Thursday, December 05, 2013

More Evidence Against Forced Flu Shots - Dubious Science, Doubtful Death Rates, Ignored Side Effects Mean Big Doubts

Flu Shot - Lance McCord photo
Flu shots an expensive, intrusive public policy that's not backed up by adequate numbers, say researchers

Bill Tieleman's 24 Hours Vancouver / The Tyee column

Tuesday December 3, 2013
By Bill Tieleman
"How many deaths are there? They can't tell you. The information on deaths in B.C. from the flu isn't available." 
- Drug policy researcher Alan Cassels
British Columbians are being told -- or even ordered -- to get a flu shot to save lives.
But what if provincial health authorities couldn't quantify how many lives are being saved by flu shots, or how many lives are lost due to the flu?
How could they justify the enormous expense and intrusion into personal health choices if flu shots don't work well and few people die from the flu?
Given recent research showing flu shots are only 59 per cent effective on average for adults aged 18 to 65 and less so for the elderly, are flu shots worth it?
These are questions with troubling answers to Victoria drug policy researcher Alan Cassels and other top medical experts around the world.
But with flu season now on, in B.C. you must have received a flu shot or wear a mask to visit hospitals and care homes under a new Health Ministry policy.
Hospital and care home staff were already ordered to either get the flu shot or wear a mask at work from December to April. But now health authorities are "also expecting the public to protect vulnerable patients from contracting influenza by getting vaccinated, or wearing a mask," reads a government news release.
The policy, unique in Canada to B.C., caused the cancellation of the White Rock Chamber Music Program from January through March because concerts take place at Crescent Gardens Retirement Community, which is under Health Ministry flu shot or mask orders.
"That means that some audience members would have to sit for two hours with a mask on -- and for singers, it's just impossible," organizer Ellen Neal told the Peace Arch News last week. "It's been a dilemma. We had to cancel two young pianists for the December concert because they have not had flu shots and don't wish to have them."
'No fully accurate accounting': BC's top doc
How many people are really dying from the flu? Are such measures warranted?
A Nov. 7 B.C. Health Ministry news release states: "Each year, between 2,000 and 8,000 Canadians die from complications from influenza."
Federal health authorities have the same stats: "Every year, between 2,000 and 8,000 Canadians die of the flu and its complications, and even more become seriously ill and require hospitalization."
But Cassels says the number of deaths is misleading and not backed up by research. "I'm a researcher. I trust numbers. We can't guess on this stuff. We need the numbers," he said in an interview.
Making major decisions about flu shot public policy without adequate evidence, Cassels says, "is like building a bridge without knowing where the other side is."
Publicly reported flu numbers wildly differ with the claims of 2,000 to 8,000 deaths.
On Health Canada's Flu Watch website, cumulative statistics from Aug. 25 to Nov. 23, 2013 show that: "To date this season, 57 influenza-associated hospitalizations have been reported."
Flu Watch continues: "No deaths have been reported. It is important to note that the hospitalization or death does not have to be attributable to influenza, a positive laboratory test is sufficient for reporting."
Even more troubling, Flu Watch says B.C. doesn't report "influenza-associated hospitalizations" to the Public Health Agency of Canada, nor do Quebec, Nova Scotia or New Brunswick, while "only hospitalizations that require intensive medical care are reported by Saskatchewan."
Flu Watch does say B.C. reports "positive influenza specimens" and from Aug. 25 to Nov. 23, 2013 there were 11 Influenza A and four Influenza B cases.
In an email response Sunday to questions about the varying statistics, Dr. Perry Kendall, B.C.'s Provincial Health Officer wrote: "As no jurisdiction tests every admission or death for influenza, there is no fully accurate accounting.
"We rely on a variety of surveys and models. Obviously as vaccination rates, vaccine effectiveness and viral virulence change from year to year, so will the numbers," he said.
Kendall referred this columnist to a 2013 paper by Dr. Bonnie Henry of the B.C. Centre for Disease Control that reviews flu shot research for other answers.
That paper cuts the maximum mortality rate in half compared to the B.C. Health Ministry news release, stating: "We generally estimate that between 2,000-4,000 Canadian die from influenza annually."
Three of the five studies Henry references estimate Canadian deaths per year at 370, 700 and 700 while the other two estimate 2,600 and 4,000 deaths.
Dr. Michael Gardam, director of the infection prevention and control unit at Toronto's University Health Network, is also skeptical of the 2,000 to 8,000 deaths claims.
"This is a scientific guess. This is not the truth," Gardam told CBC News last year. "I think people may have the misconception that every person who dies from the flu is somehow counted somewhere, and they're not."
Dr. Tom Jefferson is even more damning of the statistics. The researcher with the independent Cochrane Collaboration has looked extensively at flu shot research and isn't impressed.
"There are no real figures on deaths from influenza. They don't collect that information. So if they don't collect that information, how do they know it's a threat?" Jefferson says. "And if they don't collect that information, how do they know that their policies will work? This is called faith-based medicine, not evidence-based medicine."
Henry of B.C.'s Centre for Disease Control disagrees, and explains the challenge of measuring the impact of the flu in her paper this way: "Many people with influenza do not seek medical attention for their influenza illness, but may be admitted to hospital or have complications from the infection or from worsening of their underlying illness."
Henry concludes that flu shots should be mandatory for health care workers and are worthwhile for others.
"Vaccination of healthcare workers will reduce their risk of getting influenza and spreading it to patients, other healthcare workers or their families. The most effective strategy for preventing influenza is annual vaccination. Influenza vaccine is safe and effective... what is clear is that the vaccine provides good protection in healthy adults and much more modest protection in the population that needs it most, those at risk for severe illness or death from influenza."
Cassels isn't convinced and has this advice for the public: "Demand credible support for the flu shot policy, not the ‘Trust us, we're experts' approach."
Shots are safe? Questionable...
The veteran researcher also warns that claims flu shots are completely safe have been questioned by new research. Cassels points to a study by Dr. Danuta Skowronski of the B.C. Centre for Disease Control and colleagues that discovered increased rates of people contracting the pandemic H1N1 influenza in 2009 after they received regular flu shots, called the trivalent inactivated influenza vaccine (TIV).
Skowronski's study in the Oxford Journals states: "Specifically, outbreak investigation conducted during the early stages of the pandemic in a northern B.C. community identified that participants reporting pH1N1-related ILI during the period 1 April through 5 June 2009 were more than twice as likely to report having previously received seasonal influenza vaccine."
"Conclusions. An outbreak investigation in British Columbia during the late spring of 2009 provided the first indication of an unexpected association between receipt of TIV and pH1N1 illness. This led to five additional studies through the summer 2009 in Canada, each of which corroborated these initial findings."
While Skowronski outlines "several limitations to this study warranting cautious interpretation of the results," it nevertheless gives Cassels concern that the seasonal flu shot may be negatively affecting people's natural immunity to more serious illnesses like H1N1.
Cassels also refers to The National Vaccine Information Center, a U.S. non-profit organization that gives clear information about potential negative consequences from flu shots:
"Reported moderate reactions to influenza vaccine include fever, local reactions (pain, redness, swelling at the site of the injection), headache, fatigue, sore throat, nasal congestion, cough, joint and muscle pain, and nausea. Reported serious complications include brain inflammation, convulsions, Bell's palsy, limb paralysis, neuropathy, shock, wheezing/asthma and other breathing problems.
"Guillain Barre Syndrome (GBS) is a disabling neurological disorder that involves temporary or permanent paralysis that can lead to death and has been causally related to influenza vaccinations.
"As of Nov. 2013, there have been more than 93,000 reports of reactions, hospitalizations, injuries and deaths following influenza vaccinations made to the federal Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS), including 1,080 related deaths, 8,888 hospitalizations, 1,801 related disabilities and over 1,700 cases of GBS."
This is not information that is well publicized at all, let alone discussed by those who promote mandatory flu shots.
It's not small pox
Personally, the information on Guillain Barre Syndrome hits home. My father Harry suffered a GBS attack in the early 1970s that put him in hospital with partial paralysis and required rehabilitation for months.
His illness was unrelated to getting vaccinated, but having seen the results of GBS, it adds another reason why I do not get the flu shot.
Cassels says the severity of influenza is being overblown to push the seasonal shots. "We're talking about the flu here -- not small pox or rubella!" he exclaimed.
But like it or not, variable facts or not, in B.C. flu shots are being imposed.


