A Toronto Star article by Francine Kopun reported on the Sept 23rd Toronto Board of Health recommendations to manage vaccine hesitancy in Ontario. This article included accounts of testimony from Jill Promoli regarding the tragic death of her toddler son Jude who died from influenza after it “swept through his kindergarten classroom because not all the children had been immunized.”
This strong accusation warrants clarity considering the weight of Ms. Promoli’s testimony towards qualifying the removal of non-medical vaccine exemptions for school age children in Ontario. There are numerous gaps in Ms. Promoli’s testimony that the Toronto Star omitted.
In an October 25, 2016 CTV news article, Ms. Promoli stated that two-year-old Jude and his twin brother were fully vaccinated against the flu and contracted influenza from their fully vaccinated older sister (1). Nowhere does it mention Jude attending kindergarten or any daycare program. Rather, Ms. Promoli blames someone who went to school sick (who gave the flu to her vaccinated daughter) rather than total failure of the flu vaccine to protect her children.
The efficacy of the flu vaccine for the 2015/16 season was around 45%. Dr. Danuta Skowronski, Epidemiology Lead Influenza Researcher for the BCCDC, described this as “disappointing” but, added it was an improvement from the abysmal zero efficacy of the year before. (2)
This would suggest that 55% of vaccinated children would have posed an equal risk to Jude. Furthermore, vaccination campaigns generally begin in late autumn and Jude contracted influenza in May. Documented wane in vaccine protection would indicate that the likelihood the influenza vaccine was offering significant protection among the vaccinated almost 6 months later is highly suspect (3,4,5).
Ms. Promoli admits to being a believer in yearly flu vaccines, yet this article fails to mention the paradoxal effect associated with yearly vaccination. This is where people who receive flu vaccines year after year can sometimes show reduced protection in following seasons. This finding is consistent with a study which found “Current- and previous-season vaccination generated similar levels of protection, and vaccine-induced protection was greatest for individuals not vaccinated during the prior 5 years.” (6,7)
This flu vaccine phenomenon was serious enough to prompt Dr. Richard Schabas, former Chief Officer of Health of Ontario, to state this about universal flu vaccination programs: “There’s enough new evidence that we should all be troubled enough by, that we should be taking a long and sober look at our policies.” (8) Further sobering, a 2018 flu vaccine study found “significantly higher amounts of viral shed among vaccinated populations” (9).
It is truly awful what happened to Jude Promoli, and understandable that the grief over losing a child causes anger and blind retribution. However, this mothers’ sweeping statements are inflammatory, hurtful and damaging to the unvaccinated children unjustly accused of being responsible for Jude succumbing to influenza. Sadly, in an era where balanced, alternate arguments around vaccination are deemed “misinformation” who will tell their side of the story?