Is the vaccine program there to prevent harm or to foist commercial products on a captive market at the public expense? The parrot cry of health officials trying to bully citizens into vaccinating is that they are putting other people at risk, but it is very easy to call their bluff when they pursue a contradictory policy over nasal flu vaccine and children, a vaccine which sheds and will put in harm's way immune-compromised people and younger siblings. From September this year in the United Kingdom children above the age of two are to be offered a nasal influenza vaccine ‘Fluenz’ which is the same as the ‘Flumist’ many American children already get, and this is to be rolled out for all schoolchildren next year. Here is the text of my recent letter to the British Medical Journal, so far unpublished:
It is deeply disturbing that this senseless project ploughs forward regardless. While government seems to have seized the agenda over influenza vaccination by unwarranted claims of (influenza) mortality [1,2] there are definable risks to the use of nasal influenza vaccine. Manufacturer's product information states among other things :
"FLUENZ should not be administered to children and adolescents with severe asthma or active wheezing because these individuals have not been adequately studied in clinical studies.
"Do not administer FLUENZ to infants and toddlers younger than 12 months. In a clinical study, an increase in hospitalisations was observed in infants and toddlers younger than 12 months after vaccination (see section 4.8).
"Vaccine recipients should be informed that FLUENZ is an attenuated live virus vaccine and has the potential for transmission to immunocompromised contacts. Vaccine recipients should attempt to avoid, whenever possible, close association with severely immunocompromised individuals (e.g. bone marrow transplant recipients requiring isolation) for 1-2 weeks following vaccination. Peak incidence of vaccine virus recovery occurred 2-3 days post-vaccination in clinical studies. In circumstances where contact with severely immunocompromised individuals is unavoidable, the potential risk of transmission of the influenza vaccine virus should be weighed against the risk of acquiring and transmitting wild-type influenza virus."
Children could therefore become a mass hazard to immunocompromised people, younger siblings etc. Moreover, given the poor record of anticipating which influenza virus strains would otherwise proliferate , this could expose people unnecessarily to virus strains they would otherwise not encounter. The wisdom and ethics of this seem dubious, particularly with health officials for ever insisting that we need to vaccinate to protect other people this is manifestly a self-contradictory, not to say absurd, exercise.
 John Stone, 'Re: Author's response' 26 December 2009, http://www.bmj.com/rapid-response/2011/11/02/re-authors-response-2
 John Stone, 'Discrepancies in published data' 2 February 2010, http://www.bmj.com/content/340/bmj.c613
 Annex I, Summary of product characteristic (Fluenz) http://ec.europa.eu/health/documents/community-register/2011/2011012793189/anx_93189_en.pdf
 Jefferson T, Di Pietrantonj C, Rivetti A, Bawazeer GA, Al-Ansary LA, Ferroni E.,
'Vaccines for preventing influenza in healthy adults' http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20614424
Check lists and consent forms published the United States government and associated bodies present a remarkable list of issues which ought to be addressed before the decision to administer this vaccine is given. The very project of mass administration - say 10 million young people in a population of just over 60 million – poses the question of good sense. Here is an example from Immunize Action Coalition (which is funded by the Centers for Disease Control)):
1. Is the person to be vaccinated sick today?
2. Does the person to be vaccinated have an allergy to eggs or to a component of the influenza vaccine?
3. Has the person to be vaccinated ever had a serious reaction to intranasal influenza vaccine (FluMist) in the past?
4. Does the person to be vaccinated have a long-term health problem with heartdisease, lung disease, asthma, kidney disease, neurologic or neuromuscular disease, liver disease, metabolic disease (e.g., diabetes), or anemia or another blood disorder?
5. If the person to be vaccinated is a child age 2 through 4 years, in the past 12 months, has a healthcare provider ever told you that he or she had wheezing or asthma?
6. Does the person to be vaccinated have cancer, leukemia, HIV/AIDS, or any otherimmune system problem; or, in the past 3 months, have they taken medications that weaken the immune system, such as cortisone, prednisone, other steroids, or anticancer drugs; or have they had radiation treatments?
7. Is the person to be vaccinated receiving antiviral medications?
8. Is the child or teen to be vaccinated receiving aspirin therapy or aspirin-containing therapy?
9. Is the person to be vaccinated pregnant or could she become pregnant within the next month?
10. Has the person to be vaccinated ever had Guillain-Barré syndrome?
11. Does the person to be vaccinated live with or expect to have close contact with a person whose immune system is severely compromised and who must be in protective isolation (e.g., an isolation room of a bone marrow transplant unit)?
12. Has the person to be vaccinated received any other vaccinations in the past 4 weeks?
However, with ten million children and young people out there how much care will be taken over this? How will people even know about the medical vulnerability of all the people these children will come into contact with (what about chance encounters)? How will children of compromised health be protected in schools from the recently vaccinated?
Would it not actually be infinitely wiser not do it at all?