NVIC Vaccine News

CDC Admits Flu Shots Fail Half the Time

By Barbara Loe Fisher
Published April 26, 2016 in Infectious Diseases & Vaccines


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Americans have never been big fans of flu shots. During the 2009 “swine flu” influenza A pandemic, only about 40 percent of adults bothered to roll up their sleeves. 1 Last year, flu vaccine rates were still just 47 percent for adults but pediatricians had vaccinated 75 percent of children under two years old. 2

Perhaps it is because parents are being thrown out of pediatricians’ offices if they don’t give their children every federally recommended vaccine – or maybe it is just because adults can talk about how they felt after getting vaccinated and infants and children under age two cannot.


How many times has someone told you: “The year I got a flu shot is the only year I got sick” or maybe you learned that the hard way yourself after getting vaccinated.

Doctors insist that just because we get sick with a fever, headache, body aches and a terrible cough that hangs on for weeks after getting vaccinated, it doesn’t mean the vaccine made us sick. They say it was just a “coincidence” because correlation does not equal causation. 3 4

Well, that may be true some of the time, but now the CDC is admitting that flu shots don’t prevent influenza most of the time. 5 In fact, studies show that a history of seasonal flu shots can even make people more susceptible to getting sick with a fever, headache, body aches and a terrible cough that hangs on for weeks! 6 But just like with pertussis infections, a lot of people also get and transmit influenza infections without showing any symptoms at all. 7 8 9

Previous Flu Shots Raised Risks for Pandemic Flu

During the 2009 swine flu pandemic, scientists in the Netherlands asked a big question: Do annual flu shots preventing natural influenza A infections in infants and young people increase their risk of illness and death when a highly pathogenic pandemic influenza strain develops and circulates? 10 The answer to that big question was “Yes” when, in 2010, Canadian health officials confirmed that school aged children and healthy young adults, who had gotten a flu shot the previous season, were at twice the risk of coming down with pandemic A swine flu in 2009 that was severe enough to require a trip to the doctor’s office. 11 

Then, between 2011 and 2014, researchers in Europe published a number of studies providing evidence that immune responses to natural influenza infections and vaccinations are quite different, and very much affect the quality and length of immunity. 12

Most People Don’t Show Flu Symptoms, Vaccinated People More Likely to Get Sick

flu virus

Here is what they found when they studied the 2009/2010 pandemic flu season:

  • First, repeated annual flu shots may hamper certain kinds of immune responses, making young vaccinated children, who have never been naturally infected with influenza virus, “more susceptible to infection with a pandemic influenza virus of a novel subtype.” 13
  • Second, about 75 percent of children and adults who got influenza didn’t show any symptoms, and those who did have symptoms self managed without needing medical attention. Plus, hospitalizations and death rates for confirmed influenza infections were very low in the flu pandemic.
  • Third, many unvaccinated persons, who did not get sick during the pandemic flu season, were “silently” infected with pandemic influenza anyway and mounted a strong T-cell immune response to the new influenza strain. 14
  • Fourth, compared with people who remained unvaccinated, those who got a pandemic flu shot were more likely to get sick with an “influenza like illness” (ILI) caused by a rhinovirus. 15

Rhinoviruses cause the common cold and other upper and lower respiratory infections that give you a fever, headache, body aches and a terrible cough that hangs on for weeks. So correlation does not always equal causation, but sometimes it really does.

Now let’s take a closer look at flu vaccine effectiveness and influenza related hospitalizations and deaths in the U.S.

CDC’s Influenza Morbidity & Mortality Numbers Don’t Add Up

For years, the CDC has been promoting the notion that flu shots are between 70 and 90 percent effective in preventing influenza 16 and everybody needs to get vaccinated because type A and type B influenza causes more than 200,000 hospitalizations and 36,000 deaths in the U.S. every year. 17

Here are the facts:

