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What Role Did the Stronger New Flu Vaccine Play?


A typical pharmacy gross sales promotion for the flu vaccine concentrating on seniors throughout a previous flu season.

by Well being Impression Information Employees

Flu photographs have been provided to People for years. A serious goal from drug corporations who make vaccines and physicians who administer them has been the aged, who usually tend to develop the flu as a consequence of their declining well being.

As well as, Medicare covers the price of flu photographs, making them extra accessible to seniors.

On December 23, 2009, the U.S. Meals and Drug Administration (FDA) authorised use of Fluzone Excessive-Dose flu vaccine for the aged. This new product is 4 occasions extra highly effective, that’s, it incorporates 4 occasions the quantity of flu virus antigen per dose because the product used beforehand (Fluzone). The vaccine is given as a single injection.

FDA approval was given although its Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices made no indication it was higher than the previously-used Fluzone after reviewing research of security and effectiveness. The Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention said,

“Knowledge demonstrating higher safety towards influenza sickness after vaccination with Fluzone Excessive-Dose are wanted to guage whether or not Fluzone Excessive-Dose is a simpler vaccine for sufferers age > 65 years.”

The most important research reviewed by the FDA committee confirmed that the brand new high-dose vaccine had a 50% larger price of unwanted side effects inside the first week after the injection, and 4 occasions the prospect that sufferers would develop fever after the shot.

The approval was given despite the fact that a big three-year research of effectiveness and security had simply begun (U.S. Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention, 2010).

Virtually instantly after FDA approval, questions have been raised about critical uncomfortable side effects of the stronger new vaccine.

One of many first skeptics of Fluzone Excessive-Dose was Dr. Joseph Mercola, who introduced proof that it will increase negative effects.

He referred to the producer’s security research that discovered a better price of great antagonistic results amongst aged taking the high-dose flu shot (7.four%) than those that took the sooner flu shot (6.1%). The package deal insert lists these extreme circumstances (see Appendix).

As well as, Mercola cited a collection of 5 current analyses, referred to as Cochrane critiques, on results of the flu vaccine. 

Every Cochrane evaluate is just not a single research however consists of a number of research on the identical matter.

One Cochrane evaluate concluded there was no robust proof that flu photographs improved the well being of the aged, making higher-dose vaccinations a larger menace for a product that doesn’t work (Mercola, 2011):

“The obtainable proof is of poor high quality and offers no steerage relating to the security, efficacy or effectiveness of influenza vaccines for individuals aged 65 years or older.”

A 2012 article in Shopper Reviews reported on whether or not the journal’s panel of medical advisors advocate utilizing high-dose Fluzone for the aged, as an alternative of the much less potent vaccination.

The response was that the stronger Fluzone was NOT suggested at any time, till proof of larger effectiveness was developed (Mitchell, 2012).

“Initially we hoped this high-dose vaccine may notably assist seniors who’re very unwell or have compromised immune techniques, however given the shortage of medical trial knowledge, and that there’s a danger of creating sick individuals even sicker, our medical consultants don’t advise it for anybody presently. Till extra is understood about how protecting the high-dose shot is for all seniors, the common flu vaccine stays the best choice.”

Additionally in 2012, a Scientific American article forged doubt on whether or not the brand new, strengthened flu vaccine might shield the aged.

It cited a 2006 journal article by the Group Well being Analysis Institute in Seattle that confirmed vaccinated seniors have been 44% much less more likely to die than unvaccinated seniors have been throughout flu season, however 61% much less more likely to die earlier than flu season even began.

This raises the query of whether or not more healthy aged individuals are extra more likely to elect to have a flu shot. 

Moreover, the truth that vaccinated aged individuals are 61% much less more likely to die from flu within the non-flu season (in comparison with simply 44% much less throughout flu season) raises the likelihood that taking the vaccine might worsen an aged individual’s probability of surviving flu season (Moyer, 2012).

A research of almost 32,000 nursing residence sufferers confirmed that fewer aged individuals taking the high-dose flu shot developed the flu than did these taking commonplace doses (1.four% vs. 1.9%).

These within the high-dose group additionally had a decrease price of great negative effects (eight.three% vs. 9.zero%). All six individuals who died inside 30 days of taking the vaccine got excessive doses, however authors consider that these deaths had nothing to do with the flu photographs (DiazGranados, 2014).