e.a.f. said...

Its interesting that the health authorities get their things in a knot about people not getting flu shots. They suggest people die if they don't get the shots or get the flu. Well here is a news flash. Didn't 83 people die in Burnaby General Hospital from an infection not related to the flu. It could be minimized if the hospital was kept cleaner, but that certainly didn't happen. We have all sorts of bacteria/viruses in hospitals these days which result in illness and death because hospital aren't kept as clean as they used to be. Government doesn't do anything about that. My take on it, they want people to get flu vaccinations because companies make money on it. Keeping a hospital clean costs money. Its all about who makes money. Flu shots are a great way for corporations, who produce them to make money. Dr.s make money giving them as do pharmacies. Everybody's a winner, except those who don't want to take them.

Its an infringement upon our personal freedoms. This isn't small pox, measles, mumps, etc. The best way to prevent the flu is wash, wash, wash your hands. Don't put your hands on your face, get enough sleep and eat properly. But hey no one makes money that way.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the pervious comment, just look at the cleaning conditions today in hospitals compared to the past. Totally under staffed cleaners, and now with p3 hospitals for profit do you really believe they give a dam over cleaning,when it comes to making a profit for there corporation. This is just another way to silence the public with the big picture still being unclean hospitals with out breaks of supper bugs which they say are going to get worse.

WendyW said...

Wow how refreshing to hear scientists quoted regarding true influenza facts instead of deluded vaccine hucksters like Kendall and the industry friendly minions at the CDC. If you read CBC's Kelley Crowes, article "Flu Death reality check" you will see that the only year influenza was ever tracked credibly was during the swine flu "pandemic" of 2009 - The total death numbers when the really tracked them? 350 deaths across the entire nation, no where near 2,000 to 4,000. Even Heir Kendall admits "there is no fully accurate accounting."
and yet, we spend millions on the flu vaccine and subjugate an entire portion of our population with forced vaccination or "shame" masks for 4 months..
What a province...all beauty, no brains as usual BC, way to go...

wendyw said...

Also it would lovely to see this blow up in Kendalls face. Very interesting evidence has been coming out, from credible INDEPENDANT researchers that are linking yearly vaccination for influenza of actually increasing risk for contracting influenza. Ohmit et al (2013) performed an interesting study which found that vaccination for flu yearly "substantially increased" contracting the virus and vaccination for influenza had no influence over spreading the bug amoung family members. see also the disturbing trend of vaccine enhanced respiratory syndromes where flu vaccination wreaked havoc with our immune systems is a disturbing trend with this vaccine. I truly hope that this information comes to light and we see massive civil action against the government of BC for promoting such a useless and potentially reckless endeavor.

Ed C said...

Hi Bill and commenters,
Thanks for making me feel better & better about not having had a flu shot, not ever that I remember. I have had the flu a few times in the distant past, but it was never as bad as the side effects of the shot that have been known for ages.

Talk about a huge waste of our tax dollars - for something that may actually do more harm than good. I hope more people decide to say NO to flu shots, and our MLA's speak out.

Ed C