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It is said that the seasonal flu kills between 250,000 to 500,000 people worldwide, a number that to some reading might sound incredibly high.[1] Perhaps this is why the flu vaccine is so heavily offered? The key question that is creating a great amount of controversy is whether or not the numbers we read about the amount of flu deaths are actually accurate?

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When winter time rolls around we start hearing the term “flu season.” As a result, we are offered the flu vaccine as a means to protect ourselves from the flu. I was just reading a public health flyer the other day that stated the best way to protect yourself from the flu is to take the vaccine. It seemed odd that the whole public health flyer seemed focused on making sure people knew the flu vaccine was a must have. I could understand that, if the death stats were actually accurate.

What Are The Stats Based On?

The World Health Organization is the source of the death count annually that is seen above. The CDC states that about 36,000 people in the US die each year from the flu. Although to some these sources seem credible, where they are getting their information from could be much more of a PR move than a legitimate stat.[2]

According to the National Vital Statistics System in the U.S., annual flu deaths in 2010 were only 500 for the year. Ulcers, pregnancy, childbirth and hernias were all around double or more compared to the flu. This of course didn’t even compare to things like heart disease or cancer which ranged somewhere in the 500,000 range. The story is the same in Canada.

Interestingly, the CDC released a data paper in 2010 that shows how they categorize flu deaths. The stat is grouped with Pneumonia deaths. If one were to look, it states that 50,097 deaths were attributed to flu and pneumonia, but when that number is broken down, pneumonia is responsible for 49,597 and the flu only 500. [3] The CDC itself acknowledges and admits that there is only a slim relationship, stating “only a small proportion of deaths… only 8.5 per cent of all pneumonia and influenza deaths [are] influenza-related.”

In Canada the numbers are approximately the same, reported deaths of the flu have never surpassed 350 during a flu season. Some years were as little as 150 or so. Furthermore, hospitalizations from the flu never surpassed  7000 for the entire country in some of the worst recorded years. [4]

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The interesting thing about the WHO is that in their estimations they show no measure of how they arrived at their numbers. This is why controversy is so heavy when it comes to actual flu numbers. This is perhaps also why many point to the numbers as a PR stunt to sell more vaccinations.

Multiple Sources Agree

To take it even further, the American Journal of Public Health and the British Medical Journal feel the number of 500 deaths in the US could even be too high. They state that only about 15-20 per cent of people who come down with flu-like symptoms actually have the influenza virus. It is believed that the other 80-85 per cent actually caught rhinovirus or other germs that are indistinguishable from the true flu without laboratory tests, which are rarely done.

“U.S. data on influenza deaths are a mess,” states a 2005 article in the British Medical Journal entitled “Are U.S. flu death figures more PR than science?” The article points to the fact that the claimed 36,000 yearly flu-death figure commonly claimed is overstated and incorrect. This makes calling pneumonia/influenza as the 7th leading cause of death incorrect as well.

 Is The Vaccine Even Effective?

The former Chief Vaccine Office at the FDA, Dr. Anthony Morris states: “there is no evidence that any influenza vaccine thus far developed is effective in preventing or mitigating any attack of influenza.”

Of course this statement has been attacked by many “science” blogs stating he isn’t an expert on the flu and that his opinion shouldn’t be trusted. A classic move by opposers where an attack is set out on statements made using emotional arguments attempting to make others feel unintelligent for questioning something.  Yet the opposers often provide no evidence to state the research or opinion is incorrect. This is perhaps one of the most dangerous aspects of parts of the scientific community. To think of how many things are ignored or shot down out of arrogance and fear of overturning old ideas is astonishing.

The prestigious Cochrane Library released a review in 2009 stating “There is not enough evidence to decide whether routine vaccination to prevent influenza in healthy adults effective.” [5]

Given the ineffectiveness of the vaccine and the potential side effects that go along with the vaccine, why put yourself at risk? The influenza does not appear to show any moderate risk of hospitalization or death and avoiding the flu can be done very easily with natural means.

Perhaps it’s finally time to end the hype and stop supporting the vaccine all together?

Sadly the CDC has created a mass market for the flu vaccine and enlisted doctors and the media to fear many into taking it. Since very few have questioned the efficacy of such a vaccine, the hysteria continues blindly.

Here’s an interesting look at the financial side of the flu vaccination.

Food for thought for those who want some further information. Watch the whole thing.

Sources:
1. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs211/en/

2. http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=195750

3. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr61/nvsr61_04.pdf

4. http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/influenza/flu-stat-eng.php

5. http://www.thecochranelibrary.com/userfiles/ccoch/file/CD001269.pdf


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