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"Setting the record straight, debunking ALL the flu vaccine myths"

post #1 of 31
Thread Starter 

This blog post has been getting A LOT of attention. So much so, that the site has crashed multiple times.  I thought I would share it on here in case anyone hadn't seen it yet. 

 

http://www.redwineandapplesauce.com/2013/10/28/setting-the-record-straight-dubunking-all-the-flu-vaccine-myths/

 

I can't post all of then so I'll just post a few that I've seen on here.  Feel free to post one you think is wrong, with your rebuttal if you like.  Or one you particularly agree with, if you are pro vaccine :) 

 

Myth #2: Flu vaccines contains dangerous ingredients, such as mercury, formaldehyde and antifreeze. (Not exactly, and the ingredients aren’t dangerous.)
 

Myth #3:  Pregnant women should not get the flu shot. (They should.) / The flu shot can cause miscarriages. (It doesn’t.) / Pregnant should only get the preservative-free flu shot. (Nope.)

 

Myth #6: Flu vaccines don’t work. (Um, they do work.)


Edited by teacozy - 11/1/13 at 12:57pm
post #2 of 31

The blogger paints a black-and-white picture of the issue, but I wonder how she responds to the damning Cochrane data or the more ambiguous reports from CIDRAP. But before anything, since I’m too limited on time to address all of the points you highlighted, let’s look at the CDC stuff on vaccination during pregnancy. 

 

Here’s what the CDC tells pregnant women.    http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/downloads/f_preg_chart.pdf

 

Here’s what the CDC tells their providers.

http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/acip/committee/downloads/preg-principles-2008.pdf

(It’s from 2008, but the feeder page to the link emphasizes that it’s still timely and relevant).

 

From page 2: “Formulating policy to guide vaccination of women during pregnancy and breastfeeding is challenging because the evidence-base to guide decisions is extremely limited.”

 

And this little gem on page 7: “Concerns about vaccination of pregnant women

i.Lack of data to make evidence-based decisions

1.No or limited well-controlled trials to establish efficacy of vaccines in pregnant women

or their offspring

2.No or limited post-licensure studies of efficacy or safety (eg, from registries, VAERS, Vaccine Safety Datalink)

3.No or limited animal data.”

 

Are providers making their recommendations to pregnant women informing them that the data pool is “extremely limited?” 

 

I’ll pass.  Thanks.

 

 

post #3 of 31
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Turquesa View Post
 

The blogger paints a black-and-white picture of the issue, but I wonder how she responds to the damning Cochrane data or the more ambiguous reports from CIDRAP. But before anything, since I’m too limited on time to address all of the points you highlighted, let’s look at the CDC stuff on vaccination during pregnancy. 

 

Here’s what the CDC tells pregnant women.    http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/downloads/f_preg_chart.pdf

 

Here’s what the CDC tells their providers.

http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/acip/committee/downloads/preg-principles-2008.pdf

(It’s from 2008, but the feeder page to the link emphasizes that it’s still timely and relevant).

 

From page 2: “Formulating policy to guide vaccination of women during pregnancy and breastfeeding is challenging because the evidence-base to guide decisions is extremely limited.”

 

And this little gem on page 7: “Concerns about vaccination of pregnant women

i.Lack of data to make evidence-based decisions

1.No or limited well-controlled trials to establish efficacy of vaccines in pregnant women

or their offspring

2.No or limited post-licensure studies of efficacy or safety (eg, from registries, VAERS, Vaccine Safety Datalink)

3.No or limited animal data.”

 

Are providers making their recommendations to pregnant women informing them that the data pool is “extremely limited?” 

 

I’ll pass.  Thanks.

 

 

 

What exactly was your first link supposed to show other than that they recommend the flu vaccine for pregnant women? I'm confused, it clearly says "yes" under the flu vaccine. 

 

This is what the CDC currently says 

"The Flu Shot is the Best Protection Against Flu

Getting a flu shot is the first and most important step in protecting against flu. The flu shot given during pregnancy has been shown to protect both the mother and her baby (up to 6 months old) from flu. (The nasal spray vaccine should not be given to women who are pregnant.) Learn more about the flu vaccine.

