[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]
Re: SFURA - flu shots at SFU
You might like to consider the question of whether or not the flu
shots have any beneficial effect.
The evidence of effectiveness is almost non-existent, hence I
regard it as a scandal that our government has been pressing everyone
to have them..
There is only ONE study done properly, ie it was a double-blind
placebo controlled study (Govaert et al., Journal of the American
Medical Association v.272, 1661-1665, 1994). It was of 1838 people
aged 60 or more in the Netherlands in 1991-1992. Clinical influenza
was found in 17 of the 1927 who were vaccinated, and 31 of the 911
in the placebo group. There is much more detail in this paper but I
think this captures the essence of it. This result is definitely an
argument in favour of their being some effect but this result is not
good enough to make an argument to spend hundreds of millions of
dollars on vaccinations.
In 2007 I asked a UBC medical faculty member, who was a guest
discussing flu vaccinations on CBC's Almanac, for a reference to a
study showing effectiveness of flu vaccinations. She responded by
referring me to an article in The October 4 issue of the New England
Journal of Medicine (Nichol et al., NEJM v.357, 1373-1381). I have
studied it carefully and have concluded that the study is worthless
as far as determining the effectiveness of flu vaccines, with one
exception noted below.
This was a very large 'observational' study done in the USA. It
is very instructive. The number of observations was large, 713,872
person-seasons during 1990-2000, resulting in good
statistics. Observational means it was not a blind study and there
were no controls; just a comparison of outcomes for those who were
vaccinated with outcomes for those who were not vaccinated. The
essential results are that those who were vaccinated were 30% less
likely to be hospitalized for pneumonia or influenza, and 50% less
likely to DIE OF ANY CAUSE. The main points are:
- One must never deduce cause and effect from an observed
correlation. In this case one cannot deduce that vaccination caused
the reduction in hospitalization or deaths. The results can equally
well be explained as those interested in their health getting
vaccinated and doing something else; that something else may be
simple, like washing hands frequently and/or avoiding crowds.
- To emphasize this point I note that most people do not die of
pneumonia or influenza, thus if vaccination is effective it must also
be reducing at least some of heart attacks, strokes, car accidents
etc; this is of course nonsense.
- In 2 of the 10 years, the influenza vaccine was NOT a good
match to the virus. The results in these years were
indistinguishable in results form the other years. In a sense this
was an unintended control and the results are most informative. One
must conclude EITHER that the vaccines had NO effect OR that matching
the vaccine to the virus is not necessary as we have been told.
The message I am trying to convey is not new. Tom Jefferson has
been saying it for years, but is not being listened to properly. See
for example his note in the British Medical Journal v.333, 912-915,
2006. A popular article saying the same thing is 'Shots in the Dark'
by Brownlee and Lenzer, The Atlantic, November 2009, pp. 44.54. For
a summary of all the vaccination studies see the Cochrane
Collaboration review (available online via SFU).
You can speculate on reasons for the disconnect between public
policy and the science.
At 10:28 AM 21/10/2011, Evelyn Palmer wrote:
To SFURA members,
The schedule for flu vaccination clinics for the three SFU campuses
can be found at:
Seniors are eligible for the free vaccine. The four Burnaby clinics
all have the free vaccine.