Flu vaccination: the 2010 campaign

An interview of Dr Marc Girard

In Dec., 2010, I have been interviewed by a British journalist on the new flu vaccination campaign.

In France this year are people being offered the seasonal flu vaccine in combination with the swine flu vaccine? (If so, why is this being done?)

To the best of my knowledge, it is currently impossible to find a vaccine against seasonal flu not associated with swine flu vaccine (as far as I know, the registrations were given by the European Agency). Having regard to the suspected risks of the latter (narcolepsy, Guillain-Barré, miscarriages…) as well as its to its poor efficacy rate, and taking account of the recognized benignity of the H1N1 virus, this is an irresponsible choice of corrupted health authorities.

Are they informed beforehand if the seasonal flu vaccine they are being given also contains a swine-flu vaccine?

The issue of misinformation is a worrying one: for example, media most often report that the new vaccines do not contain adjuvants, which is not true. Likely, official recommendations regarding “risk populations” (pregnant women, elderly, asthmatics…) are not substantiated – and, on the contrary, there are significant elements leading to suspect that they could be more sensitive to flu vaccines hazards.

Are people being given a choice to have just the seasonal flu vaccine?

To my knowledge, as I said before, it is simply not possible to receive just the seasonal flu vaccine. In any way, proofs are lacking regarding the benefit/risk ratio of this seasonal vaccine, as repeatedly documented by the reviews of the Cochrane collaboration.

Do these combined vaccines contain adjuvants such as squalene?

As far as I know from the European Agency site, these new vaccines contain squalene.

How would you sum up the risks of this combined vaccine?

As shown by the Cochrane collaboration, we have no reliable data on safety even of the vaccines against seasonal flu; regarding the vaccines against H1N1, there are good reasons to suspect that they could induce serious hazards such as narcolepsies, Guillain-Barré syndromes, miscarriages or even death. Having regard to the relative benignity of flu overall, and swine flu in particular, and taking account the complete lack of data supporting their efficacy, this is not being anti-vaccines to claim that the benefit/risk ratio of these products is atrociously imbalanced…

Would you recommend to anyone to have this combined vaccine, and if not, why not?

Until we have reliable epidemiological data on the benefit of these vaccines in such or such subpopulation, I would not recommend them to anybody (please, do not forget that even if you showed that such or such persons would be at risk of flu complications, you would still have the burden to show that the vaccine will effectively prevent the complications in these persons, which has not been done).

What would you say to someone who has asthma, who considers themselves at high risk if they get the flu?

There are plenty of reasons to believe that those persons suffering from asthma are also particularly at risk of experiencing a severe reaction… to the immune stimulation induced by the vaccines…

What would you say to a pregnant woman who is being offered the combined vaccine?

Exactly the same as in the previous answer: there is evidence that, last year, the number of miscarriages after vaccination was far higher than normally expected, especially taking account of underreporting as well as the disgraceful reluctance of health professionals to report the vaccine hazards as they should have done.

Would you deny that tragic cases of flu complications have been reported, for exemple in children or pregnant women?

Certainly not (although, in some instances, I would appreciate to know more on the role of the vaccination or of Tamiflu in precipitating hazards thoughtlessly ascribed to the virus). But let me remind you that, compared to “normality”, pregnancy, for example, carries a number of risks (cardiovascular, endocrine, haemorrhagic, etc.): fortunately, this does not prevent young women to make children… So, there is no doubt that, in very rare instances, flu may kill healthy children or pregnant women: but overemphasis of such very rare instances is considered as a bias in risk perception, and usually denounced by health authorities as poor reasoning as far as drugs or vaccines hazards are concerned… Therefore, the real issue is statistical, and perfectly understable by anybody: I cannot promise that no child or no pregnant female will suffer severe flu complications, but I consider as definitely documented that the risk of such complications is far lower than that of developing severe hazards after being vaccinated against flu.