 

Flu shots are a safe way to protect the mother and her unborn child from serious illness and complications of flu. The flu shot has been given to millions of pregnant women over many years. Flu shots have not been shown to cause harm to pregnant women or their babies. It is very important for pregnant women to get the flu shot." 

 

http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/vaccine/pregnant.htm

post #4 of 31
I'm aware of what the CDC is telling the general public. I just thought that juxtaposing the two links would be interesting. To expectant mothers, the CDC's message is, "Do it! Do it! Do it!" To their providers, the CDC says: "We don't have enough evidence, but tell them to do it anyway."
post #5 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by teacozy View Post
 

 

 

Myth #6: Flu vaccines don’t work. (Um, they do work.)

I decided I was going to tackle this point as lots of evidence shows the flu vaccine is not very effective. However, I don't really need to tackle it in a big way - she actually did a good job discussing the ineffectiveness of the flu shot.  Her title bites, though, as it implies the flu vaccine is more effective than it is.

 

A few stats by demographic to fleshthings out:

 

Elderly:  

"It found that a flu shot cut an older adult's risk of contracting a case of influenza A H3N2 that needed medical care by only nine per cent.   When the scientists calculated the overall effectiveness — the vaccine's ability to prevent medically attended flu caused by both flu A and B viruses — the estimate was 27 per cent for older adults."  Ouch.

 

http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/flu-shot-didn-t-protect-seniors-well-1.1406274

 

Children under 2:

http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/news-perspective/2005/02/efficacy-flu-shots-children-under-2-questioned

"Feb 25, 2005 (CIDRAP News) – An analysis of 24 studies yielded no clear evidence that influenza vaccines prevent flu in children younger than 2 years old, though they work reasonably well in older children, according to a new report in The Lancet.

"Immunization of very young children is not lent support by our findings," says the report by T. Jefferson of Cochrane Vaccines Field in Alessandria, Italy, and colleagues from there and the University of Oxford in England."

I would read the whole article, though, some people though it was a bit more effective than the above quote - but still not very effective.

Obese:

http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/news/2011/10/obesity-may-decrease-effectiveness-of-the-flu-shot/index.htm

 

The article did not touch on the possibility that flu shots actually increase the likelihood you will get sick with something else:

There is this article out of Canada discussing how those given the flu shot were more likely to get H1N1:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health-and-fitness/health/flu-shot-issue-may-not-be-canadian-problem-after-all-study/article4530649/

 

And there is the study on kids with cystic fibrosis and the flu shot, and how getting the flu shot led to building up less antibodies for other strains:

"Children who were not vaccinated built up more antibodies across a wider variety of influenza strains than kids who were vaccinated, the small study found."

It would be nice if they did a study on healthy vaccinated and healthy unvaccinated kids and compared anitbody levels, hopefully such a study will be forthcoming.  

http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/health/2011/11/29/flu-shots-may-build-fewer-antibodies-in-kids/

 

If vaccines were 100% safe, then questions of efficacy would not be overly important.  People would still want better efficacy, but any efficacy rate is better than no efficacy rate if a vaccine is 100% safe. When vaccines are not safe, efficacy comes into the equation:  at what point do safety concerns trump the possibly small amount of protection provided?  

 

 

 

 

post #6 of 31

Oh, after spending three days in hospital with the "stomach flu" I wish there was a vaccination for the one I had. 

 

Question about bugs for you guys who live in large, very multicultural settings (that is where we lived and where my boy brought this "thing" home that had us all severely ill left me with such severe vomiting, nausea, dehydration and stomach cramps that it caused bleeding and premature contraction, which thankfully subsided now that it is gone).

 

Historically, when certain people came to other continents (like the Europeans to America) the people didn't cope well with unknown viruses from the side side of the planet. Many native Americans died for instance.

 

I lived in a very large, multicultural city, we are a multicultural family and our big kids went to International School, my little boy (when he was well enough) went to International nursery and preschool.

