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Flu "Epidemic": The Numbers Just Don't Add Up
Posted: January 15, 2013
Should the government be recommending mercury-containing flu shots to everyone, especially if they a...
Should the government be recommending mercury-containing flu shots to everyone, especially if they are useless for 97.5% of adults?
One prominent media outlet says, "Influenza has reached epidemic proportions in the United States, with 7.3 percent of deaths last week caused by pneumonia and the flu," according to the CDC. Another's report, released the same day, says that "despite all those news reports about overcrowded emergency rooms, it's too soon to say whether it will be worse than normal" and quoted the CDC as saying that the number of states reporting "high" levels of flu activity has actually dropped from 29 to 24. A third wonders why fewer than 65% of Americans got a flu shot this year, while a fourth notes that the flu vaccine is only about 62% effective, meaning that over a third of the people who do get flu shots still get the flu.
But that 62% figure is misleading. There are currently three different "epidemics" hitting the US: "true" influenza (type A, type B, or seasonal H1N1 influenza), norovirus ("stomach flu"), and whooping cough. According to a meta-analysis published in the weekly peer-reviewed medical journal The Lancet, the flu vaccine is only 62% effective in preventing type A or B influenza or seasonal influenza A (H1N1). It doesn't protect at all against norovirus and whooping cough. In other words, only 2.7% of all adults get type A or B or H1N1 influenza, and of them, the vaccine will fail 38% of the time, which means it really benefits only about 1.8% of the population.
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