Opinion Column

Government pushes fear, flu shots

Bill Tieleman

By Bill Tieleman, News, Views, and Attitude – 24 hours

The Interlake-Eastern Regional Health Authority is offering free flu clinics. (Postmedia Network)

The Interlake-Eastern Regional Health Authority is offering free flu clinics. (Postmedia Network)

"Scaring people justifies evidence-free policies." - Dr. Tom Jefferson, Cochrane Respiratory Infections Group, on overstating flu deaths

As British Columbians are encouraged, pushed and sometimes threatened in order to get a flu shot, there are increasing questions about its effectiveness and whether the vaccine is necessary – or if flu deaths are as bad as claimed.

However, these uncomfortable truths are barely being heard amidst the overwhelming and persistent health establishment claims that the flu shot is needed and effective at saving lives.

“Between 4,000 and 8,000 Canadians can die of influenza and its complications annually, depending on the severity of the season,” Immunize Canada says on its website. It’s a coalition of pharmaceutical companies that produce vaccines.

And federal Health Minister Rona Ambrose said in a Nov. 7 news release that the flu is “associated” with 3,500 deaths in Canada annually on average.

But is all this even true? Consider these important and contrary facts that are not well reported.

A U.S. National Vital Statistics study found that in 2010 just 500 people’s deaths could be directly attributed to the flu.

Meanwhile, a new study published in November by The Journal of Infectious Diseases found that flu shots provided only “moderate” protection rates of 49% in the 2012-13 flu season.

And another University of Minnesota study – with an admittedly small sample – says the overall effectiveness of flu shots in 2012-13 was found to be just 32% - a far cry from the still modest 59% rate claimed last year in Canada.

Yet as of Dec. 1, all front-line health-care workers in B.C. – and visitors – are forced to either get a flu shot or wear a mask in hospitals, care homes and other facilities. B.C. is the only province to demand such a choice, but others are eager to follow.

But flu shot effectiveness is so low that the odds are 50-50 your doctor, nurse, care aide, cleaner or visitor who got the flu shot is still vulnerable to the illness. And that creates a false sense of security.

The flu can indeed be deadly for the vulnerable – and prevention may be the best course for some.

But if you are thinking of getting a flu shot, get all the facts first.

Bill Tieleman is a former NDP strategist. Read more at http://billtieleman.blogspot.com/ Email: weststar@telus.net Twitter: @BillTieleman. 

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