 

So far, my family has had such severe reactions from virus strains (including pneumonia, pleurisy, a bone infection, a rare inflammatory brain disorder). My friend's little boy had thrombocytopenia from a virus, and severe pneumonia. Another one has Guillian-Barré-Syndrome from Epstein-Barr virus. 

 

Now that we live in a small village, nothing international here, everyone seems healthier and when there is a bug, it is a common head cold or a mild whatever. 

 

The one time he goes back to the International setting, he brings back this?

 

Does Globalisation cause the viruses to become stronger and more violent, our immune systems to be weaker because of it? 

 

And if yes, isn't that a reason to really vaccinate for way more things than we already do? 

post #7 of 31
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Turquesa View Post

I'm aware of what the CDC is telling the general public. I just thought that juxtaposing the two links would be interesting. To expectant mothers, the CDC's message is, "Do it! Do it! Do it!" To their providers, the CDC says: "We don't have enough evidence, but tell them to do it anyway."

 

2008 is nearly 6 years ago. A lot of studies and thus data has come out since then.  What does their current policy state? 

post #8 of 31

EineMutti, I think the problem is more with people who are "fresh off the boat". They bring bugs that are common in their area but not common in the area they are traveling to. If you are of a different ethnicity than your neighbor/coworker/kid's preschool classmate but you have both lived in the country for a while, you probably have had similar disease exposures. If anything I would think it would be less of an issue now because there is so much globalization and international travel leading to more interchange of germs between different countries. 

 

Maybe it's just living in a bigger area where more people are traveling in and out that is causing the issue you're talking about. Not the ethnic background of the people doing the traveling. 

 

Turquesa, I've noticed the same thing. I do flu shots. If someone asks me for a flu shot, they can have one (assuming they don't have contraindications); I'm not about to wrangle with every patient about whether they should or should not have a flu shot. If they are dubious, or ask me if I think they should get one, then I'll discuss the risks/benefits. If they're pregnant, that stuff you're mentioning would come up in my recommendation. I do think there are health recommendations out there that are little more than an educated guess; that's not limited to vaccines, either. I respect the education and knowledge of the people who are making the educated guess, and I do think that the educated guess has some value, but I still think there should be more research on such subjects, and I wouldn't want to keep the information from the public regarding the strength of the evidence available. 

post #9 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by teacozy View Post
 

 

2008 is nearly 6 years ago. A lot of studies and thus data has come out since then.  What does their current policy state? 

There isn't a ton of information now. Probably more than in 2008, but not as much as I personally would like to see when making that decision for myself and my unborn child. 

post #10 of 31
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by kathymuggle View Post
 

 

If vaccines were 100% safe, then questions of efficacy would not be overly important.  People would still want better efficacy, but any efficacy rate is better than no efficacy rate if a vaccine is 100% safe. When vaccines are not safe, efficacy comes into the equation:  at what point do safety concerns trump the possibly small amount of protection provided?  

 

 

 

 

 

Yes, she stated that the efficacy of the flu vaccine differs from year to year and differs depending on the group you are looking at. But the flu vaccine is *very* safe. The flu is miserable. A recent study came out that looked at pediatric deaths from the flu over something like 8 years and 40% of the children that died were healthy. Had no underlying medical problems. Most of those died before they were even able to get to the hospital.  That's scary. 

 

She goes though *a lot* of conditions that the flu vaccine is supposed to be linked to, but she can't go through every single one.  She does say this: 

 

Myth #8: Flu vaccines make it easier for people to catch pneumonia or other infectious diseases. (No, they make it harder.)

This myth is just bizarre. For one thing, catching the flu will weaken your immune system while you’re sick, during which it’s easier to become ill from other bugs. But more importantly, pneumonia is among the most common complications to occur as a result of a flu infection, so getting the flu shot *reduces* your risk of pneumonia, a leading cause of death among those who die from influenza complications.

post #11 of 31
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by erigeron View Post
 

There isn't a ton of information now. Probably more than in 2008, but not as much as I personally would like to see when making that decision for myself and my unborn child. 

