From MedicalNewsToday comes the following misleading information on the dramatic benefits of flu vaccine for kids:
The UK is set to become the first country in the world to provide all children free of charge with a comprehensive flu vaccination program...
Once the program is up and running, it will cost the government over £100 million annually, and it will provide cover against flu to up to nine million children. Children will be vaccinated during a six to eight week period due to the nature of the flu season.
A moderate uptake in vaccinations would result in a reduction of around 40% in those affected, which would translate to at least 11,000 fewer hospitalizations in addition to saving around 2,000 lives...
The program will use a nasal spray vaccine with an excellent safety profile that has been available in the U.S. for approximately 10 years. Even though last year flu levels were low and healthy children are least likely to suffer complications if they acquire the flu, the fact that children have close contact with each other means that they represent a high risk in transmitting the virus on to other, more vulnerable people, such as babies and the elderly.
But where is the UK going to find the 2,000 people being saved? According to the UK National Health Service in 2004, only 22 deaths in UK children per year are due to flu.
If the vaccine saves 40% of them, as claimed, it would save 9 children's lives per year.
At 9 children saved per year, it would take 200 years of vaccinating every kid to save 2,000.
But perhaps vaccinating the children is supposed to be saving the elderly, instead. More child vaccinations may translate to fewer deaths in elders, so it has been postulated.
According to a 2010 NY Times article, only two studies (one from 1968) provide evidence that vaccinating children prevents flu in adults. I previously blogged about a study that showed no adult protection from vaccinating children.
The question of whether and how much child vaccinations help adults remains unanswered. The question of whether it is ethical to vaccinate children to protect an entirely different demographic group has not even been discussed. Have parents been told this is the driver for vaccinations?
Is the UK going to vaccinate 9 million children per year for over 100 million pounds annually to save 9 children, not 2,000?
And how many side effects and deaths might result from the flu vaccines, which are not fully tested in advance of use, to balance against the one-in-a-million children saved?
Or is the UK is going to vaccinate 9 million children per year for flu based on two small studies performed 40 years apart, claiming an adult benefit?
Or is the UK going to vaccinate 9 million children for 100 million pounds per year in order to transfer money from the public coffers to the pharmaceutical friends of politicians?
You make the call.