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Are Mandatory Flu Shots the *Moral* Choice?

flu shots pic

See if this opinion piece by Arthur L. Caplan, Ph.D. gets you all riled up, too…

“Mandating Flu Shots Is the Moral Choice”


“The battle over vaccination has taken a fascinating new twist in Rhode Island, where the Department of Health has proposed a policy under which all children between 6 months and 5 years of age would have to be vaccinated against the flu before entering daycare or preschool.”

“The government telling parents what to do when it comes to their children’s health is hardly new. They do it a lot — from mandating car seats to banning lead paint and requiring childproof caps on drugs and pesticides. For parents who balk when it comes to science and safety, the state has a legitimate interest in overriding bad choices that can be fatal.” (Click here to read the whole article.)

Once I read it, I couldn’t let it go, the misinformation and false guilt is so WRONG. In that second excerpt his comparisons aren’t even CLOSE to apples to apples! Mandating car seats, banning lead paint, and requiring childproof caps on drugs and pesticides CAUSE NO HARM, they are SAFETY precautions NOT DRUGS which all have SIDE EFFECTS and CLEAR RISKS! Please forgive all the caps, but that’s what happens when I get goin’…

So I consulted with David, my friend, Jill’s, husband, who was forced into becoming an expert on this topic.

Read more about his story in this guest post that Jill wrote a while back:

Thankfully it riled up David, too, and he has allowed me to share his rebuttal here…

Arthur Caplan, in his opinion piece, notes that the state of RI Department Of Health has proposed a new policy which would require children between 6 months and 5 years of age to be vaccinated against the flu before entering preschool.

I am at times speechless that the flu shot has generated such debate given the poor science used to support it.

That we live in a country where laws and/or policies can be passed under the guise of science with all dissenters banished from the conversation, silenced, including parents. So much so now that even the ACLU has been stirred to action, as this issue was never really about health, which is why errant laws and policies have had to be enacted; it is about control.

No longer is our healthcare a personal choice or even a parental one, rather our kind and loving government has become our father and mother and will now be making our healthcare decisions for us.

As to some of the information cited in the opinion piece:

1.) Odds: There are over 200 viral strains that have similar effects on the body-fever, headache, fatigue/weakness, body aches, chills, sweating, runny nose, and or a sore throat. These viruses are indistinguishable from one another outside of a nasal or blood test. Flu shots or mists are only purportedly effective against 3 (trivalent) to 4 (quadrivalent) strains of the above noted viruses. So odds are low that one actually has influenza to begin with (80-90% of the time, what we call “the flu” is actually flu-like illness). If you were a betting individual, you would not find the odds in favor of catching influenza, but keep reading….

2.) Morbidity (injury) and mortality: Flu deaths have declined significantly over the past 70 years–in spite of three recognized pandemics–to 0.56 per 100,000, and in spite of widespread flu shot use only beginning in the 80’s (P. Doshi 2008). Between 1997-2013 laboratory confirmed flu in the US was found to be positive in approximately 16% of samples (P. Doshi, Influenza: marketing vaccine by marketing disease 2013). In the state of Texas during the 2012-2013 flu season there were greater than 54,000 samples tested (meaning that 54,000 people were suspected of having the flu) but only 16.7% of the samples tested positive for influenza (Texas Department of State Health Services 2013). The CDC notes through “October 1, 2013 and January 18, 2014, 4,615 laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated hospitalizations were reported.” (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-Influenza Division 2014) or 17 hospitalizations/100,000 individuals in the US. The severity, frequency and deaths rates from the flu do not warrant legislative or policy actions such as what we are seeing presently. Something just doesn’t add up here.

3.) Statistical spin: Vaccines are tested through randomized control (RCT’s) and observational studies. Findings of how well a vaccine works is reported as “vaccine efficacy” in an RCT and “vaccine effectiveness” in an observational study. When the CDC reports that the flu shot is 64% effective it does not mean what you or I might think it means. When I first read that statistic, the first thought crossing through my mind was that if I were to get the shot I would be 64% less likely to contract the flu. Not true. Three terms that are critical to understanding flu shot science:

a. Event rate: how often something happens. For instance, flu rates between vaccinated and unvaccinated groups.

