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General Health : Drug News Last Updated: Apr 20, 2011 - 9:38:09 AM

Flu not so deadly and flu shots not so effective
By Ben Wasserman
Dec 10, 2008 - 11:52:09 AM

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Wednesday Dec 10, 2008 ( -- At this time of the year (winter), flu becomes an issue.   People are wondering all the time whether or not they should get flu shots. They want to know the safety and effectiveness of the drug the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends for more than children and the elderly.


People who want to have flu shots believe that the drug can save their lives and prevent the disease.  Flu can be dangerous in certain cases. But it is not as deadly as you are led to believe and flu vaccine is not as effective as you thought at preventing the disease and reducing death risk.


Medical workers always say that flu kills 36,000 each year.   But the fact may not be the same.   Dr. Joe Mercola, a physician who advocates natural health, said on his website "This is simply not true." He said CDC reports show that "only 1,138 deaths are caused by the flu each year. The other 34,000-plus are caused by pneumonic and cardiovascular deaths."


Regardless of the real number of deaths, he said flu vaccine does not help reduce your death risk nor prevent the flu.   He cited studies to support his arguments.


One recent study published in the October issue of the Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine found flu vaccine did not have any impact on children's flu-related hospitalizations or doctor visits during two recent flu seasons.


One review of 51 studies, published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews in 2006, found no evidence either that the flu vaccine is more effective for children than a placebo.


And no studies showed that flu shots prevent flu-related deaths among the elderly.


Flu virus strains are constantly mutating and the vaccine makers have no way of knowing exactly what strains would dominate in next flu season.   Because of this, construction of a flu vaccine for a season is based on researchers’ guess and recommendations from the government.   The efficacy of flu vaccine depending on how the vaccine is constructed is often times no more than 48 percent, according to the CDC.


According to Dr. Mercola , the flu vaccine recommended in 2004 by the CDC didn't even contain the influenza strain causing most of the flu that year, meaning that the flu can’t prevent flu.


"In some years when vaccine and circulating strains were not well-matched, no vaccine effectiveness can be demonstrated in some studies, even in healthy adults. It is not possible in advance of the influenza season to predict how well the vaccine and circulating strains will be matched, and how that match may affect the degree of vaccine effectiveness," the CDC states.


Probably because of the ineffectiveness of flu vaccine and other issues including safety, as many as 75 percent do not get flu vaccine, according to Dr. Mercola.

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