 

Fair enough, but for me personally, being pregnant with the flu is a lot scarier.  It can cause miscarriages, it has been linked to an almost 4 fold increase in the child developing schizophrenia, there is some evidence (I think) that it also increases the chance your child will have autism and bipolar disorder. 

 

Edit: Ok found it "Pregnant mothers’ exposure to the flu was associated with a nearly fourfold increased risk that their child would develop bipolar disorder in adulthood, in a study funded by the National Institutes of Health. The findings add to mounting evidence of possible shared underlying causes and illness processes with schizophrenia, which some studies have also linked to prenatal exposure to influenza." http://www.nimh.nih.gov/news/science-news/2013/flu-in-pregnancy-may-quadruple-childs-risk-for-bipolar-disorder.shtml

 

"Pregnant women who catch flu or have a fever that lasts over one week have a higher risk of giving birth to a baby with an ASD (autism spectrum disorder), researchers from the University of Aarhus, Denmark, reported in the journal Pediatrics (published on November, 12th, 2012)." 

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/252683.php


Edited by teacozy - 11/2/13 at 9:49am
post #12 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by teacozy View Post
 

 

Fair enough, but for me personally, being pregnant with the flu is a lot scarier.  It can cause miscarriages, it has been linked to an almost 4 fold increase in the child developing schizophrenia, there is some evidence (I think) that it also increases the chance your child will have autism and bipolar disorder. 

 

Edit: Ok found it "Pregnant mothers’ exposure to the flu was associated with a nearly fourfold increased risk that their child would develop bipolar disorder in adulthood, in a study funded by the National Institutes of Health. The findings add to mounting evidence of possible shared underlying causes and illness processes with schizophrenia, which some studies have also linked to prenatal exposure to influenza." http://www.nimh.nih.gov/news/science-news/2013/flu-in-pregnancy-may-quadruple-childs-risk-for-bipolar-disorder.shtml

 

"Pregnant women who catch flu or have a fever that lasts over one week have a higher risk of giving birth to a baby with an ASD (autism spectrum disorder), researchers from the University of Aarhus, Denmark, reported in the journal Pediatrics (published on November, 12th, 2012)." 

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/252683.php

There's that too. I'd still like to see more long-term information about the effects of vaccinating pregnant moms. 

 

I'm planning to get my flu shot in a couple of days and I'm looking forward to it; being unvaccinated so far has made me a little nervous. 

post #13 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by erigeron View Post
 

EineMutti, I think the problem is more with people who are "fresh off the boat". They bring bugs that are common in their area but not common in the area they are traveling to. If you are of a different ethnicity than your neighbor/coworker/kid's preschool classmate but you have both lived in the country for a while, you probably have had similar disease exposures. If anything I would think it would be less of an issue now because there is so much globalization and international travel leading to more interchange of germs between different countries. 

 

Maybe it's just living in a bigger area where more people are traveling in and out that is causing the issue you're talking about. Not the ethnic background of the people doing the traveling. 

 

 

 

Probably a combination of all of it. But then, people with international backround are very often "fresh off the boat" as they travel so much. Us and our friends certainly did. Our older kid's friends are ambassador's and doctor's kids, so they all did a and do a lot of travelling. I am just noticing just HOW much better everyone's health got after sticking to a small village. Though we miss our friends from all over the world.

 

While in the long term, our (I mean everyone's) immune system might be strengthened by this, in the short term, it is scary and unusual. Growing up in East Germany, where we were not allowed to travel very much, and only towards the Soviet Countries (which not that many people I know did) bugs were different. Milder, shorter with less serious aftermath. Not scientific, just a theory, but would be worth looking into? Maybe?

 

Sorry, OT. :)

post #14 of 31

There is one big problem with the flu jab that shouldn't be overlooked. Many people claim after going into the Dr Office and receiving it, they are sick. Really sick, not just a bit unwell. 

 

Well, in our surgery here you receive the jabs, there is ONE waiting room. It is hot and stuffy. There is no hand gel for disinfecting. People there are sick, mixed with people who want a jab. They sit together, wait for ages, use the toilets, talk to each other and cough on each other and spread their tummybugs. 

