World of Knowledge (Australia) - - Human Body -

Ev­ery year, thou­sands of peo­ple fall vic­tim to it in Aus­tralia – around 18,000 are hos­pi­talised ev­ery year, with 3,500 deaths. This makes flu an epi­demic that claims around a third of the lives that the re­cent Ebola epi­demic did in West Africa. It’s a se­ri­ous mat­ter when the me­dia, healthh in­sur­ance firms and the WHO all call for peo­ple to get a sea­sonal flu vac­ci­na­tion.

The of­fi­cial line from health au­thor­i­ties in Aus­tralia is that this is the best pro­tec­tion we have against an un­pre­dictable virus. Most doc­tors rec­om­mendd their pa­tients get a flu jab – andd mil­lions heed this ad­vice, de­spite pos­si­ble side ef­fects like headaches, sore throats and mus­cle and limb pain.

The flu vac­ci­na­tion would bee seen as a true suc­cess story for the health and well­be­ing off the na­tion – were it not for onee stark fact with­held from pa­tients: it is en­tirely pos­si­ble that flu vac­cines have no ef­fect at all. In re­al­ity there are a num­berer of crit­i­cal stud­ies that raise doubt over the of­fi­cial line on flu vac­ci­na­tions. A meta­anal­y­sis by the Cochrane Col­lab­o­ra­tion re­viewed 36 in­di­vid­ual stud­ies and dis­cov­ered that the an­nual flu vac­cine had no proven ef­fect on se­vere com­pli­ca­tions or thee num­ber of flu-re­lated hospi­tal ad­mis­sions. Mar­garet Mccarthy, a GP based in Glas­gow, Scot­land, has also flagged doubts about the ef­fec­tive­ness of flu vac­ci­na­tions: “There is a lack of ‘qual­ity ev­i­dence’ avail­able on flu vac­ci­na­tion: the bot­tom line is we need bet­ter qual­ity of ev­i­dence.” Stud­ies have also shown that you need to vac­ci­nate 100 peo­ple for just one per­son to ben­e­fit.

The Cochrane re­searchers also had prob­lems with the of­fi­cial def­i­ni­tion def­i­ni­tion of a cer­tain at-risk group: in­fants. The Cen­ter for Dis­ease Con­trol and Preven­tion in At­lanta, Ge­or­gia, down­graded the vac­cine rec­om­men­da­tion for chil­dren to six months. Their rea­son­ing: there have also been many cases of flu in chil­dren – though an ex­act statis­tic re­lated to in­fants is lack­ing. The Cochrane Col­lab­o­ra­tion found it strange that of the 52 stud­ies they col­lected on flu in­fec­tions in chil­dren, only two oc­cu­pied them­selves with in­fants. And these could not prove the vac­cine’s ef­fi­cacy. In fact, there was only one study which con­cerned it­self with the safety of vac­cines: it was over 30 years old and only stud­ied 35 in­fants.

“There is not enough ev­i­dence to de­cide whether rou­tine vac­ci­na­tion to pre­vent in­fluenza in healthy adults is ef­fec­tive.” THE COCHRANE COL­LAB­O­RA­TION


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