b. Absolute risk reduction: the difference between event rates. Meaning, if the event rate of the vaccinated group was 1/100 (1% of the group contracted the flu) and the non-vaccinated group was 2/100 (2% of the group contracted the flu). The absolute risk reduction would be 2-1=1%. In this case there would be a 1% risk reduction from the intervention. Whenever the event rate is low (recall that only ~16% of suspected influenza tests positive for influenza=low event rate) the absolute risk reduction is also low.

c. Relative Risk reduction: statistical spin. Take the difference between the two groups and express it as a proportion of the event rate, or %. In the above example, the relative risk reduction would be 50% (2-1=1/2=50%)

When the CDC says that the vaccine effectiveness rate is 64 % they are not reporting absolute risk as we would hope, rather they are citing relative risk. Meaning, what really happened wasn’t that impressive. Observational studies are rife with problems that can’t be controlled, the biggest of which is healthy user bias (what did the two groups do outside of the intervention vs. nonintervention to help reduce their risk contracting the flu — hand washing, eating healthy, avoiding sick individuals, vitamin D…etc.) Unfortunately, observational studies are the only type of studies allowed in this area as the CDC notes:

“The most common approach now used to evaluate how well licensed influenza vaccines work is an observational or vaccine effectiveness study. Once an influenza vaccine has been licensed by FDA, recommendations are typically made by CDC’s Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices (ACIP) for its routine use. For example, ACIP now recommends annual influenza vaccination for all U.S. residents aged 6 months and older. These universal vaccine recommendations make it unethical to perform efficacy (i.e., experimental randomized) studies with persons who are explicitly recommended to receive vaccine, especially because assigning people to a placebo group could place them at risk for serious complications from influenza.” (Centers for Disease Prevention and Prevention-Flu vaccine effectiveness 2013).

We may never know the true effect of the flu shot based upon the above; hence, legislation and policy forcing vaccinations. Hmmm…

4.) Does it work or cause harm? It may actually make you sicker, more likely to contract the flu the following season, increase your risk of contracting a flu requiring medical intervention…etc. The FDA requires that the package inserts of all of the flu shots or mists state the there have not been safety or efficacy studies on pregnant women and in some cases nursing mothers as well.

Where are the efficacy and safety studies for all of the 6 month olds? Vaccine injuries are on the rise.

The Advisory Commission on Childhood Vaccines (ACIV) notes that awards for fiscal year 2010 “dramatically increased to $179 million, more than double the several years before.” (Advisory Commission on Childhood Vaccines 2011). The number of case filings between 2008 and 2010 has tripled due to the increase in flu shot and human papillomavirus vaccine injury claims with a close to 40% increase in the number of adult-filed claims due to the increase in flu shot utilization (Advisory Commission on Childhood Vaccines 2011). In the first quarter of fiscal year 2011, 39% of the cases submitted for review were from the flu shot with 30% of the injuries reported being from Guillian Barre Syndrome (Advisory Commission on Childhood Vaccines 2011). Not to mention, where are the studies looking at the long-term effect of 80+ flu shots over the course of a lifetime?

This could go on. For example, vaccine-induced herd immunity (several studies have found that there is no such thing), informed consent vs. coercion (certainly implied in this case), not to mention the serious issue of pharmaceutical corruption (Ethics-Harvard 2013). Bottom line: the flu is over-marketed and the flu shot does not work as advertised. Consequently, parents that care for and love their kids are much more capable of making their healthcare decisions than an enacted law or policy when they have the truth to work with.

I am of the opinion that the moral choice is to allow for the truth and then let parents make their own decisions for their children.

Do you agree with David? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below, and please share this post with the buttons below to help get the TRUTH out before the whole world goes NUTS on us!

David Boman, OTR/L, MBA, has over 20 years of experience in the healthcare industry as an occupational therapist, consultant, practice owner, and healthcare administrator-hospital based management and healthcare related business development. Further, he has served both oversees and locally as a volunteer healthcare provider. As a result of flu vaccine mandates for healthcare workers, which affected him directly, David has completed significant research and analysis on issues surrounding the flu vaccine, which will be covered in his soon-to-be released e-book on the subject.

