Govt. Study: Flu Shots Not Effective in Elderly–Potentially Deadly

This story was first published on CBS News in 2006. The video and story have been wiped from the Internet. However, a transcript can be found below.

An important and definitive “mainstream” government study done nearly a decade ago got little attention because the science came down on the wrong side. It found that after decades and billions of dollars spent promoting flu shots for the elderly, the mass vaccination program did not result in saving lives. In fact, the death rate among the elderly increased substantially.

The authors of the study admitted a bias going into the study. Here was the history as described to me: Public health experts long assumed flu shots were effective in the elderly. But, paradoxically, all the studies done failed to demonstrate a benefit. Instead of considering that they, the experts, could be wrong–instead of believing the scientific data–the public health experts assumed the studies were wrong. After all, flu shots have to work, right?

So the NIH launched an effort to do “the” definitive study that would actually prove, for the first time, once and for all, that flu shots were beneficial to the elderly. The government would gather some of the brightest scientific minds for the research, and adjust for all kinds of factors that could be masking that presumed benefit.

But when they finished, no matter how they crunched the numbers, the data kept telling the same story: flu shots were of no benefit to the elderly. Quite the opposite. The death rate had increased markedly since widespread flu vaccination among older Americans. The scientists finally had to acknowledge that decades of public health thought had been mistaken.

Read the government study that found no flu shot benefit in elderly

In 2006, lead author Lone Simonsen spoke with me on the phone and agreed to do an on camera interview with me on her study results, which she felt were very important. However, her bosses at the National Institutes of Health blocked the interview. I ended up finding one of her co-authors who was independent from the government and was able to interview him. These study authors who were honest, at their own career peril, should be commended.

After the Simonsen study, many international studies also arrived at the same conclusion. You probably haven’t heard much about these “incendiary” findings. Too much money being made promoting flu shots?

Read Simonsen’s commentary on her study

Read current CDC flu information

Here’s my original video story on the topic. The video has been removed. If anybody has a copy, please write to me at [email protected]

Transcript below:

Flu shots and elderly, CBS News, Sharyl Attkisson
Millions of seniors swear by their annual flu shots. After all, 90% of the people killed by the flu are 65 or older. But CBS News has learned that behind the scenes, public health officials have come to a new and disturbing conclusion: mass vaccinations of the elderly haven’t done the job. Dr. Walter Orenstein was among the first to notice the problem when he headed up the Centers for Disease Control’s national immunization program. He says it’s now become a consensus among public health experts.
Dr. Orenstein: “What is absolutely clear is that there is still a substantial burden of deaths and hospitalizations out there that has not been prevented through the present strategy.”
Here’s what scientists have found. Over 20 years, the percentage of seniors getting flu shots increased sharply from 15% to 65%. It stands to reason that flu deaths among the elderly should have taken a dramatic dip making an “X” graph like this (refers to graphic). Instead, flu deaths among the elderly continued to climb. It was hard to believe, so researchers at the National Institutes of Health set out to do a study adjusting for all kinds of factors that could be masking the true benefits of the shots. But no matter how they crunched the numbers, they got the same disappointing result: flu shots had not reduced deaths among the elderly. It’s not what health officials hoped to find. NIH wouldn’t let us interview the study’s lead author. So we went to Boston and found the only co-author of the study not employed by NIH: Dr. Tom Reichert.
Dr. Reichert: “We realized we had incendiary material.”
Dr. Reichert said they thought their study would prove vaccinations helped.
Dr. Reichert: “We were trying to do something mainstream. That’s for sure.”
Sharyl: “Were you surprised?”
Dr. Reichert: “Astonished.”
Sharyl: “Did you check the data a couple of times to make sure?”
Dr. Reichert: “Well, even more than that. We’ve looked at other countries now and the same is true.”
That international study, soon to be published, finds the same poor results in Australia, France, Canada and the UK. And other new research stokes the idea that decades of promoting flu shots in seniors, and the billions spent, haven’t had the desired result. The current head of national immunizations confirms CDC is now looking at new strategies, but stops short of calling the present strategy a failure.
Dr. Anne Schuchat: “There’s an active dialogue about how we can do better to prevent influenza and its complications in the elderly.”
So what’s an older person to do? The CDC says they should still get their flu shots. That it could make the flu less severe or prevent problems not reflected in the total numbers. But watch for CDC to likely shift in the near future more toward protecting the elderly in a roundabout way by pushing to vaccinate more children and others around the who could give them the flu. (Note: the government quickly followed this news with a recommendation to vaccinate children and infants for flu.)

