Annual Flu Shots: Science or Snake Oil?

Flu Vaccines: Science or ?

Flu Vaccines: Science or Snake Oil?

SaneVax: Every year people are strongly encouraged to submit to yet another vaccine to ‘protect’ themselves and those around them from the latest potentially deadly flu. Is the flu really that dangerous? Are the vaccines promoted every year effective? Are the vaccines more risk to your health than contracting the flu? It seems not even scientists and medical professionals know for sure.

To date, most debates about vaccine safety, efficacy and need have been conducted behind closed doors with limited information being released to those who need it most – medical professionals and medical consumers……those who have to make the decision as to whether the vaccine is right for their patients and those who have to decide whether the vaccine is the right choice for their family’s health.

Informed consent requires information!

Kudos to the British Medical Journal (BMJ) for their willingness to publish both sides of the flu vaccine debate. Last month author Jeanne Lenzer published an article in the BMJ titled, “Belief not science is behind flu jab promotion, new report says,” stating in part:

An independent meta-analysis of vaccines against influenza has found that claims of benefit have been significantly exaggerated.

The report, released last month by the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, was based on a comprehensive review of data published from 1967 to 2012.1

Evidence for “consistent high-level protection is elusive,” the researchers concluded. Although vaccination was found to provide modest protection from infection in young healthy adults who rarely have complications of flu, the authors found that “evidence for protection in adults 65 years of age and older [who represent over 90% of deaths from flu] . . . is lacking.”

The authors also analyzed recommendations issued by the federal Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, which provides expert advice to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and which are “often considered the standard of practice . . . around the …(1)

To date, there have been six published responses to her article.(2) It is in the best interests of every medical consumer and medical professional in the world to take a few minutes to read both the article and the responses.  Some excerpts are below:

1) John Stone, UK editor:

According to recent reports the Prime Minister, David Cameron, has tactfully told the European Union to “stop picking the pockets of our tax payers”. Perhaps a similar request to the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation and the pharmaceutical industry would not go amiss.

2) Hugh Mann, Physician Retired:

Vaccines are Big Pharma’s sacred-cash cow. As such, vaccines enjoy the hype and hoopla of media, with no real scrutiny………

3) Martin Hewitt, Retired Academic:

Peter English is right to take the BMJ to task for falling for the ‘perfectibility fallacy, that if a new vaccine or treatment is not 100% reliable in its efficacy it should not be used until it is made reliable. But the impossibility of perfect science, or the fallibility of science, raises further questions he does not address. No scientific finding is perfectly valid because all sciences are prone to fallibility, some more than others.

4) Peter MB English, Public Health Doctor:

I was disappointed to see this news item, which misrepresents the CIDRAP report.

The author has fallen for the “Nirvana” or “Perfect solution” fallacy: the idea that if a solution isn’t perfect, it should not be implemented.

The CIDRAP report does say that the currently available flu vaccines are not so good that we should be complacent enough to not fund better vaccines. But the report acknowledges that the vaccine does have a useful role in preventing serious disease.

5) Jeanne M. Lenzer, Journalist:

Drs English and Hewitt seem to misunderstand the article. They claim that I am guilty of the “perfect solution” fallacy regarding flu vaccination. I beg to differ. I cited data besides the CIDRAP report, specifically the Cochrane reviews, which reported lack of efficacy for flu vaccine in several populations.

Importantly, I pointed out that both CIDRAP and Cochrane did not find mortality benefit among the elderly, who account for over 90% of all flu deaths (most of the other deaths occur among those with multiple co-morbidities).

6) Sophie Meulemans, et al:

This kind of document shows clearly the urgent need of real comparative studies with real placebos. We must dare comparing what it is comparable: vaccinated with completely unvaccinated children, because it is the only method that is really a scientific one! We cannot accept any longer inconsistent pretexts claiming that it is impossible because it would be “unethical”. What is the most unethical of all is (to) carry on exposing various generations to insufficiently assessed (=experimental) products!!

The SaneVax Team would strongly encourage medical consumers and professionals alike to follow the ongoing vaccine debate personally. Examine both sides of the issue. Demand scientifically credible evidence of all claims and arguments presented. Your health and that of your family depends on it. Exercise your right to informed consent.


(1) – BMJ 2012;345:e7856

(2) – BMJ 2012;345:e7856


  1. Flu vaccines have NEVER been represented as 100% effective. The flu virus mutates constantly and every year’s vaccine is predictive, not definitive. From year to year, the effectiveness varies. Make your own decision about having at least some protection versus none.

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