Does IMAC Breach Advertising Standards and Promote Medical Fraud?

IMAC (“Immunisation Advisory Centre”) / NSIG (“National Influenza Strategy Group”) promotes the influenza shot online. They present the flu shot as a necessary, effective and safe way to prevent people from contracting or spreading one of the countlessly mutating forms of influenza virus that circulate in a given season.

Does their current online promotion of the flu shot breach advertising standards? Furthermore, is it blatant scientific fraud? 

Let’s explore.

According to the Advertising Standards Authority’s Advertising Code of Ethics, “no advertisement should be misleading or deceptive or likely to mislead or deceive the consumer.”

So, let’s look at the IMAC promotion of the flu shot from their website. Is it  likely to mislead or deceive?

IMAC claims

The frightflu website states:

How effective is the vaccine for healthy adults?
Influenza vaccination is about 73% effective in preventing infection with influenza A and B viruses in healthy adults under 65 years of age, when there is a good match between vaccine and circulating influenza strains.”

Very cleverly worded “if, then…” statement.

So, if there is a “good” match between the vaccine and the circulating influenza strain, then the vaccine is “about” 80% effective.

Considering the infinite number of mutations the flu virus undergoes as it transmits throughout the global population, when has there ever been a match between the circulating flu virus and the vaccine strain? Has there ever been a match? Is it even statistically probable that a match can occur? If so, what is the probability?

What exactly is a “good” match? Please define this vague statement.

What is “about” 73% effective: less than 73%, more than 73% or is your guess as good as mine? [note this has changed from 80% in 2012 to 73% in 2015]

Show me the evidence to back up these marketing claims.

The Cochrane Collaboration reviewed over 40 clinical trials on the influenza shot, showing that only 1 in 100 people who get the flu jab may be protected against the flu virus. And of the forty clinical trials reviewed, the majority of them were funded by the pharmaceutical industry. So, the truth may be that the flu shot may be closer to less than 5% effective if there is a good match between vaccine and circulating influenza strains.

IMAC, are you really such a big deceiver?

The flightflu website also states:

Why do healthy people need influenza immunisation?
Being fit and healthy will not protect you from influenza. Influenza spreads easily and by immunising against influenza you can protect yourself and lesson the chance of bringing it home to a baby, older relative or someone with a medical condition who could develop serious complications from influenza.”

So, IMAC claims that if I get the flu shot, I will protect my baby against catching the flu from me? What valid scientific evidence exists to prove this theory?

I can cite one study of 77,000 people that concludes getting the flu shot does not protect others. See Vaccines for preventing influenza in healthy adults.  “Herd immunity” is just an elaborate hoax.

Based upon this scientific review alone, IMAC’s claim above may be simply outright fraudulent. I wonder what the Advertising Standards Authority would rule?

Let’s see your proof, IMAC, to back up your advertising.

In addition, IMAC implies that if I am fit and healthy, I am not protected against the flu?

What valid scientific evidence exists to prove this theory?

I would consider proof to be at least one double-blind, placebo-controlled study comparing “fit and healthy” people who get the flu shot versus “fit and healthy” people who do not get the flu shot. This would be a good start towards some valid scientific proof.

Please show me the evidence.

Just based upon IMAC’s sweeping generalisations above, I believe that IMAC’s online promotion of the flu shot may breach advertising standards by likely misleading or deceiving the prospective consumer of said flu shots.

I also believe that IMAC may be promoting medical fraud.

What are your thoughts?