Should You Get a Flu Shot?

Every year, you see signs everywhere: “It’s flu season, get your flu shot here!” Doctors push it on us: “You need to make an appointment for your flu shot!” But do we really need it? Personally, I’ve only gotten the flu shot once when I was pregnant with my daughter (about 9 years ago).¬† I had never had problems with the flu, in fact I was hardly ever sick. But the day I got that flu shot, I got so sick I couldn’t go to work for over a week, and stayed sick for over a month.

Needless to say, I have never gotten another flu shot.

Is the flu shot safe? Is it effective? A study conducted by The Cochran Collaboration says no.

First of all, there are several different strands of the flu virus. There is no way to accurately predict what strand of the flu will be active from year to year; therefore, the flu shot you get this year most likely has strands from last year’s flu virus, which most likely won’t be effective on this year’s strands.

Even when you get lucky and the strand in the vaccine matches the one in circulation, according to the study 33 adults would have to be vaccinated to see 1 person NOT come down with the flu.

In fact, even with this highly unlikely scenario, there is only a 3% difference between those who were not vaccinated and caught the flu, and those who caught the flu that HAD been vaccinated. 1% of vaccinated adults still came down with the flu, while 4% of the adults who weren’t vaccinated got sick.

In addition, the flu vaccine had no effect on the number of work days missed, the transmission of the flu virus or the number of hospitalizations due to flu complications (such as pneumonia).

The following is the plain English version of the study’s findings:

Over 200 viruses cause influenza and influenza-like illness which produce the same symptoms (fever, headache, aches and pains, cough and runny noses). Without laboratory tests, doctors cannot tell the two illnesses apart. Both last for days and rarely lead to death or serious illness. At best, vaccines might be effective against only influenza A and B, which represent about 10% of all circulating viruses. Each year, the World Health Organization recommends which viral strains should be included in vaccinations for the forthcoming season.

Authors of this review assessed all trials that compared vaccinated people with unvaccinated people. The combined results of these trials showed that under ideal conditions (vaccine completely matching circulating viral configuration) 33 healthy adults need to be vaccinated to avoid one set of influenza symptoms. In average conditions (partially matching vaccine) 100 people need to be vaccinated to avoid one set of influenza symptoms. Vaccine use did not affect the number of people hospitalised or working days lost but caused one case of Guillian-Barré syndrome (a major neurological condition leading to paralysis) for every one million vaccinations. Fifteen of the 36 trials were funded by vaccine companies and four had no funding declaration. Our results may be an optimistic estimate because company-sponsored influenza vaccines trials tend to produce results favorable to their products and some of the evidence comes from trials carried out in ideal viral circulation and matching conditions and because the harms evidence base is limited..

There haven’t been any studies to test the safeness of the vaccine…we are just supposed to have religious-like faith that the vaccines will keep our families healthy. Pharmaceutical companies are making millions of dollars hand over fist by scamming us in this way. Does this sound like the flu vaccine is necessary? Or effective? I don’t know about you, but no one in my family will be wasting their money on the flu shot!

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