Flu vaccine myths – an epic rant about dumb asses from Mark Crislip

flu vaccine myths

We’re coming upon the 2018-2019 flu season in the Northern Hemisphere. And every flu season, for the past seven years, I reprint Dr. Mark Crislip‘s epic rant about Dumb Ass healthcare workers who invent flu vaccine myths in an effort refuse to receive the flu vaccine.

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 vaccine-refusing healthcare worker Dumb Asses. I resurrect this list every year at the beginning of the flu season not only for humor (because it is funny) but also to point the finger at flu vaccine deniers who also happen to be healthcare workers.

Any nurse, pharmacist, therapist, physician, or surgeon that refuses the flu vaccine by relying upon pseudoscientific nonsense about the vaccine rather than protecting their patients and themselves is appalling. I may be harsh, but maybe their employment ought to be terminated for their lack of concern about patients.

But the flu vaccine myths true believers aren’t just healthcare workers. You know neighbors, friends, family, and even fellow vaccine supporters who refuse to get the flu vaccine. And they rely on the same ridiculous myths as healthcare workers. And everyone forgets that the flu is a dangerous disease – 172 children died of the flu during the 2017-18 flu season.

The flu season is just starting, and it’s almost impossible to not find a place to get the vaccine. Your family doctor, clinics, pharmacies, and many other places currently have the flu vaccine. And I am not a hypocrite – I get my flu vaccination next week. Of course, my healthcare insurance provides them out for free to all members.

And 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 myths of the anti-vaccine religion. Moreover, many studies have shown that getting the flu vaccine can improve health outcomes. But too many people refuse this life-saving vaccine.

Continue reading “Flu vaccine myths – an epic rant about dumb asses from Mark Crislip”

Flu vaccine for nursing mothers – don’t worry moms, it is safe and effective

flu vaccine for nursing mothers

For my loyal readers (and a whole bunch of disloyal ones), my support of the flu vaccine is pretty obvious. It may not be perfect, but it is incredibly safe, and it protects against a dangerous, and often underrated, disease. According to a newly published article, we have evidence that the flu vaccine for nursing mothers is safe and effective.   Continue reading “Flu vaccine for nursing mothers – don’t worry moms, it is safe and effective”

Jen Glantz, you really should apologize for your flu vaccine refusal

flu vaccine refusal

Pointing out anti-vaccine ignorance is nearly my full-time hobby on this website. Sometimes I read stuff that makes me laugh or shrug, sometimes I have to take it on. And today, I’m going to take on anti-vaccine ignorance by someone who really should apologize for her flu vaccine refusal.

In an article, “I Refuse to Get a Flu Shot, and I Won’t Apologize For It,”Jen Glantz author, who is a self-proclaimed “professional bridesmaid,” wants to believe that she’s smarter than immunologists, public health specialists at the CDC, physicians who have spent 8 years in school and another bunch of years  training to practice medicine, and real scientists. With typical arrogance and ignorance of the anti-vaccine religion, she pontificates on issues that betray her lack of serious education in any biomedical science.

Look, I don’t think credentials matter. I don’t care if Glantz is a high school dropout or has a Ph.D. in immunology. The only thing that matters is evidence, and Glantz conveniently ignores the vast wealth of evidence supporting the safety and effectiveness of the flu vaccine to inform her readers of her irresponsible decision.

Why should I care about Glantz’s flu vaccine refusal? Because I’m the cantankerous feathered dinosaur, and I do not appreciate anti-vaccine cluelessness. And besides, Glantz should go back to doing what she does best – being a bridesmaid. Because she is utterly oblivious to any scientific facts about the flu vaccine. I guess her white privilege, that somehow she is superior to the rest of us who understand public health and the real science behind vaccines, allows her the arrogance of her flu vaccine refusal. Continue reading “Jen Glantz, you really should apologize for your flu vaccine refusal”

Healthcare worker flu vaccination – examining lawsuits about the vaccine

flu vaccination

On March 6, 2018, the Department of Justice filed a lawsuit in a federal district court against Ozaukee County, Wisconsin. The Department was suing on behalf of Barnell Williams, a certified nursing assistant in Lasata Care Center, a nursing home, who was claiming emotional distress from being forced to get a flu vaccination for work when getting one contradicted her religious beliefs.

This is not the first lawsuit brought under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 on the issue of the flu vaccination for healthcare workers, the claims are not new, and the lawsuit seems well founded. I was not going to write about it because there really is nothing new there, but following several news articles on the topic (here and here), people had questions about it, so this is a short post addressing legal issues surrounding flu vaccination.

This article will list a few key points that are important considerations Continue reading “Healthcare worker flu vaccination – examining lawsuits about the vaccine”

Boosting the immune system – that’s what vaccines do

immune system

Immune system myths are one of the common claims of the junk medicine crowd, especially the anti-vaccine activists. The pseudoscience of the immune system is pernicious and possibly dangerous.

It’s frustrating that the pseudoscience from the junk medicine crowd claims that this supplement or that food is critical to boosting the immune system – hang out for a day on Facebook, and you’ll probably see way too many memes saying that all you have to do to boost your immune system is eat a blueberry kale smoothie. I still see that dumb banana claim that it cures cancer.

The problem with these immune system myths is that they overlook or ignore a basic physiological fact – the immune system is a complex interconnected network of organs, cells, and molecules that prevent invasion of the body by hundreds of thousands, if not millions of pathogens and other antigens every single day.

