More flu woo from Mercola

OK, I never really liked Joe Mercola, but when I read about this story on his website, I was encouraged. Boy, do I feel like a sucker.

He started out so well, telling us about the tragic case of a child who died of influenza this year, and how health officials rapidly responded by increasing vaccine availability. Yea! He finally gets it!

Or not.

After the reasonably good piece of journalism, Mercola hops back on to the bat-shit insane wagon.

Joe’s commentary starts thusly:

This tragic story is, unfortunately, being used for all the wrong reasons; namely to promote the “universal influenza vaccination for all Americans.

Um, he must have read a different story than I. Unvaccinated girl dies of flu—public health officials respond by trying to prevent a similar tragedy.

But being unburdened by logic or truth, Mercola has an explanation:

There are three major reasons why this government push to vaccinate all children, not to mention adults and the elderly, with the flu shot is so infuriating:

1. The majority of flu shots contain 25 micrograms of mercury; an amount considered unsafe for anyone weighing less than 550 pounds. And who is most sensitive to the neurological damage that has been associated with mercury? Infants and children.

Wrong! This hypothesis has been so completely eviscerated it’s a wonder he bothers to drag it out. Most anti-vax cults have begun to change their tactics away from mercury and toward “toxins” (which is a term so vague as to be meaningless).

2. No studies have conclusively proven that flu shots prevent flu-related deaths among the elderly, yet this is one of the key groups to which they’re pushed.

Usually, folks like Mercola do their research to avoid making statements that are too easily refuted. EPIC PHAIL! Influenza vaccines have been shown to prevent flu-related morbidity and mortality in the elderly. C’mon, Joe—you can do better than that.

3. If you get a flu shot, you can still get the flu. This is because it only protects against certain strains, and it’s anyone’s guess which flu viruses will be in your area. It even says so right on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) own Web site:

“The ability of flu vaccine to protect a person depends on two things:

1) the age and health status of the person getting the vaccine, and

2) the similarity or “match” between the virus strains in the vaccine and those in circulation.”

Yes, of course. Those of us in the medical community who actually know what we’re doing have never said that flu shots protect everybody all the time from every conceivable strain of flu. But in the aggregate, flu shots prevent disease and death. And flu shot’s aren’t based on “anyone’s guess”. There actually exists a year-round, world-wide surveillance program that aids in the development of the yearly vaccine. This year’s vaccine was notable for it’s moderate gap in coverage—most years, the vaccine is so well matched, it isn’t an issue.

There is also a good chance that if you get a flu shot, you will come down with symptoms of — what else? — the flu. Side effects from the inactivated flu shot include:

* Soreness, redness, or swelling where the shot was given
* Fever (low grade)
* Aches

So friggin’ what? First, reactions to the flu shot are rare. Second, it’s much better to have a few hours of discomfort than a few weeks in and ICU on a ventilator. What an idiot.

So why would you take your chances on a flu shot that has not been proven to be effective, and that can make you feel like you’ve got the very illness you’re trying to prevent? Because the powers that be have done an excellent job of scaring people into believing that they must get a shot to stay healthy.

Beg the question much?

When a denialist uses unproven assertions as valid statements on which to base further arguments, these arguments are also invalid.

He of course goes on to explain the giant conspiracy to take your money and poison you with flu shots, but I won’t bother to quote it. You’ve heard it all before.

But he doesn’t leave his readers hanging. He gives them advice for preventing the flu without vaccines:

Here are the “secrets” I use to keep the flu (and other illnesses) at bay:

* Get plenty of sunshine or vitamin D. Fortunately, spring is here in the northern hemisphere and most can finally have access to healthy sunshine on their skin.
* Eat right for your nutritional type, including avoiding sugar
* Exercise
* Get adequate sleep
* Address emotional stress
* Wash your hands regularly (but not excessively)

Great. Just great. What an idiot. Vitamin D, while a very good thing, does not prevent the flu. Thankfully for Mercola, flu drops off in the spring naturally, so he can take the credit.

Eating right is fine (“right for you nutritional type”?) but, as long as you aren’t terribly malnourished, changing your eating habits won’t prevent the flu, nor will exercise and sleep, although both are good.

Of all his “secrets” listed, hand-washing is probably the most effective. But only vaccination saves lives.

This is not Mercola’s best effort. He really should have done his reading.