The list of healthcare worker flu vaccine excuses – none are valid

healthcare worker flu vaccine

We’re entering the 2021-2022 flu season in the Northern Hemisphere, it’s time for the annual epic Mark Crislip rant about healthcare worker flu vaccine beliefs. For the past nine years at the start of the flu season, I reprint Dr. Mark Crislip‘s hysterical and outstanding rant about “slow-witted Equus africanus asinus” 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 brain.

Dr. Crislip’s humorous compilation of these flu vaccine myths, which were originally published in A Budget of Dumb Asses 2011, describes the different types of vaccine-refusing healthcare worker individuals. 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 true adherents to the flu vaccine beliefs 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.

These vaccine deniers believe that the flu vaccine is not necessary because the disease is not dangerous. Nothing could be further from the truth.

flu vaccine fallacies

During the 2018-19 flu season (the 2019-20 and 2020-21 flu seasons were skewed by the COVID-19 pandemic), 129 American children died of the flu. But, there’s more:

  • 37.4 – 42.9 million Americans contracted the flu
  • 17.3 – 20.1 million of those had a medical visit because of the flu
  • 531-647 thousand of those had to be hospitalized as an inpatient
  • Finally, 36,400 – 61,200 died
  • Worldwide, it is estimated that there will be approximately 290-650 thousand deaths. 

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 will have 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 beliefs 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 “The list of healthcare worker flu vaccine excuses – none are valid”

Debunking flu vaccine myths – it’s that time again

flu vaccine myths

As we enter the 2021-2022 flu season in the Northern Hemisphere, your best weapon to avoid the flu is to ignore the myths and get the seasonal flu vaccine. Despite the known overall safety and effectiveness of the flu vaccine, the anti-vaccination cult is pushing their ignorant nonsense all over social media, especially Facebook.

Despite all the good reasons to get the vaccine, the CDC estimated that the flu vaccine uptake in the USA in 2020-21 was around 59.0%. This is well below the 80-90% uptake required for herd immunity against the flu.

There are some concerns that because all the measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, that caused the 2020-21 flu season to be almost non-existent, may make the population even more susceptible to the flu during the 2021-22 season.

Thus, it may be more important this year than many others to get the flu vaccine. And for me to debunk the noxious flu vaccine myths.

Continue reading “Debunking flu vaccine myths – it’s that time again”

Flu vaccine unrelated to miscarriages – getting the facts right

flu vaccine miscarriages

A while ago, the Washington Post dropped this provocative headline, “Researchers find a hint of a link between flu vaccine and miscarriages.” Add this to the long list of anti-vaccine tropes, which include the HPV and COVID-19 vaccines, that somehow, in some magical way, these vaccines cause something bad to fertility or pregnancy.

Of course, a more thorough review of the research shows that the flu vaccine does not miscarriages. A careful reading of the Washington Post article shows that it is filled with nuance and hedging because the underlying published article does not actually provide robust evidence that any flu vaccine increases the risk of miscarriages.

The Washington Post made several points that are important to consider, and we’ll examine the underlying research in more depth. But the most important point they made is that,

The findings suggest an association, not a causal link, and the research is too weak and preliminary, experts said, to change the advice, which is based on a multitude of previous studies, that pregnant women should get a flu vaccine to protect them from influenza, a deadly disease that may cause serious birth defects and miscarriage.

I wonder how many anti-vaccine radicals will fail to make that point, instead, screaming that “vaccines are dangerous and the worthless flu vaccine causes miscarriages.”

Well, of course. Del Bigtree isn’t known for his scientific knowledge.

Well, we don’t cherry-pick our evidence here, so we’re going to look at the broad body of evidence with respect to the flu, flu vaccines, and pregnancy. Because that’s how we roll here. And because we think pregnant women deserve the best information possible to protect themselves and their developing babies. Because that’s also how we roll here.

Continue reading “Flu vaccine unrelated to miscarriages – getting the facts right”

COVID-19 pandemic flu season – very good news and some bad

COVID-19 pandemic flu season

The COVID-19 pandemic has been nothing but bad news, but the near disappearance of the 2020-21 flu season has given us one tiny bit of good news among a metric tonne of public health bad news.

Despite the weird and unfounded myths the COVID-19 deniers, the only reason why this flu season is so mild is because of the public health strategies to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.

That’s it – it’s nothing more dramatic than that. 

Continue reading “COVID-19 pandemic flu season – very good news and some bad”

Influenza activity and COVID-19 – not a conspiracy, and get the vaccine

COVID-19 influenza

With all of the bad news across the world regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, the one tiny bit of good news is the substantial drop in influenza incidence during the 2020-21 flu season. Despite the weird and unfounded myths from the anti-vaccine and COVID-19 denier crowds, there is no conspiracy that someone is hiding the flu numbers by boosting COVID-19 numbers. 

The only reason why the influenza incidence has dropped precipitously is because of the public health strategies to contain COVID-19. That’s it – nothing deeper than that. 

Continue reading “Influenza activity and COVID-19 – not a conspiracy, and get the vaccine”

Massachusetts influenza vaccine mandate withdrawn – an analysis

Massachusetts influenza vaccine mandate

This article about why Massachusetts withdrew its influenza vaccine mandate for children 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. She is also a member of the Vaccines Working Group on Ethics and Policy.

On August 19, 2020, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health announced that the influenza vaccine will be required from all children “6 months of age or older who are attending Massachusetts child care, pre-school, kindergarten, K-12, and colleges and universities.”

The requirement was only for children attending in-person (not online) education and had a deadline of December 31, 2020. A lawsuit was filed against the mandate, apparently, according to the anti-vaccine organization Informed Consent Action Network (ICAN), funded by that organization, and brought by the law firm they habitually employ, Siri & Glimstad LLP (In 2019, ICAN paid the law firm $1,263,432 for “legal services” out of over $3.4 million the organization took in as income, according to their 990 filings).

After the Massachusetts Department of Public Health pushed off that deadline to February, they decided to withdraw the influenza vaccine mandate on January 15, 2021.

The Public Health Department explains in a letter:

Preliminary data show that this has been a mild flu season to date, presumably as people have received their seasonal flu vaccine and have been adhering to mask-wearing and social distancing due to COVID-19. Given the intensive Commonwealth-wide efforts regarding COVID-19 vaccination, DPH wants to alleviate the burden to obtain flu vaccination and focus on continuing our COVID -19 vaccination efforts. DPH continues to strongly recommend that everyone age six months and older receive their seasonal flu vaccine each year.

ICAN is celebrating this as a victory of their lawsuit. We do not know which other considerations went into the decision, and the lawsuit may have had an effect, if only by adding to the already full plate of the department during a pandemic.

But the reality is that given the jurisprudence on vaccine mandates, and given the deference most courts show public health authorities during a pandemic, if there were good grounds to insist on the mandate, the department would likely have held its grounds. A number of other factors likely fed into the decision, including, as pointed out, a relatively mild flu season (in part thanks to public health measures against COVID-19), Massachusetts stated desire to bring children back to in-person education, which may have led the department to seek to remove barriers, and the need to focus on the COVID-19 vaccine effort.

Plus, it is mid-January. The benefit of being distracted by a fight over an influenza mandate this late is probably less than the harm to other important efforts.

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

flu vaccine and COVID-19

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”

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

flu vaccine deniers

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”

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

flu treatment

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”

Flu vaccine and COVID 19 – are they actually associated?

flu vaccine and COVID-19

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?”