Rumors regarding a prominent John Hopkins scientist allegedly issuing a stern warning against flu vaccines have began to circulate social media, reigniting a never-ending debate regarding the alleged dangers of inoculating children.
On Facebook and Twitter, concerned parents are rapidly sharing an article published by natural news website Real Farmacy, reporting on a review conducted by a John Hopkins scientist named Peter Doshi criticizing the contents and use of flu vaccines. Doshi’s “blistering report” on flu vaccines has allegedly been featured on a recent issue of peer-reviewed journal British Medical Journal (BMJ).
Doshi, who has accused vaccines as one of the most visible and aggressive public health policies in the United States, says the Center for Disease Control is overstating the effectiveness of flu vaccines. The scientist has also charged CDC of basing vaccine policies on low-quality studies that allegedly do not fully substantiate official claims, saying that “[T]he vaccine may be less beneficial and less safe than has been claimed, and the threat of influenza seems to be overestimated.”
On the dangers of influenza vaccines, the scientist cited a case involving a 2009 distribution of H1N1 vaccines, which allegedly caused convulsions in one among 110 children in Australia.
Peter Doshi’s critical review of flu vaccine usage has prompted vaccine advocates to weigh in on the subject matter. Observers have noted that the scientist – neither an epidemiologist nor a virologist, and whose specialty isn’t exactly clear- submitted an opinion column to BMJ, and not a full research that would have to undergo peer-review from medical experts. Additionally, John Hopkins University did not issue a statement of support for Doshi’s statements regarding the alleged ill effects of flu vaccines.
The Australian convulsion case has been attributed by some experts to the particular brand, Fluvax, or a rogue batch unfortunately distributed to the children. Peter Richmond of the University of Western Australia school of Paediatrics and Child Health said that “[the incident] is not a long-term safety issue with vaccines” and has urged people above five years old – those who were not included in the “convulsion” batch – not to skip the vaccination.
Fact-checking wesbite Snopes has weighed in on the issue today, writing that although Doshi strongly suggested that flu vaccines might not be as effective as CDC claims, the exact statements that vaccines are worthless and dangerous – as some Facebook and Twitter posts imply – do not appear in his BMJ column.
There is overwhelming evidence to support the effectiveness of flu vaccines and debunk the claims of “big pharma” angle on vaccine distribution. Flu vaccines aren’t as profitable as what Doshi and others anti-vaccination supporters are claiming, only accounting for less than a percent of total pharmaceutical profits – most of which is derived from chronic disease and mental health medications. Secondly, there is little to no harm in having these shots, aside from a few side effects like nausea and headache that are otherwise short term effects that will result to long-term protection.
[Image from Daniel Paquet/Flickr]