After FDA approval of the high-dose flu shot for the aged, use of the brand new vaccine started slowly. Within the interval 2010-2012, the primary three years after approval, simply 18.four% of aged People receiving flu photographs acquired the high-dose model (McGrath, 2015). The numbers of 25% and 32% in 2011 and 2012 possible means a a lot bigger % in years after.

One essential method to check for any impact that Excessive-Dose Fluzone had on aged People is to evaluate dying charges within the durations earlier than and after it was launched. The CDC maintains a database of all deaths of U.S. residents; in mid-2019, the database coated all years from 1968-2017. 

Desk 1 is a comparability of influenza deaths for the durations 2006-2012, when lower than 10% of aged People vaccinated for the flu had Excessive-Dose Fluzone, and 2013-2017, when a a lot bigger (however unknown) % of these vaccinated got Excessive-Dose Fluzone (Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention, 2019). 


Screen Shot 2019-07-16 at 8.25.53 PM

Previous to 2013, fewer than 1,000 aged People died from the flu in all however one yr. However in the newest 5 years obtainable, the typical jumped to over three,000 per yr, exceeding 5,000 in the newest yr (2017). The 2013-2017 flu dying price amongst People over 65 jumped 328.6%, or greater than 4 occasions than it was within the interval 2006-2012.

The influenza demise price didn’t change amongst People age underneath 35, whereas it rose 132.four% (greater than doubled) amongst these age 35-64.

Further info could also be pertinent to this uncommon development:

  • Giant will increase in aged flu demise charges occurred amongst all main racial and ethnic teams (white, black, Hispanic, and Asian).
  • Giant will increase occurred for each aged men and women.
  • Will increase occurred for aged in all however two small states (Delaware and Nevada). The very best improve was reported in Oregon, the place the 2013-2017 fee was 9 occasions higher than earlier.

Attainable causes for this improve, every of which don’t clarify the current development, are listed:

  • “The flu was stronger” prior to now 5 years. False. Youthful age teams weren’t affected, and different durations of excessive flu deaths (1968-1969, 1980-1981, and 2006-2007) affected all age teams, not simply the aged.
  • “It’s a coding change” beginning in 2013. False. No such federal guidelines affecting coding of flu deaths have been issued.
  • “The aged needed to die of one thing.” False. The demise fee for all causes amongst U.S. aged declined 5% from 2006-2012 to 2013-2017, in comparison with the 328.6% rise for the flu.
  • “Fewer individuals have been immunized.” False. Roughly 40% of People over six months obtain the (advisable) flu vaccine yearly, a quantity that doesn’t range a lot yr by yr.
  • “Not that many individuals have been affected.” False. The full variety of flu deaths amongst U.S. aged prior to now 5 years (16,613) is giant, and developments are statistically vital.

One suggestion that larger use of Excessive-Dose Fluzone is related to this massive leap is by evaluating aged flu dying charges for 2006-2010 (when it was not used), and in 2011-2012 (when it was utilized in 25% – 32% of aged receiving flu photographs). The speed elevated 24%, from 1.542 to 1.912 deaths per million individuals, throughout this time. Presumably, the proportion of aged flu photographs utilizing Excessive-Dose Fluzone rose after 2012, because the flu dying fee from soared to six.977.

Some specialists collaborating within the dialogue on vaccine security contend that flu photographs can’t give somebody the flu, or trigger something greater than minor uncomfortable side effects.

In 1986, federal laws enacted the Nationwide Vaccine Damage Compensation Program, giving households of immunized youngsters a way of compensation for the hurt brought on by vaccines, whereas absolving drug corporations from any fault.

A complete of 6,358 claims have been compensated at a complete of $four billion. Two-thirds of those claims concerned flu vaccines (Well being Assets and Providers Administration, 2019). 

The brand new Excessive-Dose Fluzone is product of inactivated influenza virus, and thus can’t “give” vaccinated individuals any of the three forms of flu virus that the product protects towards. However forms of flu are troublesome to foretell earlier than the season begins, as producers put together tens of millions of doses of vaccine, and flu photographs in a given yr typically don’t shield towards the precise pressure or strains (Janjua, 2010).

When a flu shot is given, the antigens it incorporates generate antibodies towards illness. These antibodies are “fighters” the physique makes use of towards a number of illnesses, although it protects solely towards the varieties of flu it’s made to stop.

Antibody assaults might scale back the physique’s immune system power, which is already lowered in aged individuals. Thus, a flu shot 4 occasions extra highly effective than the one it changed might, theoretically, trigger greater charges of illness (Angelantoni, 2017).

