Updated: Nov 15, 2020
Smart doctors don’t get flu shots. Smart patients don’t either. Does that mean you’re not smart if you got a flu shot.
.... It means the pharmaceutical industry has you and your wallet right where they want you. .... It means you believed the hype instead of looking at the science. Smart doctors don’t get flu shots. BUT I’m a doctor and not only did I get them, I insisted my mom and my siblings get their flu shot too.
But I do judge an industry that tries to terrify and deceive people into getting a flu vaccine they do not want or need. I made my mom and siblings get the flu vaccine too.
My Flu Story
Growing up, I never had a flu shot and I also never had the flu. But as a young adult thinking about starting a family, I listened to my doctor. I was told getting a flu shot was not only good for me and my family, it was essential. Life-saving.
And not getting a flu shot? Only irresponsible, unintelligent patients and crackpot parents refused the flu vaccine. How could there be a problem with the flu vaccine? Everyone was getting one. You could get them at the supermarket. Besides, my doctor couldn’t be wrong.
Since my husband and I were starting a family, I made my mom and siblings get the flu shot too. I didn’t want my family spending time around my children if they were not fully vaccinated. That was just good common sense. We had three children in five years and I insisted every year that family members get the flu shot. Every year.
Guess what happened? Sick from the shot
My mom, who had not had the flu since childhood, my brother, and my sister all got high fevers, body aches, and upper respiratory infections, all within 24 hours of the flu vaccine. All lasting a week or two. For three years in a row.
I am a conventionally trained medical doctor. I saw my family get sick within a week of the flu vaccine. Three years straight. But I dismissed it. An unfortunate coincidence. Nothing to do with the flu vaccine. You can’t get sick from a vaccine. That’s what I had been taught. And that’s what I believed. Besides, I was fine after my first flu vaccine. Initially. True, I started getting almost constant colds that lasted four or five months following the flu vaccine. Before, when I didn’t get the vaccine, I was usually healthy and cold-free in the winter.
It took me awhile to connect the dots. It took me awhile before I stopped ignoring the clinical evidence in front of me, in my own body, and in my mom and siblings. It’s hard for doctors to realize our education is incomplete. It’s hard to become aware that the whole medical establishment is caught up in a belief system that is simply untrue. It’s hard to admit that we are wrong. It took me three years but I figured it out. Every year the flu vaccine was making me and my family sick.
My colleagues keep telling their patients you can’t get sick from the flu shot. And they say it “would have been so much worse without the shot.” Can you hear the BS meter going off? I couldn’t back then but I can now. The sound is deafening.
Look at the science. We now know, from both animal and epidemiology studies in humans, that the flu vaccine can and does make you sick.
Mandatory Flu Vaccines for Doctors and Nurses
I used to work for a group practice. Our practice decided to mandate the flu vaccine. They did not mandate that we eat vegetables with every meal, get optimal amounts of sleep, have our vitamin D levels checked and supplement with sunbathing or supplements if they were below optimal levels, or adopt other health strategies proven to support the immune system.
Why mandate the flu vaccine?
That dictate started wheels turning.
How important is it really to get the flu shot?
What are the real risks and benefits?
In medical school we did not look critically at vaccines. We did not study the risk of adverse events, discuss vaccine ingredients, or talk in any detail about efficacy rates. We were not told that the government compensates families with loved ones who have died from a vaccination or suffered other extreme health problems. Instead, we were taught what amounts to little more than propaganda about vaccines.
An infectious disease specialist spends an hour or two with students showing us pictures of miserable children suffering acute side effects from infectious diseases. She says angrily, “C’mon. We can do better than that. No child should ever have to suffer like this!”
You are supposed to accept it without question and, of course, you do. No one wants a child to die. We become doctors in order to heal people, and keep them alive. So of course we don’t question the Holy Grail. Which means never looking critically at the necessity, efficacy, and safety of any given vaccine.
The flu vaccine works and saves thousands of lives every year. End of conversation.
Government-advertised death rates from the flu are grossly inflated
We are told that between 30,000-50,000 die annually of the flu, a dangerous and sometimes lethal illness that affects infants and the elderly the most. “…in the United States alone, over 36,000 people die and 200,000 are hospitalized each year because of the flu,” according to Harvard University.
Flu death statistics are usually tallied from the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report database. But deaths from the flu and from pneumonia are lumped together in one category in the MMWR. This greatly inflates the number of “flu” deaths. And is a nonsensical way to capture statistics, as the majority of pneumonia cases have nothing to do with the flu!