FACT: There were about 2.5 million deaths in the U.S. in 2013, mostly from heart disease, cancer and other chronic diseases. About 57,000 deaths were categorized “influenza and pneumonia” with the majority occurring in people over age 65. 18 Because pneumonia is not only a complication of influenza, but is also a complication of many other viral and bacterial respiratory infections, the breakdown for 2013 was about 3,700 influenza-classified deaths and 53,000 pneumonia deaths in all age groups, with 20 influenza deaths in infants under age one.19

man getting vaccinated

FACT: A federal health agency reported that, in 2004, there were about 37,000 Americans hospitalized for influenza with patients over age 85 twice as likely to die. 20 The figure of 37,000 influenza hospitalizations is five times less than the number of 200,000 the CDC has been using. That is because CDC officials came up with their influenza hospitalization "guesstimate" by counting a lot of hospitalized people, who also had pneumonia, respiratory and circulatory illnesses, which they counted as probably associated with influenza. 21 22

FACT: Influenza-like-illness (ILI) symptoms, such as fever, sore throat, congestion, cough, body aches and fatigue that are severe enough to prompt a trip to the doctor, rarely turn out to be actual type A or B influenza infection. In the past two years, when the CDC tested specimens of influenza-like-illness cases, only between 3 percent and 18 percent were positive for type A or B influenza. 23 24 Most of the respiratory illness cases making people sick enough to seek medical care were caused by other viruses or bacteria.

So just how effective IS that flu shot your doctor tells you to get every year? 25

Flu Vaccine Effectiveness: From Zero to Low

After studying influenza infections during 2012-2013 in the states of Michigan, Wisconsin, Washington and Pennsylvania, U.S. public health officials reported in 2015 that flu vaccine effectiveness was quite low: between 39 percent and 66 percent, depending upon the influenza strain. 26

sad medical personnel

Here is what else they learned:

  • For adults over age 65 years, vaccine effectiveness was close to ZERO.
  • There was “unexpectedly low vaccine effectiveness for the influenza A strain among older children compared to other age groups,” especially for those who had gotten previous annual flu shots.
  • S. health officials also found that unvaccinated people were more likely to report their general health status as “excellent” compared to vaccinated people.

In January 2016, U.S. government officials finally publicly admitted that flu vaccines are only 50 to 60 percent effective at preventing lab confirmed influenza requiring medical care in most years. 27  In fact, a CDC analysis of flu vaccine effectiveness for the past decade – from 2005 to 2015 - demonstrated that more than half the time, seasonal flu shots are less than 50 percent effective!

In 2004-2005, the flu shot failed 90 percent of the time, 28 and last year failed 77 percent of the time. 29 Estimates for flu shot effectiveness this year is a not very impressive 59 percent. 30

Public Health Doctors Push Ineffective, Reactive Flu Vaccine

The sad part is that public health doctors have known since the first influenza vaccine was licensed in 1945, that influenza vaccines don’t work very well. 31 3233 But that did not stop them from recommending in 2010 that every child and adult should get an annual flu shot starting at six months old and through the last year of life. 34 And by 2013, health care workers declining an annual flu shot were being fired from their jobs. 35 36 37

woman in pain

This is being done, despite the fact that influenza vaccine reactions causing inflammation of the nerves, known as Guillain Barre Syndrome, and other chronic health problems are the number one most compensated vaccine injuries for adults in the federal vaccine injury compensation program, 38 which has awarded more than 3.3 billion dollars to victims of government recommended vaccines under the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986. 39

Public Health Doctors Admit They Don’t Know Much About Flu Virus or How to Measure Immunity

This is being done, despite the fact that scientists know that there are several hundred types of type A, B, and C influenza viruses that are constantly recombining and creating new virus strains. 40 41 Public health officials admit they still do not know how to accurately predict when and how influenza viruses will mutate and which strains will be dominant in a given flu season, and they still don’t know how to measure immunity and long term protection. 42 43

In 2011, Michigan epidemiologists investigated influenza infections in healthy men and women and concluded that simply measuring the number of antibodies in the blood should not be used as a surrogate for vaccine efficacy because antibody titers “may not protect.” 44 In 2013, the CDC confirmed that high antibody titers, especially in seniors and young children, does not predict flu vaccine effectiveness. 45

If doctors have been using an inaccurate blood test to measure immunity and vaccine efficacy for 70 years, what does that say about the accuracy of 70 years of vaccine studies?