The current mortality rise in aged flu deaths ought to be taken critically, and future tendencies must be monitored by well being officers. Extra research are wanted evaluating charges of flu deaths amongst those that have been vaccinated with Excessive-Dose Fluzone, vaccinated with regular dose Fluzone, these immunized utilizing flu mist, and people who aren’t vaccinated, to raised discover methods to offer most security for aged individuals.

Concerning the Writer

The writer is a contract author for Well being Influence Information who’s an epidemiologist and has revealed over 30 articles in medical journals. Because of the dangers concerned in in the present day’s local weather for anybody who dares to publish something questioning vaccines, this individual needs to stay nameless to guard their household and profession.

Touch upon this text at VaccineImpact.com.


Angelantoni A. Why do individuals get the flu after getting the flu shot? Medium, September 30, 2017. https://medium.com/@andreangelantoni/there-are-several-significant-errors-the-doctor-includes-in-her-article-6dfc196afd9b.

DiazGranados CA, Dunning AJ, Kimmel M, et al. Efficacy of Excessive-Dose versus Commonplace-Dose Influenza Vaccine in Older Adults. N Engl J Med. 2014;371:635-645.

Well being Assets and Providers Administration. Month-to-month Report on Vaccine Compensation, February four, 2019. https://www.hrsa.gov/sites/default/files/hrsa/vaccine-compensation/data/monthly-stats-february-2019.pdf. 

Janjua NZ, Skowronski DM, Hottes TS, et al. Seasonal influenza vaccine and elevated danger of pandemic A/H1N1‐associated sickness: first detection of the affiliation in British Columbia, Canada. Clin Infect Dis. 2010;51(9):1017-1027.

McGrath LJ, Brookhart MA. On-label and off-label use of high-dose influenza vaccine in america, 2010–2012. Hum Vaccin Immunother. 2015;11(three):537-544.

Mercola J. Warn Your Buddies and Household: The Fluzone Excessive-Dose Vaccine is Harmful. October 11, 2011. https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/10/17/dangerous-new-ineffective-flu-vaccine-released-for-seniors.aspx. 

Mitchell S. Ought to Seniors Get the Fluzone Excessive-Dose Flu Vaccine? Shopper Reviews Information, September 21, 2012. https://www.consumerreports.org/cro/news/2012/09/should-seniors-get-the-fluzone-high-dose-flu-vaccine/index.htm. 

Moyer MW. Flu Photographs Might Not Shield the Aged or the Very Younger. Scientific American, October 18, 2012. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/flu-shots-may-not-protect-the-elderly-or-the-very-young/. 

U.S. Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention. Licensure of a Excessive-Dose Inactivated Influenza Vaccine for Individuals Aged ≥65 Years (Fluzone Excessive-Dose) and Steerage for Use — United States, 2010. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, April 30, 2010.


U.S. Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention. CDC Marvel, Detailed Mortality, 2019. https://wonder.cdc.gov/controller/datarequest/D76. 

Appendix 1

Extreme unwanted effects reported by the producer’s security research after flu photographs for the aged embrace: 

Thrombocytopenia (low platelet rely)
Guillain Barre syndrome, myelitis (spinal twine irritation)
Optic neuritis (irritation of the optic nerve)
Lymphadenopathy (enlarged lymph nodes)
Facial palsy/Bell’s palsy
Paresthesia (tingling/numbness of the pores and skin)
Itchy pores and skin
Anaphylaxis (life-threatening, whole-body allergic response)
Stevens-Johnson syndrome
Vasculitis (inflammatory destruction of blood vessels)
Problem respiration
Chest ache
Brachial neuritis (excruciating unilateral shoulder ache, adopted by paralysis of shoulder)
Pharyngitis and rhinitis (irritation of the throat or pharynx and the nostril, respectively)
Convulsions, fainting, and dizziness.

Appendix 2

Flu codes and mortality charges:

Influenza deaths are recognized within the CDC website as individuals whose explanation for dying began with sure codes from the Worldwide Classification of Illness, overlaying numerous revisions. These embrace 470 and 472-474 (eighth revision, 1968-1978); 487 (ninth revision, 1979-1998); and J9-J11 (10th revision, 1999-2017). Mortality charges are annual demise charges, adjusted to the 2000 U.S. commonplace inhabitants.

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Revealed on July 19, 2019

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