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84 thoughts on “Govt. Study: Flu Shots Not Effective in Elderly–Potentially Deadly”

  1. I would need statistics for this article to be meaningful: 1) how many seniors actually GET the flu and 2) how many die from it? These data would help understand if the vaccine was reducing the incidence of infections. Better prevention is gained by controlling the mechanisms of spread of the virus rather than medications supplied because of suppositions and bias.

    1. Neal, Ms. Attkisson provided a link to the full Simonsen report containing all the methods, results (including statistics) and conclusions. The report is freely available on the JAMA website, and I recommend that everyone interested in how the government, the media, and health industry promote the flu vaccine read it.

    2. I had the flu real bad 15 years ago and , it just so happened to be the one and only time i ever got the flu shot. I havnt been sick once after that year. I feel that flu shots wont keep you from getting the flu but gives it to you instead. im just saying

      1. I got a flu shot once, in the mid-nineties. I got very sick and almost died. Never again. I have had a mild flu a few times. No big deal.

    3. Oddly enough, zero (0) seniors got the flu and zero (0) died of it in the year 2020, no doubt because they came down with c0vid and died of that instead.
      That’s how government statistics work.

        1. Mask work if I have an active infection (sneezing, coughing) and can help reduce transmission from me by a few percentage points (usability studies indicate 125). I do not believe that there has been any evidence that it can prevent me from getting it.

        2. Sorry, isolation worked. Washing hands worked. Masking never worked. There is only ONE study concerning masking, and it proved they don’t work. All governments knew they don’t work in the general population and still promoted their use to instill fear, and establish a cult following. It’s called MFP. Look THAT up

        3. You are either completely clueless or bad at sarcasm.

          It obvious that you have never once I your life been respirator certified. If you had you’d know how ignorant your remark is about masks.

        4. You are either completely clueless or bad at sarcasm.

          It obvious that you have never once I your life been respirator certified. If you had you’d know how ignorant your remark is about masks.

    4. There are no scientific stats on flu numbers because very few doctors do a PCR test for the flu. It is only assumed to be the flu when it could actually be the body detoxing. Germ theory has failed where terrain theory has succeeded. Remember, Kari Mullis the inventor of the PCR states that the PCR was never intended to diagnose any disease nor to distinguish between viruses.
      Read Thomas Cowan’s THE CONTAGION MYTH for more info..?

      1. If the PCR test was not designed to diagnose disease nor to distinguish between viruses (a true statement), then how would performing a PCR test for the flu provide useful data?

        In my experience of detoxing and of having the flu, the two have dissimilar symptoms.

  2. Flu vaccine is also known to trigger Guillain-Barre syndrome. My 78 year old healthy friend got a flu shot in January, 2015 and developed Guillain-Barre syndrome shortly afterward. As a result, he was paralyzed from the neck down, couldn’t breathe on his own and had to be placed on a respirator. After several weeks, he showed no signs of recovery and died. I’d rather take my chances with the flu.

  3. Thank you for shedding light upon this matter> I know an RN that works with the elderly who would agree with you but wouldn’t be comfortable sharing her name. xo Please keep speaking the Truth.

  4. If all studies conducted do not show benefits for the elderly do they show benefits for any age group. The results are very serious and disturbing and so are the actions by the government entities charged with protecting our health.
    (1) If they are not effective why are (NIH and CDC) they pushing them for children???
    (2) Why are NIH and CDC pushing these flu shots to anyone after all the studies indicate they are not effective.
    (3) Why hasn’t Congress been involved.

    Ms. Attkisson again excellent reporting!