 

No wonder people are sick a few days after, no wonder they blame the jab. 

 

I am DREADING going there! 

post #15 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by teacozy View Post

 

2008 is nearly 6 years ago. A lot of studies and thus data has come out since then.  What does their current policy state? 

 



duh.gif I already explained this to you in Post 2:

"(It’s from 2008, but the feeder page to the link emphasizes that it’s still timely and relevant)."

No, I didn't copy and paste the link, (not possible from my mobile device). But here, now I can walk you through it. http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/acip/committee/guidance/rec-vac-preg.html

"3-17-12 NOTE: The Pregnancy Principles, although dated 2008 are still applicable today."
post #16 of 31
Kathy, I did find it interesting that this blogger addressed (in a rather cocky tone, I might add), pretty much every comment from a flu vaccine skeptic except for the ones bringing up all of the data you mentioned.

By the way, flu-like symptoms are not at all an unlikely or uncommon reaction to the FluMist. Scroll down to Table 4, and you'll see that about 10%-20% of adults are reporting ILI as a reaction. http://www.fda.gov/downloads/BiologicsBloodVaccines/Vaccines/ApprovedProducts/UCM294307.pdf
post #17 of 31
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Turquesa View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by teacozy View Post
 

 

2008 is nearly 6 years ago. A lot of studies and thus data has come out since then.  What does their current policy state? 

 



duh.gif I already explained this to you in Post 2:

"(It’s from 2008, but the feeder page to the link emphasizes that it’s still timely and relevant)."

No, I didn't copy and paste the link, (not possible from my mobile device). But here, now I can walk you through it. http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/acip/committee/guidance/rec-vac-preg.html

"3-17-12 NOTE: The Pregnancy Principles, although dated 2008 are still applicable today."

 

Ah, I see now.  If you look at the ACIP recommendations column it says this "NOTE: As a general rule, if the official recommendations (above section) are dated later than the supplemental recommendations (listed below), the official recommendations override the older items listed below." http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/acip-recs/vacc-specific/flu.html

 

And the recommendations for the flu vaccine that's dated 2013-2014 they state " 

Influenza Vaccination for Pregnant Women

  • Women who are or will be pregnant during influenza season should receive IIV. Live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV) is not recommended for use during pregnancy.
  • Postpartum women can receive either LAIV or IIV.
  • Pregnant and postpartum women do not need to avoid contact with persons recently vaccinated with LAIV." 

http://www.cdc.gov/flu/professionals/acip/2013-summary-recommendations.htm#pregnant-women

post #18 of 31
Influenza vaccination for pregnant women was a *recommendation* all along and still is. The recommendations haven't changed.

Neither has their 2008 statement, upheld in 2012, that there is insufficient evidence to support the practice of vaccinating pregnant women.

Pregnant women may obviously do as they please. I'm just not really big on the fire-ready-aim approach that seems to dominate U.S. medicine these days.
Edited by Turquesa - 11/2/13 at 6:04pm
post #19 of 31
FWIW, the only medicine I'm aware of that actually has studies in pregnant women showing safety is folic acid. No one is willing to test drugs on pregnant women, so it is basically all retrospective reported cases. So, the lack of evidence of safety with flu shots will probably always be there, just as there is lack of evidence if safety of Tylenol, colace, Benadryl...etc. in pregnant women.
post #20 of 31

Ratchet--Just because drugs aren't tested on pregnant women in RCTs, though, doesn't mean there isn't data from pregnancy registries and the like. When a woman is choosing whether or not to take a certain therapy during pregnancy, there is information available on a lot of them. For the flu shot, I read a huge study out of Scandinavia (forget which country) that basically looked at all pregnant women who used the healthcare system that year (tens of thousands) and pregnancy outcomes for those who received flu shots vs not receiving them. It's not an RCT but it's very useful data. Personally, I'd love to see a followup five years from now with the children and if there are differences between the two groups of children. After reading that study I no longer worried about a miscarriage, but I do still wonder about the neuro effects of the vaccine on the developing fetus. 

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