Flu vaccines caused controversy during the 2013-2014 flu season. According to the CDC, “Flu activity peaked during the week ending December 28, 2013 for the 2013-2014 season and began a downward trend in early January.” The season has wound down, but tempers are still high.
The CDC says that their research demonstrated that getting a flu vaccine reduces a child’s risk of flu-related intensive care hospitalization by 74 percent. Meanwhile, some flu vaccine skeptics are adamant that there are safer ways to protect themselves from the flu such as with vitamin D3 supplementation and the use of elderberry extract. Others who skip the flu vaccine are just hesitant procrastinators, Dr. Frank Esper, a viral respiratory disease expert at UH Case Medical Center, told FoxNews.
Many flu vaccine skeptics find fault in the research itself. While often called conspiracy theorists, an analysis of 6,711 randomized controlled trials and 28,104 authors, which was published in Journal of Clinical Epidemiology, did demonstrate the existence of a definitive research clique where authors with ties to the drug industry got preferential treatment among publishers and colleges.
Flu vaccines are often refused because many Americans feel that the flu vaccine itself has the potential to spread the virus. Evidence of this may be supported by claims from the Health Sentinel‘s evaluation of data provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Archives of Medicine.
Meanwhile, the flu vaccine conspiracy theorists were given more credence in 2012. Dr. Iain Stephenson, a researcher on the CDC’s influenza team, according to the Leicester Mercury, was suspended for four months after being found guilty of research fraud. This topic was brought up many times by skeptics again this winter. Stephenson produced what he claimed was the world-first Swine Flu vaccine trial. According to the BMJ, as a researcher on flu vaccines, Dr. Stephenson forged colleagues’ signatures, requested a nurse to commit forgery, replaced a log sheet after destroying an original one, and entered as a participant into a study under a disguised name. This fraudulent researcher was also an adviser for the WHO’s pandemic vaccine evaluation groups.
Columnist for Huffington Post, Lawrence Solomon, explained another problem. He asserts that flu data sets passed along by the CDC are greatly inflated estimates. Feeling lied to is yet another factor that stopped people from running to the pharmacy to get their flu vaccine this year.
Adding to the uncertainty of the efficacy of the flu vaccine are reports out of Canada that getting a vaccine one year may cause a person to become even sicker the next year, as reported by The Canadian Press.
As the flu season comes to a close in the states, London is seeing a resurgence of the flu, according to the London Community News:
“So far 41 of 199 influenza A samples have been subtyped, and 40 were found to be influenza A(H1N1)pdm09. That’s the same strain that circulated during the 2009 pandemic and which is also a component of the 2013/2014 influenza vaccine.”
Reports like these cause flu vaccine skeptics to wonder if those flu strains were passed along from the flu vaccines themselves; however, when most of those infected have not been vaccinated, it’s asserted that the strains included in this season’s flu vaccine were properly chosen and that the flu vaccine is simply not 100% effective at preventing the flu.
To further add to the vaccine skeptics’ frustration, forced vaccination of children and healthcare workers is becoming a very real concern. While both camps point the finger at one another, it seems the most virulent aspect of this season’s flu was controversy.