31 Responses to “Show us the evidence for the flu jab”

  1. Margaret McCartney
    margaretmccartney October 24, 2011 at 9:11 pm #

    I’ve had a very disappointing letter back from Professor David Salisbury.
    He says that it’s reasonable to extrapolate from long term care settings of older people to the NHS in general and that
    “it would be extremely challenging to conduct comparable studies in primary care settings that by their nature have a far more dynamic patient population”.

    I don’t think this is true. I also think it’d be far easier to persuade HCP to get vaccinated if there was evidence. Making no attempts to make the evidence better is very disappointing indeed. How much do we spend on flu vaccs for HCP?

  2. Mark Struthers October 25, 2011 at 5:02 pm #

    The MMR vaccine (Pluserix) was introduced in 1988 and withdrawn in 1992 because it was causing aseptic meningitis. In his evidence for the prosecution at the GMC trial of Andrew Wakefield, Salisbury stated that the MMR had an “exemplary safety record”. I agree: Salisbury is very disappointing. Of course, none of this and other powerful shenanigans will stop this vaccine safety advocate becoming Professor Sir David, anytime soon.

  3. Mark Struthers October 26, 2011 at 7:48 am #

    Margaret tells us that the MMR is strongly evidence based. Is the vaccine’s safety equally evidence based? “MMR is safe” is a powerful Salisbury mantra. Please watch this account of the evidence base for the “exemplary safety record” of the MMR.

    There appears to be little evidence for the effectiveness of the flu vaccine. But how safe is it? Where is the safety evidence for annual vaccinations against flu?

  4. Margaret McCartney
    margaretmccartney October 26, 2011 at 8:11 pm #

    Mark, please
    MMR is safe, it is effective.
    Flu vaccine is safe. It is effective for certain groups of patients. It is of unproven effectiveness in healthcare workers.
    that’s it.

  5. Mark Struthers October 26, 2011 at 8:52 pm #

    I’m sorry Margaret, that’s simply not it! The MMR is safe for most, but not all children. It was safe for my two girls, who had it in 1988 and 1990. They were lucky: their parents were lucky. Others – a small minority – are not so lucky and I don’t know why. Neither does Salisbury. It’s the same for the flu vaccine: you simply cannot say it’s safe for all. Salisbury is a huge disappointment: that’s the only thing that can be said with any certainty.

  6. Mark Struthers October 26, 2011 at 8:55 pm #

    PS. Have you watched Andrew Wakefield’s talk about vaccine safety? Don’t tell me “that’s it” until you have.

  7. Mark Struthers October 26, 2011 at 9:00 pm #

    Last week the BMJ published a piece by junior hospital doctor, Kinesh Patel, entitled ‘Resisting the needle: why I won’t have the flu jab.’ This wasn’t a particularly good or well written article and did not give any particularly compelling reason for coal face resistance to Salisbury’s usual mandate. However, I was struck by a rapid response from an American paediatrician,


    … who was much more cogent.

  8. Mark Struthers October 27, 2011 at 7:24 pm #

    Like Andrew Wakefield, Tom Jefferson is a rare breed: he seems to be a medical scientist that one can respect and trust (cf. Salisbury).

    As pandemic panic reached fever pitch, I reported on Jefferson’s views on the evidence for vaccinating anyone, healthcare workers, the elderly or the vulnerable sick.


  9. sheila October 28, 2011 at 8:26 pm #

    we (my husband and son and me) wont have the flu jab or any other inoculation my son who is 42 now blind, epileptic and brain damaged, through the whooping cough inoculation at 11 months he had a stroke through it and it brought on epilepsy, the 1968-1971 jabs were not mouse tested a test case was brought by an irish lady she won . so we as a family refused any inoculations since and will continue to do, we did not even have our cat done and she lived to be 22. i have turned down this flu jab many times and got a lot of berating from receptionists and doctors. i do not care

  10. Mark Struthers October 29, 2011 at 7:33 am #


    I can’t book my cat into a cattery without her jabs. And I can’t work without a Hep B jab. If Salisbury had his way I would not be allowed to work as a GP without an annual flu vaccination.

    Richard Halvorsen is a GP and another of that rare breed of senior doctors that one can still respect and trust. Im March this year he presented to a ‘British Society for Ecological Medicine’ conference titled ‘The Health Hazards of Disease Prevention’.


    Here are two sample comments from his presentation,

    “It is unnecessary to give the three vaccines contained in the triple MMR vaccine together. These can quite easily be given in separate single vaccines. However the case for vaccinating against mumps is extremely weak as mumps is nearly always a mild and harmless illness. Many parents are concerned about the risk of infertility in boys; this is an extremely rare complication of mumps. Rubella is a relatively harmless illness except in pregnant women who are not immune; for this reason it could be argued that rubella vaccination is unnecessary in boys. Is it still necessary to give polio vaccine to those who live in countries where there have been no cases for over 20 years?”


