Articles

An Alternative “Truth” About Flu Shots

Vaccines, and flu shots in particular, have been covered ad nauseum on this blog; but the anti-vaccine propaganda never stops, so forgive me for bringing it up again. A correspondent inquired about a podcast by Steve Wright on Revolution Health Radio entitled “The Truth About Flu Shots (and What to do Instead).” You can either listen or read the transcript. It’s just too funny to pass up. That is, it would be funny if it weren’t endangering our public health by spreading misinformation.  

Wright found an “expert” to interview: Chris Kresser, L.Ac. That’s Licensed Acupuncturist. Kresser says the dogma about flu shots is not evidence-based and they are over-promoted and over-hyped. He cites studies that cast doubt on their efficacy. He says a low percentage of health care professionals get them, which suggests to him that they know something that the general public doesn’t know. He says everyone should decide for themselves; but he doesn’t get flu shots himself, doesn’t think the risks justify the benefits, and interprets the evidence as showing that flu shots don’t work. He dismisses positive studies that were funded by industry. He dismisses studies about efficacy in the elderly because they rely on unreliable epidemiologic evidence. He says the risk of dying from flu is less than the risk from “other things, like car accidents and flying in a plane and stuff.” He says the studies on Tamiflu are biased. Based on a comment a former FDA employee supposedly left on his blog or on Facebook (he can’t even remember which), he claims the FDA approval process for vaccines is a joke, that they don’t put them through any of the same protocols that they would for normal drug development. (This is demonstrably false.)

Instead of Vaccines

He refers listeners to an article he wrote on his own blog about how to prevent (and treat) colds and flu naturally. His recommendations include:

  • A nutrient-dense, low-toxin diet with no sugar or refined flour but with lots of organ meats (!)
  • Fermented cod liver oil
  • Bone broth
  • Fermented foods
  • Probiotics
  • Neti pots
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin D
  • Handwashing
  • Zinc
  • Staying away from children
  • Getting adequate sleep
  • The Chinese herbal formula Yu Ping Feng San, or Jade Windscreen
  • Lactoferrin
  • Lauricidin
  • Raw garlic

He says he recognizes the need for scientific studies but he seems to rely on trying things for himself and listening to the anecdotal accounts of others.

Laughable References

His research abilities and the references he found to cite do not inspire confidence. He provides links to:

  • The writings of a prominent anti-vaccine spokesperson
  •  An article in Scientific American that actually undermines his thesis (it reports the evidence fairly and questions the vaccine’s efficacy in the very young and very old but clearly says it works for older children and adults)
  • The article he wrote himself about natural flu remedies
  • Some of the systematic reviews mentioned in the Scientific American article
  • 4 links to Amazon.com pages offering various natural products for sale. (I don’t recall ever seeing Amazon pages proffered as references before.)

The studies he cites only demonstrate what we all know: the flu vaccine is far from ideal. Strains change every year, protection is far from 100%, and older adults don’t benefit as much as younger ones. People over 65 don’t develop as robust an immune response to the vaccine, so a new high-dose formula has been developed with four times as many antigens; studies have shown that it generates more antibodies but studies to determine its effectiveness in actually preventing cases of the flu are still in progress. We tell people if they don’t want to get the vaccine for themselves they should “get it for grandma” because the more vulnerable older and younger groups will be at less risk if more people are vaccinated so the disease can’t spread as well through the community.

He cherry picks the evidence and interprets it from a biased perspective. Experts in various fields put their heads together and reviewed ALL the published evidence and all the current scientific knowledge before they issued the official recommendations. They have seen and carefully considered all the studies he mentions. It is arrant hubris for him to think he knows more than all of them or has better judgment or has access to privileged information that the rest of us don’t.

Contradicting Himself

He says:

flu vaccines are not effective for adults. You have to treat between 33 people when the vaccine and infecting strain are well matched, which is rare, and 100 people when they’re not well matched, which is much more common, to prevent a single case of flu.

He says they are not effective but in the very next sentence gives statistics showing that they are effective! He’s talking about the NNT, the number of people needed to treat for one to benefit, and the numbers he provides are in line with a lot of other treatments we accept as effective. Who is he to decide that preventing one case of flu for every 33 to 100 people vaccinated is not worthwhile? I probably have less than a 1 in 100 chance of my house burning down, but I consider it worthwhile to have fire insurance. Remember that the goal of flu shots is not just to prevent deaths, but also to prevent suffering from flu symptoms and to reduce complications, time lost from work, and spread of disease in the community.

Not Enough Evidence, So Try Something with Less Evidence

Perhaps the funniest thing about his spiel is that after criticizing current flu shot recommendations for inadequate evidence, he proceeds to recommend a series of methods to prevent and treat flu naturally, methods that are supported by far less evidence and usually no evidence at all.

Conclusion

Why would anyone go to Kresser for advice about vaccines? He’s an acupuncturist, for Pete’s sake! His whole livelihood is based on a prescientific system of mythological qi and meridians. His website offers inaccurate information and questionable advice on diet, diabetes, heart disease, thyroid disorders, skin health, heartburn, and depression. He even offers a paleo detox program.

This podcast is an ignorant, biased distortion of the facts; and despite his protestations he is clearly trying to dissuade listeners from getting flu shots. It’s unfortunate that he is spreading this rubbish. He wants to talk people out of needles that might actually do some good, while deceiving them with useless acupuncture needles. Let the listener beware!

I didn’t take Latin; would that be caveat auditor?