Yep. It is true. The death rates from the flu that we are told year after year, repeated ad nauseam in medical training and in the media, are, as Bob Sears, M.D., puts it, “grossly inflated” (The Vaccine Book, p.121), and what this country doctor would say more plainly, are simply made up.
The scientific evidence does not support having a yearly flu vaccine
I contacted the chair of the committee that was recommending flu vaccine mandates at my work and asked him to share the scientific evidence that mandating flu vaccines for health care workers actually reduces death rates from the flu. He could not offer me a single article to read. I don’t know, he told me, adding that all the major health organizations recommend the flu vaccine and, “I trust them.” Then he rattled off several major medical organizations recommending the flu vaccine, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Family Physicians, and the American Heart Association.
So what does this bulldog do? I write them all, asking for a list of scientific studies supporting flu vaccine mandates and requesting the information that proves that mandating the vaccine for doctors and nurses contributes to better outcomes. Some ignored me but some responded. They all said the same thing: That they didn’t have the information I’d requested! One prominent organization recommended I contact the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes for Health (NIH), as they based their recommendations off the CDC’s and the NIH’s. So none of the leading health organizations shaping public health policy has scientific information to support the policy to mandate the flu vaccine?
How can this be?
I had three young children and worked full time. But I wanted to read the science for myself to find out if what I was noticing clinically—with my own health, my family’s, as well as with my patients’—was valid. As helpful and important as vaccines may be, the flu vaccine recommendation left me with more questions than answers. Since none of the organizations insisting on the necessity of the flu vaccine could provide me with direct information, I went searching for it myself.
I will put it to you that any conventionally trained medical doctor who is willing to impartially research the science behind the influenza vaccine safety, efficacy, and necessity is in for a surprise. The best place to start a search for accurate medical information is usually the Cochrane database.
Cochrane is a non-profit research organization based in the United Kingdom and they tend to be considered the gold standard in scientific medical research. Their reviews of the medical literature are comprehensive and carefully peer-reviewed.
As my colleague, Mark Hyman, M.D., explains in an article, Flu Shot: Harmful or Helpful?: “One very reliable way to determine the effectiveness of the flu shot is to look at the database analysis presented by The Cochrane Collaboration, an independent group of scientists who have no link to any industry or government agencies.”
So what does Cochrane have to say about the flu vaccine?
It’s not effective for children under age 18 or for adults over 65.
Between ages 18 to 65, it is only 30-50% effective in an average year (which means it fails between 50-70% of the time) and up to 80% in a perfectly matched year (a much lower number than most vaccines).
There is no decrease in flu transmission rate or hospitalization rate for people who have gotten the flu vaccine.
Here is the Cochrane review’s results and conclusions so you can read them yourself:
We included 50 reports. Forty (59 sub-studies) were clinical trials of over 70,000 people. Eight were comparative non-RCTs and assessed serious harms. Two were reports of harms which could not be introduced in the data analysis. In the relatively uncommon circumstance of vaccine matching the viral circulating strain and high circulation, 4% of unvaccinated people versus 1% of vaccinated people developed influenza symptoms (risk difference (RD) 3%, 95% confidence interval (CI) 2% to 5%). The corresponding figures for poor vaccine matching were 2% and 1% (RD 1, 95% CI 0% to 3%). These differences were not likely to be due to chance. Vaccination had a modest effect on time off work and had no effect on hospital admissions or complication rates. Inactivated vaccines caused local harms and an estimated 1.6 additional cases of Guillain-Barré Syndrome per million vaccinations. The harms evidence base is limited.
Influenza vaccines have a modest effect in reducing influenza symptoms and working days lost. There is no evidence that they affect complications, such as pneumonia, or transmission. WARNING: This review includes 15 out of 36 trials funded by industry (four had no funding declaration). An earlier systematic review of 274 influenza vaccine studies published up to 2007 found industry funded studies were published in more prestigious journals and cited more than other studies independently from methodological quality and size. Studies funded from public sources were significantly less likely to report conclusions favorable to the vaccines. The review showed that reliable evidence on influenza vaccines is thin but there is evidence of widespread manipulation of conclusions and spurious notoriety of the studies. The content and conclusions of this review should be interpreted in light of this finding.
In Dr. Hyman’s words: “After analyzing all of the data on the flu shot, they have concluded that it really doesn’t work well. It doesn’t even cover most of the influenza infections that people get.” Dr. Hyman concludes that the majority of Americans do not need a flu vaccine. He explains the science behind his conclusion here.
