Flu vaccine and COVID-19 infections – some evidence it might lower risk

flu vaccine and COVID-19
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Recently, I have been discussing the flu vaccine and COVID-19 infections. First, I debunked anti-vaccine myths. Second, I explained that the seasonal flu vaccine might be helpful in improving outcomes for patients who contract the coronavirus.

However, at that time, I wanted to make it clear that:

Once again, I am not making any claim that the seasonal flu vaccine will prevent a coronavirus infection. It’s just about comorbidities, that is, other health conditions that increase one’s risk for dangerous outcomes from the disease.

Because COVID-19 is a respiratory disease, anything that weakens the respiratory system could (and again, we don’t have solid information on the pathophysiology and comorbidities for the disease) lead to a worse course for the disease. And that would include a higher risk of mortality.

The flu vaccine can reduce the risk of one coronavirus comorbidity since the flu is a respiratory disease. So, the flu vaccine isn’t going to help reduce your risk of coronavirus infection, but it will reduce your risk of complications, including death, from COVID-19.

In addition, preventing the flu may help to reduce hospitalizations and ICU admissions, allowing for more capacity for patients who have contracted COVID-19.

But again, I assumed that the flu vaccine would have little effectiveness against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. This seemed biologically plausible because, as opposed to what Donald Trump claims, the flu virus and coronavirus are vastly different organisms. The two viruses are actually in two different phyla, meaning that the influenza virus and coronavirus are as closely related as a human is to a lobster. 

There appeared to be no scientifically supported reason to believe that the flu vaccine actually prevents COVID-19. However, there seems to be some intriguing, preliminary, and potentially convincing evidence that the flu vaccine may have some effect on the risk of COVID-19. Continue reading “Flu vaccine and COVID-19 infections – some evidence it might lower risk”


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University of California flu vaccine order – anti-vaxxers court challenge

University of California flu vaccine
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This article regarding the University of California flu vaccine executive order, and a subsequent anti-vaccine activist court challenge, was written by Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, Professor of Law at the University of California Hastings College of the Law (San Francisco, CA), who is a frequent contributor to this and many other blogs, providing in-depth, and intellectually stimulating, articles about vaccines, medical issues, social policy, and the law.

Professor Reiss writes extensively in law journals about the social and legal policies of vaccination. Additionally, Reiss is also a member of the Parent Advisory Board of Voices for Vaccines, a parent-led organization that supports and advocates for on-time vaccination and the reduction of vaccine-preventable disease.

An anti-vaccine organization brought a lawsuit against the University of California’s Executive Order “strongly recommending” flu vaccines for most students, faculty, and staff and mandating it for a specific sub-set. With one possible exception that I am less familiar with, but that the University responded strongly to, the complaint’s claims are unfounded and should be dismissed. Continue reading “University of California flu vaccine order – anti-vaxxers court challenge”


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Flu vaccine deniers – the annual epic rant from Dr. Mark Crislip

flu vaccine deniers
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Since we’re entering the 2020-21 flu season, it’s time for the annual epic rant from Dr. Mark Crislip about flu vaccine deniers. No, Dr. Crislip does not write a new one each year, I just republish it every year, because it still makes me laugh. And each year I know there is someone out there who will also love re-reading it for fun. Or maybe it’s your first time.

This diatribe is about “Dumb Ass” healthcare workers who invent flu vaccine fallacies, tropes, and myths in an effort to justify their belief that the flu vaccine is dangerous, useless, or whatever else that hits their science-denying brain.

Dr. Crislip’s humorous compilation of these flu vaccine myths, which were originally published in A Budget of Dumb Asses, describes the different types of flu vaccine deniers among healthcare worker Dumb Asses.

Any nurse, pharmacist, therapist, physician, or surgeon that are flu vaccine deniers by using pseudoscientific nonsense about the vaccine rather than protecting their patients and themselves is appalling. 

Of course, flu vaccine deniers aren’t just healthcare workers. I’m sure you know neighbors, friends, family, and even fellow vaccine supporters who are flu vaccine deniers. And they rely on the same ridiculous myths as healthcare workers.

