THE FLU, and the annual Flu Shot

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The Flu

The flu kills approximately 36,000 people every year, just in the U.S. Unfortunately, exact statistics don't seem to be available and indeed, would be most undesirable, because they are politically inexpedient and most certainly annoying.

nurse 01The public's interest in the Flu (Influenza) is considerable, and every year a waterfall of TV reports and newspaper articles make sure that it stays that way. Extensive reports signal that the flu strikes faster and harder than in other years, and on TV eventual flu deaths are covered extensively. Media comments are sensational, with lots of "never before", "never as early", "never as serious", "a record number of patients", etc. Such scare tactics of course immediately create a stampede for flu vaccines.

If the Flu season starts early, or if it is particularly violent, usually the planned number of flu shots is already sold out before the start of the epidemic itself, and additional flu shots are never manufactured. There are two reasons for this, both commercial. Who is going to pay for them, and what to do with flu shots that aren't used?

In 2003, as it does every year, the flu-cocktail was pieced together four months earlier by the Food and Health Organization, in collaboration with the pharmaceutical industry. Even then, it was mentioned that the A-section of the new flu virus might contain a Fuji-strain. Unfortunately, it would have taken the pharmaceutical industry far too long to first isolate this strain, and also too expensive to include this variant in the current flu-cocktail. Ergo, they decided to simply forget about the Fuji-strain and let the cash register ring with the "classic" flu vaccine... Which meant that 10 to 30 % of the people that were hospitalized, had actually been administered a completely useless flu vaccine...

Effectiveness of the Annual Flu Shot

On 24 October 2011, the Pharmaceutical Bulletin of the Dutch media ANP / NOS reported in an extended study of thousands of citizens of 60 years and older that the impact and effectiveness of the annual flu shot could not be scientifically proven.

doctor 01The report was particularly scathing: "This flu vaccine hardly reduces the number of symptoms in healthy adults, or the number of lost workdays. Nor is there any demonstrable salutary effect on a number of complications such as pneumonia or the transmission of the contagious flu virus".

According to the study, there was absolutely no evidence that the influenza vaccination reduced the impact of the flu in people over 65, in flu symptoms, hospitalization, or even death. Nor was there any proof that an inoculation of the nurses reduced the likelihood of both caregivers and residents of nursing homes getting the flu.

It also reviewed other available studies on the flu vaccine, and its conclusion was quite harsh. According to the editor there was little reliable evidence about the effective functioning of the vaccination against the influenza virus, but there was obvious evidence of large-scale manipulation of conclusions, and suspicious investigations...

If the viruses in the vaccine and the circulating viruses are not well matched, it’s possible that no benefit from vaccination can be observed. Since the vaccine is manufactured months before the flu season actually starts, making up its composition is more or less like playing the Lotto.

However, the medical and pharmaceutical industry manages to present a masterly summation of its effectiveness. "While determining how well a flu vaccine works is challenging, in general, recent studies have supported the conclusion that influenza vaccination benefits public health, especially when the viruses in the vaccine and circulating viruses are well-matched". (sic...)

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