NYC’s unelected health department demanded last December that children aged 6 months to 5 years receive yearly flu vaccinations. This was one of outgoing mayor (and newly minted health expert) Michael Bloomberg’s gifts to the city, along with the banning of extra large soft drinks.
Are soft drinks a threat to others? What right has any government to ration their consumption? Overreaching in the name of public health has become a stock-in-trade of politicians.
Some officials glory in their power to compel. Others do so to earn political points. (Think of Maine’s Governor Paul LePage, who insisted on quarantining nurse Kaci Hickox, despite several negative tests for Ebola and no symptoms. He soon won a tight re-election race.)
Only two states require flu shots for children: New Jersey and Connecticut. NJ’s deputy health commissioner Eddy Bresnitz left to become Medical Director of Merck Vaccines soon after imposing vaccine mandates on NJ’s children. He followed the same trajectory as former CDC Director, Julie Gerberding, who became President of Merck Vaccines after leaving CDC. Merck bankrolled Texas Governor Perry’s preteen HPV vaccine mandate, as well as dozens of legislative initiatives. Merck pays Dr. Gregory Poland, who has worked tirelessly to impose flu vaccine mandates.
The word has just gone out about enforcement in NYC: vaccinate your kids or goodbye day-care! Parents must submit proof of vaccination before the end of 2014.
But right now, the vaccinations don’t work against 66% of circulating flu strains! (See details below.) Last year, the nearly exclusive flu bug was H1N1, and the vaccine for kids did not work against it.
So for both flu seasons since NYC imposed a mandate, the shots for kids have been practically useless. But unfortunately, that did not reduce their side effects. You got the risk without the benefit. Did the NYC health department blink? Of course not.
Why demand these vaccinations now? Especially since harsh enforcement measures were not supposed to start until 2016.
It only makes sense from the manufacturers’ and CDC’s point of view: flu shots are a means of transferring (mostly public) funds to pharmaceutical companies. NYC’s Health Department assures parents that cost is not an issue. Government will take care of it:
“How will I afford my child’s vaccine?
All children in New York State have access to free or low-cost vaccines under the law. Also, the federal Affordable Care Act requires insurance to provide coverage for all major recommended vaccines, and co-pays for immunizations are not allowed. Currently, 75% of New York City children receive publically (sic) funded vaccines, and the rest have private insurance. Free vaccines are also directly given to New York City providers for children without insurance or whose insurance doesn’t cover immunizations.”
Flu shots are CDC’s main raison d’etre. CDC can’t handle its dangerous germs, or recommend the right gear for healthcare workers fighting Ebola, but its flu vaccine campaigns are examples of superb PR. Observe the repetitive CDC pronouncements about children dying from flu, such as this one. Though this unfortunate toddler succumbed to flu despite her vaccination, probably because it didn’t work.
This December, according to CDC, 3 strains of flu predominate. They are influenza A H3N2 (90% of the total), Influenza A H1N1 (5% of the total) and Influenza B (5% of the total). Vaccines have 3 or occasionally 4 components directed against these strains.
But 67.5% of the H3N2 tested 2 weeks ago has mutated, so the H3N2 component of the vaccine is not very effective. The majority of flu vaccine used in children (the nasal spray) also has an H1N1 component that is not effective. The influenza B part of the vaccine seems to be effective, but influenza B only accounts for 5% of flu strains.
The injected vaccine, unlike the spray, may be effective against influenza A H1N1 virus. That might bump it up to 40% effective, in the test tube.
But wait: even when a flu vaccine matches the circulating strains 100%, it is only found to be 50-70% effective at preventing flu in recipients. So a 40% match could correspond to a 25% degree of effectiveness. We won’t find out for sure till the season is over. According to CDC:
“… even during years when the vaccine match is very good, the benefits of vaccination will vary across the population, depending on characteristics of the person being vaccinated and even, potentially, which vaccine was used.”