    1. Exactly, sam! I share your concerns as to whether any flu shot does any good for any age group. The medical profession continues to be wrong. Don’t at butter, oops – eat butter; eat more carbs, oops – sugar (carbs) is toxic; vitamins are useless, oops – take vitamins unless your diet is optimal; let’s get those tonsils out, oops – you need them. It goes on and on.

  5. The CDC reports no such findings, though it acknowledges less effectiveness in older adults (and is vague on outcomes). No data reported.

    The “international followup” link is to an abstract if a study that included *both pneumonia and influenza* and similar to the CDC, found that the vaccine was almost totally ineffective, but made no citation for ‘increased’ mortality – only that mortality would return to normal.

    In other words, the vaccine is NOT KILLING THE ELDERLY – it just doesn’t work.

  6. Dear, did you not see the letter that said read study here. CLick on those letters to read the study. I feel sure that you will find plenty of numbers as to how many were in the study, etc. Be prepared to crunch numbers!

  7. Thank you for your reporting. I’m curious if this article was published on Nov 10. 2015, how did Neal Forbes comment on Sept 14th?

  8. How about the seniors who didn’t get flu shots? How did their death rates compare 20 years ago to the death rates of those who received shots? And more importantly, how did the death rates of the recent 35% who did’t get flu shots compare to those 65% who got the shots? Did the numbers increase at the same % rate or at a lesser or greater rate?

  9. Several years ago, as more controversy was swirling around flu shots (should you get one/not get one), and as I read more on the subject, I made the decision to stop getting the shots. This was in spite of me being in relatively poor health (physically disabled with several chronic illnesses), plus having asthma & allergies and aways being told I was “more at risk.”

    Since that time, I’ve yet to get a single case of the flu. I only got the occasional cold (and sometimes bronchitis, which I have a propensity to develop) — but no flu.

    I’ll also note that I’m an older woman — 60 y.o. to be exact — which would put me in the age group fast approaching the designation of being “elderly”…

    I do get concerned opposition from the nurses when I see my Dr around “flu season” — but they always relent & concede when my records back up my flu freedom.

    I have no regrets about my decision, and it is great to feel a little vindication vis-à-vis this article — but even without the article I’ve always felt good about my decision. Everyone should make their own INFORMED decision, then act upon it as they see fit. What works for me may not work for you — and only you can weigh out all the pros & cons, weighed out against all your health & wellness issues.

  10. Kathryn (Kit) Prate

    I made the mistake of allowing my new physician to talk me into taking the multi-strain flu shot, something I’ve voluntarily avoided for years. Three days into the injection I had the flu…explosive diarrhea, nothing — even liquids were staying int my stomach: I was chain balled to the toilet and the barf bucket for more than ten days. I will never do this again. The supposed “prevention” was made me sicker than if I had carried through with my option to not patricipate.

  11. I warned my elderly parents not to get a flu vaccine this year. Unfortunately, my 90 year old mother decided to get flu/pneumococcal vaccines while they were at the grocery store. My dad was 93 and still up and about. Two weeks later, after brief cold-like symptoms turned into a chest cough, he took a turn for the worse. We took him to the hospital where he was diagnosed with pneumonia. He was put on antibiotics and showed some improvement. Sadly, he died the next day. My mother was sick with a bad cold afterwards, but thankfully, she recovered.


    “The live attenuated influenza virus has the reduced ability to replicate in human cells, but can still stimulate immune responses [45,46]. Each year, predictions are made of three potential influenza strains for the coming season, which are based on a continuous worldwide surveillance program by the World Health Organization [42]. However, most influenza vaccines against any predicted seasonal flu provide only modest protection for the given strains, and have little efficacy in the elderly [47,48,49,50]. This is because the influenza vaccine is highly dependent on how well the vaccine strain matches the newly emerging virus.”
    Published online 2015 Jul 29. doi: 10.7774/cevr.2015.4.2.145
    PMCID: PMC4524899
    Application of radiation technology in vaccines development


