Controversial Findings About Flu Vaccines for the Elderly

A yearly flu vaccine has not been proven to prevent flu-related deaths in people over the age of 65, according to a review in the Lancet medical journal.

Nonetheless, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the flu shot for this purpose, citing research about the 36,000 yearly deaths and 200,000 annual hospitalizations for flu-related illness in the United States.

No studies have conclusively proven that flu shots prevent flu-related deaths among the elderly, according to the review, and some of the support for this practice is based on flawed data.

While some studies have shown a benefit for flu shots in younger adults, only a small number of trials included people over the age of 70 -- even though about 75 percent of flu-related deaths occur among that age group.

There is also evidence, according to the researchers, that the flu vaccines are less effective in older people because the elderly have lower immune activity.

Flu shots do not always prevent infection with the flu, though they can make the illness less serious.

The Lancet Infectious Diseases October 2007, Volume 7, Issue 10, Pages 658-666

Medical News Today September 25, 2007

Reuters September 24, 2007

Dr. Mercola's Comments:
This is the time of year when campaigns begin all over the United States -- at your doctor’s office, your pharmacy, and even at your grocery store -- urging you to get a flu vaccine.

Hopefully I am teaching you and providing you with enough data and scientific support so that you will not fall for all of the hype.

As this review has found -- flu shots are not even proven to reduce flu-related deaths in the elderly (one of the key groups for which they’re recommended).

What, then, is the point?

The point, as with so many other drugs and vaccines, is to pad the pockets of the pharmaceutical companies who manufacture these worthless shots, and indirectly benefit the governmental agencies and personnel to whom they pay loads of money in the form of “lobbying” and “consulting fees.”

You may also be surprised to learn that nearly three years ago, a similar study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that flu shots prevent far fewer deaths in the elderly than previously thought.

That report highlighted that although immunization rates in the elderly (people over 65) increased 50 percent in the past 20 years, there has not been a consequent decline in flu-related deaths.

This certainly begs the question, if this finding came out years ago, why has nothing been done in the meantime to change the recommendation?

And, though the current review  provides excellent documentation as to the inadequacies of the flu vaccine, a very disconcerting statement was made by CDC flu expert Dr. Joe Bresee in the Reuters article above.

He said the CDC is considering other measures to tame the flu, including “the widespread vaccination of schoolchildren.” The rationale behind this is to stop the flu in children who “are a big part of community transmission.”

Why I Don’t Recommend Flu Shots

For most people, a flu shot does not prevent illness, but actually does the polar opposite -- it weakens your immune system and makes you more predisposed to the illness.

You may have been fooled into believing the only way to prevent death from the flu is to get a dose of the vaccine, however there are many natural ways to prevent the flu.

I speak from experience, because I have never received a flu shot and haven’t missed a day of work due to illness in over 20 years. If you, too, want to avoid the flu this year (and thereafter), here are the top steps to take:
The bottom line is to lead a healthy lifestyle, and you will likely not have to worry about coming down with the flu ever again.
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