A natural experiment suggests that flu shots may offer big benefits for little kids. Back in 2006, US authorities recommended vaccinating healthy children two to five years old against the flu. In Canada, a similar recommendation was not made until 2010. Scientists have compared the rate of emergency treatment for influenza like illness in two pediatric hospitals from 2000 to 2009. The major difference between Boston and Quebec at that time was the national policy on influenza vaccination.
Statistical analysis showed that hospitalization for flu-like illness among youngsters two to four years old dropped by 34 percent in Boston after 2006 but did not change in Quebec. The benefits for older children were more modest, between 11 and 18 percent. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now recommend that everyone over six months old get a flu shot.

[Canadian Medical Association Journal, Sept. 20, 2011]

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  1. JB

    To access the full research from this article is very expensive, but I looked at the data and the abstract. I personally don’t think the article is very convincing, even as a “natural” experiment. It contains that ever elusive term now used by the CDC “flu like illnesses.” Anyone who follows flu tracking knows that true flu tracking was given up by the feds a year or two ago, and that in the states that still tracked, less then 20% of “flu-like illnesses” turned out to be the flu.
    Many other microbes cause the same symptoms, but aren’t the flu. Who’s to say that the other non-flu microbes causing the same symptoms were not widely circulating in Canada at the time, skewing the possible results? In some states during the H1N1 “big flu scare,” as little as 2% of flu like illnesses were found to be H1N1. Then we found out that the W.H.O.’s term “pandemic” had been changed not to reflect how severe the illness was, but to reflect the speed at which it could spread, and then found out that the people advising the W.H.O. about the flu needing a “pandemic” title were on the pharmaceutical payrolls of the companies that made the vaccines.
    Combine that with other research, for instance that which came out of Japan last year, showing D3 to be 8 times more effective in children than flu vaccination, along with news that some countries pulled children’s flu vaccinations for kids less then 5 years old from their programs due to high resulting seizure rates (Australia) and connecting it to increased rates of narcolepsy in children (northern/western Europe), and the recent finding out of University of Michigan & Duke indicating that despite 100% clinical flu exposure/infection rate in one trial only half the participants showed ANY classical symptoms of the flu (in other words, you can have the flu and never even know it) and one can see that one should not make a vaccination decision based on one headline or one report, especially one coming out of Harvard which has already run into trouble with some of its professors not disclosing their ties to pharmaceutical companies, a direct conflict of interest.
    And if that isn’t enough to prompt you to do your own research on flu vaccinations, how about the study that came out of Canada, itself, after the H1N1 debacle, which included 12/13 MILLION people in 3 different provinces showing that those vaccinated for the flu the previous year were TWICE as likely to get H1N1?
    Vaccines are not a one headline decision, even if you see it on the People’s Pharmacy.

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