Last updated Flu (influenza) is a viral infection spread by coughs and sneezes. It’s generally characterised by a high temperature, feeling weak and tired, aches coughs, and sometimes headaches. In the UK a nasal flu vaccine is offered from 2-3 years of age and is intended to be continuously offered every year up to the age of 16. It’s normally given in schools. The NHS says the nasal flu vaccine is even more effective than the injected vaccine and has fewer side-effects. Its website continues “your child is less likely to become ill if they come into contact with the flu virus”.[1] Leaving the matter of natural vs vaccine-induced immunity aside for now, how effective is the vaccine? A study published in 1999 divided 4561 US citizens into two groups (nasal flu vaccine and placebo) and observed outcomes over one flu season (winter) in terms of “febrile illness”, meaning illness which produced fever. Both groups were equally likely to get ill, although the vaccinated group was said to get ill less severely. [2] They found that the strain of influenza virus which was circulating at the time was a poor match to the the vaccine strain. A review of various trials (involving a total of 70,000 adults) published in 2010 by the well-respected Cochrane Collaboration found very little evidence that the flu vaccine prevented flu in adults, even though almost half of the studies included in the review were industry funded. The authors also noted that “Studies funded from public sources were significantly less likely to report conclusions favorable to the vaccines.” [3] In the case of children, the same researchers found that six children under the age of six need to be vaccinated with live attenuated vaccine to prevent one case of influenza (infection and symptoms).” The say they…

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