Public health officials also admit they don’t know:

  • how the genetic diversity of viruses and bacteria interact with human genes; 46 or
  • how age, natural immunity, vaccination and genetics affect individual immune responses to influenza infection; 47 or
  • how repeated natural infections and vaccinations affect individual and herd immunity. 48 49

National Vaccine Plan: Flu Shots From Cradle to Grave

National Vaccine Plan

It is shocking that government health officials have devised a National Vaccine Plan that lobbies for every single American to get a flu shot from cradle to the grave before the real science is in. 50 51 Putting vaccine policy before the science is bad public health policy. Conducting uncontrolled vaccine experiments on people, who have been taught to believe and trust government health policy and now are being forced to obey strict “no exceptions” vaccine laws, has far reaching consequences. 52

Go to NVIC.org and learn more. Sign up for the free NVIC Advocacy Portal and become active in your state to protect vaccine exemptions from being eliminated by the Pharma, Medical Trade and Public Health industries.

It’s your health. Your family. Your choice.


3 Anaegbunam JA. Refusing the flu shot: Respecting the patient’s right to choose. KevinMD.com Jan. 29, 2014.
4 DHHS. Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS). https://vaers.hhs.gov/data/index
6 Magalhaes I, Eriksson M, Linde C et al. Difference in immune response in vaccinated and unvaccinated Swedish individuals after the 2009 influenza pandemic. BMC Infectious Diseases 2014; 14: 319.
7 Ibid.
10 Bodewes R, Joost HCM et al. Yearly influenza vaccinations: a double-edged sword? The Lancet 2009; 9(12): 784-788.
12 Bonduelle O, Carrat F, Luyt CE et al. Characterization of pandemic influenza immune memory signature after vaccination or infection. J Clin Investigation 2014; 124(7): 3129-3136.
13 Bodewes R, Fraaij PLA, Geelhoed-Mieras MM et al. Annual Vaccination against Influenza Virus Hampers Development of Virus-Specific CD8+ T Cell Immunity in Children. J Virol 2011; 85(22): 11995-12000
14 Magalhaes I, Eriksson M, Linde C et al. Difference in immune response in vaccinated and unvaccinated Swedish individuals after the 2009 influenza pandemic. BMC Infectious Diseases 2014; 14: 319.
15  Ibid.
16 Fiore AE, Bridges CB, Cox NJ. Seasonal influenza vaccines. Curr Top Microbiol Immunol 2009; 333: 43-82.
17 Reinberg S. Flu Season Off to A Very Late Start: CDC. Health Day Feb. 23, 2012
18 Xu J, Murphy SL et al. Deaths: Final Data for 2013. National Vital Statistics Reports Feb. 16, 2016. 64(2).
20 Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Influenza Most Deadly for the Very Elderly. AHRQ Press Release Nov. 7, 2006.
22 Thompson WW, Shay DK et al. Influenza Associated Hospitalizations in the United States. JAMA 2004; 242(11): 1333-1340.
25 Fiore AE, Bridges CB, Cox NJ. Seasonal influenza vaccines. Curr Top Microbiol Immunol 2009; 333: 43-82.
26 McLean HQ, Thompson MG, Sundaram ME et al. Effectiveness in the United States During 2012-2013: Variable Protection by Age and Virus Type. J Infect Dis 2015; 211(10): 1529-1540.
30  CDC. Flu Vaccine Nearly 60 percent effective. CDC Press Release Feb. 24, 2016.
32 Fisher BL. Flu Vaccine: Missing the Mark. The Vaccine Reaction Spring 2004.
33 Jefferson T, DiPietrantonj C et al. Vaccines for preventing influenza in healthy adults. Cochrane Database Syst Rev July 7, 2010.
35 Hendricks L. Six at FMC out over flu shots. Arizona Daily Sun Jan. 18, 2013.
36 Fisher BL. Women, Vaccines and Bodily Integrity. NVIC Newsletter Jan. 24, 2013.
40  Fleischmann WR. Viral Genetics. In: Medical Microbiology, 4th Edition. University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston 1996.
41  Krejitz JH, Fouchier RA, Rimmelzwaan GF. Immune responses to influenza virus infection. Virus Res 2011; 162(1-2): 19-30.
42 Combadiere B, Siberil S, Duffy D. Keeping the memory of influenza viruses. Pathol Biol (Paris) 2010; 58(2).
44 Ohmit SE, Petrie JG, Cross RT et al. Influenza Hemagglutination-Inhibition Antibody Titer as a Correlate of Vaccine-Induced Protection. J Infect Dis 2011; 204: 1878-1885.
45  Reber A, Katz J. Immunological assessment of influenza vaccines and immune correlates of protection. Exp Rev Vaccines 2013; 12(5): 519-536.
46 Lemaire D, Barbosa T, Rihet P. Copying with genetic diversity – the contribution of pathogen and human genomics to modern vaccinology. Braz J Med Biol Res 2012; 45(5): 376-385
47 Bonduelle O, Carrat F, Luyt CE et al. Characterization of pandemic influenza immune memory signature after vaccination or infection. J Clin Investigation 2014; 124(7): 3129-3136.
48 Combadiere B, Swendlow DL, Borse RH et al. Keeping the memory of influenza viruses. Pathol Biol (Paris) 2010;58(2).
49 Neuzil KM. How Can We Solve the Enigma of Influenza Vaccine Induced-Protection? J Infect Dis 2015; 211(10): 1517-1518.
50 DHHS. US National Vaccine Plan. National Vaccine Program Office 2010.

