My Thoughts On: The Flumist Controversy and Why It Matters

I thought it was highly interesting that the Flumist was pulled for this flu season because it's not effective. These decisions always stand out to me (as it should for anyone) because we've been told forever that Flumist is just as effective as the flu shot. does it magically go from "just as effective" to "not-effective-at-all-and-it-hasn't-been-effective-for-three-seasons-now?" Inquiring minds want to know!

I thought this article was very interesting and wanted to share a few things that stood out to me.
Now, findings from a Canadian study appear at first blush to contradict the research that led the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices to recommend against that live attenuated vaccine.

Hmm, so right off the bat we can see that even pro-vaxxers (and experts in their field nontheless)  cannot agree on whether or not Flumist is effective. Some research shows it's ineffective, some shows that it is still effective. If you read the whole article you can see that they compare data from several studies and they just aren't sure.

The very next paragraph, emphasis mine:
But things aren't so simple. In fact, the conflicting evidence about the live nasal flu vaccine offers an excellent case study on how complex the task of analyzing flu vaccine data and making recommendations really is.

Complex you say? But I thought the science behind vaccines was rock-solid and iron-clad. That's why people aren't allowed to question them and why our country is pushing full-force to make vaccines mandatory. Huh.
"Sometimes the public wants a very simple message, and unfortunately life's not like that," Mark Loeb, the new study's lead author and director of the division of infectious diseases at McMaster University in Ontario, tells Shots. "Things change as the evidence grows and we understand more. Unfortunately, that's how science and clinical medicine work. The challenge is to be able to help the public understand the shades of gray here."

"The PUBLIC wants a very simple message"??? What? No, I'm sorry, sir, you've misunderstood. The public wants the truth - even if they don't know it. It's the pharmaceutical companies that want to oversimplify these things so they can force us into compliance. Helping the public "understand the shades of gray" wouldn't be that hard. Some of us have figured it out even though we have vast amounts of propaganda and ridicule and misinformation to slog through. The problem is that Big Pharma does NOT want people to understand or recognize that there are any shades of gray. They want it black and white because that's what garners them the most money. Period.

You can't make sweeping judgments on people based on "shades of gray." You can't make laws mandating health decisions based on "shades of gray." You can't spout pro-nazi directives about throwing non-compliant people in concentration camps based on "shades of gray." Americans are increasingly stupid, but we're not there yet.
"Many of us felt very strongly that the [live attenuated influenza vaccine] was a better vaccine than the inactivated for children, and the data supported that," says Pedro Piedra, a professor of virology and microbiology at Baylor College of Medicine and one of the investigators involved in the nasal vaccine clinical trials in the late 1980s. "But something happened when it became a quadrivalent vaccine."

So here's another expert, a professor of virology and microbiology and an investigator and he says "something" happened when they added a new strain. Something. What? What something? I mean, you study this for a living. This is your career and has been for many years. Are you admitting that you don't know everything there is to know about vaccines and the human immune system?

For one thing, comparing the trivalent and quadrivalent vaccines is like "comparing oranges and tangerines," says Kawsar R. Talaat, an assistant scientist at the Center For Immunization Research at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. In fact, comparing any two flu vaccines involves a "quagmire of issues," partly because every year, vaccines act a little differently, Talaat tells Shots.

What? A quagmire you say? Again, what happened to rock-solid?

Several phenomena may contribute to the incongruity in the data. Going from the trivalent to the quadrivalent vaccines, for example, could have introduced more vaccine interference. Each vaccine strain competes to infect enough cells so that the virus can replicate and induce an immune response in those cells. More strains means more competition among the strains to infect cells, so multistrain flu vaccines include higher doses of each virus.

So more isn't always more, if this is indeed true.

Another factor could be that U.S. children have been vaccinated regularly enough since the first universal flu vaccine recommendation in 2007 that they've built up an underlying immunity. That underlying immunity could interfere with responses to new doses, progressively lessening the vaccine's apparent effectiveness each year. (This is more likely with live nasal vaccines than with the shot because they induce different types of immune responses.) Bias in the study or other as-yet-unidentified factors could play a role too.

You don't say.

"What happens is that public health makes a message that's too simple and the public doesn't buy it, and that leads to vaccine hesitancy," Loeb says. Public health officials must therefore balance complexity and accessibility in describing evidence on the flu vaccine.

I agree with this statement wholeheartedly. The reason these "health officials" don't follow through though is because it puts Big Pharma in between a rock and a hard place. When they admit the fact that there is still so much that they truly don't know then people realize the truth that the only way they can move forward and keep learning is to use us as lab rats. And people should have a say in whether or not they and their children are used as test subjects. Every time.

And finally:
If the live nasal vaccine isn't recommended for this flu season, that means the CDC will have far fewer U.S. data next year on the live vaccine's effectiveness, Tan says. "If the CDC says we're only to trust the data from the CDC, where's the data going to come from?"

Haha. Where indeed. I could predict "where" but it wouldn't be very ladylike or Christian so I'll leave it up to your imagination.

The reason this article stood out to me is because it stands in stark contrast to the doggedly pro-vaxx who assert that people who don't vax are ignorant, afraid of science, or are celebrity fan girls. This simply isn't true. We don't vax because we are intelligent enough to know that if the top vaccine experts are telling us that they themselves don't understand what's going on and that several studies contradict each other then we ARE medical test subjects.  Again, from Mark Loeb,
"Things change as the evidence grows and we understand more. Unfortunately, that's how science and clinical medicine work.

This is real. This is science. This is medicine.  This is the truth.



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