The study -- the largest ever to examine the side effects of flu shots in young children -- included 45,000 American kids who were given flu shots and examined for side effects over a period of six weeks. The 19 researchers who co-authored the article -- nine of whom admitted financial ties to vaccine manufacturers -- concluded that the shots were safe for use in all children younger than 5 years old.
Consumer health advocate Mike Adams, author of "The Seven Laws of Nutrition," says the short study disregarded possible long-term side effects, such as mercury poisoning.
"To declare vaccines safe for infants after merely six weeks of observation is preposterous," Adams said. "Most vaccines are preserved with mercury, a toxic heavy metal with a long-term cumulative load on the body that is clearly linked with neurological disorders, premature births and birth defects.
"Yet this vaccine study, authored by researchers with clear financial ties to vaccine makers, made no effort whatsoever to examine the long-term health consequences of mercury accumulation via vaccines, nor the long-term immune system implications."
The United States also offers flu shots to late-term pregnant women, though interest has been relatively low because of concerns over possible links between vaccinations and autism. The UK government is currently working on possibly recommending the vaccine shot for pregnant women in their second and third trimesters.
The UK's Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunizations (JCVI) claims the flu poses an additional risk for pregnant women and their children, and could result in excess stress on the heart and lungs. A 1998 study found that women who caught the flu in the last trimester of pregnancy were as likely to be hospitalized with health problems as those with serious chronic medical conditions.
Adams says the safety of flu shots on fetuses has not been proven -- since only a few small studies have been conducted -- and accused media outlets of pushing vaccines on children and expectant mothers. Stories on the supposed safety of vaccines for infants and pregnant women recently ran in Forbes, Reuters, the Chicago Sun-Times, USA Today, the Houston Chronicle and the San Jose Mercury News.