Mail Article On Flu Vaccination

October 24, 2010 at 5:22 pm (Anti-Vaccination) (, , , , , , )

The Mail have published an article on the seasonal flu vaccine containing the H1N1 (swine flu) strain. The article eventually (right at the very end of the piece) gets round to telling us (via people who actually know what they’re talking about) that: “the consequences of flu are a greater risk than any risk posed by the vaccine itself” and “every year people die in this country from complications caused by getting flu; these are deaths that could be prevented“.

Here’s how the article begins:

Patients’ groups have expressed anger over this year’s seasonal flu jab programme because people are unable to opt out of having the swine flu vaccine.

The H1N1 vaccine will be the dominant of three flu strains included in the shot, meaning  millions of elderly and vulnerable patients will get it automatically.

Yet many people refused to have the swine flu vaccine when it was offered last year because of fears it  may cause serious side effects.

Why was there such fear of side effects when the vaccine was offered last year? Well, articles published by the mainstream media might have something to do with that. For example articles written by Dr Crippen for The Guardian and Dr Halvorsen for The Times. I found this post useful: Swine Flu, Guillain Barre Syndrome and Vaccination. It seems that swine flu itself is more likely to cause GBS than the vaccine is.

Despite this, the Mail tell us that “Government experts are examining a possible association between the H1N1 swine flu jab and the paralysing nerve disease Guillain-Barre Syndrome” and refer to other possible associations.

The emphasis in this article is clearly on (a) bad things that might happen if you get vaccinated and (b) the perceived lack of patient choice. The Mail do, eventually (right at the very end of the article), mention the following points – some of which are crucial:

  • There isn’t enough capacity to produce an alternative vaccine for those worried about swine flu
  • The consequences of flu are a greater risk than any risk posed by the vaccine itself
  • Given that we expect the H1N1 virus to be the most common type this year, it would be negligent if we didn’t protect people against it
  • Every year people die in this country from complications caused by getting flu; these are deaths that could be prevented

Ben Goldacre wrote recently about the caveat in paragraph number 19:

by the time you get to a story length of 8 to 11 paragraphs, on average, your readers read only half the story. A minority will make it to paragraph number 19, where, on this occasion, a fraction of the readers of the Daily Mail would have discovered that the central premise of the news story – that a new trial had found a 40% reduction in cancer through intermittent dieting – was false.

Caveats in paragraph 19 are common. This evidence strongly suggests that they are also a sop: they permit a defense against criticism, through the strictest, most rigorous analysis of a piece. But if your interest is informing a reader, they are plainly misleading.

This Mail article isn’t the only plainly misleading article they’ve published – it’s just the latest one. What message did Mail readers take from the piece? Well, the best-rated comments might give us a small clue:

of course they rules h1n1 as a strain for this year, they had alot left over from last year, ive done plenty of vaccine research and they dont work, never have never will, all the data shows this, mortality rates were way down on all diseases long before vaccines were introduced, and most cases of these diseases today are in the vaccinated!! this is all official data, from british medical journal, center for disease control, lancet, etc
in fact a paper by the BMJ concluded flu shots dont work and the safety is unknown!!
ive done the research after i was injured by a flu shot and spent 6 years suffering, funny thing is i never had the flu before they gave me the shot then just after i got the flu with chest infections, then 6 years of immune system problems
do the research its all there!
and its disgusting they cant force vaccinate!! we have a right to say what gets put into our bodies!!!

– paul, essex, 24/10/2010 1:02

Click to rate Rating   443

“There isn’t enough capacity to produce an alternative vaccine for those worried about swine flu.”

Well tough people just aren’t going to put themselves at risk of the side effects of the H1N1 vaccine. The government couldn’t get rid of the stuff when it was a single vaccine so now they are combining it. Well hospitals had better prepare themselves for a massive influx of patients with flu this year as an awful lot of people aren’t going to have the flu jab this year. Better dead than brain dead.

– Stephen, St. Ives, England, 24/10/2010 1:02

Click to rate Rating   337

I had the ‘flu jab a week ago last Thursday at 2.00pm by 5.00pm I had a headeache, was alternating between sweating and shivering, temperature and ached all over!. I felt dreadful. I have had the seasonal ‘flu jab every year since 1967 and have never before had any re-action other than a slightly sore arm for a couple of days. My husband and a neighbour also had the injection and both of them were absolutely fine. The affects lasted about 36 hours, I am sure my re-action was due to the injection containing swine ‘flu this year. I am in my seventies and will be very dubious of having the injection next year.

– Judy, London, 24/10/2010 0:50

Click to rate Rating   251

These vaccines contain MERCURY and SQUALENE, the doctor’s are brainwashed into telling you that mercury is inactive and nothing to worry about, MERCURY IS MERCURY! ONE OF THE MOST TOXIC SUBSTANCES ON EARTH! Research squalene as well, it’s been DIRECTLY linked to guillain-barre syndrome, doctors don’t even know what’s in the vaccine’s, they are acting on faith which is not good enough, please do some research before getting shot up with this poison.

– Scott, Newcastle, 23/10/2010 23:53

Click to rate Rating   249

If this report hasn’t set alarm bells ringing for you then nothing will. They are determined to get their weird concoctions into us by any means – fair or foul.

I’m dismayed every time I read the comments on this site. It’s not the DM reports that scare me, it’s the typical brainwashed reader that responds so predictably that
annoys me.

So many folk haven’t even started the deprogramming process yet. Like lambs to the slaughter; all they focus on is the divide and conquer tactics their masters dictate.

– Rosie, Yorkshire, 23/10/2010 23:50

Click to rate Rating   216

Will Professor David Salisbury confirm that both he and the entire Royal Family will be benefitting from this contentious triple vaccine ???