These flu vaccine deniers believe that the flu vaccine is not necessary because the disease is not dangerous. Nothing could be further from the truth, especially in the world of COVID-19, where the flu vaccine may actually provide benefits to those who contract the coronavirus.

 

During the 2019-2020 flu season, 194 American children died of the flu. But, there’s more:

  • 39 – 56 million Americans contracted the flu
  • 18 – 26 million of those had a medical visit because of the flu
  • 410 – 740 thousand of those had to be hospitalized as an inpatient
  • Finally, 24,000 – 62,000 died
  • Worldwide, it is estimated that there will be approximately 290-650 thousand deaths. 

We are getting started with this new flu season, hopefully by wearing masks and social distancing, which along with the flu vaccine might make this an “easy” year for the flu. Except, you know what’s going on with the world and masks.

If you think you can prevent or cure the flu with vitamin C, echinacea, or bone broth (yes, it’s a thing), they don’t work. You are not going to be able to boost your immune system to destroy the flu virus unless you get vaccinated.

We’ve dispensed with many of the cherished flu vaccine fallacies of the anti-vaccine religion. Moreover, many studies have shown that getting the flu vaccine can improve health outcomes.

Too many people, including healthcare workers, are flu vaccine deniers. 

Continue reading “Flu vaccine deniers – the annual epic rant from Dr. Mark Crislip”


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Flu treatment quackery – it is all woo, so get your influenza vaccine

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It’s that time of year when we are bombarded by flu treatment quackery from “immune-boosting” miracle supplements to junk that “cures” every single virus known to medical science. During this world of the coronavirus pandemic, it seems to be even louder

This article will attempt to debunk the myths of flu treatments such as “boosting the immune system,” magical supplements, and other nonsense involved with the world of flu treatment pseudoscience.

The one way to prevent the flu, other than hiding in a bubble during the winter (which may be a good thing with the COVID-19 pandemic), is the seasonal flu vaccine. But that’s not a treatment, it prevents the flu.

Continue reading “Flu treatment quackery – it is all woo, so get your influenza vaccine”


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Flu vaccine and COVID 19 – are they actually associated?

flu vaccine and COVID-19
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If you’ve been watching recent claims of the anti-vaccine world, you may have noticed a belief that the flu vaccine and COVID-19 are related. This new trope is based on a recent article that is making the rounds with both COVID-19 and flu vaccine deniers (a special subset of anti-vaxxers).

Let’s see if this paper about an association between the flu vaccine and COVID-19 mortality has any merit. To save you some reading time, it has none, except to give me something to write about. Continue reading “Flu vaccine and COVID 19 – are they actually associated?”


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Correlation and causation between vaccines and adverse effects

correlation and causation
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Correlation and causation are topics that have become a part of the anti-vaxxer claims regarding the links between vaccines and adverse effects. I hear both terms thrown out so frequently, it’s hard to determine what is what.

How many times have you heard tiresome tropes about the HPV vaccine causing this or that? No matter how many times we debunk the nonsense,  it persists.

Correlation is a statistical technique that tells us how strongly the pair of variables are linearly related and change together. It does not tell us why and how behind the relationship but it just says a relationship may exist. 

Causation takes a step further, statistically and scientifically, beyond correlation. It is any change in the value of one variable that will cause a change in the value of another variable. It is often referred to as cause and effect.

But there are ways to establish causation from correlation. But it must happen with a logical process that does not resort to special pleading and pseudoscience

For example, biological plausibility is one of the requirements to establish that correlation means causation. It is almost an essential requirement for one to claim a causal association. But biological plausibility must be consistent with our existing knowledge of biology, chemistry, physics, and medicine.

How many times has an anti-vaccine zealot tried to convince us that “mercury in vaccines causes autism” but ignores the basic scientific tenets of numerous fields of biomedicine like biochemistry, cell biology, toxicology, immunology, neurology – well, just about every field?

Or someone who claims that acupuncture treats a bunch of diseases, yet we cannot find any reasonable biological plausibility between sticking a needle in the arm to treating some medical condition like pain. They tend to ignore the need for biological plausibility by using their own personal anecdote as “proof.”

