by Sayer Ji
Last Wednesday the Colorado Board of Health approved a plan that would mandate 90 percent of workers in the health care setting receive flu shots, and would be phased in within 3 years.
While the decision sparked a major debate regarding civil rights at the state Capitol, little attention was paid to the question of whether flu shots are effective or not.
As it presently stands, it is not sound medical science, but primarily economic and political motivation which generates the immense pressure behind mass participation in the annual ritual of flu vaccination.
It is a heavily guarded secret within the medical establishment (especially within the corridors of the CDC) that the Cochrane Database Review, which is the gold standard within the evidence-based medical model for assessing the effectiveness of common medical interventions, does not lend unequivocal scientific support to the belief and/or propaganda that flu vaccines are safe and effective.
To the contrary, these authoritative reviews reveal there is a conspicuous absence of conclusive evidence as to the effectiveness of influenza vaccines in children under 2, healthy adults, the elderly, and healthcare workers who care for the elderly.
Below is the Cochrane Database Review on influenza vaccination for heatlhcare workers who work with the elderly which concluded: "[T]here is no evidence that vaccinating HCWs [healthcare workers] prevents influenza in elderly residents in LTCFs [long-term care facilities]."
Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2010(2):CD005187. Epub 2010 Feb 17. PMID: 20166073
Department of Medicine, University of Calgary, UCMC, #1707-1632 14th Avenue, Calgary, Alberta, Canada, T2M 1N7.
BACKGROUND: Healthcare workers' (HCWs) influenza rates are unknown, but may be similar to the general public and they may transmit influenza to patients.
OBJECTIVES: To identify studies of vaccinating HCWs and the incidence of influenza, its complications and influenza-like illness (ILI) in individuals>/= 60 in long-term care facilities (LTCFs).
SEARCH STRATEGY: We searched CENTRAL (The Cochrane Library 2009, issue 3), which contains the Cochrane Acute Respiratory Infections Group's Specialised Register, MEDLINE (1966 to 2009), EMBASE (1974 to 2009) and Biological Abstracts and Science Citation Index-Expanded.
SELECTION CRITERIA: Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) and non-RCTs of influenza vaccination of HCWs caring for individuals>/= 60 in LTCFs and the incidence of laboratory-proven influenza, its complications or ILI.
DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Two authors independently extracted data and assessed risk of bias.
MAIN RESULTS: We identified four cluster-RCTs (C-RCTs) (n = 7558) and one cohort (n = 12742) of influenza vaccination for HCWs caring for individuals>/= 60 in LTCFs. Pooled data from three C-RCTs showed no effect on specific outcomes: laboratory-proven influenza, pneumonia or deaths from pneumonia. For non-specific outcomes pooled data from three C-RCTs showed HCW vaccination reduced ILI; data from one C-RCT that HCW vaccination reduced GP consultations for ILI; and pooled data from three C-RCTs showed reduced all-cause mortality in individuals>/= 60.
AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS: No effect was shown for specific outcomes: laboratory-proven influenza, pneumonia and death from pneumonia. An effect was shown for the non-specific outcomes of ILI, GP consultations for ILI and all-cause mortality in individuals>/= 60. These non-specific outcomes are difficult to interpret because ILI includes many pathogens, and winter influenza contributes<10% to all-cause mortality in individuals>/= 60. The key interest is preventing laboratory-proven influenza in individuals>/= 60, pneumonia and deaths from pneumonia, and we cannot draw such conclusions.The identified studies are at high risk of bias.Some HCWs remain unvaccinated because they do not perceive risk, doubt vaccine efficacy and are concerned about side effects. This review did not find information on co-interventions with HCW vaccination: hand washing, face masks, early detection of laboratory-proven influenza, quarantine, avoiding admissions, anti-virals, and asking HCWs with ILI not to work. We conclude there is no evidence that vaccinating HCWs prevents influenza in elderly residents in LTCFs. High quality RCTs are required to avoid risks of bias in methodology and conduct, and to test these interventions in combination.
Another Cochrane Database Review on influenza vaccination for healthcare workers who work with the elderly performed in 2006 concluded: "[T]here is no credible evidence that vaccination of healthy people under the age of 60, who are HCWs [healthcare workers] caring for the elderly, affects influenza complications in those cared for."
Clearly there is something wrong here. The policy decisions being forced upon healthcare workers are not based upon unequivocal scientific backing. To learn more read: "The Shocking Lack of Evidence Supporting Flu Vaccines."