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 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”

Flu vaccine fallacies – the annual epic Mark Crislip rant

flu vaccine fallacies

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 fallacies. For the past eight years at the start of the flu season, I reprint Dr. Mark Crislip‘s hysterical and outstanding rant 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 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 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.

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 fallacies 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 fallacies – the annual epic Mark Crislip rant”

ACIP vaccine recommendations – updates for HPV, HepA, MenB, flu

vaccine recommendations

On 26-27 June 2019, the CDC’s Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices (ACIP) updated vaccine recommendations for several vaccines including the human papillomavirus (HPV), hepatitis A (HepA), and serogroup B meningococcal disease (MenB). These vaccine recommendations do not become official until they are published in the CDC’s peer-reviewed journal, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR)

This article will review the ACIP process and new recommendations. Continue reading “ACIP vaccine recommendations – updates for HPV, HepA, MenB, flu”

Flu vaccine lawsuit – a non-win, non-revelation regarding pregnant women

On 11 February 2019, Health Impact published an article about a flu vaccine lawsuit which an anti-vaccine group called the “Children’s Health Fund” described as a legal win and revelation. The claim was based on a response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request that did not, in fact, reveal any new information.

The flu vaccine lawsuit also did not counter the basis of expert agencies and organizations recommendations that pregnant women be vaccinated against influenza to protect themselves and their newborns. This article will review the facts of this action. Continue reading “Flu vaccine lawsuit – a non-win, non-revelation regarding pregnant women”

WHO’s top 10 public health threats – vaccine deniers included in the list

public health threats

The World Health Organization (WHO) recently published their top 10 world public health threats in 2019. It includes all of the public health threats that you can imagine, plus what they call “vaccine hesitancy,” or what I call the anti-vaccine religion’s ignorance, misinformation, and lies.

Yes, the anti-vaccine fiction and deception are one of the greatest dangers to the world’s public health. Their tropes, memes, and falsehoods are convincing enough people to delay or avoid vaccinating their children that diseases we thought weren’t a threat anymore are coming back. Europe and the USA are experiencing an unprecedented measles outbreak because of slightly lower measles immunization rates.

I want to review the WHO public health threats list because it’s interesting to those of us who fight the good fight for science. Of course, I’m going to focus on the vaccine deniers because that’s what we do here. Continue reading “WHO’s top 10 public health threats – vaccine deniers included in the list”

Repeated flu vaccination may better protect children – article review

repeated flu vaccination

A recent peer-reviewed article by Huong Q. McLean et al., published in JAMA Network Open, showed that repeat flu vaccination does not reduce the subsequent season’s flu vaccine effectiveness in children, ages 2-17 years. In fact, the study may show that children who received the flu vaccine in the prior flu season may benefit from the same vaccine in the current season.

This research may help settle a concern among vaccine experts that previous year’s flu vaccination may reduce current-season flu vaccine effectiveness. A 2017 study from Canada showed that if flu strains used in two vaccines are the same (or very similar), the second season’s flu vaccine effectiveness may be diminished.

This lowered effectiveness in subsequent years is described as the “antigenic distance hypothesis” (ADH). It describes the possibility that vaccine effectiveness of the current vaccine is lowered when the difference, or antigenic distance, between the current vaccine and prior year vaccine, is small, but the actual difference between the vaccine strains and wild circulating strains is large.

For example, the recent issues with the H3N2 influenza A outbreak, where the available flu vaccines had lower effectiveness against the H3N2 strain. The H3N2 portion of the 2017-18 flu vaccine was the same as in the 2013-14 vaccine, but it no longer matched with the H3N2 flu in circulation. The H3N2 variant had “drifted” genetically. Continue reading “Repeated flu vaccination may better protect children – article review”

Low adult flu vaccine coverage leads to most influenza deaths since 1970s

adult flu vaccine

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) just released reports that detailed adult flu vaccine coverage and the mortality rate from the flu virus. Neither is very reassuring.

According to the first report, only 37.1% of adults, 18 or older, received the adult flu vaccine during the 2017-18 flu season. This was a drop of 6.2 percentage points from the 2016-17, and it was the lowest vaccination rate for adults since 2010-11.

In another report about the 2017-18 flu season, the CDC determine that more people were killed by seasonal influenza since the CDC first started tracking flu mortality in 1976-77 – the data shows a scary indictment of flu vaccine refusal. The CDC reported that:

  • 49 million people contracted the flu, which is roughly equivalent to the combined population of Texas and Florida.
  • 960,000 people were hospitalized. That is more than the estimated 895,000 hospital beds currently available in the USA (and one of the major reasons why I believe any major outbreak of vaccine-preventable diseases could be a disaster).
  • 79,000 people died of the influenza virus. The previous high, over the past 40 years of analyses, was 51,000 deaths in 2014-15.

The 2017-18 flu season was particularly harsh because it dominated by a the H3N2 subtype of the influenza A virus. This subtype mutates more frequently than other subtypes, so the 2017-18 seasonal adult flu vaccine was somewhat less effective than in previous seasons.

Although the anti-vaccine tropes wanted us to believe that the vaccine was worthless, it actually was about 25% effective against the H3N2 variant, with a much higher effectiveness for children. This may have contributed to the drop in adult flu vaccine coverage last year, which probably contributed to the severity of last season’s flu burden.

We don’t know what the 2018-19 flu vaccine effectiveness is, but there is a concern about the current production methods for the H3N2 virus may need to be revised to substantially improve effectiveness. That being said, given the mortality rate of the flu, even a 25-30% effectiveness substantially reduces your risk of severe flu complications.

Here are a few points about the flu and adult flu vaccine that bear repeating:

  • If you are a healthcare worker and refuse the flu vaccine, you are an epic dumbass. Protecting patients from your infectious diseases is paramount, and pseudoscientific beliefs about medicines, like vaccines, are a good reason to find another career path.
  • If you think that the adult flu vaccine causes the flu, you’d be wrong.
  • If you think that the flu is a minor disease, maybe you should read this article again. Almost 1 million people were hospitalized in 2017-18, which means expensive hospital bills, lost work productivity, and other issues. And, 79,000 people died.
  • If you conflate a common cold with the flu, you need stop. Although they have some overlapping symptoms, colds rarely have serious complications, while the flu is much worse.
  • If you think that old people and babies are the only ones at risk from flu complications, you ignore the fact that nearly 1,000 people, 18-49, died of the flu last year. Yes, most of the deaths were among young children and seniors, but think of it another way – getting the flu vaccine may help reduce the risk of passing along the flu to grandma or your little niece.
  • If you believe in any of the other tropes and myths about the flu vaccine, stop now. They are all wrong.
  • If you believe you are allergic to eggs and can’t get the adult flu vaccine, that’s not true any more.
  • If you think that supplements will protect you against the flu, you’d be wrong.
  • If you believe that the adult flu vaccine is useless, once again, you’re reading garbage on the internet. The current flu vaccines protect against three or four strains of the flu. The trivalent vaccine protects against the H1N1 influenza A virus, H3N2, and one strain of influenza B. The quadrivalent version protects against those plus another strain of influenza B. The major issue with effectiveness is against only the H3N2 strain, and even there, the effectiveness exceeds 25%. Against all flu strains, the quadrivalent adult flu vaccine was around 40%. It’s not perfect, but only if you fall for the Nirvana fallacy does it mean it’s worthless.

Too many Americans refuse to get the adult flu vaccine out of ignorance, laziness, or some other nonsensical reason. But despite the irrational claims of too many vaccine deniers, the flu is a dangerous, deadly disease.

Get the flu vaccine.



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