This morning Fox & Friends, Donald Trump’s favorite TV show, ran a segment on the deadly flu season, which has killed at least 37 children so far. Dr. Marc Siegel, a practicing physician and Fox News contributor, suggested various techniques to avoiding contracting or spreading the flu and emphasized the importance of getting a flu shot.
“The flu shot, which I still say everybody out there should get, is about 30-percent effective, but it actually decreases spread around the household, it decreases severity, and it’s very smart to get it. Of the children that have died, 80 percent of them in the past hadn’t gotten a flu shot,” Siegel said.
At the very end of the segment, Siegel asked if the three Fox hosts — Brian Kilmeade, Steve Doocy, and Ainsley Earhardt — had gotten their flu shot. “No, I have not gotten one,” Kilmeade said.
Earhardt then revealed that Kilmeade refuses to get flu shots. Kilmeade confirmed that and dismissed flu shots as only 30 percent effective — a point that Siegel had already addressed. When Siegel told Kilmeade he should get the flu shot to protect his children, Kilmeade said that he would not because his kids needed to “build up their immunity.”
Kilmeade’s banter parrots dangerous anti-vaccine conspiracies. According to the CDC, even if a flu vaccine doesn’t prevent the flu, “vaccination can reduce the risk of flu-associated hospitalization, including among children and older adults.” It has also been proven “that flu vaccination can significantly reduce a child’s risk of dying from influenza,” according to a 2017 study.
A new CDC study published today in Pediatrics is the first of its kind to show that flu vaccination significantly reduced a child’s risk of dying from influenza. The study, which looked at data from four flu seasons between 2010 and 2014, found that flu vaccination reduced the risk of flu-associated death by half (51 percent) among children with underlying high-risk medical conditions and by nearly two-thirds (65 percent) among healthy children. The study findings underscore the importance of the recommendation by CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics that all children 6 months and older get an annual flu vaccine.
Even if you feel like risking it, avoiding a flu shot is a dangerous choice because vaccinating yourself helps protect “people around you, including those who are more vulnerable to serious flu illness, like babies and young children, older people, and people with certain chronic health conditions.”