A quick post about Alzheimer’s and the flu shot

I’m watching the NFL Playoffs, but I wanted to show you something. Check this out:

No, that’s not an association devoted to the study of flu shots and Alzheimer’s. It’s a slide from a presentation intended to show evidence of an association between getting the flu shot and then getting Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s is a degenerative disease of the brain, where your memory, ability to think, and — in essence — who you are is gone little by little. My grandmother had Alzheimer’s, and it was horrible to see her be lost inside herself as we lost her before she died.

The physician presenting this is named in that slide, and, coincidentally, in this disciplinary action by the board of medical examiners of South Carolina. I’m not one to attack a person’s shortcomings when debating science, so I won’t. Still, it’s interesting.

Anyway, look at the second bullet point:

“If an individual has had five or more consecutive flu shots his/her chances of getting alzheimer’s is 10 times higher than if they had 1, 2, or no shots.”

To explain this perceived “association” that is being presented as causation, let’s ask ourselves one question: Who gets Alzheimer’s? To answer that question, let’s turn to a reputable source (not one that has been found to be “guilty of engaging in dishonorable, unethical, or unprofessional conduct“). The Alzheimer’s Association tells us that you are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s the older you get. (Although Alzheimer’s is “not a normal part of aging”.) So older people are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s.

Now, ask yourself, who is more likely to have had “five or more consecutive flu shots”? Well, for a very long time, people age 65 and older have been recommended to get the flu vaccine because they are at risk for serious complications if they do get the flu. Funny how two things that are most common in older people are said to be “associated”, though a causal relationship is implied. Don’t you think?

Furthermore, Alzheimer’s was first medically classified in 1906, though it has been described since ancient times. The influenza virus was not identified until the 1930’s, and the first flu vaccines were not developed until the 1940’s. Of course, in an attempt to describe as a causation something that is just an association, anti-vaccinationists will tell you that the cases of Alzheimer’s increased when the flu vaccine came around. Well, life expectancy at birth, in the United States, crossed over into the 65+ age range in the late 1940’s. Guess what else increased then as people were living older and into the risk age of Alzheimer’s? (HINT: Alzheimer’s)

By anti-vaccine logic, the flu vaccine boosted the life expectancy. (It might have helped a little.)

What does the Alzheimer’s Association have to say about all this? THIS:

To be honest, I’d rather they stick to the evidence and not attack the physician

One last thing before I get back to the Texans beating up the Bengals. Take note on who sponsored this “International Vaccine Conference”. Yep. It’s the “National Vaccine Information Center”. I’ve told you before why they should take the “information” part out of their name before here, here, here, and here. And now… Well, I’ve said it again.

Go Texans!