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15 Responses to "CDC Admits Flu Shots Fail Half the Time"
Commenter Name
William B. Grant
Posted: 4/28/2016 12:23:57 PM
Vitamin D can reduce the risk of influenza incidence and death by ensuing pneumonia. This has been demonstrated by ecological and observational studies as well as by clinical trials (in New York and Japan). Search www.pubmed.gov with "influenza vitamin D" for 113 entries. Add "pneumonia" to that search to see 8 listings. Go to Scholar.Google.com and do the same thing to see the number of citations to each paper as well as obtain many of the papers. Unfortunately, the U.S. health care system tries to discourage using vitamin D, very likely since it competes with offerings from Big Pharma and reduces the need for costly health care.
Commenter Name
Posted: 4/28/2016 1:47:49 PM
I was sickened after every flu shot and told it was just a coincidence. Finally, one year I was sickened so badly that I stopped taking the flu shot altogether. What about pneumonia vaccination, is it the same bad story?
Commenter Name
David Paton
Posted: 4/28/2016 6:44:58 PM
Dear Barbara Loe Fisher, Thank you for this new video. I think it is the best critique of the vaccine industry ever. David Paton Sharon, CT
Commenter Name
Posted: 4/28/2016 9:45:18 PM
"There was “unexpectedly low vaccine effectiveness for the influenza A strain among older children compared to other age groups,” especially for those who had gotten previous annual flu shots." There is a good explanation for that. Long Term Persistence of IgE Anti-Influenza Virus Antibodies in Pediatric and Adult Serum Post Vaccination with Influenza Virus Vaccine http://www.medsci.org/v08p0239.htm As people get more flu shots, they develop more IgE antibodies. IgE is long lived ( several years). IgG needed for flu protection is short lived ( few months). In people who received previous annual flu shots, the IgE antibodies bind to the newly injected vaccine proteins, making them unavailable for IgG generation. Thus making the vaccine ineffective.
Commenter Name
Bob LaRue
Posted: 4/28/2016 9:51:04 PM
Excellent points Barbara.
Commenter Name
Jack Heginbotham
Posted: 4/29/2016 12:29:55 AM
The Emperor is not wearing any clothes. Tens of Millions in this Nation know the Flu Vaccine causes more disease than it prevents. Unfortunately, most of them have very little formal instruction concerning scientific method. They are knowledgeable first hand that vaccines cause illness and common sense tells them that repeatedly injecting toxic chemicals into small children is probably not wise. Unfortunately these untold millions are afraid to say anything publicly due to fear of ridicule by the trolls who frequent social media web sites and physician offices. Many in the know are "College Educated" but their lack of research experience in college makes them easily intimidated by the gobbledygook shop talk "Experts in Virology" routinely use when explaining how a dead virus mixed with toxic chemicals creates immunity. I would like to hear an expert explain, in layperson terms: How do they know "attenuated" virus' are really attenuated? Whatever that means? A virus is either dead or alive?...If it can't reproduce it dies. If it can reproduce then it is a live virus. Since none of the manufacturers ever do viral cultures of the final product as a quality control standard; How do they know whether the attenuation process actually damaged the virus' enough to prevent infection? How do they know the vaccine was not contaminated by a stray virus not susceptible to the "Attenuation" process? I think at some point we need to start talking about polio before that generation completely dies off. The Polio Vaccine caused disease, it did not prevent it. Discouragement of using shady swimming holes, Building more public swimming pools and setting a chlorination standard for ALL those public pools, ended the dreaded summer outbreaks of Polio.
Commenter Name
Aubrey Enoch
Posted: 4/29/2016 12:10:10 PM