That’s why science is much harder than pseudoscience. Establishing correlation and causation requires a strong knowledge of a scientific or medical specialty to make the case. It’s much more than simply stating that plausibility does exist, you have to use actual real science, published in real scientific journals, to make the case.

So let’s talk a little bit about correlation and causality. Continue reading “Correlation and causation between vaccines and adverse effects”


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COVID-19 herd immunity without vaccines? That will lead to genocide

COVID-19 herd immunity
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Yesterday, I spent a bit of your time writing about the Great Barrington Declaration which strives to create COVID-19 herd immunity, without a vaccine,  by opening up the economy and allowing people to get infected. It was based on pseudoscience and callous disregard for the health of people across the world. Numerous other scientists showed their disdain for it like David Gorski and a friendly microbiologist

I was going to move on to other things to discuss when it became clear that Donald Trump supports this pseudoscientific nonsense. Of course, Trump has promoted all kinds of equine feces about the coronavirus from pushing hydroxychloroquine to trying to take shortcuts in producing a vaccine

Then it became clearer to me that trying to create COVID-19 herd immunity without a vaccine was worse than I thought. Maybe I’m buying into hyperbole, but I don’t think so. Let’s get into it.

Continue reading “COVID-19 herd immunity without vaccines? That will lead to genocide”


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Project Steve – the petition about science that actually supports science

Project Steve
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Some of you know about Project Steve. Most probably don’t. So what is Project Steve?

Well, it is a tongue-in-cheek, sarcastic, humorous parody of the various declarations, petitions, and proclamations that science deniers use to “prove” there is a controversy about science, usually climate change, HIV/AIDS, evolution, and most recently, COVID-19.

One of the most famous is the Scientific Dissent from Darwinism (SDD), set up by the Seattle based, intelligent design think-tank (yes, you probably see all the irony). One more thing – Darwinism is one of those creationist code words that doesn’t mean what they think it means.

Although Charles Darwin was one of the first scientists to recognize evolution and natural selection, that was over 150 years ago. We know so much more about evolution today including the existence of DNA, genes, mutations, and so much more. Modern evolutionary biology has its roots in Darwin, but it has “evolved” far beyond what Darwin understood.

Continue reading “Project Steve – the petition about science that actually supports science”


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COVID-19 deniers and a declaration rejecting science – I’ve seen this before

COVID-19 deniers
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COVID-19 deniers are a new species of science denialists that have arisen since our planet was hit with this pandemic. You know the type – masks are evil, closing restaurants will cause the end of humanity, COVID-19 is a plot by liberals, blah blah blah. They have nothing but conspiracy theories and pseudoscience.

These people really aren’t much different than climate change, vaccine, evolution, and HIV/AIDS deniers who reject science for their own beliefs. The problem with them is that they make it appear that there is some sort of debate when there isn’t. And they’re dangerous to the public health.

But it gets worse. Recently, COVID-19 deniers have signed onto the Great Barrington Declaration, a pretentious sounding “petition” that tries to make it seem like there is a massive number of scientists who dispute some or all of the science about this pandemic. 

Those of us who have been fighting the good fight with scientific skepticism have seen this type of thing many times before. Basically, just change the names and the denialism – the Great Barrington Declaration sounds like the same science denialism we’ve all seen before.

Let’s take a look back into history, so take a seat, get some popcorn, and let’s have some fun. Continue reading “COVID-19 deniers and a declaration rejecting science – I’ve seen this before”


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HPV vaccine myths and tropes – all the debunkings and refutations

HPV vaccine myths
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Recently, I wrote about the overwhelming evidence regarding Gardasil’s safety and effectiveness. Unfortunately, that will never stop the HPV vaccine myths from becoming a thing.

I’ve ripped through the nearly 200 articles on the HPV vaccine I have written to put together some of the best debunkings and refutations of HPV vaccine myths and tropes pushed by our anti-vaccine friends. 

So here we go. Continue reading “HPV vaccine myths and tropes – all the debunkings and refutations”


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