Posted in: Herbs & Supplements, Vaccines

Leave a Comment (42) ↓

42 thoughts on “An Alternative “Truth” About Flu Shots

  1. annappaa says:

    Yes, it may be an ignorant, biased distortion of facts, but I have to admit, I like having an excuse to stay away from small children.

  2. TonyMach says:

    The really sad thing is that these naturpath-quacks are mainly the ones that embrace the concept of evolution when it comes to nutrition – all those MDs out there won’t touch an diet based on foods from our “evolutionary environment of adaptation” with a ten foot pole.

    I know Chris is wrong about acupuncture and he is wrong about all that herbal woo and what not. But I will trade in my former cereal-grain-rich, omega-6-rich and pasteurized-milk-dairy-rich diet ANYTIME for something resembling a paleo diet – AND I know that I did the right thing for my health. If your nutrition does not cause you health problems at the moment, then I am so glad for you – but don’t laugh at people who remove evolutionary novel foods and solve some of their health problems. And *if* you have health problems, give it try – I’m sure even you have some minor ailments you can look out for if they improve, or some pounds in the wrong places you would be more than happy to loose.

    Yes, the amount of studies is not as much as it should be (why is that?), but in that case plausibility and personal experience have to suffice for me. (Look at Seth Roberts blog on ideas how to do proper self-experiments with nutrition).

    And it is not like there wasn’t some evidence that a diet e.g. rich in seed oil, hence rich in omega-6 PUFAs, triggers pathways that can cause disease – cf. Bill Lands. Or take Peter at his blog called “Hyperlipid”, who has recently done a nice series about how PUFAs will lower your insulin resistance in ways you most certainly don’t want – but I guess you won’t like the level of sarc at Peter’s blog.

    I’m pretty confident that more evidence will come slowly for cereal grains, and for pasteurized milk (and for all the other neolithic foods like soy, and vegetable oil shortening, and so). If it isn’t already there (e.g. milk and acne, soy and anxiety/aggression).

  3. bs king says:

    I was curious about his claim about the low number of health professionals getting vaccinated….my hospital made it mandatory last year (as did many in the Boston area) and our vaccination rate is now over 95%.

    According to the CDC, it’s about 65% http://www.cdc.gov/flu/fluvaxview/hcp-ips-nov2012.htm

    However, it appears that includes administrative personnel….the vaccination rate for pharmacists, physicians and nurses is all greater than 80%. That’s hardly low….in fact from what I can tell that’s twice the national rate for all adults.

    Interestingly, the group of care providers least likely to get the vaccine is health aides (43% or so). It seems education level correlates heavily with people getting the vaccine, not the other way around.

  4. Harriet Hall says:

    @TonyMach,

    “plausibility and personal experience have to suffice for me”

    If plausibility and personal experience are all we have to go by, it is reasonable to guide one’s personal actions by that alone. Plausibility is somewhat subjective: I don’t find the paleo diet as plausible as you do. Our different interpretations can only be reconciled through adequate evidence showing whether the paleo diet improves health and longevity.

    I hope you realize that plausibility and personal experience are not reliable guides to the truth, and do not justify advising other people what to do or making claims of objective truth based only on them.

  5. BillyJoe says:

    TM,

    I don’t give anything a try. Supply the evidence first and I will consider if I will use it. Note that I didn’t say I would give it a try, because that implies that you a going to see if it works. And it is not possible to determine it something works with, effectively, a trial where N = 1. Why don’t you try Noni juice, colloidal silver, or Bach flower remedies? And you say that you are confident that more evidence will come, but how can you possibly be confident about something that is unknown?

  6. FulfilledDeer says:

    TonyMach,

    [Picture Fry from Futurama]
    Not sure if trolling, or very confused….

    It’s funny that you proposed a diet essentially based on pseudoscience on a blog that mainly deconstructs the same. The question is not really whether the Paleo diet works. I mean, I have my doubts, especially on the extent of the claims, but it’s not wild to think that watching what and more importantly how much you eat will be beneficial on a basic level to most people. But that’s any diet.

    The question is, does it work like its proponents suggest it works? It shouldn’t – it is based on a flawed understanding and application of genetics and evolution [pseudoscience].

    “Yes, the amount of studies is not as much as it should be (why is that?).”

    I think there’s a very good reason that there’s a dearth of studies to support the claims of the Paleo diet….and like acupuncture, those that exist are not particularly good.

  7. morris39 says:

    Dr. Hall
    How would you compare the relative risk of driving 20 km to a vaccination clinic and being exposed to relatively sick (sicker than me) group of people plus a small risk of complications against the chance of contracting the flu. I am over 65 yo, have not had a cold in 3 years. I have read that for my age group flu vaccines are less effective. Can you roughly (say 2X ) quantify the risk. I would want the risk ratio to be reduced by least 2 to consider the recommendations of experts. Thank you.

  8. Janet says:

    I think I have a friend who reads this acupuncturist. She’s been on about fermented food lately–makes a change from the endless gluten-free drivel she’s been spouting the last few years. Hey, I like some sauerkraut on my tofu pup as much as the next child of German heritage, but still…

    I would like to mention that there is really no such thing as a “paleo diet”. It’s a term about as useful as “missing link”. Early humans inhabit a large chunk of time. They ate what they could find and this changed with time and place. Adapting to new food sources had effects on the evolutionary process. To imply that “paleo people” were one group or all ate the same thing in the same proportions is just–dumb. If you want a science whose literature and theories are cherry-picked to death, look no further than Anthropology!

    Merry Solstice!

