"Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? And when he had said this, he went out again..."

Location: Tampa, FL, United States

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Does One Really Need a Flu Shot?

This graph (#1) depicts the mortality rate for influenza and pnemonia dating back to 1900 and up through 2003. This graph (#2) plots the same data but only for 1960 through 2003, overlaying a line representing the prevalence of flu vaccination coverage for those same years.

The flu vaccine first came out in 1945. In 1918 the infamous Spanish flu (no relation to Jennifer Lopez) struck and killed lots and lots of people. Overall, over the course of the 20th century, there was a relatively consistent drop in flu- and pneumonia-related deaths for the first half it, and a leveling off for the latter half. In fact, most all of the diseases we have vaccines for today were dropping before the vaccines were developed and released onto a soon-to-be-drug-friendly population.

You'll notice in graph #2 there was a steady rise from about 1980 to 2000 in both the flu- and pneumonia-related mortality rate and in vaccination coverage (as a percent of the population). Was the vaccine causing illness? Probably not. Was the vaccine coverage ramping up because reporters were having conniption fits about how we might all die? Don't know. Was the rise in both events coincidental? I still don't know, but in an otherwise healthy adult there seems to be a lack of evidence to suggest routine annual flu shots. In fact, the prestigous Cochrane Library said so in this 2007 publication. (Drop down to the "plain language summary" and read the first line).


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