9. CNN assertion: Sanjay, I’ve watched your video assuring the public that getting the flu shot cannot increase one’s chances of getting the flu.
Fact: While that assertion has some meager support from a very small number of studies, the overwhelming weight of published science suggests that getting an annual flu shot can actually increase your risk of both flu and flu-like illnesses.
Only about 7 percent to 15 percent of what are called “influenza-like illnesses” are actually caused by influenza viruses. Many studies suggest the flu vaccine increases vulnerability to both flu infections and the remaining 85% -93% of non-flu respiratory infections.
A 2011 study of healthy Australian children published in the Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal found that seasonal flu shots increase the risk of flu by 73% and doubled the risk of non-flu respiratory infections.
Similarly, another 2012 randomized controlled trial published in Clinical Infectious Diseases found that influenza-vaccinated children had no significantly lessened risk from influenza and also a higher risk of infection from non-influenza viruses.
Furthermore, the flu vaccine depletes capacity to fight off future flu infections. In April 2010, a study (by Skowronek, et al) published in the journal PLoS Medicine reported the “unexpected” finding from four epidemiologic studies in Canada that receipt of the influenza vaccine for the 2008 – 2009 season, while apparently effective in reducing the risk of illness due to the seasonal flu, was associated with an increased risk of illness due to the pandemic influenza A (H1N1) “swine flu” virus during the spring and summer of 2009. The scientists suggested that this finding could be due to the difference in the way the vaccine affects the immune system compared with natural infection.