  9. Harriet Hall says:

    @morris39,

    Impossible to put any accurate numbers on your individual situation. Your risk of catching the flu depends on the activity of the flu in your area, on the virulence of the strains currently circulating, on whether your immune system is compromised, on the number of people you come in contact with, etc. etc. If you catch the flu, your risk of complications depends on your personal health status. The risk of harm from the vaccine is essentially nil. As I explained, the lower responsiveness after age 65 can be compensated for by taking the high-dose vaccine. The fact that you haven’t had a cold in 3 years is entirely irrelevant. You don’t need to go to a doctor whose office might have sick people in the waiting room: you can go to your local pharmacy and get the shot for free with Medicare. I got mine (the high-dose version) at Safeway this year. Since we have to shop for groceries anyway, there was no additional exposure to other people. The more people who get the shots, the less likely it will spread through the community. I see nothing but reasons to get it; no valid reasons not to, especially since it is free for our age group. Even if it only reduced my personal risk by a tiny amount, I would choose to get it. A little insurance is better than none. I don’t ask whether seat belts reduce my risk by 2X; I just buckle up every time.

  10. Narad says:

    But I will trade in my former cereal-grain-rich, omega-6-rich and pasteurized-milk-dairy-rich diet ANYTIME for something resembling a paleo diet

    Oh, dear, putting down the Blood Type Diet, are we?

  11. marchwinds says:

    I followed Chris Kresser for a while on Twitter, but he kept posting articles about how anti-depressant medications are completely useless. He won’t even consider the possibility that they might help some people. I consider this stance to be potentially quite harmful to people taking these medications, if they decide to stop based on Kresser’s opinions. His views of vaccines appear to be much the same. Anyway, I stopped following him, and my last message to him was a tweet telling him why I was no longer interested in his views.

  12. carsonbro says:

    I think whats truly laughable Harriet is that you call your website science based medicine! he he, you’re funny. The accupuncturist is on the right page, he just doesnt know how to direct you to the right references, well I do.

    I live in Vancouver British Columbia and we recently had the mandate for forced vaccination of healthcare workers overturned. The government was forced to withdraw the policy in light of sketchy scientific evidence and massive public outcry.

    The flu vaccine campaigns are ideologically driven, not evidence driven and that is a terrifying predicament for our patients and their health care workers. It is a quaint notion that a vaccinated healthcare workers protects our elderly, however, there is no credible evidence to prove this correlation. Look at gold standard vaccines…mumps, hepatitis, smallpox etc…do they have these battles over efficacy? of course not..that’s because they are low variant viruses that you can effectively control with vaccination.

    Please see these highly credible meta-analysis’s on this issue. The first, is performed by the Cochrane Collective, who the Lancet describe as “the most important medical advancement since the discovery of the human genome” The Cochrane concluded:
    “there is no evidence that vaccinating HCWs prevents influenza in elderly residents in Long term care facilities”
    see http://health-evidence.ca/articles/show/16385.

    The Cochrane examination of flu vaccines in healthy adults, a body of literature spanning 25 studies and involving 59,566 people, finds an annual flu shot reduced overall clinical influenza by about six percent. It would reduce absenteeism by only 0.16 days (about four hours) for each influenza episode, a small effect given that the average flu bout lasts five to seven days. What was most illuminating was the authors’ conclusion: “There is not enough evidence to recommend universal vaccination against influenza in healthy adults.”
    see http://focusonline.ca/?q=node/447

    Do not mistake quantity, for quality of evidence regarding this vaccine. Michael Osterholm, director of Center of Center for Infectious Disease Research as well as its Center of Excellence in Influenza Research, did the most extensive meta analysis of influenza studies between 1967 and 2011. Out of 5707 studies, he found only 31 were conducted with scientific credibility. He found that even when the vaccines were perfectly matched, they provided relative (not absolute) protection of 59%. This performance was worse in years when the vaccines were not matched. Osterholm goes on to say that in order for a vaccine to be considered efficacious it must have between an 85-95% efficacy. “if this were a measles vaccine, it would be a failure”

    Did you Harriet as an alleged “scientists” make a conserted effort to ensure their policy is navigated by the 31 studies that have been deemed credible, or are they relying on research that has been determined to be of poor quality?

    Osterholm speaks about the importance of going back to the evidence about flu vaccines and stop dealing in rhetoric. Read about the history of the flu vaccine, campaigns to support this vaccine have been based on professional opinions, not science! http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/cidrap/files/80/ccivi%20report.pdf

    Osterholm sums it up to the New York Times: “We have overpromoted and overhyped this vaccine,”It does not protect as promoted. It’s all a sales job: it’s all public relations.”
    see http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2011/10/25/university-of-minnesota-flu-vaccine-study/
    http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/11/05/reassessing-flu-shots-as-the-season-draws-near/
    see http://www.thelancet.com/journals/laninf/article/PIIS1473-3099%2811%2970295-X/abstract

    In the absence of evidence, apparently we make it up when it comes to the flu vaccine. Using Cochrane’s credibility, BC’s health officer, and the editor of a the Canadian Medical Association Journal, purposefully misquoted Cochrane to support their dubious vaccine initiative and overpromoted efficacy to 80%. They were publically reprimanded as a result by The Cochrane Collective and by Osterholm for their gross deception regarding the vaccine – http://www.cmaj.ca/content/184/17/1873/reply#cmaj_el_713497 and http://www.vancouversun.com/health/Cochrane+review+vaccine+definitive+health+officer+suggests/7543272/story.html

