Houston Councilmember Protests 'Fear Mongering' Over Flu Vaccine

In an unusual turn of events at city hall today — one Houston councilmember voted against accepting a grant to fund childhood immunizations. The lone doctor on the council used his "no" vote to protest flu vaccines.

The agenda item didn't have anything to do with flu vaccinations, instead it dealt with the required vaccines that children must get to enroll in public schools — like chicken pox, measles and mumps.

But that didn't stop Houston Councilmember and chiropractor Jack Christie from protesting widespread acceptance of the flu shot.

"Hundreds and hundreds of people catch the flu from the flu vaccine. But they deny it all the time, national news and such. But to understand it totally, the average person does not have a knowledge of physiology, immunology, anatomy, anything that understands how the human body works. Natural immunity is the best prevention."

While it's true the flu vaccine is not safe for everyone, the Centers for Disease Control reports the flu shot does not contain any live virus and cannot infect people with influenza. Some people do have side effects from the shot like soreness and fatigue, which they sometimes mistake for the actual flu.

Christie went on to say that the flu doesn't kill people.

City of Houston Health Department Spokeswoman Kathy Barton says it can weaken your immune system and make you vulnerable to bacterial infections that can be deadly.

"The people who are at highest risk of a bad outcome would be someone with a compromised immune system, the very young, and the very old. And that's where we see the most problem. It's very important to immunize children for influenza because they are super conducters of infection."

The CDC estimates between 24,000 and 30,000 people in the U.S. die from influenza-related complications every year.  

Christie was the only councilmember who voted against the immunization grant. He says he never gets the flu shot. 

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Laurie Johnson

Local Host, All Things Considered

Laurie Johnson is the Houston host for All Things Considered at KUHF NPR for Houston. Before taking the anchor chair, she worked as a general assignments reporter at KUHF, starting there as an intern in 2002...