Every year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and pharmaceutical companies mount an aggressive campaign in the mainstream media to persuade Americans to get their flu shots. Flu shots are big business: industry analysts estimate that within the next five years, the U.S. flu vaccine market will be worth almost $3 billion annually. And profit margins are growing as manufacturers increase price premiums for the newer four-strain vaccines. The U.S. expects to distribute roughly 166 million doses for the 2017-18 flu season, up from 146 million doses in the previous year. As pharmaceutical companies bombard American consumers with ubiquitous billboards, drugstore enticements and radio announcements to “get your flu shot now,” the CDC has advised the industry to hike demand through the use of a “recipe” of scare-mongering messaging. (See Figure 1) CDC recommends “creating concern, anxiety and worry” among the American public.
Using spokespeople like Paul Offit and Peter Hotez as well as its extensive media partnerships and captive bureaucrats at CDC, the pharmaceutical industry has effectively banished the scientific debate about flu shot safety and efficacy from the public square. What ARE the scientific facts about the flu shot? The science indicates significant risks and low efficacy, both in the U.S. and internationally. In 2010, for example, Australia suspended its influenza vaccination program for children under five after one in 110 children experienced convulsions and other serious reactions within hours of getting their flu shots. In Italy in 2014, authorities suspended half a million doses of an influenza vaccine containing a proprietary adjuvant after 13 suspicious deaths occurred in people who got the shot.