Being a parent, there are few things that hurt me as deeply as someone losing a child. But to use this to scare the population into flu vaccination infuriates me.
Every fall begins the push by the drug companies and the vaccine manufacturers to get vaccinated for influenza. These efforts are supported by doctors, pharmacists and the gas stations (ok..so maybe not the gas stations yet, but just you wait…). And fear is behind it all. Fear of getting the flu, fear of getting sick, fear of being out of work and fear of death. Especially in a child, because we know that children die of the flu. But if you knew the real numbers you’d be sick over how much we’ve been played.
But first, we need to identify just how effective the flu vaccination is. I have covered this topic many times in the past, but one of the strongest articles can be found by clicking here. Here is the summary from that post:
- The greatest risk of influenza complications occur in the elderly and yet there is almost no evidence that available vaccines work in the group we really need it to work in.
- Healthy adults showed strong evidence ONLY for the dead virus vaccine, but, in general, this group is the least likely to suffer complications.
- The only group that showed high protection was 6 months to 7 years using the live vaccine (the nasal spray) , but this type is only licensed here in the US from 2 years on and is not commonly used.
With this in mind, we need to look at this particular article, which is directly from the CDC’s numbers. Researchers looked at the number of influenza-related deaths in children (under 18 years of age) over the course of 8 years (2004-2012). Here are the details:
- There were 830 pediatric influenza–associated deaths (104 per year), and the average age was 7 years old.
- 35% of children never made it to a hospital.
- 43% had no high-risk medical conditions (about 45 per year).
- Surprisingly, children without high-risk medical conditions were more 90% likely to die before hospital admission. This may be due to a secondary bacterial infection, which was found to be very common.
I will again note that ANY childhood death is awful. But to put our efforts and money into a disease that takes 45 children per year and we don’t really have a good way to protect is almost as sinful as the loss of these children.
What if the energy went, instead, to educating about refined carbohydrates? Ensuring adequate levels of vitamin D? The massive danger of antibiotics in children, especially infants? The return on investment would dwarf that associated with influenza vaccination. It’s frustrating. In Arizona alone in 2011, 33 children died as a result of being improperly restrained in a car seat during an accident. We could buy a car seat for every parent and save more lives at a cost of millions of dollars less and not side effects.