Click here to scroll down through more shocking flu vaccine stories


  • Advisory Commission on Childhood Vaccines. Advisory Commission on Childhood Vaccine Minutes March 3-4 2011. Minutes from commission meeting, Advisory Commission on Childhood Vaccine, 2011, 1-20.
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-Influenza Division. Flu View. Jan 24, 2014. (accessed Jan 27, 2014).
  • Centers for Disease Prevention and Prevention-Flu vaccine effectiveness. Flu Vaccine Effectiveness: Questions and Answers for Health Professionals. Nov 27, 2013. (accessed Jan 28, 2014).
  • Doshi, P. “Influenza: marketing vaccine by marketing disease.” BMJ, May 2013: 1-6.
  • Doshi, Peter. Trends in Recorded Influenza Mortality: United States, 1900–2004. May 2008. (accessed Jan 24, 2014).
  • Ethics-Harvard. JLME Issue on Institutional Corruption and the Pharmaceutical Industry. Sept 30, 2013. (accessed Feb 19, 2014).
  • Texas Department of State Health Services. 2012-2013 DSHS Flu Report Week 39 . Oct 4, 2013. (accessed Jan 24, 2014).


  1. Agreed! What are the doctors getting in return? My husband had to have a physical for his job recently, and the doctor pushed to give him a flu shot. To the point that she tried bullying him with , “What’s the matter? Are you scared of needles?” It’s ridiculous!

  2. I believe that you hit the nail right on the head. I haven’t had a flu shot in years, I decided way back that every time I got a flu shot I seemed to get sick so I don’t take them anymore. My Dr. tells me each year it’s time for my flu shot and that I should have one because I’m diabetic and each year I tell him the same thing, NO THANKS! My son was forced into having a TDR shot or he wouldn’t be able to go to class when he was in high school and I still believe that it made his OCD worse. I still don’t know the reason why all students had to have one, except maybe someone on the school board had stock shares in the pharmaceutical company supplying it. There didn’t seem to be any reasonable explanation.

  3. Excellent article! One small but key correction to #3-b: “The absolute risk reduction would be 2-1=1%. In this case there would be a 1% risk reduction from the intervention.”

    This should read, “The absolute risk reduction would be 2-1 = 1 percentage point.”
    The difference between 2% and 1% is not 1 percent, but 1 percentage point (one point out of a hundred).

    • And the second sentence should read: “In this case there would be a one percentage-point risk reduction from the intervention.” Actually better wording might be: In this case the intervention would explain a one percentage-point drop in risk.

  4. The topic of vaccination being a moral issue to protect others really bothers me. I have researched vaccines for 8 years now on both sides. When it comes to this argument it shouldn’t even matter if you believe in vaccinations or not. I know plenty of women just this past year in my circle of friends that have passed around articles on FB about how someone”s baby died from pertussis because someone else wasn’t vaccinated against it. Or there are articles that talk about how “the anti- vacs community needs to stop being selfish” and go vaccinate their kids to protect those that can’t be vaccinated. Not only are they ignoring facts stated in the package inserts about vaccine safety and actual government studies done on specific vaccine efficacy, but they are calling anyone who questions the safety of vaccines selfish. Don’t they see the hypocrisy in their stance? Shouldn’t the child’s safety be the most important one in this issue? I am a religious person and I am a Christian. These women share my faith, and yet they seem to have forgotten what they believe, and fallen for the propaganda that is being pushed on the American people about this issue. I think those that support vaccination and call it safe do recognize that there is a risk in every shot, but they see it as a small one worth taking. That is their choice to make and I respect that. But they turn around and call me selfish because I’m not willing to take that risk for my child. Even if that risk is less than 1 in 1 billion, isn’t that child worth it? How can a society think it’s ok to sacrifice one child “for the good of the many”. I don’t see that as a Christian view. That child isn’t choosing it. When they are an adult they can choose that risk if they want to. I would never ask someone to sacrifice their child for mine for any reason. Even Jesus Christ had a choice, he could have let the cup pass from him. But he was the savior of the world and he “CHOSE”to do what he did. How does this argument sound to a parent of a vaccine injured child? Their child had to be sacrificed for the safety of the society we live in? Other parents that should have empathy and concern for the parents of these children, instead they turn a blind eye or insist that regardless of the proof, the vaccines didn’t cause it? I understand the drug companies stance on eliminating public choice in vaccination. But how can society not be united in improving vaccine safety? It should be the their number 1 priority because the 1 in a billion child is worth it.

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