And no matter how much individuals try to trivialize the complexity of the immune system, it does not make it so. One can claim all day long that downing a few tablets of echinacea will boost the immune system to prevent colds (it doesn’t), it doesn’t make it scientifically accurate. Nor does it create an accurate description of the immune system.

Continue reading “Boosting the immune system – that’s what vaccines do”

Flu death toll – 4000 Americans last week, more reasons for flu vaccine

flu death toll

I’ll keep this short and sweet, something rare on this blog. During the week ending 3 February 2018, the CDC reported that there were over 4000 flu deaths in the USA (see Note 1).  Yes, you read that right, the US flu death toll was over 4000, many of which might have been prevented by the flu vaccine.

According to the CDC, 10.1% of 40,414 deaths reported in the USA during that week were attributed to the flu or side effects of that flu. And the news will get worse over the next few weeks. The flu death toll is expected to grow even more because flu activity is still rising, and deaths usually follow flu activity.

Furthermore, hospitalization rates as a result of the flu are high, an indicator of potential mortality. So far this flu season, total hospitalization numbers are nearly equal to what we see for a full flu season, not half-way like we with the current flu outbreak. Continue reading “Flu death toll – 4000 Americans last week, more reasons for flu vaccine”

Why is the 2017-18 flu season is looking bad? Plenty of things to blame

2017-18 flu season

We have just passed the halfway point of the 2017-18 flu season, and if you are watching the news, you could get the impression that things are pretty bad. CDC reports that for this week, the cumulative hospitalization rate was 51.4 per 100,000, which is higher than the 43.5 per 100,000 reported at this same week during the 2014-2015 season. If that trend continues through the season, the number of influenza hospitalizations may exceed 710,000.

Furthermore, the CDC provided evidence of how bad this flu season actually is:

Last week, the number of people even in the clinic that had influenza-like illness was 6.6%. This week it is 7.1%. We’ve had two seasons in the last 15 years that were higher than that. The first was the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, which peaked at 7.8% and the 2003-2004 season, which was a high severity H3N2 season, which peaked at 7.6%.

Furthermore, at least 53 children, under the age of 18, have died of influenza or complications of the virus. And because reporting lags by a few weeks, the numbers are undoubtedly going to be higher. These are all families that have to deal with a tragic loss of a child from a disease that many anti-vaccine people classify as “not dangerous.”

Because there is a lot of myths and tropes out there about the 2017-18 flu season, I thought I would list out some of the reasons why it’s so bad – but it’s mostly your fault.  Continue reading “Why is the 2017-18 flu season is looking bad? Plenty of things to blame”

2017 flu vaccine effectiveness – getting the facts straight

2017 flu vaccine effectiveness

The upcoming flu season may be a rough one. A strain of the influenza A, H3N2, is showing up in small clusters of outbreaks throughout the USA. Unfortunately, the 2017 flu vaccine effectiveness against the H3N2 may be lower than expected.

We will get into the details further in this post, but I do not want to bury the headline. This does not mean the 2017-18 flu vaccine is ineffective – the quadrivalent 2017 flu vaccine effectiveness against three of four flu strains is still fairly high. The flu vaccine is extremely important in stop lots of flu strains, and just because it may have an issue with one of the four strains, does not imply that it is useless.

Let me repeat that, just in case someone misses the point – only one of the four strains of flu in the 2017-18 vaccine may have lower effectiveness. The vaccine remains highly effective against the other four strains. Continue reading “2017 flu vaccine effectiveness – getting the facts straight”

Flu vaccine research and development – eggs cause low effectiveness

Flu vaccine research

From year to year, there are variations in the effectiveness of the flu vaccine, although getting the flu vaccine is infinitely better than contracting the flu and risking some of the major complications of the disease. A peer-reviewed paper has just been published that examines flu vaccine research and development impact on flu vaccine effectiveness. Interestingly, the study authors may have identified the most important reason for the variable effectiveness – because the virus is grown in chicken eggs.

I think it’s important that vaccine manufacturers start to examine methods on how to improve effectiveness, since the flu, despite the claims of the antivaccine world, is a serious and dangerous diseases. And some strains of flu, like the H1N1 can be harmful to young healthy adults.

There are a lot of reasons why the flu vaccine research and development gives us a final product that varies in effectiveness from year to year, and we are going to look into some of them. Continue reading “Flu vaccine research and development – eggs cause low effectiveness”

Influenza kills – the flu vaccine saves lives, it’s fairly simple

influenza kills

During the 2016-17 flu season, over 100 children died from the virus. Yet, only 60% of children were vaccinated, despite the fact influenza kills.

Not only do children die of the flu, but between 12,000 – 56,000 adults die every year from the flu in the USA. Some of those people are healthy young adults. In some years, the flu kills more people than many other things that we consider dangerous, like firearms and cars.

It’s difficult to understand why parents seem to ignore the flu vaccine for themselves or for their children. Many people just don’t think the flu is that dangerous. Or they think the vaccine doesn’t work. Or they believe in some other myth that simply isn’t true.

Whatever the reason for avoiding the vaccine for children or adults, it’s important that people know what the flu can do, even for a healthy child or adult. It’s not a disease you can ignore, despite the claims of the anti-vaccine corps. And the flu cannot be treated or prevented by supplements or vitaminsContinue reading “Influenza kills – the flu vaccine saves lives, it’s fairly simple”