    Influenza is greatly understood by the public and healthcare workers alike. The “flu” is seen as synonymous with influenza when it is not in fact, 200 pathogens cause seasonal “influenza like illnesses”, the vaccine, (IF! the right strains are guessed correctly 6 months in advance) only protects against 3 strains. The majority of illness we see over the winter months will not be influenza (90%) and will not be affected by the vaccine ( these other strains like adenovirus and RSV are still capable of pneumonia and death) There is so much confusion that we actually have NO idea about true influenza numbers. It is thought that the burden of this virus is overestimated by as much as 10x! This is a Canadian article, The US is the exactly the same. http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/story/2012/11/22/flu-deaths-crowe.html

    Check out the shocking quality of evidence in our vaccine inserts: they would be thrown out of a master’s thesis. Most are missing pertinent safety included those targeted for the vaccine – those with comorbidites, pregnant women and the elderly. Few adverse effects studied and the inserts themselves say ” there have been no controlled trials demonstrating a decrease in influenza after vaccination with FLULAVAL” also read the shocking pregnancy safety concerns regarding fetal demise for the 2009/10 vaccine.
    http://www.vaxchoicevt.com/2012/10/03/is-the-flu-vaccine-for-you-educate-yourself-read-the-product-inserts-first/

    Certain immune systems do not respond well to the vaccine. I personally had an oculorespiratory crisis from the vaccine and one of our coworkers contracted Guillan Barre. She was off work for almost one year and still suffers from permanent foot drop as a result. Yes, the risks are small, however informed consent is accepting all the risks of a medical procedure. No one has studied the long term cummulative effects of vaccine additives Triton X 100, formaldehyde and thermosil – I shudder to think of what they does to a child who starts vaccinating at 6 months of age.

    I know I have provided an abundance of information. I just ask that you review it and please reconsider your termination of this woman who is being so harshly penalized for doing what she is supposed to do – uphold sacred ethics of autonomy and be navigated by science, not emotion.

    Public Health lawyer Wendy Marriner sums up forced vaccination as this: The public will support reasonable public health interventions if they trust public health officials to make sensible recommendations that are based on science and where the public is treated as part of the solution instead of the problem. Public health programs that are based on force are a relic of the 19th century; 21st-century public health depends on good science, good communication, and trust in public health officials to tell the truth. In each of these spheres, constitutional rights are the ally rather than the enemy of public health. Preserving the public’s health in the 21st century requires preserving respect for personal liberty.

    PS Remember, this is an old, promiscuous virus, that was around when we were young. Did we force vaccines then? Did we get into a yearly panic about our vulnerable dying then? No. We were rational. Hmmm What’s changed?

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/as-drug-industrys-influence-over-research-grows-so-does-the-potential-for-bias/2012/11/24/bb64d596-1264-11e2-be82-c3411b7680a9_story.html

    https://sites.google.com/site/vaccinesandmasks/ for more well cited references, unlike the sunshine infused crap you use.

  13. wales says:

    Interesting post. I have one comment on this “Experts in various fields put their heads together and reviewed ALL the published evidence and all the current scientific knowledge before they issued the official recommendations.”

    The problem is that while the experts may have read all the published evidence, their recommendations have not always been based on scientifically sound data.

    http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/cidrap/center/mission/articles/ccivi-landing.html

    1) “A major finding from our review is that, since influenza vaccination programs were first implemented in the United States in the 1940s, influenza vaccination policies often have been developed with a strong intention to protect the population against influenza, but without compelling and scientifically sound data to support them……..While we believe the US government, and later the ACIP, had the best interest of the public’s health as a priority in promulgating recommendations regarding influenza vaccination, we also believe it’s important for those making the recommendations to clearly communicate their approach and acknowledge gaps or discrepancies in available data.”

    2) “A second major finding from our review is that public policy makers have not always used state-of-the-art scientific data to make recommendations.”

    3) “A third major finding is that federal policy documents and statements have overestimated the effectiveness of current influenza vaccines.”

  14. lucaswiman says:

    I found Kresser’s podcast when I searched for interviews with Stephan Guyenet. Listening to it, Kresser talked about using diet interventions to help with IBS and weight loss in his “clinical practice”. I remember thinking at various points in the interview “wow, the interviewer seems like sort of an idiot for an MD.” Looking at his website, I had to look up what “L. Ac” meant, but after that it all fell into place. OTOH, helping people improve their diets _is_ likely to have a much bigger impact on IBS than acupuncture.

  15. Harriet Hall says:

    @weing,

    “their recommendations have not always been based on scientifically sound data.”

    I wouldn’t put it quite that way. I would say they looked at all the available scientifically sound data plus basic science knowledge, plausibility, and their own expert opinion. We don’t always have the information we would like to have, but we still have to make decisions about what is probably best for everyone. I think they do an acceptable job, and they are constantly revising recommendations as new studies come out.

  16. BillyJoe says:

    Casonbro,

    I do not have a settled opinion about the flu vaccine, but it is obvious that your view is not reasonable. You do not write what you do based on a balanced view of the evidence, and you write what you do based at least partly on emotion. Your introductory paragraph, though not specifically relating to the flu vaccine, portrays this. For example:

    “I think whats truly laughable Harriet is that you call your website…”

    Wrong. It’s not Harriet’s website.

    “I think whats truly laughable Harriet is that you call your website science based medicine!”

    Even if it is true that this particular article is not science-based, that doesn’t mean that the whole website is impugned.

    “The accupuncturist is on the right page”

    The acupuncturist, by the very fact that she is an acupuncturist, is on the wrong page. Acupuncture has no science base whatsoever. A person whose life’s work is based on non-existent qi, non-existent meridians, and non-existent acupuncture points, is unlikely to have an opinion about the flu vaccine worth listening to.

