[SaneVax: Every year people line up to take their annual flu shot. Others have to literally fight for their right to choose as the vaccine debate rages on. Have flu vaccines been over-rated at the expense of public health? Have people been taking an unnecessary risk of side effects in the name of public health for vaccines with questionable efficacy? Read the following article; do your research and decide for yourself.]
Scientists urge ministers: tell the truth on ‘over-hyped’ flu vaccine
By Jeremy Laurence, The Independent
The flu vaccine given to millions of people each year in Britain is “over-promoted” and “over-hyped” and the protection it offers against the seasonal illness has been exaggerated, scientists claim.
Flu causes thousands of deaths, mainly among the elderly, in the UK each year but the vaccine is of limited effectiveness, especially for older people. One expert told The Independent the Government should be held accountable for “wasting taxpayer’s money” on the annual £120m national vaccination campaign.
But scientists stressed it was still worth getting the jab as it is currently “the best we have”.
A report published by the Centre for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) at the University of Minnesota, US, says the misperception that existing flu vaccines are highly effective has become a barrier to developing new and better vaccines.
It also risks undermining public trust in mass immunisation campaigns if Governments fail to tell the truth about the vaccine.
Michael Osterholm, director of CIDRAP and professor of Environmental Health Sciences, said: “I have been a strong proponent of vaccination in general and flu vaccine in particular for many years. I still recommend its use as the best we have. But we have over-promoted this vaccine. For certain age groups in some years its effectiveness has been severely limited relative to what has been previously reported.”
The vaccine is offered free on the NHS to everyone in the UK over 65, to patients of all ages with chronic illnesses such as asthma, to pregnant women and front-line healthcare workers in what is an annual bonanza for drug companies.