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Fake News: Trump Did NOT Warn Flu Shots Are The Greatest 'Scam' In Medical History

  • by: Maarten Schenk
  • (Mon, 19 Nov 2018 19:27:21 Z)

Did President Trump warn flu vaccinations are the greatest scam in medical history? No, that's not true: an old article from YourNewsWire (a fake news website that got fact checked so often it had to change its name) was copied by several other sites and keeps going viral (pun not intended). It was all based on an old radio interview from 2015 in which Trump said he didn't get flu shots and said some of his friends who did get them actually got the flu. But he never said anything about a scam and his remarks actually confirm the CDC's findings about vaccine effectiveness rates. And according to President Trump's 2018 physical exam he did get his flu shots this time.

The story went viral again through an article published by WMHB on November 2, 2018 titled "Trump Warns Flu Shots Are The Greatest 'Scam' In Medical History" (archived here) which opened:

According to President Trump, the flu shot is the greatest scam in medical history, created by Big Pharma to make money off vulnerable people and make them sick.

Claims flu shots are "totally ineffective"

In an interview with Opie and Anthony on Sirius XM, Trump slammed flu shots as "totally ineffective" and declared that he has never had one.

His exact quote-

"I've never had one. And thus far I've never had the flu. I don't like the idea of injecting bad stuff into your body. And that's basically what they do. And this one (latest flu vaccine) has not been very effective to start off with."

Screenshot of https://wisemindhealthybody.com/wmhb/trump-warns-flu-shots-scam/

Users on social media only saw this title, description and thumbnail:

Trump Warns Flu Shots Are The Greatest 'Scam' In Medical History

This article is an open source and was originally published at Organic and Healthy According to President Trump, the flu shot is the greatest scam in

We have our doubts about that "open source" claim as that is typically something to say about software, not about articles. One could claim it was public domain but in all likelyhood it is just straight up plagiarism.

The exact same story appeared on NewsPunch (archived here) and that site used to call itself YourNewsWire until it recently had to change its name, probably because social media networks and search engines were reducing its reach for spreading fake news:

Trump Warns Flu Shots Are The Greatest 'Scam' In Medical History

The flu shot is the greatest scam in medical history, created by Big Pharma to make money off vulnerable people and make them sick, warns President Donald Trump. In an interview with Opie and Anthony on Sirius XM, Trump slammed flu shots as " totally ineffective " and declared that he has never had one.

The article is based on this 2015 quote from an interview with Trump on Opie radio in which he claims never to have received a flu shot while never getting the disease while several of his friends who did get the shot got sick:

Key quote:

I've never had one. And thus far I've never had the flu. I don't like the idea of injecting bad stuff into your body. And that's basically what they do. And this one (latest flu vaccine) has not been very effective to start off with.

I have friends that religiously get the flu shot and then they get the flu. You know, that helps my thinking. I've seen a lot of reports that the last flu shot is virtually totally ineffective.

Note that he never speaks about the shots being a scam. He's just saying the vaccine is not 100% effective, and that is correct. The CDC says the following about the effectiveness:

CDC conducts studies each year to determine how well the influenza (flu) vaccine protects against flu illness. While vaccine effectiveness (VE) can vary, recent studies show that flu vaccination reduces the risk of flu illness by between 40% and 60% among the overall population during seasons when most circulating flu viruses are well-matched to the flu vaccine. In general, current flu vaccines tend to work better against influenza B and influenza A(H1N1) viruses and offer lower protection against influenza A(H3N2) viruses

In other words, people who got the shot were between 40% and 60% less likely to get the flu. That still means some people without the shot won't get the flu and some people with the shot will get the flu, which is entirely consistent with Trump's observations. The year 2015, when the interview took place, was an outlier: that year the effectiveness of the shot was about 19%, also according to CDC data.

Since that time however Donald Trump got elected president and when the results of his annual physical examination were announced in January 2018 they included this paragraph:

Immunizations: The President, during his physical exam, had a Prevnar 13 immunization to prevent pneumococcal pneumonia and he had Number 2 dose of his Twinrix to prevent hepatitis A and B. His routine vaccinations, to include his seasonal influenza are all up to date, and all indicated travel vaccinations are up to date.

In other words, President Trump got his flu shot. Not exactly what you would expect if he really believed it was all a scam.

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About the author:

Maarten Schenk is our resident expert on fake news and hoax websites. He likes to go beyond just debunking trending fake news stories and is endlessly fascinated by the dazzling variety of psychological and technical tricks used by the people and networks who intentionally spread made-up things on the internet.  He can often be found at conferences and events about fake news, disinformation and fact checking when he is not in his office in Belgium monitoring and tracking the latest fake article to go viral.

Read more about or contact Maarten Schenk
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