Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Flu Vaccine - Is It Worth It? A Cost-Benefit Analysis

A few weeks ago I posted an article on this blog entitled, "Is There Thimerosal in the Flu Vaccine." At that time, it had just been announced in the media that the CDC was stepping up efforts this year "like never before" to ensure that every man, woman, and child (including babies and the as-yet unborn) receive the flu vaccine. As I wrote then, this is extremely concerning, especially when it comes to vaccinating pregnant women in the second trimester, and vaccinating babies and children with something that contains mercury. I cannot understand why, after the CDC finally agreed to remove thimerosal from the childhood vaccine schedule, they would now recommend vaccinations for babies and children that still contain this extremely toxic heavy metal.

I know this is a topic I already covered, but it is one that is so important it's worth expanding on.

Today was one of those rare days when, having attended the Health Fair at USI, I found myself at home with my feet up when the news came on. One of the stories covered by Ann Komas, anchor for WFIE News, reported on a "Drive-In Flu Clinic" that took place today in Indianapolis. People are lining up in their cars, simultaneously rolling down their windows and rolling up their sleeves to get the flu vaccines they have been so fervently advised to receive.

I wonder how many of them know about the thimerosal.

As my 8 year-old watched the news report she screwed up her face and said, "EEEWWWW! Gross!!!" I was very relieved to be able to tell her that she didn't have to worry about that because she is not getting a flu shot.

The government has GREATLY over-stated both the severity of the threat to healthy individuals from the flu, and the efficacy of the flu vaccine in preventing flu-related deaths. If you would like to read a fascinating article, written by research-physicians that will help you to make an informed decision about whether or not to submit to the government's push, click here.
If you don't care to read the entire article, here are some things to consider:

This information is taken directly from the article, "A Shot of Fear," written by By Steven Woloshin, Lisa M. Schwartz and H. Gilbert Welch, published in 2005 in The Washington Post.
  • According to the CDC, 90 percent of flu-related deaths occur among people age 65 years and older. Based on this information and the age distribution of the population, the chance of a flu-related death for people in that age group is about one in 1,000. Another way of saying this is that the chance of not dying from flu for those 65 and older is about 999 out of 1,000. (For context, the chance of a flu-related death is slightly lower than the chance of dying from a fall or other accident.)
  • For people younger than 65 (including children), the chance of a flu-related death is much smaller -- about one in 100,000.

The authors of the above-reference article point out that the wording of papers published in some highly-regarded, peer-reviewed, medical journals is misleading and overstates the effectiveness of the flu vaccination.

  • For example, a 2003 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine observed that the flu vaccine was associated with a 50 percent reduction in the overall death rate (that is, death from heart disease, stroke, cancer and all other causes combined). To attribute an effect of this magnitude solely to the flu vaccine is ludicrous: Flu-related deaths make up less than 2 percent of all deaths. If the claim were accurate, the vaccine's power would dwarf that of any other medical intervention.

The authors go on to point out that for some, it is not necessarily the concern of death from the flu that drives them (now, literally) to get the vaccination. Many Americans roll up their sleeves and hold their screaming children down to receive the flu shot because they don't want to be sick and don't want to miss work or school.

  • The authors write, "Many may get flu shots simply to avoid getting sick. The Cochrane Collaboration identified more than 20 randomized trials addressing this question. The overall chance of developing "clinical" flu was 19 percent in those chosen, again by chance, to receive the recommended flu vaccine vs. 23 percent in the control groups."

If I'm interpreting this correctly, having received the flu vaccine conferred a 4% advantage when it came to actually getting sick, when compared to those who did not receive the flu vaccine.

Read on:

  • Studies have also measured another outcome: how vaccination affects days lost from work. On average, there are about 0.16 fewer days lost from work per person vaccinated. Another way of saying this is that about 5 percent of those vaccinated avoid missing about three days of work because of the flu. (That is, 0.16 days divided by the 5 percent who benefited from vaccination equals 3.2 days.) The other 95 percent vaccinated got no benefit.