    ” he he, you’re funny.”

    Well, perhaps this is just a sign of your immaturity. So, back on you. (:

    “we recently had the mandate for forced vaccination of healthcare workers overturned”

    This is a separate issue. I agree, but for a different reason. Mandatory vaccinations are unlikely to work because there is likely to be a backlash that is likely to result in mandatory vaccinations being overturned (as in your example) that is likely (due to the adverse publicity) to actually reduce vaccination rates.

    “The flu vaccine campaigns are ideologically driven, not evidence driven ”

    What ideology is being driven? Or did you mean driven by financial interests?

    “that is a terrifying predicament for our patients and their health care workers. ”

    What terrifying predicament? Is a flu shot really so terrifying. Or are you talking about flu vaccine side-effects? But you do know that Guillain Barre syndrome is much more likely as the result of the infection than the vaccine.

    “Cochrane Collective”

    Although this does not relate to the present topic, the Cochrane database is evidence-based, not science-based, meaning that they do not take plausibility into account. Of more relevance is the fact that the summaries and opinions of the authors do not always reflect the results of their studies.

    “Osterholm goes on to say that in order for a vaccine to be considered efficacious it must have between an 85-95% efficacy”

    That makes no sense. Is he saying that if something is 50% effective, it is 0% effective? Or have you misunderstood him? The 85-95% efficacy refers to herd immunity. A vaccine with that level of effectiveness, is likely to prevent spread of the infection though the population and therefore protect those who are unvaccinated and those who cannot be vaccinated.

    “No one has studied the long term cummulative effects of vaccine additives Triton X 100, formaldehyde and thermosil – I shudder to think of what they does to a child who starts vaccinating at 6 months of age.”

    Actually that is incorrect, and I think it shows up your lack of knowledge on the subject of vaccinations. Children are vaccinated from the age of two months. And some receive the hepatitis A vaccine at birth. And there is no use shuddering to think, because that just shows your emotional reaction to the subject based on a lack of knowledge. Also you are starting to sound like an anti-vaccinationist.

    “sacred ethics of autonomy”

    Autonomy is not sacred (whatever that means outside its religious context). And autonomy is not absolute (otherwise please refrain from using any public facilities). Personal autonomy must always be balanced against the needs and protection of others. There are those who cannot be vaccinated because of immune deficiency (ie children with leukaemia). If immunity levels drop below the 85% mark, herd immunity will be lost and these children will become vulnerable.

    “PS Remember, this is an old, promiscuous virus, that was around when we were young. Did we force vaccines then? Did we get into a yearly panic about our vulnerable dying then? No. We were rational. Hmmm What’s changed?”

    Do you think it’s rational not to worry about our vulnerable dying. Well, if that was the case when you were young, I do hope things have changed.

    “for more well cited references, unlike the sunshine infused crap you use.”

    You have not demonstrated that you could tell the difference.
    There is obviously an emotional attachment to an ideology going on here. I wonder what it is? Why not just be upfront about it?

  17. cahalljr says:

    Carsonbro:
    Osterholm says in his introduction, “we found that current influenza vaccine protection is substantially lower than for most routinely recommended vaccines and is suboptimal. It
    is clear, however, that during some influenza seasons vaccination offers substantially more protection for most of the population than being unvaccinated. For this reason, we believe current influenza vaccines will continue to have a role in reducing influenza morbidity until more effective interventions are available. But we can no longer accept the status quo regarding vaccine research and development.”

  18. BillyJoe says:

    Carsonbro,

    “The Cochrane concluded:
    “there is no evidence that vaccinating HCWs prevents influenza in elderly residents in Long term care facilities”
    see http://health-evidence.ca/articles/show/16385.”

    The conclusion of this paper is probably correct. However, it is a study on flu in LTCF only. The are other measures in place in these facilities to prevent spread of flu to residents, so that the additional step of vaccinating HCWs did not reach statistical significance. This is unlikely to apply to acute care facilities or the general population.

  19. BillyJoe says:

    Carsonbro,

    “There is not enough evidence to recommend universal vaccination against influenza in healthy adults.”
    see http://focusonline.ca/?q=node/447

    That was written by Alan Cassels.
    Here is a reply written by Perry Kendall, BC’s Provincial Officer of Health:

    http://focusonline.ca/?q=node/458

  20. BillyJoe says:

    Carsonbro,

    “http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/11/05/reassessing-flu-shots-as-the-season-draws-near/”

    You have quoted Michael Osterholm extensively but here is a quote from that article:
    “He still considers himself a “a pro-vaccine guy,”
    Dr. Osterholm said….”Use this vaccine”…”The safety profile is actually quite good. But we have oversold it. Use it — but just know it’s not going to work nearly as well as everyone says.”

    “http://www.cmaj.ca/content/184/17/1873/reply#cmaj_el_713497″

    Here Michael Osterholm comments as follows:
    “…we strongly support increasing influenza vaccination of healthcare workers”

  21. BillyJoe says:

    Carsonbro,

    “http://www.vaxchoicevt.com/2012/10/03/is-the-flu-vaccine-for-you-educate-yourself-read-the-product-inserts-first/”

    Okay, this is an anti-vaccination site posing as a vaccine information site.
    They link to other recognised anti-vaccination sites, so there’s no doubt.
    Hmmm….you have been exposed!

