If you’re thinking about getting a flu shot this year, you might want to do some rethinking
If it’s too late and you’ve already got one or have been doing so regularly for years, you might want to take a deep breath.
The information you’re about to receive is unlikely to make you happy.
Most people who get a flu vaccine probably assume that it’s going to… you know… prevent them from getting the flu. I mean, why would you go through the trouble and incur the risk of a serious adverse reaction that attends taking any vaccine if you didn’t think it would be effective?
But, as I alerted our readers to a few months back, when people like Anthony Fauci assure you that a vaccine is effective, it doesn’t mean quite you think it does.
A Washington Post article I cited made the shocking claims that the flu vaccine only “clocks in most years at 40% to 60% effective,” while the FDA is only requiring that a coronavirus vaccine be 50% effective.
As I later reported, it turns out the low 50% bar the FDA is setting for effectiveness is just one among many very troubling facts that nobody’s telling you about that COVID-19 vaccine the government will soon be insisting we all start lining up for the second it’s available.
But it turns out that, as lousy as the rate they cited for the flu vaccine was, the Washington Post had, nonetheless, greatly exaggerated its effectiveness. According to the CDC, over the prior 15 flu seasons, the flu vaccine only reached the low bar of being 40% effective nine times. It’s been as low as a jaw-dropping 10% but never gone above 60%.
Moreover, as bad as these figures are, it’s not even clear we can trust them.
When determining a vaccine’s effectiveness, researchers compare the ratio of people who received a vaccination among a random group of infected people with the ratio among a random group of uninfected people. The latter group are called the control subjects.
The studies for the 04-05, 05-06, and 06-07 flu vaccines yielded two different effectiveness percentages for each. One was obtained using what the authors called “traditional control subjects,” that is healthy people from the general population. Whereas the second set of effectiveness percentages were obtained using patients who were ill but not with influenza, whom the author’s called test-negative control” subjects.
In all subsequent flu seasons, it appears that traditional subjects were abandoned and only test-negative control subjects were used. And for the three seasons for which both were used, the CDC chose the figures obtained using test-negative subjects as well.
However, using test negative subjects resulted in significantly higher effectiveness ratings. The 10% rating for the 04-05 vaccine drops to 5% if traditional control subjects are used. The 21% rating for 05-06 drops down to 10% and the 52% rating for the 06-07 vaccine drops to 37%.
But the authors of the study for those three seasons explicitly say that “using test-negative control subjects is a new approach with little precedent” and that test-negative subjects “likely differ from the source population in other ways that affect generalizability.
And the study done on the 2015-16 flu vaccine notes that “the test-negative design is still comparatively new. This design may be subject to biases that are not fully understood.”
But if that was still true in 2016, why was the use of traditional control subjects discontinued in 2007 in favor of test-negative subjects?
It’s hard not to suspect that the higher vaccine effectiveness ratings that resulted might be a motivation.
After all, even the numbers the CDC got using test-negative controls are awful. You’re lucky in any given year if the flu vaccine is 50% effective and there’d be nothing that unusual if it was only 25% effective.
The CDC aggressively pushes flu vaccines and the people foolish enough to trust them have no idea that there’s a better than even chance the vaccine they’re taking isn’t going to do squat.
So it’s hardly a stretch to suppose that traditional controls were abandoned because in favor of a method that researchers admit may have unknown biases because it consistently yielded somewhat less dismal effectiveness ratings.
But dismal they are nonetheless. Whatever it is that the CDC is up to, it doesn’t seem like it has anything at all to do with disease control.