    “Inactivation of viruses and bacterial toxins with formaldehyde for the preparation of vaccines has been a favourite method for most of this century. The Cutter incident in 1955 with poliovaccine focussed attention on the problems accompanying the procedure for inactivating viruses although it had been known since the 1930s that the method was not without its dangers. It had also been known since about the same time that foot-and-mouth disease vaccines prepared in this way could carry residual infectivity. The molecular methods of analysis introduced in the 1970s proved without any doubt that the outbreaks in France in 1981 and in other countries of Western Europe in the 1980s were caused by improperly inactivated vaccines. Recent molecular evidence has now shown that formaldehyde-inactivated Venezuelan equine encephalitis vaccines were the probable cause of the outbreaks of the disease during the 1969-1972 pandemic in Central America.”
    Dev Biol Stand. 1993;81:103-7.
    Review of accidents caused by incomplete inactivation of viruses.
    Brown F1.

  14. Did you read about the “CUTTER INCIDENT” in your public school Social Studies text book?

    “In April 1955 more than 200 000 children in five Western and mid-Western USA states received a polio vaccine in which the process of inactivating the live virus proved to be defective. Within days there were reports of paralysis and within a month the first mass vaccination programme against polio had to be abandoned. Subsequent investigations revealed that the vaccine, manufactured by the California-based family firm of Cutter Laboratories, had caused 40 000 cases of polio, leaving 200 children with varying degrees of paralysis and killing 10.”

    J R Soc Med. 2006 Mar; 99(3): 156.
    PMCID: PMC1383764
    The Cutter Incident: How America’s First Polio Vaccine Led to a Growing Vaccine Crisis


    Swann was the original reporter to cover the transfer of an estimated 100,000 CDC documents turned over to Congressman Posey by CDC whistleblower Dr. Thompson. Presumably, these are related to the 2004 coverup of evidence showing a link between autism and vaccines.
    I called congressman Posey’s office the day the documents were sent. His aid confirmed that they had received the documents and they were sent in an UNREDACTED, SEARCHABLE database. I originally asked them to make the database available FOR CITIZENS TO SEARCH AND READ THEMSELVES, according to the laws of INFORMED CONSENT. Obviously, that did not happened.


  16. I am 75. Because the only times I got the flu were in the years I got the shot, I asked my doctors (2) if it would be OK to just avoid the flu by avoiding the shot and they both concurred because as we all know the annually concocted flu soup is a guess and never more than 40% effective (and that’s a guess) – at the coming strain, a bigger guess at the health and environment of the patient, and it appears scientifically and anecdotally that avoiding seasonal flu can be done dozens of holistic ways without getting a shot. I’m thinking of course of a semi-nude shaman with feathered headdress and gourd rattles dancing around a fire, praying to unknown demons and speaking in tongues; to keep the flu demons away.

  17. Knock on wood but I have only had the flu two times in the past 15 years. Both times, it was within a few days after my roommate got a flu shot. She also got the flu soon after getting the shot. No thank you.

  18. I’m interested in the what the NIH and CDC “officially” say about this study and how it impacts their continuing recommendations regarding flu vaccines. Could it be as simple as saying that the vaccines are better now than the were in 2006? There must be an official response to this somewhere within these bureaucracies.

  19. Here is some more anecdotal evidence to add to the pile. My dad has had pneumonia four times in his life and each time was about two weeks after getting a flu shot. He decided never to get the flu shot again.

    My sister on the other hand works in pediatrics and her first two years in the business decided to get the flu shot since she was hanging around sick people all the time. She got the flu a month or two later both years. She decided not to get the shot in following years and hasn’t gotten the flu since.

  20. Great article, Sharyl..
    Do you think you’d be ready for the next level discussion about germ theory? That no virus has ever been isolated and proven to infect another human being? That contagion is a myth? Please do an interview with either Dr. Thomas Cowan or Dr. Andrew Kaufman. I think your audience is ready for this. It’s all about the truth, right?..?


