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Hilary's Desk

Flu jab doesn't work in healthy young adults

Hilary Butler - Sunday, July 27, 2008

Readers of the Sunday Star Times might have noticed a regular skinny column on page 16 of “Escape”, by Dr Paul Trotman, a Dunedin doctor. Today, he had a question from a fit healthy 36 year old, asking whether she should have the influenza shot.  His response was that when people looked at whether the flu vaccine works in fit healthy people NOT working in health care practice, that there is no difference between the number or severity of flu episodes between those who have the vaccine, and those who don’t.  That, he said is why the flu vaccine is NOT recommended for young fit healthy people who DON’T work in hospitals or medical centres.

If the flu vaccine doesn’t work in fit healthy people NOT working in the health system, is there some unspoken assumption that it does work in healthy people working IN the medical fields?

Do non-medical people have the wrong genes or something?

A 2008 letter in VACCINE journal called Influenza vaccination for healthcare workers: Is it really as effective as we claim?” commented that a medline search performed in 2007 looking at influenza vaccinated health care workers found only two prospective randomised trials showing long term reduction in mortality among patients and these were criticised as being affected by both selection and performance biases.  The author of the letter goes on to detail the doubts raised about the influenza vaccines for the elderly, and points out that doubts and controversies concerning vaccinating health care workers are genuine, and should be addressed with more convincing evidence.  That’s about as close as you will get to a whinge from a health care worker about being “made” to have a vaccine.

After first published study showing that the influenza vaccine had not reduced mortality in the previous 30 years, and doesn’t work in the elderly, ( http://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/news/20050214/do-flu-shots-save-lives ) American flu experts were quick to make lots of excuses about the data.  (Simonsen later published another study, showing exactly the same thing.) 

After the shock of Simonsen’s first study, and a long period of silence, Lone Simonsen returned to the “fold” with a wonderfully crafted piece of industry-speak, saying that the elderly should continue to have (useless) annual flu shots, ... AND that all the babies and children who give the flu to the elderly, should be vaccinated as well! http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/572661  This statement was warmly welcomed since Simonsen was reinforcing existing dogma; adding in millions of new vaccine "targets", thereby increasing flu vaccine profits.

The only problem with the idea of vaccinating children, was that Cochrane reviews had shown that the influenza vaccine in children was also unproven (as did other studies).  Not that that stopped the Americans, who then claimed that they based their recommendations on their own unpublished data! There followed a tumble of quickly written retrospective studies and “scientific” analyses to provide an impressive looking heap of “research”.  Were these studies, like the Vioxx studies, rapidly ghost written to support the new improved Simonsen recommendations?  Will someone else, 30 yearsfrom today, be a new “Simonsen” and say that all the kiddie vaccines were also duds?

Not long after that, influenza vaccine experts further expanded the flu vaccine recommendations to include all pregnant mothers, who they say, are much more at risk of complications and deaths from influenza.

With the flu vaccine recommendations already including any child with chronic illness, any adult with chronic illness, or respiratory weaknesses, health care workers, elderly, babies and children, the last bastion of stand alone "deprived", are the healthy fit adults not in medical fields!

Anyone who has read the American 1999 Influenza Plan knows that the ultimate aim is to make Influenza vaccines a yearly event for all ages. Everything in Influenza vaccine research for the last 15 years has been geared to that end, though it’s never plainly stated in public media.  The only thing preventing the vaccine manufacturers from really pushing the flu vaccine, is lack of manufacturing capacity. The Influenza vaccine manufacturers have publicly stated that unless they are guaranteed that recommendations will eventually include everyone, they will not commit to developing or manufacturing pandemic vaccines.

Perhaps Dr Trotman doesn’t know all the above, but it will be interesting to see if sometime in the future he joins the ranks of those increasing the flu vaccine manufacturers’ profits, regardless of “evidence”.  Will he at some point, rescind his statement that healthy non-medical people don’t need the flu shots?  Will he also joins other doctors reported in the media as suggesting that unless every man, woman and child has a flu vaccine each year, the world will see a future cataclysmic bird flu pandemic which will make the 1918 flu epidemic look like a simple sneeze?

 

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