Expert Questions Flu Vaccine's Safety, Effectiveness

FlickrBased on my pediatrician's advice, I have made a point of getting my kids and myself a flu shot every single year.

So you'd better believe I sat up and took notice when a Johns Hopkins scientist released a study recently that questions whether the flu shot is as safe and effective as we've been led to believe.

Suddenly, I'm not feeling so good about those flu shots.

The article was written by Peter Doshi, PhD, a scientist at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and published in the British Medical Journal. In it, Doshi had some pretty strong words for the CDC.


For one thing, Doshi says the shot has been poorly tested in studies that used subjects who tended to be healthy, as opposed to the general population.

"Here the salesmen are public health officials, worried little about which brand of vaccine you get so long as they can convince you to take influenza seriously," he wrote. "But it is essential to base those messages on solid science, and here is where CDC is failing when it comes to influenza."

As for the flu shot's safety, Doshi wrote, "For most people, and possibly most doctors, officials need only claim that vaccines save lives, and it is assumed there must be solid research behind it." But he questioned whether that was really the case, citing an Australian study that showed one in every 110 kids under 5 had convulsions after getting the flu shot in 2009 for H1N1. The H1N1 vaccine also has been linked to cases of narcolepsy in adolescents, according to NewsMax.

The bottom line, according to Doshi? "The vaccine may be less beneficial and less safe than has been claimed, and the threat of influenza seems to be overstated," he wrote.

It's food for thought.

My father's a doctor and has long been opposed to my family and me getting the flu vaccination. He's always believed that the risks outweigh the benefits -- still, I thought I knew best.

Now, I'm not so sure.

What are your thoughts? Do you get the flu shot for your kids? Will you continue to do so?

Image via Zaldylmg/Flickr

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