U.S. public health officials are moving full-speed ahead with their national campaign to promote and publicize the flu shot. They have now designated Dec. 8-14 as "National Influenza Vaccination Week" to "foster greater use of flu vaccine through the months of November, December and beyond."
Dec. 9, was designated as "Children's Vaccination Day." Dec. 11 was be "Seniors' Vaccination Day" and Friday focused on vaccination of health care workers.
If you listen to the hype, it sounds as though every man, woman, and child should hurry out to their nearest pharmacy or health clinic and demand to be vaccinated against this "deadly" health epidemic called the flu.
But please understand that it is just that: hype. The truth is, the flu can be deadly, but most of the time it is not.
Health officials like to alarm you by saying that 36,000 people die from the flu every year. This is simply not true. CDC reports show that only 1,138 deaths are caused by the flu each year. The other 34,000-plus are caused by pneumonic and cardiovascular deaths.
But let's say, for argument's sake, that you're thinking of getting the flu shot, not so much because you're worried about dying from the flu, but because you want to save yourself the hassle of being sick for a week or two.
Well, the flu shot probably won't help you there either. New studies show the flu shot does not work
A recent study published in the October issue of the "Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine" found that vaccinating young children against the flu had no impact on flu-related hospitalizations or doctor visits during two recent flu seasons.
Another large-scale, systematic review of 51 studies, published in the "Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews" in 2006, also found no evidence the flu vaccine is any more effective for children than a placebo.
Additionally, no studies have conclusively proven that flu shots prevent flu-related deaths among the elderly, even though this is one of the key groups to which they're pushed.
Even if the flu vaccine did work, you should know that it is simply an educated guessing game as to whether or not this year's vaccine will protect against the strains in your area. You see, because the flu virus mutates so rapidly, the vaccine must be updated every year to include the new, most common strains. Yet, sometimes scientists are way off.
There have been several examples in past years where government health officials have chosen the incorrect influenza strains for that year's vaccine. In 2004, the National Vaccine Information Center described how CDC officials told everyone to line up for a flu shot that didn't even contain the influenza strain causing most of the flu that year.
As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states:
"In some years when vaccine and circulating strains were not well-matched, no vaccine effectiveness can be demonstrated in some studies, even in healthy adults. It is not possible in advance of the influenza season to predict how well the vaccine and circulating strains will be matched, and how that match may affect the degree of vaccine effectiveness."
So let's sum things up. When you get the flu shot, it may or may not protect you against the flu. Further, recent studies suggest the shot is largely ineffective for two of the key populations to which it's pushed: children and the elderly.
What you can be sure of when you get the flu shot is that you'll be injected with a laundry list of hazardous ingredients, which are included as additives to the vaccines.
Why expose yourself or your child to these toxins to take a flu shot that likely doesn't even work?
This weekly column features opposing views from readers. These opinions are contrary to those expressed on this page or which otherwise take issue with something that appears in The Herald. All commentaries submitted become the property of The Herald and may be republished in any format.
Steven J Kamego is a Rock Hill chiropractor.