CDC’s strategy to use fear to ramp up flu vaccine sales requires the agency to exaggerate both flu risks and vaccine efficacy. Pharmaceutical companies and public health officials vastly overstate flu cases and deaths in order to market influenza “as a threat of great proportions.” Simple fact-checking shows that since October 2017, only 14.7% of the almost 447,000 “flu” specimens tested by clinical laboratories working with CDC have tested positive for influenza.
This proportion has remained relatively constant for the past two decades. According to the British Medical Journal’s Peter Doshi, “Even the ideal influenza vaccine…can only deal with a small part of the ‘flu’ problem because most ‘flu’ appears to have nothing to do with influenza.” Actual influenza deaths not only rank lower than the major killers such as heart disease and cancer but also are lower down in the mortality rankings than ulcers and hernias. Incredibly, even though most “flu” is not influenza and flu vaccine effectiveness is as low as 10%, public health authorities keep telling everyone from six months of age on up (including pregnant women) that the flu shot is “better than nothing” and the “best tool we have.”
However, there are many unanswered questions about influenza vaccines that warrant rigorous investigation. Recent peer-reviewed studies suggest that the shots may actually make people more susceptible to serious problems (as with the recently recalled dengue vaccine) and that getting flu shots year after year may be lowering subsequent vaccine effectiveness as well as drastically increasing risks for Alzheimer’s disease.
Getting vaccinated against one strain of influenza may increase risks for other severe respiratory viruses. Unfortunately, most members of the public are not reading this alarming science. The public should make health decisions based on sound science, not scare tactics.