    “This seems like an extraordinary large number but it must be borne in mind that babies in the UK receive seven vaccines in one go at 16 weeks of age. I am concerned that there is no real discussion of what may be the maximum number of vaccines that can safely be given to a baby at any one time. We are reassured by Dr David Salisbury, the head of immunisation at the Department of Health, that, “a baby’s immune system could actually tolerate perfectly well 1000 vaccines”. To hear such a senior doctor make a comment such as this makes me very anxious.”

    It is my opinion that Professor (Sir) David Salisbury has worked well beyond his sell by date.

  11. Mark Struthers October 29, 2011 at 11:44 am #

    Allan S. Cunningham is a physician who can be respected and trusted, Here he is again over at the BMJ,


    What has Salisbury done to earn trust or respect?

  12. Mark Struthers November 1, 2011 at 3:53 pm #

    There are a few honest and trustworthy medical writers out there in the blogosphere. One such is Dr John Briffa, who last week posted on the distinctly underwhelming evidence for the good of seasonal flu jabbing – for the elderly, or anyone much at all.


    ‘Roll up’ for the flu vaccine? You must be joking, Salisbury!

  13. Chuck November 1, 2011 at 5:20 pm #

    Might want to look up post hoc ergo propter hoc.

  14. Mark Struthers November 1, 2011 at 9:29 pm #

    Margaret was emphatic: “MMR is safe” … and “Flu vaccine is safe”.

    But Peter Fletcher, former vaccine safety supremo at the DOH, is not so sure
    about the safety of MMR or any of these other fluey vaccines.


    Peter Fletcher “said he has seen a “steady accumulation of evidence” from
    scientists worldwide that the measles, mumps and rubella jab is causing brain damage in certain children.”

    and the article goes on …

    But he added: “There are very powerful people in positions of great
    authority in Britain and elsewhere who have staked their reputations and careers on the safety of MMR and they are willing to do almost anything to protect themselves.”

    and then some more …

    Fletcher’s “warning follows reports that the Government is this week planning to announce the addition of a jab against pneumococcal meningitis for babies, probably from next April. It is also considering flu jabs for under-twos – not to protect the children, but adults they may infect.”

    Which powerful, authoritarian gentleman of the British medical establishment has staked his career and reputation on the “safety” of the MMR and other assorted jabs? I wonder!

  15. Mark Struthers November 1, 2011 at 9:45 pm #

    Is it possible that while ‘safe’ for most, the flu vaccine is not safe for all?


  16. Mark Struthers November 2, 2011 at 11:19 am #

    The Greater Good

    This is an important new film. It’s about vaccine safety. I think it’s very important that you watch it, Margaret.


    But who gets to decide on what is the greater good? People like Salisbury?

    PS. Remember the saying,

    “For the triumph of evil it is only necessary for good men to do nothing.”

  17. Mark Struthers November 2, 2011 at 11:33 am #

    The evidence suggests that the long term investment in vaccine safety has been woefully inadequate. However, the medical profession, via the GMC, invested more than £8 million in persecuting the Royal Free Three (Wakefield, Walker-Smith and Murch). This evidence more than confirms the greed, corruption, and also the breathtaking stupidity of the British medico-political establishment.

  18. Derek Tunnicliffe November 2, 2011 at 6:40 pm #

    I had always refused the ‘flu jab, because I felt it was based on an expectation that this year’s ‘flu would be a modification of mast year’s. But then I came across an interesting statistical analysis – not relating to this jab but to inoculations in general.

    If an inoculation (or drug) reduces the risk of a (potentially fatal) illness by 50%, but the risk of getting the illness is 1:1,000, then the risk becomes 1:2,000. However, the inoculation (or drug) likely has side effects – say 5% probability. Thus, for every 2,000 inoculated (or taking the drug) one will potentially be saved but 100 (ie 5%) will suffer side effects.

    Having seen how many friends and neighbours have fallen ill (sometimes seriously) after the ‘flu jab I am now a lifetime abstainer.

  19. Mark Struthers November 4, 2011 at 6:38 pm #

    The editor of the BMJ sits on top of a tall pillar of the medical establishment. In September, the current editor gave an hour long talk on the ‘Lessons from the MMR scare’ to a small audience at the National Institutes of Health in Washington. You can watch it here,


    The editor is not registered with the GMC. What can be done about a leading doctor who so flagrantly brings the profession into disrepute?

  20. Mark Struthers November 4, 2011 at 6:39 pm #

    Of course, there are other prominent doctors who believe that ‘the MMR has an exemplary safety record’ and that ‘the MMR is safe for all’ … despite all the contrary evidence. What can be done about such doctors?

  21. Derek Tunnicliffe November 8, 2011 at 5:43 pm #

    Further to my comments above, a friend phoned lest week. His wife (Alzheimer’s victim) was taken ill at day-care centre after ‘flu jab the day before. Day centre staff said her’s was one of several such incidents this year. Sadly, we learned today that hospital doctors had decided to withhold any further treatment – and we’re waiting final news.

    Anecdotal – so not “evidence” – but confirms us in our obstinacy over the ‘flu jab.