– Peter, Burton on Trent, 23/10/2010 23:46

Click to rate Rating   216

PDF of article (plus best-rated comments) saved at 18:18 on 24th October: Patient anger over swine flu

19 Comments

  1. Mail Article On Flu Vaccination | Todo sobre la Influenza AH1N1 | All About Influenza said,

    […] Leer completo en: Mail Article On Flu Vaccination The Mail have published an article on the seasonal flu vaccine containing the H1N1 (swine flu) strai Leer nota completa […]

  2. Press Not Sorry said,

    “I felt dreadful. I have had the seasonal ‘flu jab every year since 1967 and have never before had any re-action other than a slightly sore arm for a couple of days. My husband and a neighbour also had the injection and both of them were absolutely fine.”

    So, this woman has been having flu jabs for 43 years, and this one bad experience, which may or may not have been caused by the flu jab, combined with The Mail scaremongering, has made her dubious of having the injection next year? All this in spite of the evidence before her eyes that her husband and neighbour were ‘absolutely fine’.

    I hope The Mail doesn’t publish any stories about flu deaths this season, because it would be the ultimate hypocrisy, given that their scaremongering is likely to increase them.

  3. softestpawn said,

    It’s a classic risk comparison, but may not compare directly. You may or may not get a reaction which is worse than flu, but you’ve definitely taken the vaccine – whereas you might not get flu.

    If you’re experience is that the jab is ‘free’ of risk then fine, it’s easy to take. But if you start to feel that it might make life uncomfortable for a bit, then perhaps it’s better overall to take the risk (depending on all the things that modify that risk) of not taking the jab.

    Many years ago a group of us had multiple injections for some quite exotic stuff in a very short time. We all suffered from it, but we accepted it in a well monitored location since we felt that getting the Real Thing in a remote location would be much worse. If the locations had been reversed, we might not have felt the same way.

  4. softestpawn said,

    JDC – your first link on the useful reading material (critical apprasial and using the literature) is broken, but it looks interesting – do you still have the title?

  5. softestpawn said,

    Gaah and I wrote ‘you’re’ instead of ‘your’. Don’t tell my mum

  6. jdc325 said,

    “I hope The Mail doesn’t publish any stories about flu deaths this season, because it would be the ultimate hypocrisy, given that their scaremongering is likely to increase them.”
    I remember the Mail publishing an article accusing parents who didn’t get the MMR vaccine for their children of being “morons” and “refuseniks” (among other things). Staggering hypocrisy.

  7. jdc325 said,

    “JDC – your first link on the useful reading material (critical apprasial and using the literature) is broken, but it looks interesting – do you still have the title?”
    Sorry – I’m afraid I can’t find it.

  8. softestpawn said,

    Oh well, I guess I will have to do my own lit search!

    “I remember the Mail publishing an article accusing parents who didn’t get the MMR vaccine for their children of being “morons” and “refuseniks” (among other things). Staggering hypocrisy.”

    Yarg, but remember that different newspapers have different approaches. The Mail is (somewhat) there as entertainment and a general pokiness. It’s not meant to be consistent.

  9. Kash Farooq said,

    Using the Law of exclamation: The more exclamation points used in an email (or other posting), the more likely it is a complete lie. This is also true for excessive capital letters.

    The comment with the highest rating (Paul, Essex): 10 exclamation points, zero fullstops.

  10. Riskbloggen » Vaccinering än en gång said,

    […] Mail Article On Flu Vaccination « Stuff And Nonsense. […]

  11. noodlemaz said,

    How very depressing.

    I’m going to join in with the conspiracy theorists (doctorz they wants you DED) and posit that perhaps the Mail has been told to scare people off the vaccines so that they do die of flu, thus reducing the financial burden of the dependant groups on society the current economic climate.

    I see what you did there, Murdoch, I see it.

  12. Pavel said,

    Well, it all comes down to simple math: which is larger, (the risk of getting swine flu multiplied by expected injuries) or (the risk of getting complications from the vaccine * expected injuries + cost(both time and money) of getting the vaccine). Those numbers are probably very different for me(30 year old healthy male), my 90 year old grandmother and my 2 year old nephew.

    Press not sorry: I’ve had neither flu shot nor flu for the past 20 (probably more, not sure about my early medical history) years. If I happen to get flu this year, would it be unreasonable for me to blame it on lack of flu shot?

  13. Anne said,

    I am stunned by the comments on the Daily Mail article. How can people be so ill-informed (no pun intended) about their health and preventative medicine? It is so very, very sad.

  14. Lifelinking said,

    great blog, well said. The Mail does it again. Rag.

  15. Neuroskeptic said,

    Anne: Depressingly those comments are among the best-informed on the Mail’s website.

  16. Daily Mail Warn Of Flu Crisis « Stuff And Nonsense said,

    […] than two months ago, the Daily Mail published an article on the seasonal flu vaccine containing the H1N1 (swine flu) strain. While it […]

  17. The Year In Nonsense. And Stuff. « Stuff And Nonsense said,

    […] I failed to write a proper blogpost in September, so now have to move on swiftly to October. I went for a slightly different approach in writing a post urging people to protect themselves and others and get vaccinated, making more use of anecdotes than I normally would. I also looked at how the Daily Mail were reporting on flu vaccination. […]

  18. Andrew Wakefield’s Legacy « Stuff And Nonsense said,

    […] The media have moved on too. Some tried to blame everyone except themselves for the MMR scare but then, astonishingly, moved on to scaremongering about other vaccines. […]

  19. Why I Write About The Daily Mail « Stuff And Nonsense said,

    […] HPV vaccination (taking different editorial lines in different countries). Scaremongering about the flu vaccine was followed just a couple of months later by an article warning of a “flu crisis“. […]

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