23 Seniors Died After Receiving Flu Shots-Fiction!
Summary of eRumor:
Reports have gone viral that 23 seniors died after receiving flu shots sold at pharmacies.
Flu vaccines purchased at pharmacies haven’t killed 23 seniors.
The rumor that the flu vaccine had killed 23 seniors first surfaced in 2013, but it wasn’t true back then, either.
An FDA package insert for the Fluzone high-dose flu vaccine from 2013 stated that 23 seniors had died within 180 days of receiving a flu vaccine — out of a total of 15,992 seniors who participated in clinical trials. The conclusion was that the flu vaccine itself caused none of the 23 deaths:
No deaths were reported within 28 days post-vaccination. A total of 23 deaths were reported during the period Day 29–180 post-vaccination: (0.6%) among Fluzone High-Dose recipients and 7 (0.6%) among Fluzone 1 recipients. The majority of these participants had a medical history of cardiac, hepatic, neoplastic, renal, and/or respiratory diseases. No deaths were considered to be caused by vaccination.
So, 23 seniors (out of 15,992 who received flu shots in the clinical trials) died from natural causes within six months of receiving the flu shot. That’s not unusual.
The website Health Impact News, however, published a report under the headline “Package insert for Fluzone flu vaccine marketed to seniors reveals 23 seniors died during drug trial.” The story, which has been shared nearly 20,000 times on social media sites, questions how the FDA determined that the 23 seniors had died from causes unrelated to the flu vaccine.
The simple answer is that it’s not out of the ordinary for 23 seniors out of 15,992 who participate in any clinical trial to die of natural causes within six months. Taking those 23 deaths out of context has created (false) panic that the flu vaccine is potentially fatal, and that has not been proven.
In reality, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that the flu vaccine saved 40,000 lives over a nine-year span. Many of those prevented deaths were among children and seniors:
Estimates from the study showed that the majority of the flu-associated deaths prevented—nearly 89 percent (88.9%)—were in people 65 years of age and older. Next to older people, young children 6 months through 4 years of age benefitted most from flu vaccine in terms of the percentage of deaths averted. Children younger than 5 years old and adults 65 years of age and older are at high risk of serious flu complications and typically account for the majority of flu-associated deaths and have the highest flu-associated hospitalization rates.
The study included a breakdown of deaths prevented by season. The most deaths were prevented during the 2012-2013 season, when nearly 9,400 deaths were prevented by vaccination, despite modest estimated vaccine effectiveness that season. Like the current 2014-2015 flu season, H3N2 viruses circulated predominantly during the 2012-2013 season.
Studies indicate that flu shots are not potentially fatal for seniors and can help prevent flu-related deaths.
Did 23 seniors die after receiving flu vaccinations?