For anyone who is concerned about injecting mercury into yourself or your child, PLEASE ask yourself, "Is it worth it?" before obediently and blindly rolling up your sleeves. For pregnant women and parents of small children, PLEASE, JUST SAY "NO."

Marcella Piper-Terry, M.S.


  1. I am appalled that we have people like you in our community -- and that people like you are pretending to "treat" our children. You, a supposedly trained psychologist should KNOW BETTER than to spew bad science, rumors, and quote/link research that is not only out of date, but was disproven years ago. Vaccines do not cause disease OR autism. Take a biology class and actually sit down and READ Dr. Offit's book.

  2. Amanda:

    By "people like me" I assume you mean professionals and parents who advocate becoming informed about the substances we allow to be injected into our children. If that is your point, I am guilty of being "one of THOSE people."

    As for you being "appalled" that you have "people like me in our community" I cannot respond to that because I don't know which community you are referring to. Do you mean the Evansville community? or do you mean the community of families whose lives are impacted by autism?

    Your accusation that I am "pretending" anything is inaccurate. I don't pretend, especially when it comes to the lives of children. It appears from this comment that when you refer to "people like me" you may actually be lumping me in with the likes of Dr. Andrew Wakefield, Dr. Elizabeth Mumper, Dr. Sidney Baker, Dr. Jon Pangborn, et. al. If this is the case, I am honored at the compliment.

    I have one correction for you, I am not a psychologist and do not claim to be.

    I do know better than to "spew bad science, rumors, etc..." and actually do spend a great deal of time researching what I write before putting my fingers to the keyboard.

    I would be happy to review any research you can provide that "disproves" a link between vaccines and autism, or other autoimmune diseases. Of course, one caveat must be that the studies to be reviewed should be free of any bias or conflict of interest on the part of those conducting and reporting the findings. That means anything Dr. Offit writes is automatically out.

    As for sitting down and reading Dr. Offit's book, that is something I may do someday, although I probably won't get to it until I retire, if that day ever comes. Right now I'm too busy trying to help families of sick children. At the moment, Dr.
    Offit's book does not rate on my heirarchy of importance when it comes to how to spend my time. I feel the same way about The National Enquirer.

    I appreciate your comment and will look forward to hearing from you regaring the research to which you refer. By the way, while you are scouring PubMed you might want to keep in mind that a basic tenet of research is that results can support a hypothesis or fail to support a hypothesis. This is very different from "disproving" anything.


  3. thanks to the heros like Marci my vaccine injured son is finally returning to me. Amanda(if that is really your name) do you have an MD behind your name. What makes you think your science and the "Proffit's" is any better than ours. Our scientific proof is our children getting better, it is the blood work, poop and pee tests hair tests and etc, that show this venom from the vaccines coming out and our childrens health returning to prevaccination status that is our scientific proof. The only proof I need is my son can talk again an ability he lost at 20 months old due to 9 vaccines, he has finally potty trained at age 6, his exploding stools have stopped and he can finally get a suntan and smile at me and tell me he loves me, these were all lost to me for 4 years. I don't need it in a peer reviewed study to tell me that my sons health is returning. I saw the decline, and I have seen the recovery thanks to the heros who work day in and day out to save our children people like Marci, so Amanda go back to the hole you came out of stick your head in the sand and listen to people like "proffit" while the rest of us save the children

  4. Apparently Amanda you do not have a child with autism. I saw regression after my twins 9 month vaccines. I questioned the doctor when the 12 month check-up and she assured me there is no Thermisol in the shots so we let her give the shots. Again we saw regression. We never got our babies back after that. This doctor even recommended the flu vaccine. We were all ready with 5 children in tow waiting on a cold day outside to get in the building to the flu vaccine. After 30 minutes of waiting I said screw this. We are going to get sick from this weather. I thank God everyday that we did not get those shots. That may have been the tipping point of for my twins. They are mild on the spectrum compared to some kids. Because of Biomedical we are getting our girls back. By the way I do have a Biology and Chemistry degree.


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