  22. Mark Struthers November 9, 2011 at 9:21 am #

    John Briffa has his finger firmly on the pulse and his honesty and integrity shines through his writing. Dr Briffa certainly inspires trust and respect with his excellent health blog, firmly rooted in the evidence base of medicine. He has just written again about the flu vaccine and the ongoing propaganda campaign to get everyone and his wife and children to have the flu jab.


    Of course, Professor (Sir) David Salisbury was never one to let the evidence get in the way of a policy sales drive. Drs Peter Hockey and Rachel Anderson of Lymington Forest Hospital put on an astonishing performance for the BBC: no doubt (Sir) David will have been very proud.

  23. Mark Struthers November 10, 2011 at 11:17 am #

    Fiona Godlee, the bullish BMJ editor, is currently leading another charge of the ‘MMR is safe’ brigade,


    Who is pulling her strings? Godlee may be a puppet … but she is not institutionally evil. So who is the evil puppeteer? Who could it possibly be? Any ideas, Margaret?

  24. Mark Struthers November 10, 2011 at 7:33 pm #

    A great deal of money and reputation has been invested in the vaccination program and particularly with the MMR and the flu vaccines. However, with all
    this talk of evil, it may be as well to remember the words of Mahatma Gandhi,

    “He who would do a great evil must first of all convince himself he is doing a
    great good.”

    The evidence suggests that the muppet and the puppeteers are thoroughly
    convinced of the great good they’ve done.

  25. Mark Struthers November 10, 2011 at 7:41 pm #

    Much of the evidence on vaccine safety and efficacy is profoundly disappointing. However, I remain convinced that the puppeteer and gangster’s moppet should walk the plank together.

  26. Mark Struthers November 12, 2011 at 5:21 pm #

    Go bother someone else, says Andrew Miller MP, to the editor of the BMJ,


    When the puppeteer becomes desperate, the muppet becomes an embarrassment. Godlee is embarrassing! Isn’t it time for the ‘Lady of the MMR’ to pack her bags and go?

  27. Mark Struthers November 17, 2011 at 10:08 am #

    Margaret will have noticed that in defending the safety of the MMR, the editor of the BMJ has renewed her attack on Andrew Wakefield … with an onslaught on the Royal Free pathologists. Yesterday she posted a truly extraordinary response, defending a suggestion that she had failed to comply with ‘normal ethical standards’.


    There was something of the Rupert and James about her offering, the best bit being,

    “The second point is that, even if we had concluded that we were obliged to obtain consent, we reasonably anticipated that we would have been unable to obtain it. The BMJ is not and never has been in contact with the patients or their families to the extent that, apart from one parent who has written to us, we don’t know their identities. Furthermore, given (a) the fact that most of the families of the patients in question are known to be dedicated supporters of Andrew Wakefield and opponents of Brian Deer and his work and (b) the tenor of the articles that we were proposing to publish alongside David Lewis’s letter, we reasonably believed that even if we could establish contact with the patients or their families, we would not obtain consent.”

    The lady of the MMR then went on to say,

    “Third, we considered that there was an overwhelming public interest in publication of the grading sheets and the data they contained …”

    “Public interest” in the data contained in gastroenterological pathology grading sheets? How do you think “public interest” is defined in this context? Any thoughts, Margaret?

  28. Mark Struthers November 22, 2011 at 10:19 pm #

    This is an interesting article on the topic of vaccination in general, and the deceptive history of polio vaccination in particular,


    Suzanne Humphries MD starts her article with …

    “There is plenty of confusion on the topic of vaccination, especially amongst brainwashed doctors who trusted their medical schools. Then the unsuspecting, trusting public trusts them…because the medical establishment must know best, right?”

    … after quoting a 1962 statement by Clinton R. Miller …

    “The tendency of a mass vaccination program is to herd people. People are not cattle or sheep. They should not be herded. A mass vaccination program carries a built-in temptation to oversimplify the problem; to exaggerate the benefits; to minimize or completely ignore the hazards; to discourage or silence scholarly, thoughtful and cautious opposition; to create an urgency where none exists; to whip up an enthusiasm among citizens that can carry with it the seeds of impatience, if not intolerance; to extend the concept of the police power of the state in quarantine far beyond its proper limitation; to assume simplicity when there is actually great complexity; to continue to support a vaccine long after it has been discredited;… to ridicule honest and informed consent.

    Any comment, Margaret?

  29. Mark Struthers November 25, 2011 at 7:28 am #

    Yesterday, Dr John Briffa provided some more interesting thoughts on flu and vaccination.


  30. Mark Struthers November 27, 2011 at 7:05 am #

    What is behavioural economics? What does a behavioural economist do? How do you persuade every Tom, Dick, Jane and their cat to have the MMR and a flu jab? Is it the science behind money grabbing? Is it about massaging the evidence? Is it about being economical with the truth? What about trust? Is it about power and money?


    I’m sure Margaret will be fascinated by this blurb about a conference that took place in France last week.