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Flu Shot Newsletter Responses

Following are responses received on the Flu Shot based Newsletter and the Dallas Morning News Blog.

Date: Monday, October 27, 2008

I read Steve Blow's article in the Sunday morning paper today about Howard Garrett and the flu shot and why he disagreed with his viewpoint.  His interview with an MD who was pro flu shot is basically the same opinion as most of the medical community's thoughts on vaccinations and immunizations, so no surprise there.  I personally was impressed that Howard Garrrett used his Newsletter to go out on a limb to speak for a growing number of people who are opposed to that particular vaccination, who also go to great lengths to prevent ourselves and our children from potentially harming themselves by vaccinations that can contain preservatives etc.

My husband's stepdad, who is a pediatrician and has a successful practice treating children on the autism spectrum, is vehemently opposed to the flu vaccine and promotes staggering all other children't immunizations.  He is one of the few MD's who doesn't tow the AMA line on that.  I think it is important for other viewpoints to be out there and considered.  After all, I think most people have to admit that the drug companies are a business, and when you can now get a flu shot at the gas station/mini mart, you have to wonder if getting immunized for the flu is foremost safe, but also effective.  So I say, power on Howard.  When things make sense, why not just say it, right?  Megan - Fort Worth

October 24, 2008
I read Steve Blow's article this morning and was so happy that you have brought forth this info on the flu shot! Steve will get many comments, I hope, supporting you and repeating what you have said!

The flu shot landed our little guy in the hospital for five days and in my opinion is dangerous and used to make money for big pharma. I hope that by your speaking out and educating others, some folks will research further before asking for this vaccine!  Staci - Dallas

Oct 24, 2008

I skipped the flu shot three years ago. That winter I came down with Dutch Elm disease!  Bill M.


Oct 26, 2008

Does Steve Blow realize that Howard writes a colum for the Dallas Morning News....and he is bashing a fellow columnist....... My father, is a medical doctor....does not recommend immunizations for babies due to the research on these immunizations. Many parents are opting NOT to have these early immunications. What do you think of that Steve Blow?  Heather, Plano

Oct 26, 2008

Mr. Blow-
If you are drinking the AMA cool aide concerning flu shots, you may soon hold a minority view. I have a ton of RESEARCH by CDC, various Medical journals, etc that outline the ineffectiveness of flu shots. It's a mixed bag right now but the recent studies are starting to convince people away from flu shots. If you want to see my research you will have to convince your paper to expand the amount of space we have in this blog.  Tony M.

October 26, 2008

Thanks for getting the word out about the flu vaccine.  Couldn't agree with you more.  I am so very tired of the propaganda from the CDC and big pharma. Collette, Frisco

October 26, 2008

I really enjoy learning about organic living and especially organic gardening from you.  I am a firm believer in doing things as naturally as possible.  However, I have noticed a disturbing trend in some of your publications.  A few years ago I read an article in the Dirt Doctor magazine about immunizations written by a chiropractor who only identified herself in the article as a doctor, which I understand that she is by virtue of a doctorate of chiropractic, just as a Phd or EdD is also a doctor.  In my profession, I am ethically required to clearly identify myself as an MD in all of my communications to avoid any confusion.  She never mentioned her credentials in the article, and I had to look all the way to the tagline at the end to discover what they were.  I am quite sure that was very misleading to most readers who assumed she was in the medical profession, whether it was intentional or not.  There was some good information in the article, but also some that was quite inaccurate and clearly inflammatory, playing on the fears of the readers.

This e-mail you sent out also contains some inaccuracies.  Not all flu shots contain thimerosal, besides that fact that rigorous testing has not shown any reactions or long-term effects of the minute amounts involved.  And if you had ever had the flu, you would know.  It is incapacitating for 3-5 days even for otherwise healthy individuals.  However, that is not the main reason we recommend immunization. 

People die from the flu and not uncommonly.  Watching babies die from a preventable illness is not fun.  If you are really against immunization, try travelling to countries where they are not routinely available and watch as babies and children die from other diseases that we have all but erradicated in this country.  There have been some major mistakes made in the development of vaccines with some tragic consequences, but the overall positive outcomes far outweigh the bad outcomes.

I am in total agreement with you that many people in this country take way too much medication.  For common colds or other minor illnesses, I wholeheartedly endorse vitamins, herbs, and other supplements, but realize that they also can have serious side effects. 

Don't forget that hemlock and digitalis are just as natural as anything you recommend.  However, I have had difficulty finding any rigorous studies that showed a clear benefit for vitamin C or Zinc or echinaccea in respiratory infections, so I'm uncertain what you mean when you say that the products you list have been "shown to help reduce the risk of illness".  If you can cite those sources, I would be very interested.

I'm glad that you have been successful at maintaining your good health, but keep in mind that not everyone has your genes or the same lifestyle that you do.  Making sweeping statements about what others should or shouldn't do, based on questionable information, might have detrimental effects on others health that you may not want to be responsible for. 

I apologize for those of my colleagues who treat these and other health topics and black-and-white issues and pretend to understand everything.  There is a strong trend in medicine toward having physicians function more as consultants to the patients, discussing the options and offering choices, and as healthcare coaches, and I hope to see that trend continue.

I'm sorry if I have ranted, but I am passionate about health.  W.L., MD

The New York Times had an article in the September 2, 2008 issue titled "Doubts Grow Over Flu Vaccine in Elderly," which says, "The influenza vaccine, which has been strongly recommended for people over 65 for more than four decades, is losing its reputation as an effective way to ward off the virus in the elderly. A growing number of immunologists and epidemiologists say the vaccine probably does not work very well for people over 70, the group that accounts for three-fourths of all flu deaths." The article refers to a study done by the Group Health Center for Health Studies in Seattle on 3,500 people, age 65–94, to determine if flu vaccines are effective in protecting older people against developing pneumonia (Lancet 2008;372:398–405).

The National Vital Statistics Reports compiled by the CDC show that only 1,138 deaths a year occur due to influenza alone (257 in 2001, 727 in 2002, 1,792 in 2003, 1,100 in 2004, and 1,812 in 2005). Bacterial pneumonia causes some 60,000 deaths each year, mainly in the winter, when surveillance data show increased prevalence of the flu virus. Using a mathematical (Poisson) regression model, officials estimate that the flu virus triggers some of the winter-time deaths from pneumonia, along with deaths in people with cardiovascular disease and other chronic illnesses. More than 34,000 of those "36,000" flu deaths are what officials estimate are "influenza-associated" pneumonic and cardiovascular deaths.

There is also a lack of evidence that young children benefit from flu shots. A systematic review of 51 studies involving 260,000 children age 6 to 23 months found no evidence that the flu vaccine is any more effective than a placebo (Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2006;1:CD004879).

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