to see that we are all vaccinated.
After all, it is simply politics. The government that takes our money squanders it on a myriad of useless projects and makes sure that all their workers get raises has an opportunity to make it look like they care about the people. They advertise constantly to us to get our flu shot because they claim they care about our health and the health of all Canadians. What all politicians only care about is being re-elected and this advertising ploy is designed to make us like them, feel they care about us and of course re-elect them the next time they run. The fact is that the influenza vaccine has little or no benefit for most Canadians.
Infectious diseases have been declining rapidly over the last ten years. They now amount to less than one in 25 deaths in Canada. The recent Ontario Burden of Infectious Diseases study by Public Health Ontario placed the impact of Influenza near the bottom of the list of infectious diseases well behind hepatitis B and C, and HIV which are diseases that can only be transmitted by blood-to-blood contact. Airborne diseases such as pneumococcus, Staphylococcus aureus and even E.coli are much more dangerous and widespread than influenza.
And these infectious diseases pale in importance when compared to modern plagues such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease and even motor vehicle crashes.
Every year, the so-called experts predict that 5 to 10 per cent of the population will get a clinical case of influenza. But the critical cases usually fall on very young infants and people with serious chronic diseases such as congestive heart failure and chronic lung disease. For this group, hospitalization and even death may occur. For healthy children and adults, the great majority of Canadians, influenza is a mild, self-limited illness. For most of us, the effect is more like that of a bad cold than that of a life-threatening disease. At the peak of the annual outbreak, influenza may clog up our emergency rooms for two or three weeks, usually around Christmas time. But for the rest of the year there is not enough influenza around to have even a miniscule effect on our health care system.
Childhood vaccines and even some adult vaccines like Tetanus and Hepatitis B have been the greatest successes of modern time, saving hundreds of millions of lives. However, the influenza vaccine does not belong in this league because it is useless and does not really prevent people from getting the flu. This is truly a case of Big Pharma cashing in on the fear of the public and the desire of our governments to look like good guys who care about the electorate.
Based on the Centres for Disease Control estimates, influenza vaccine effectiveness averages about 50 per cent and that’s in a year with a very good match against the existing flu viruses. Every year there is a risk of a mismatch because the different strains of influenza keep mutating into new forms which are resistant to the existing vaccines. In mismatch years, like this winter, vaccine effectiveness averages less than 20 per cent. In practical terms, this means we had to immunize between 50 and 100 people Last fall, before the annual outbreak, to prevent a single case of influenza this winter. By January, when the annual outbreak was already fading, we had to immunize close to a 1000 people to prevent a single case.
These are not very good numbers and they get worse when you consider the elderly. After 70 years of age your immune system barely responds to the flu shot because at that age your body will not produce antibodies against the virus. That means the flu shot is counterproductive. In other words there is a greater risk of acquiring an infection at the place where the flu shot is administered than any benefit derived from the flu shot itself.
Further evidence suggests that getting the flu shot each year is a waste because we already have immunity for the existing viruses that are out there. Why should we be reimmunized for the same viruses that have appeared in previous years. By the time a new variety develops, we must then capture it, incubate it and put it in the following year’s vaccine. By then most of us have already been exposed to it anyway.
There are virtually no benefits to the influenza vaccine so we must think of those at risk and make sure they are taken care of. You can die from influenza if you become severely dehydrated from loss of fluids either through diarrhea or vomiting. So drinking fluids during an attack is essential. You can die from secondary effects of influenza such as pneumonia so all elderly people should get a pneumonia shot which is free from your physician. It’s just that at this time we do not seem to have alternatives to the flu shot so we line up like lemmings every year and get it.
Ontario launched its Universal Influenza Immunization Program 15 years ago with the best of intentions, hoping that immunizing everyone would reduce the spread of the virus and better protect those at risk of bad outcomes. Unfortunately the program has not worked, the results have been very disappointing and it has become a waste of money. Buying all the doses of vaccine and paying all the pharmacists, physicians and nurses to administer the doses is just a huge waste of money that could be better spent on other ways to improve our health.