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Flu shots

Flu Vaccines Found Useless for Seniors; Benefits Greatly Exaggerated, say Researchers

Thursday, February 07, 2008 by: David Gutierrez, staff writer
Tags: flu shots, senior citizens, health news


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(NewsTarget) The benefits of influenza vaccines on senior citizens have been "greatly exaggerate[d]," according to a major review of the evidence published in the medical journal Lancet Infectious Diseases.

Researchers examined prior studies on the effectiveness of the vaccine, and concluded that it is impossible to tell whether flu vaccines decrease winter deaths among senior citizens at all, let alone by the vast degree often claimed.

A commonly cited statistic is that flu shots lead to a 50 percent reduction in winter deaths among the elderly. But the study authors point out that flu itself is only responsible for 5 percent of winter deaths in that population, making such a claim absurd.

"We find it peculiar that the claims that influenza vaccination can prevent half -- or more -- of all winter deaths in elderly people have not been more vigorously debated," the researchers write. "That influenza vaccination can prevent 10 times as many deaths as the disease itself causes is not plausible."

The researchers also found significant flaws in the methodology of flu vaccines studies. Their greatest criticism was that most such studies have been carried out with few participants who are in poor health or over the age of 70, even though this is precisely the population among whom the disease is most fatal, accounting for 75 percent of influenza fatalities.

The researchers also points out that while flu vaccination rates in the United States have increased from 15 percent of the over-65 population to 65 percent since 1980, there has been no corresponding decrease in deaths from the disease.

"This data support what the naturopathic community has been saying for decades: That flu shot vaccines are medically useless," said consumer health advocate Mike Adams. "Their promotion is based on junk science, exaggerated benefits and fear mongering among the elderly. But much like everything else in modern medicine, when you peel back the propaganda and look at what's underneath, you find there's no good science at all. Flu shots are a medical hoax."

The study authors stop short of recommending that people discontinue use of the vaccine, stating that "even a partly effective vaccine would be better than no vaccine at all."

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