  22. This Article and a lot of posters info here feedback put together in a New light reality Law makers as well as the CDC and all politicians in Washington and future politicians and there Family members should aknowledge as well as average citizens of America ? In light of all Sharyl good work in past few years and poster added feedback should prove to lawmakers the importance of not privatizing Social security Medicare for elderly and people with dis-abilities from life long work living around Benzene chemicals and many viruses Chemical or and contamination, and water contamination like Camp lajune base as well as other viruses and chemicals coming from other countries .Instead to help all people in America we should be negotiating Drug costs for Medicare and Medicaid and imposing a Risk higher Medicade Medicare tax on companies subjecting there Workers to Benzene and other Harmful chemicals causing damage to people’s health later in life .and Birth defects. Elderly people that develop diseases and get sick cannot get jobs if you get rid of Medicare and Medicaid ??

  23. I have had the flu most every year since I was 12. (1957) Since I started getting the flu shot back in the 80’s, I have had a case of the flu exactly once, and it was mild. I’m now 77. Maybe it doesn’t work for everyone, but it has worked for me. I had COVID before the injections came out. It was the worst thing I ever survived.

  24. From what this layman knows regarding vaccines, the purpose of a vaccine is to inject a diluted sample of the virus to excite the immune system in an effort to fight the mild virus. If one already has a deficient immune system even the diluted virus will result in a case of the flu. That normally mild case may fester into a full blown episode in which the deficient immune system fails.
    I had gotten annual flu shots for decades and never had serious bouts of the flu just minor head colds, chills and sniffles for a day or 2.
    In 2020 I opted not to get any shots but boost the immune system with zinc, C, d3, b12 etc; and had no symptoms. I think I’ll stick with no vaccine and supplements.
    The main reason I opted for no flu shot was the controversy over the COVID jabs. Now I refuse all vaccines and jabs.

  25. Surprise???
    Which ABC/NBC/CBS/PBS/MSNBC/CNN networks carried this story in its entirety?

    The real surprise is that NIH did something against the NARRATIVE.

  26. Cynthia Jeanne Lee MD

    I owned and practiced at a minor emergency clinic for 15 years. I became so distrustful of Big Pharma that I wouldn’t prescribe any drug that had not been out at least 5 years since so many of the new drugs were withdrawn within 5 years. I began reading on herbals, supplements and Asian traditional and European traditional practices. I found research that the medical school in Galveston, my alma mater, used licorice root extracts to 100% protect mice from mega amounts of influenza A . I used this for myself, my family and my patients successfully for years. I know now that people who die from respiratory infectious diseases typically are low on vitamin D. I take 20,000 IU per day and my blood level is still in the normal ranges. I know now that high ferritinn, reflecting iron overload which is common in a society with high iron diets, is a huge risk factor for septicemia, cardiovascular risk and chronic illness. The government avoids telling doctors this type of preventative information because the elites who control our government profit from our illnesses and early demise. Start researching who these elites are and which families they represent.

  27. A large university hospital is promoting flu shots with this language:

    Who should get a flu shot?
    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)(link is external) recommends annual influenza vaccination for everyone 6 months and older. Flu vaccination is especially important for adults 65 years and older, who account for most hospitalizations and deaths from flu. High dose flu shots are recommended for adults age 65 and over.

    High-dose flu shots are recommended for adults age 65 and over. High-dose flu vaccines will be available at any Michigan Medicine’s regional flu clinics and at Michigan Medicine health centers. No special scheduling request is necessary beyond the standard flu shot appointment.

    And (correct me if I’m wrong) I believe from now on flu shots will also contain mRNA

    If it contains mRNA, won’t they need to be kept a -70°? I don’t see that happening at the local CVS….

    1. This just in:

      Excellent Science Immunology study is very bad news to the mRNA/nanolipids platform!

      Showing that vaccine-induced myocarditis is likely driven by the platform & not antigen specific (i.e., spike protein)!

      Also providing another evidence of sustained heart scarring and abnormalities! Vaccine-induced myocarditis is NOT mild!
      Recent research shows it’s the mRNA platform, not the spike protein, impacting the high levels of mycoarditis:
      “Implying that future mRNA-based vaccines/drugs would have same risk!”

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