You may have seen the story popping up on your Facebook feed, or forwarded by an anxious friend: “Johns Hopkins Scientist Reveals Shocking Report on Flu Vaccines,” the headline reads.
The story, which is posted on alternative health site realfarmacy.com, claims that Hopkins scientist Peter Doshi has issued a “blistering” report about the annual flu shot. But if you actually read the article (or the original journal article it quotes from), what Doshi has to say is fairly moderate. He thinks the CDC may be overestimating the benefits of the flu shot while also playing down potential risks, and that the CDC colludes with big pharma to over-state the danger of flu and thus promote the vaccine. Fair enough.
But then it goes on to conflate Doshi’s views with those of a much more radical anti-vax-er, Russell Blaylock, who is quoted saying things like “The vaccine is completely worthless, and the government knows it.” Baylock is a frequent guest on Alex Jones’s radio show, and has also claimed that Obamacare is actually a government-sponsored euthanasia program.
There’s a vast gulf between “the value of the flu vaccine may be overstated” and “the flu vaccine is completely worthless.” Yes, there are reasons to be suspicious of the pharmaceutical industry. And yes, the flu shot is not risk-free. But thousands of people die of the flu every year; last year, 90 percent of the juvenile patients who were killed by influenza had not been vaccinated. Make the choice that’s right for you, but do your research first.