  22. carsonbro says:

    oh my billy joe you are quite riled when your opinions are shattered by evidence. First of all, Never quote perry kendall to me as a valid source of information. He is a guy who took a cochrane review about vaccination of health care workers that found the vaccine was ineffective, purposefully manipulated it to serve his purpose and then presented it as evidence to support his campaign. Have you seen him torn to shreds by tom jefferson in the same paper you quote? its most amusing http://www.vancouversun.com/health/Cochrane+review+vaccine+definitive+health+officer+suggests/7543272/story.html. Perry also went around with lies about an 80% flu vaccine efficacy which any one with a remotely scientific brain knows is a bold faced lie.
    He is the only person in Canada who tried to adopt forced vaccination of healthcare workers ( for which he was humiliated into aborting due to lack of evidence to support vaccination. find a better guy to quote billy

    so i’ve been exposed as an anti vaccination person? Now that shows a bit of a closed mind. I am not anti vaccine, never said i was, i am anti poor science. It was actually neuroscientist Chris Shaw who first pointed me out the paucity of safety evidence on vaccine inserts, the website simply shows a picture of that vaccine insert. I am not so blinded by hatred for anti vaccination and alternative medicine , that I am not able to still extrapolate what might be useful about what they are saying ( by the way, the link to fetal demise from the vaccine use was also interesting)

  23. carsonbro says:

    # Harriet Hallon 26 Dec 2012 at 4:38 pm and billy joe

    @weing,

    “their recommendations have not always been based on scientifically sound data.”

    “I wouldn’t put it quite that way. I would say they looked at all the available scientifically sound data plus basic science knowledge, plausibility, and their own expert opinion. We don’t always have the information we would like to have, but we still have to make decisions about what is probably best for everyone. I think they do an acceptable job, and they are constantly revising recommendations as new studies come out.”

    Wow, i am so glad that all “science” doesnt work this way…”we dont always have the info we like so lets just go with whatever they tell us…..I would say @weing is right, they looked at the all the available scientifically sound data ( a whopping 31 out of 5707 studies) and found that influenza vaccine efficacy or effectiveness have relied on suboptimal methodology. Since influenza vaccination programs were first implemented in the United States in the 1940s, influenza vaccination policies often have been developed with a strong intention to protect the population against influenza, but without compelling and scientifically sound data
    to support them.

    that is what i mean by idealistic driven policy billy bob, it is a quaint notion that the flu vaccine works and this indoctrination has persisted into the current universal vaccination recommendations despite any new and credible scientific studies to support its use on this level.
    Credible vaccines for low virus variants are effective public health measures, the flu vaccine is not.
    “The ready availability of these modern vaccines and the public health programs to support their use
    have dramatically reduced the associated vaccine- preventable diseases in the United States. In a recent review in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), 15 vaccines were highlighted for their significant role in reducing morbidity in the last 60 years.1 Of note, the influenza vaccine was not one of these, despite accounting for 26% of the citations in the review.”

    see:Hinman AR, Orenstein WA, Schuchat A. Vaccine-preventable diseases, immunizations, and MMWR—1961-2011. MMWR 2011;60(suppl):49-57

  24. carsonbro says:

    herd immunity and the flu vaccine? this isnt measles….go to the cidrap review… “Given the varied coverage rates following vaccination campaigns and the wide ranges of efficacy and effectiveness of influenza vaccines in any given season, it remains unclear whether or not herd immunity plays ”
    One study that used RT-PCR–confirmed influenza as an outcome demonstrated that vaccinating children can provide some level of communitywide protection.78 However, participants were members of Hutterite communities (relatively closed populations similar to the Amish or Mennonites); therefore,
    these findings cannot be extrapolated to the general population.
    Recently, a reanalysis of country-level data in Japan provided evidence for a significant reduction in influenza-related mortality in those 65 years of age and older because of childhood influenza immunization efforts.79 These findings suggest that vaccinating children for influenza may provide some protection to those 65 years of age and older. However, the existing data are not compelling and the impact that influenza vaccination in children has on influenza outcomes at the population level remains uncertain.

    oh and billy joe, yes autonomy, when it comes to the discussion at hand of medical procedures/ethics, is indeed a sacred right, my body my rules…

  25. Harriet Hall says:

    @carsonbron,

    “we dont always have the info we like so lets just go with whatever they tell us…”

    No, we shouldn’t just go with “whatever they tell us,” but when we have to make decisions based on insufficient evidence, experts should play a major role in contributing to those decisions.

    “Given the varied coverage rates following vaccination campaigns and the wide ranges of efficacy and effectiveness of influenza vaccines in any given season”

    …herd immunity hasn’t yet been able to play much of a role, so it is even more important to improve vaccination rates and try to achieve herd immunity.

  26. Chris says:

    Carsonbro:

    No one has studied the long term cummulative effects of vaccine additives Triton X 100, formaldehyde and thermosil – I shudder to think of what they does to a child who starts vaccinating at 6 months of age.

    Well, we know the cumulative affects of formaldehyde because a human body produces more per day as part of cell metabolism than is in any vaccine. It is kind of like asking making claims about squalene, since in order to be free of that cholesterol precursor you have to remove a child’s liver. And that is worse than getting a vaccine or even influenza.

    Well, Triton x-100 is only in two influenza vaccines, so I don’t think much does accumulate. Perhaps the issue is its scary name? Anyway there have been studies on it (90 on PubMed using “triton x-100 vaccine”):
    Biologicals. 2000 Jun;28(2):95-103.
    A TritonX-100-split virion influenza vaccine is safe and fulfills the committee for proprietary medicinal products (CPMP) recommendations for the European Community for Immunogenicity, in Children, Adults and the Elderly.

