To vaccinate, or not to vaccinate, that is the question….

July 30, 2015

Dave 07Flu season is coming up in a few months; governments are stockpiling vaccine, and many of us are deciding whether or not to get our flu shots.

Hamlet’s, “To be or not to be” is unquestionably a more portentous decision than whether or not to get a flu shot, but you wouldn’t always realize it judging from the ferociousness of the debate.

On one side are those who insist that vaccinations are useless and cause all manner of serious side effects; on the other side are those who believe that if your doctor, or better yet, the government, recommends vaccination, then it must be good. I’d like to suggest that both might be wrong, and right.

Let’s take the example of measles vaccinations. Data would seem to bear out that measles vaccinations over the decades have almost eradicated the disease, which is good. There may be cases where the measles vaccine causes problems – sometimes very serious – for some children, but on balance measles vaccinations have worked, and have clearly been a good thing.

On the other hand, studies show that while the flu vaccine may have some value for small segments of the population, on the whole it has a very limited effect. Every year, there are articles that bear this out.

Here’s how a Maclean’s article, April 9, 2014, starts out: “Tamiflu™ might be the most heavily scrutinized drug in the world and one that governments have poured some $9 billion globally to stockpile in case of a pandemic. However, authors of a new study, published in the British Medical Journal this week, suggest the influenza antiviral probably works no better than aspirin and possibly causes harm.” (Italics mine)

An Australian study found that researchers that were paid by pharmaceutical companies were more likely to recommend antiviral drugs for flu. Adam Dunn who was the lead author of one Australian study, and who is a health informatics expert at the University of New South Wales, said: “We found reviewers with ties to Pharma introduced bias, as we found a disconnect between what the results showed and what they went on to recommend.”

The study found that 80% of reviews written by researchers with financial ties to the drug companies were favourable towards the drugs, while 17% of independent reviews were positive.

So much for unbiased science!  Yet governments spend billions stockpiling flu vaccine and buying advertising advising you to get vaccinated, apparently for no better reason than tradition. A far better defence against the flu seems to be to eat healthy and keep your immune system strong.

Swine-Vaccination-WaitRay Moynihan, a senior research fellow at Bond University said: “It is clear we have likely been misled about the benefits and harms of these drugs because so much of the evidence is tainted by a pro-industry or pro-drug bias. What we have in medicine is unfortunately a lot of marketing disguised as science…”   (In another field, most of the climate change/global warming industry is driven by politics and ideology, disguised as science.)

As someone with a strong libertarian bias, I believe that the final decision of whether or not to vaccinate is up to the well informed individual, or the parents.

Scientists are humans, and almost every area of science is tainted by biases, so being well-informed is key. As you know, a number of us are working together on an online community called Let’s Do It Ourselves, or LDIO™. (Pronounced el-DEE-o)

Our purpose is twofold.

  1. To provide a community where individuals and organizations who believe in limited government can unite to push back against ballooning (and bungling) bureaucracies; and foster an ethos of self-reliance.
  2. To use social media as a tool to reach out to and inform those of all ages who rely on their smart device for information.

If you haven’t already done so, please join us. http://www.ldio.org/join-ldio/  By working together, our efforts become more cost effective. And by developing a well-informed citizenry, we can begin to see some much-needed cultural change.

Thanks for your support!

Dave Reesor

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