I also found a 126-page analysis by researchers at the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research & Policy (CIDRAP). Among the key findings of this 2012 analysis (in the researchers’ own words):
Influenza vaccine protection is markedly lower than for most routinely recommended vaccines and is suboptimal.
CDC recommendations about the flu vaccine over the past 30 years have not been based on scientifically sound data.
I shared the results of my research with colleagues. They were stunned. Just stunned. I also wrote back to the committee member who wasn’t aware of this data to let him know that there is no scientific data to support mandating flu vaccines. And since those studies have been published, flu vaccine efficacy rates have hit new lows.
In 2014-2015 the flu vaccine was only 19% effective. This year FluMist, the nasal spray influenza vaccine, is no longer recommended. Why? Because it doesn’t work at all. In the words of the CDC, “no protective benefit could be measured.”
The CDC tells me personally that the flu vaccine doesn’t work
Dr. Mark Hyman practices functional medicine. Like integrative medicine, functional medicine seeks to individualize medical treatment, identify and treat the root causes of illness and disease, and help the body heal itself through lifestyle and nutritional intervention, not just pharmaceutical products.
At a functional medicine conference, I happened to be seated at lunch beside a lovely CDC senior medical official. She was there to learn more about functional medicine.
She was super nice and, of course, I couldn’t help but be excited that I was sitting next to gold. Or so I thought.
Our conversation went like this:
Dr. Benton: So, what do you think about the flu vaccine?
Dr. CDC: It’s a good thing. A wonderful intervention. Everyone needs one. Absolutely.
Dr. Benton: Have you looked into the recent science?
Dr. CDC: Of course. So good to see our ideas confirmed—it’s a safe, efficacious vaccination that seems to cause few, if any, side effects.
Dr. Benton: So you’ve read these studies yourself?
Dr. CDC: [Hesitating. Silent. Long pause.] Well, actually, I haven’t…
So I jumped in. I told her all about the Cochrane review. Her. Jaw. Dropped. Yep. She, a senior CDC medical official, did not have a clue.
In all fairness, just because you work at the CDC, should you really know all the most recently published studies about all vaccines? I don’t think so. And to her credit, she was interested and engaged and listened with an open mind.
She told me I needed to talk directly to the influenza division of the CDC. So this small town country doctor made an appointment with the medical director of the influenza division of the CDC. With sweaty palms and racing heart, I made the phone call at the appointed time. I introduced myself and proceeded to go over the data about the flu vaccine, including that per the national vital statistics on the CDC website, that there are only about 1,000 deaths out of over 300 million people from the flu. After each factoid I mentioned, the CDC director just said, “Yep.”
Befuddled, I got to the end of my list of concerns, wiped my palms on my skirt, and asked, “Rebuttal?”
She said she didn’t have one!
In fact, she said, there will never be a good flu vaccine because there are over 200 different viruses that cause influenza and influenza-like symptoms and vaccine manufacturers have to guess a year in advance for the strain of flu that might be in circulation that coming year.
Like meteorologists predicting the weather, sometimes vaccine scientists are pretty accurate, sometimes they are dead wrong.
So I asked her why our government is pushing flu mandates across the country?
She denied that the CDC was recommending mandates, and admitted there is simply not enough science to justify mandating the flu vaccine. All of these hospital, school, and company policies, she insisted, were outside of the purview of the CDC. I reminded her the CDC shapes public policy by recommending vaccines and that medical professionals were being fired across the country for refusing the flu vaccine. She said she disagreed with that practice.
And there you have it.
The smart doctors who work inside the CDC know the flu shot isn’t working. And they probably don’t get flu shots either.
Big Pharma Pushes Flu Mandates, Smart Doctors Push Back
Why this ridiculous push for a vaccine that doesn’t work, that prompted more government pay-outs because of adverse events, including death, than any other vaccine in 2017 so far, and that also contains ingredients analyzed by CDC scientists and found, in a recent peer-reviewed paper, to be highly neurotoxic?
Could it be the bonuses that insurance companies pay to medical groups for flu vaccine compliance among their staff and their patients?
Could it be the hundreds of thousands of dollars paid to politicians by the powerful pharmaceutical lobby?
In an 8-year period donations by pharmaceutical companies that manufacture vaccines given to the American Academy of Pediatricians exceeded 9.4 million dollars (The Business of Baby, p. 223).
Smart doctors tell their patients the truth.
Smart doctors give their patients all the information they need to make an informed decision about what is in the best interests of their health.
Smart doctors tell their patients the risks of the vaccine, the benefits of the vaccine, and the alternatives to vaccination.
The best alternative, in this doctor’s assessment, is not to get a flu vaccine.
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