    As far as thimerosal goes, I don’t where to find this information for Canada, but here is a list of thimersal content in vaccines approved for children in the USA. Can you show me one vaccine on that list does does not have a thimerosal-free version? Essentially one where all of the brands and versions have thimerosal.

    I count at least four of the listed influenza vaccines have “free” in the “thimerosal status” column. You may want to check it again for me.

  27. BillyJoe says:

    carsonbro,

    Hey, it seems you are the one who is riled.

    I opened my comments stating that I did not have a settled view on the flu vaccine. I further stated they you do not seem to have a reasonable view on the matter worth me considering. The rest of my post and the subsequent posts was an attempt to explain to you why, in my opinion, your view is not reasonable. Your subsequent posts have failed to change that opinion. You have avoided most of the points I raised. Therefore you have failed to sway my view in your direction. And you must care otherwise you wouldn’t be posting here.

    BTW, you would have to do lot better than amusing and childish name calling to get me riled (;

    If you are not an anti-vaccinationist, then it must be naïveté. Otherwise you would not parrot anti-vaccinationist propaganda and link to their websites.

  28. weing says:

    I just want to note that I did not say what is attributed to me above. I have no idea of even the context of it.

  29. BillyJoe says:

    carsonbro,

    Regarding Perry Kendall v Tom Jefferson.

    Thanks for your link to Jefferson’s reply to Kendall. I don’t know who is correct here. Did Kendall lie about flu vaccine being 80% effective? I dont know. Do you have a link? Did he try to implement mandatory vaccination of HCW? Is that justified? I don’t know. But it seems to me both you and Jefferson have a mental block about autonomy. Is it possible this is blinding both of you and this is unduly infuencing your opinions? I think so.

    What would you do in the following scenario:
    There is a highly infectious agent that kills 50% of people who contract it. There is a vaccine that is 90% effective and that requires 90% coverage to provide herd immunity for those who are unable to be vaccinated because of immune deficiency diseases such as leukaemia. Despite public health initiatives, the vaccination rate is only 75%.
    Would you institute mandatory vaccination of the whole population excluding only those with medical contra-indications? If not, why not?

  30. BillyJoe says:

    weing,

    Harriet got you confused with wales and carsonbro continued the confusion.

  31. Narad says:

    Public Health lawyer Wendy Marriner sums up forced vaccination as this: The public will support reasonable public health interventions if they trust public health officials to make sensible recommendations….

    And thus your credibility instantly collapses. You are regurgitating this and this, also by “Badkitty Jones.” The main marker of failure to think is that the misspelling of the surname occurs in all. It is “Mariner.” The “summary” is from doi:10.2105/AJPH.2004.055160, which it seems odd to be suddenly flinging hither and yon. It’s also pretty mushily reasoned at first glance, although the modern-day consideration of Jacobson is a perfectly valid topic.

  32. nybgrus says:

    Seems an antivaxxer has jumped into the thread. I have no time or desire (on vacation in the mountains at the moment) to get engaged in a protracted discussion, but I did want to briefly comment on Tony Mach’s diet claims:

    Specifically from the “evolutionary” perspective, I would like to say that people vastly overuse, torture, twist, and bend “evolutionary rationale” into whatever it is that they want. As Janet stated, the application doesn’t even make sense if it were valid since saying “paleo” diet is like saying “a human diet” and neglecting to realize there is Chinese, Indian, German, Mexican, Spanish, French, etc etc cuisine.

    But forget about that – the problem is much more fundamental. That line of thinking requires a) that evolution in human populations simply cannot happen on timescales of less than ~10,000 years and b) that our initial evolution somehow “tuned” us to live optimally only in a very narrow range of foodstuffs and thus cannot accomodate current foods and c) that current foods are so vastly different than so-called “paleo” foods that they lay largely outside this narrowly “tuned” gustatory evolution of ours.

    A) is demonstrably false and humans have evolved significantly on time scales much smaller than thousands of years, especially in molecular evolution

    B) makes no sense in evolutionary terms since a robust and wide adaptability in optimal feeding would be likely selected for rather than against (if at all) and further makes no sense since any selection at the time would be best suited for our lives at the time – short, violent, hazardous, and of early reproduction. Nothing in that environment would have selected for supporting a population of healthy octogenarians, so the argument that the diet of that environment is best for us currently fails to even leave the ground

    C) Is partially true, but not in substance rather in quantity. The most significant way our food differs from “paleo” foods is the nutrient-to-calorie density. This allows more ease of overeating and that’s about it.

    “C” is the only part to have some deeper discussion, but it doesn’t matter since the premise of an evolutionarily based diet is, at best, a just-so story with no clear cut rational basis to reach a logical conclusion.

  33. BillyJoe says:

    Nybgrus: “Seems an antivaxxer has jumped into the thread.”

    Seems its a dishonest antivaxxer who doesn’t have any arguments and therefore cuts and pastes entire posts from another source (thanks for the alert, Narad) who doesn’t have any arguments either. At least that explains the lack of meaningful response to criticism of the content of those posts.

