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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nonmember avatar Mal

I've kept my daughter on the regular vaccine schedule they give you, but I did my research on the flu shot and agreed the risks outweighs the benefits and haven't gotten one for myself since I was pregnant or one for my daughter ever.

littl... littlebeanmom

Well that sucks.  If you work at a hospital (like me) the flu vaccine is mandatory. The only way out is to wear a mask every single moment you are at the hospital. 

onefo... onefootcutiepie

This is the first year I've ever gotten the flu shot and I have been sick more times than ever in my whole like. Anecdotal, but still....

Theresa Radford

I had the flu shot-- was sick for over 3 wks & Dr said "any flu shot is the BEST guess anyway- we targeted the wrong strain."

Foley... Foleygirl24

DS got it because it was required for school. I do not, and I won't in future either. I've never gotten the flu in my almost 32 years, but I do get everything else during the winter months. It's not worth the risk of picking something else up while I'm at the doc getting the shot (which has happened all 3 times  I've gotten it)!

LostS... LostSoul88

Ive never have had the flu shot and I have had the flu 2 times in the last 15 years. My kids don't get the flu shot either and they have only had the swine flu went it first broke out, other then that they have never had the seasonal flu either.


Everyone I know that gets the flu shot, gets very sick within a month afterward.

nonmember avatar Shandeigh

Nope no flu shot. Never had it. Never will.

insei... inseineangel

I've never gotten it for myself... I have a surprisingly strong immune system, so I didn't deem it necessary. With my daughter, I had been debating it. At one of her appointments with her pediatrician, they asked if I wanted her to have it, and I asked about the risks and efficacy of the vaccine. The doctor told me "it won't be effective at all the first shot, and it doesn't cover all strains. It's kind of hit-or-miss." I loved her honesty and with her information, decided against it.

EmmaF... EmmaFromEire

I get it every year. Too high risk without it, due to my field. I've never gotten sick after it.

LadyM... LadyMinni

This evidence was out in Europe ten years ago. Do you people still think I'm crazy to refuse it? Now go read the European information about the other vaccines and DO NOT let your kids get DPT. The Pertussis vaccine must be given separately. (D&T are actually fine together.)

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