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?”

Flu vaccine and coronavirus – more than ever, it can save your life

Flu vaccine and coronavirus

It’s flu season, but in this horrible year, we need to talk about the seasonal flu vaccine and coronavirus. Before we start, I am not claiming that the flu vaccine will prevent COVID-19, but it might save your life.

President Trump, who has all of the science knowledge of an amoeba, has been attempting to convince us that COVID-19 is nothing more than the flu, despite his just being in a hospital for treatment of COVID-19 and after over 210,000 dead Americans (as of 6 October 2020) because of this disease.

In fact, the flu kills a lot of people worldwide every single year, around 250,000 to 500,000, and the coronavirus, so far, is much worse with over 1 million deaths worldwide as of September 2020. In a normal year, influenza is a very dangerous disease, despite the claims of the anti-vaccine world. It could be much much worse when we get a double hit from the flu and the coronavirus.

Although there are all kinds of mixed messages and false claims about a “real soon now” potential coronavirus vaccine, we have to stop this pandemic with social distancing, face masks, hand-washing, and other efforts. And to reduce potential mortality from the coronavirus, we must get the flu vaccine. 
Continue reading “Flu vaccine and coronavirus – more than ever, it can save your life”

Immune system boosting myths – 15 bogus ways to avoid the flu vaccine

boosting immune system

I keep track of articles that claim that they have THE METHOD for immune system boosting. There are so many of them, but I find them all amusing and filled with pseudoscience.

Why do I do this? Outside of those individuals who have some chronic disease or chronic malnutrition who require special treatment, the only methods for immune system boosting are vaccines.  

Recently, I ran across a blog post on a woo-filled website called Nature Moms. As you can imagine, science isn’t exactly the standard of evidence. The post that caught my eye was entitled, “15 Ways to Boost Immunity and Keep Illness Away Without Vaccines.”

As you can imagine, out of the 15 ways, only 3 or 4 may be useful for immune system boosting. I know, you’re shocked.

OK, time to do what I do – debunk (or confirm) the 15 ways to boost immunity, so I’ll do that in order. Continue reading “Immune system boosting myths – 15 bogus ways to avoid the flu vaccine”

Grandparents’ vaccines – what’s recommended before they hold newborns

It’s that time of year when we should think about the grandparents’ vaccines before they meet and hold newborns. And also these vaccines protect them against their anti-vaccine relatives and friends!

In a recent press briefing, Dr. Anne Schuchat, the Principle Deputy Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, stated that “there are two vaccines grandparents need prior to contacting the newest family member.”  Those grandparent’s vaccines are for whooping cough (pertussis) and seasonal flu.

This article will review Dr. Schuchat’s recommendations for grandparents before they meet the new baby during this holiday season. And remember, these vaccines protect both your grandmother and your baby. Continue reading “Grandparents’ vaccines – what’s recommended before they hold newborns”

October 2019 ACIP meeting review – vaccine discussions, part 1

2019 ACIP meeting review

This article is my October 2019 ACIP meeting review. On October 23, 2019, I attended one out of two days of the meeting of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). 

Unfortunately, I could not stay both days, because I had to get back to teach on Thursday. But that one day was instructive. Like last time, this meeting was data-heavy and intensive, and the process was thorough.

While a number of anti-vaccine activists attended, there was no real indication that they followed the committee’s deliberations, tried to understand what was discussed, or learned from the information presented.

Their comments during and after the meeting did not contribute substantively to the discussion or offered anything that could lead to meaningful policy changes.

Because of the length of this review, it will be divided into two parts:

  • Part I describes the content of the meeting.
  • Part II addresses the public comments.

Continue reading “October 2019 ACIP meeting review – vaccine discussions, part 1”

Maternal flu vaccine – it protects the health of both mother and baby

maternal flu vaccine

I know that many people, even healthcare professionals, make lame excuses about a maternal flu vaccine. We have heard everything from “the vaccine gives me the flu” to “I never get the flu” to “the flu isn’t dangerous.” These anti-vaccine beliefs betray the overwhelming facts about the safety and effectiveness of the flu vaccine, especially for pregnant mothers.

A new study published in a real high-quality biomedical journal supports the claims that the maternal flu vaccine protects the health of the mother, the developing fetus, and the newborn child. Let’s take a look. Continue reading “Maternal flu vaccine – it protects the health of both mother and baby”

Flu treatments and supplements – do they work? No, get the vaccine

flu treatment

As we enter the 2019-20 flu season, some choose to receive the seasonal flu vaccine. Of course, some choose to rely upon unproven flu treatments, because they buy into the easily-debunked myths of the anti-vaccine world

Many of the good people who read this blog understand that the flu is a very dangerous disease. In the USA, the CDC estimates that the flu season every year results in 12 to 56 thousand deaths and 140 to 710 thousand hospitalizations. It is not a trivial disease that can be easily ignored. Let me be frank – your best, and really, the only choice to prevent the flu is getting the seasonal flu vaccine. And, it is the only method to boost your or your children’s immune system against the flu.

I’ve written previously about various supplements and treatments for the common cold, and they mostly don’t work. Or the evidence is so weak that it’s literally a waste of money to use them. Or they’re just useless.

These ineffective treatments exist for one reason – money. Cold and flu treatments are a significant part of the estimated global US$278 billion supplement and nutraceutical industry. And the industry is largely unregulated, so they can make unsupported claims about things like flu treatments, and people buy them based on the pseudoscience and false claims.

Although there’s some overlap between the common cold and flu treatments, there are a large number of flu treatments that get sold over the counter, although one class of drugs are sold by prescription. Are any of them effective? Let’s find out. Continue reading “Flu treatments and supplements – do they work? No, get the vaccine”

Flu vaccine facts – countering those anti-vaxxer myths and tropes

flu vaccine effects

It’s that time of year again, where we urge you to get the flu vaccination. And it’s time to provide you with the flu vaccine facts to debunk the anti-vaxxer fear, uncertainty, and doubt. Or we can just call them lies.

This article is not going to focus on every pseudoscientific anti-vaccine claim about the flu vaccine. It would take 10,000 words, and none of you, no matter how loyal you are to this old dinosaur, is going to read that many words. The goal of this post is to present flu vaccine facts for the biggest myths we read every year about the vaccine.

So, here we go. Continue reading “Flu vaccine facts – countering those anti-vaxxer myths and tropes”

Flu vaccine beliefs – the annual epic G-rated Mark Crislip rant

Since we’re entering the 2019-2020 flu season in the Northern Hemisphere, it’s time for the annual epic Mark Crislip rant about flu vaccine beliefs. For the past eight 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, 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 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 “Flu vaccine beliefs – the annual epic G-rated Mark Crislip rant”