  34. carsonbro says:

    billy joe and chris,

    you guys are just no fun to play with! I’ve said it before, Im no antivaxxer, I’m anti poor science. I love vaccines that work, I’ve personally had my life saved by my Hep B vaccine with a blood spray/needle poke. -sign me up for real vaccines anyday. You guys have a knee jerk reaction where its black or white, well sometimes its gray. Just because its a vaccine endorsed by some idiot in CDC does not mean its good.

    however, billy joe, your stats on the efficacy of the flu vaccine are just utterly out in left field. Please read one of the 13 real studies on this thing before you suggest that it is appropriate to violate human rights for a vaccine that has never been proven to do its job.
    Do you ever look at outcomes of this thing? If the vaccine is so great why does “Recent excess mortality studies were unable to confirm a decline in influenza-related mortality since 1980, even as vaccination coverage increased from 15% to 65%.” and then not see the holes in the evidence with things like “Paradoxically, whereas those studies attribute about 5% of all winter deaths to influenza, many cohort studies report a 50% reduction in the total risk of death in winter–a benefit ten times greater than the estimated influenza mortality burden” (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17897608) by the way, this is one of the meta analysis that has been deemed scientifically credible, not like the Greg Poland junk out there.

    And Chris, some points about vaccine adjuvants. They have not been effectively studied for long term effects including squalene. The late and subacute onset of autoimmune conditions make tracing the problem to a vaccine very difficult.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2819810/
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19880572
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pandemrix

    I am fully aware formaldehyde and thermosil are in trace amounts, I stated the cummulatively over a lifetime , we have NO idea of the effects..and triton X 100? have you looked to the WHMIS sheet on this product? again No evidence on the effects yet we get it injected anyway…

    Epidemiology: No data available
    Teratogenicity; No data available
    Reproductive Effects: No data available
    Neurotoxicity: No data available
    Mutagenicity: No data available
    Carcinogenicity: Not listed by ACGIH, IARC, NTP, or OSHA

    and no, not everyone who gets a vaccine reaction is “faking” and is a lunatic – until biomarkers exist to identify those who have an immune system that reacts negatively to adjuvants, they should most certainly not be used, esp for a vaccine that is as poorly performing as this one.

    Perry Kendall took the cochrane healthcare workers study that concluded vaccination had no effect on influenza transmission to their elderly patients and utterly distorted it, using cochranes name to give it credibility and said that vaccination was indeed effective for this population. He is a raging syncophant who thought he wouldnt get caught for doing so. read what osterholm says about the hideous manipulation of the Cochrane report in the CIDRAP report.

  35. carsonbro says:

    Oh, and yes i am badkitty jones – How exciting that you are scoping me out, I’m thrilled! Don’t worry, I wont bother your closed minded site again, you guys have fun believing everything the idealistic, politically correct medical world tells you – and labelling anyone who doesn’t agree with you as an “anti vaxxer”

    “For a successful technology, reality must take
    precedence over public relations, for Nature
    cannot be fooled.”
    –Richard Feynman

  36. Chris says:

    Carsonbro:

    And Chris, some points about vaccine adjuvants. They have not been effectively studied for long term effects including squalene. The late and subacute onset of autoimmune conditions make tracing the problem to a vaccine very difficult.

    I am fully aware formaldehyde and thermosil are in trace amounts,

    So you seriously think we can live without squalene? I would suggest you try it by removing your liver, but on some forums that would get be banned for advocating suicide. It would be the same if I suggested you remove all formaldehyde from your body.

    How come you did not answer my question? All long with your interesting spelling of thimerosal (also known as thiomersal), which I only found mostly on websites that sold heat resistant materials, and a couple from people asking about vaccines with a limited grasp of English spelling.

    Try again (I am at my two link limit, so go back and click on the link in my comment:

    As far as thimerosal goes, I don’t where to find this information for Canada, but here is a list of thimersal content in vaccines approved for children in the USA. Can you show me one vaccine on that list does does not have a thimerosal-free version? Essentially one where all of the brands and versions have thimerosal.

    I count at least four of the listed influenza vaccines have “free” in the “thimerosal status” column. You may want to check it again for me.

  37. BillyJoe says:

    Carsonbro,

    When you talk about the flu vaccine and vaccine adjuvants, you talk like an antivaxxer. You use their discredited arguments and you link to their websites. So excuse me.

    But your real beef is autonomy isn’t it. Someone has dared to take away your autonomy. And, in a knee jerk reaction, you have naively used the discredited arguments and attitudes of antivaxxers. But, autonomy is not absolute. You cannot do what ever you like and damn the consequences for everyone else. You didn’t answer the question I posed in my last post, because you can’t. The correct solution would compromise your autonomy and you can’t have that can you? So cognitive dissonance has forced you to make a quick exit.

  38. Narad says:

    Oh, and yes i am badkitty jones – How exciting that you are scoping me out, I’m thrilled!

    When you force people to go looking for what you’re actually trying to refer to and then also use a characteristic misspelling, suggesting that you may not have taken the trouble to read original item in the first place, this identification is a by-product, not “scoping.”

  39. Chris says:

    Rats, I forgot the closing tag. But the link works.

    And yes, Carsonbro/badkitty, I still want you to tell me which vaccine in the American pediatric schedule is only available with thimerosal.

  40. provaxmom says:

    I’m not surprised about their list of references. I run a deals/coupon blog and much to my surprise I found my own site referenced with a pingback from the vaccine misinformation center site. Not selling myself short by any means, but I am hardly the person you should be quoting for a vaccine, or even an anti-vaccine article. Apparently my site’s list of flu shot promotions and deals qualifies as “media hysteria” surrounding the flu vaccine. I don’t think any one of my readers were hysterical over finding a cheap or free flu shot. I actually get hits from there, so I’m hopeful–hopeful that some of their readers are realizing it’s gibberish, then they find a cheap flu shot on my site and go get one.

Comments are closed.