Is the Flu Shot More Effective Than a Placebo?

Peter Doshi, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, concluded that the marketing of the flu vaccine is one of the most “aggressive public health policies today.”[1] He notes that production of the influenza vaccine correlated with the perceived need for the vaccine through marketing. He notes that originally the focus of the flu vaccine was on seniors but today the market has been expanded to almost everyone, including children 6 months of age and older.

Doshi notes that that the CDC’s national guidelines, a 68 page document with 552 references only contains a few observational studies that demonstrate the flu vaccine saves lives in the elderly. Every scientist will tell you that observational studies are not considered to be the best choice in terms of studies.

What evidence exists that the influenza vaccines reduce death of older people? According to Dosi’s review there are “virtually none.” He notes that influenza vaccines are approved for older people based not on their effectiveness but that they can induce antibody production. Increasing antibodies does not necessarily translate into not getting infected with the flu.

Doshi cites a review of studies done in 2010 which review the flu vaccine’s effectiveness for healthy people. It found that, “vaccinating between 33 and 100 people resulted in one less case of influenza.”

It would seem that for many years the flu vaccine is no better than placebo. Last year was estimated to be at best 23% effective. And the year before it helped a whopping 9% of those vaccinated who were ages 65 and older.

Of course the key to flu prevention is good hygiene and maintaining an optimal immune system through healthy diet, lifestyle, and prudent supplement use. For specific research on natural agents shown in research to prevent the flu go to for additional articles and videos. As well, cutting edge information is provided in my monthly paper newsletter Health Revelations, available from

Contact the Stengler Center for an appointment regarding your immune system today!

[1] Doshi, P.Influenza: marketing vaccine by marketing disease. BMJ 2013;346:f3037.