What would it take for people to grasp that this is part of a mass program of Induced Impairment by the 1%. Sick people can't fight back. I know.... conspiracy theory and all that. What is the federal govt. other than a big conspiracy. The facts of the harm from the american food system and the american "health" system and the poisoning of the public water supplies make it so clear that this is way beyond stupidity. Injecting who knows what into the bodies of new born babies has got to be the most heinous crime in human history. But we are supposed to remain civil and calm while the predator 1% chews our throats out? Thanks NVIC for standing up for all of us.
Commenter Name
Posted: 4/29/2016 4:43:21 PM
Fails half the time to give everyone the flu!
Commenter Name
Heidi Huften
Posted: 4/30/2016 9:10:55 AM
How can the government make it mandatory for institutions to mandate the flu shot or wear a mask (which is a HIPPA violation) for healthcare workers, when the statistics simply don't back up their theory?
Commenter Name
Posted: 5/2/2016 7:42:14 AM
Heidi Huften, The gov't can make it mandatory because they are heavily beholden to the makers of these vaccines. Look at Dr. Richard Pan, who received money from big pharma and then wrote the state bill that made vaccination mandatory with no exemptions in CA. Look at the former CDC director Julie Gerberding who then went to work for Merck's (maker of MMR) vaccine division. Nothing to see here. Look at Margaret Hamburg, a former FDA commissioner whose husband ran a hedgefund invested heavily in Johnson & Johnson while she was withholding the dangers of their antibiotic, Levaquin, from the public. Statistics & facts don't matter. Money does.
Commenter Name
Eric Baum
Posted: 5/3/2016 4:00:21 AM
The CDC has two different terms. "Vaccine Efficacy" is measured using a double blind randomized placebo test. If the people who got the vaccine got the targeted disease 20 times less than the people who got the placebo, then the vaccine efficacy would be 95%. Getting the vaccine seems to make you 20 times less likely to get the disease than you would if you'd got a placebo. "Vaccine Effectiveness" is what they usually talk to you about. Here's how they often measure vaccine effectiveness, especially I've noticed for flu vaccines. "Vaccine effectiveness was estimated as 100% x (1 - odds ratio [ratio of odds of being vaccinated among outpatients with influenza-positive test results to the odds of being vaccinated among outpatients with influenza-negative test results])" In other words, if the flu vaccine makes recipients four times a likely to get another respiratory disease, and does nothing whatsoever to help with flu, it is calculated to have an effectiveness of 75% If it makes you twice as likely to get flu, and four times as likely to get another respiratory disease, then it is counted as having an effectiveness of 50%. For citations and a more in-depth analysis see: http://truthsift.com/search_view?id=386
Commenter Name
Stephen J Sanborn
Posted: 9/13/2016 11:43:41 AM
You can bet the bank that if the CDC admits that flu shots fail half the time.....they actually fail ALL of the time. Quite a scam....and the sheep keep lining up.
Commenter Name
Avinash Talasila
Posted: 10/18/2016 1:01:33 PM
In response to this comment “The year I got a flu shot is the only year I got sick”, I would like to give out a rationale that explain the situation. In general a person gets sick based on many factors of which two important ones are the amount of organism that is ingested and the capacity of resistance of the body to fight them. Either the amount of organism or the immune capacity of the body may not be the same every time you have an attack. Getting vaccinated against flu can help in providing additional (Supplementary) support for the immune system to fight the actual organism in case of outbreak.
Commenter Name
Linda Hall
Posted: 1/17/2017 4:40:52 PM
The flu nearly killed me in 1975. So I began getting a yearly flu shot in 1976 and have every year since then. The last time I had the flu was 1975! Go figure!
Commenter Name
Posted: 3/20/2019 6:54:44 AM
the last time i had the (36 hour intense throwing up, temp, aches) flu was the one time i got a flu shot. I haven't been that sick since being a little kid. Will never do that again. Some people love to say the injection had nothing to do with it. Course, they weren't there.
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