Ice Cream for Flu Shots That Don’t Work

Ice Cream for Flu Shots That Don’t Work

I recently ran across a sign in a CVS drugstore offering money to encourage people to get the influenza vaccine. The sign read: “Flu season has arrived! Get your flu vaccine today! Visit Pharmacy for details! -Receive $5 off $25 coupon! *Avoid the Sniffles!” Apart from the excessive use of exclamation points, the sign caught my eye because I had just finished reading a press release about Rite Aid pharmacies in California offering free ice cream to entice people to get the influenza vaccinations.1 2

According to the press release:

Now through Sept. 28, Rite Aid is sweetening the deal for annual flu shots by offering customers a coupon for one free scoop of Thrifty Ice Cream when they get their seasonal flu shot at one of the nearly 600 Rite Aid pharmacies in California.1

Apparently, the “ice cream for flu shot” deal has become a staple of Rite Aid. The company made the same offer last year.3 4 Organizations such as the Ridgfield Visiting Nurse Association (RVNA) of Ridgfield, Connecticut have jumped on the idea as well and are giving away free ice cream to children who get a flu shot.5 6 7

The headline of an article by the Ridgefield HamletHub reads: “RVNA Flu Shots and Deborah Ann’s Ice Cream, Perfect Combo.”5 An article by The Ridgefield Press describes the “incentives” in the RVNA offer as follows:

Two words. Ice cream! All kids 18-years and younger who get their flu shot with RVNA get a free kid’s cone courtesy of Deborah Ann’s Sweet Shoppe, plus entry into a prize-worthy raffle.6

Some pediatricians have also taken to rewarding children with free ice cream as a reward for getting a flu shot.8 You would think that pediatricians, who are seeing growing numbers of children with milk allergies who are gluten and casein intolerant, would think twice before picking ice cream as the proverbial “carrot” to get children to beg their parents to give them a flu shot.9

On Sept. 27, 2019, Newsweek published an article on where to go for free flu shots, notably CVS, Walmart and Walgreens and doctors’ offices, for people with health insurance. For those without health insurance, the article cited Costco as the “cheapest option.” The price of a flu shot there is $19.99, compared to $30-50 at other pharmacies. The Newsweek article also pointed out that Target and Publix offer $5 and $10 gift cards respectively when you get a flu shot, while Safeway offers 10 percent off your “next grocery visit.”10

It is not surprising that so many places that offer influenza vaccinations are, essentially, bribing people to roll up their sleeves. After all, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated the “effectiveness” of the influenza vaccine last “flu season” (2018-2019) at 29 percent and only nine percent during the second half of the season.11

Now, there are reports that the type A and B influenza strains in the 2019/2020 influenza vaccines being given to people in the U.S. and other countries in the Northern Hemisphere may not be well matched to the currently circulating influenza strains dominating this year’s flu season.12 U.S. public health officials at the CDC delayed selection of the influenza strains to be used in this year’s flu vaccine, which delayed production, but it looks like they didn’t know any more about what was going on with influenza viruses this year than they did in many of the flu seasons over the past decade.13

You have to wonder about offering free ice cream to try to persuade people to get an annual flu shot. Bribery is a form of manipulation. Why is bribery necessary, especially with adults, when flu shots are supposed to be so good for you? The tactic is more understandable with children who may be scared of getting jabbed with a needle, but bribing (or coercing) adults merely suggests an inability to make a convincing case for the benefit of the shot using facts and rational arguments.

Admittedly, it is difficult to make a case for a vaccine with an effectiveness rate that rarely surpasses 50 percent in a given year and, on average, is closer to 40 percent.14


References:

1 Press Release. Rite Aid Offering Free Scoop of Thrifty Ice Cream with Each Annual Flu Shot in its California Pharmacies. Rite Aid Sept. 4, 2019.
2 Schena SC. Rite Aid Offers Sweet Incentive For Getting A Flu Shot. Patch Sept. 18, 2019.
3 Dupuie C. Ice Cream and Flu Shots! Tis The Season. ALivingBalance.net Oct. 19, 2018.

4
Wright JJ. Rite Aid Is Offering Free Thrifty Ice Cream To Those Who Get A Flu Shot. iHeart Radio Aug. 17, 2018.
5 HH. RVNA Flu Shots and Deborah Ann’s Ice Cream, Perfect Combo. Ridgefield’s HamletHub Sept. 26, 2019.
6 Santoro T. RVNA offers flu shots. The Ridgefield Press Sept. 13, 2019.
7 Tiffany. Rite Aid Wants to Give You Free Ice Cream! 94.5 PST Aug. 17, 2018.
8 My daughter’s pediatrician prescribed an ice-cream after she got her flu shot. Reddit Nov. 8, 2018.
9 Warren CM, Jhaveri S et al. The epidemiology of milk allergy in US children. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol 2013; 110(5): 370-374.
10 Powers L. Flu Shot 2019: Publix, Walgreens, CVS and Where Else to Get a Free Vaccination. Newsweek Sept. 27, 2019.
11 Cáceres M. What’s So Effective About a Flu Vaccine That’s Less Than 10 Percent “Effective”? The Vaccine Reaction July 3, 2019.
12 Branswell H. Flu vaccine selection may be an ominous sign for this winter. STAT News Sept. 30, 2019.
13 CDC. Table. Adjusted vaccine effectiveness estimates for influenza season for 2004-2018. Apr. 5, 2019.
14 Cáceres M. Influenza Vaccine Effectiveness a ‘Dismal 10 Percent. The Vaccine Reaction Jan. 2, 2018.

Note: This commentary provides referenced information and perspective on a topic related to vaccine science, policy, law or ethics being discussed in public forums and by U.S. lawmakers.  The websites of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) provide information and perspective of federal agencies responsible for vaccine research, development, regulation and policymaking.

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18 Responses to "Ice Cream for Flu Shots That Don’t Work"

  1. Donna Freemont   October 4, 2019 at 5:59 pm

    WHY wouldn’t this be a total red flag to everyone?? (Because you think the gov’t cares so much about your health?) This is hilarious.

    Reply
  2. Darlene Rowe, PhD, Retired RD   October 4, 2019 at 6:46 pm

    Food should never be used as a reward. It promotes unhealthy behaviors related to food, I.e. eating comfort foods to soothe emotional pain.

    Reply
  3. Kim   October 4, 2019 at 6:57 pm

    Yeh, ICE CREAM! That will neutralize any permanent harmful side effects! Anything to distract or blind people from the truth.

    Reply
  4. Michael   October 4, 2019 at 7:58 pm

    I’m thinking that the ice cream is a “point of sale” or “distribution” idea. Of course CDC owns patents on these and makes money off them so they are part of distribution. The completion is heating up and CDC spends money in advance to distribute these vaccines so the thinking is more about market share and less about making an effective argument.

    Listen – IQs have fallen off so fast that logical arguments with facts are almost never effective.

    And notice this discussion has focus on ice cream while we hide the “arsenic” in the treat? Look at the toxins, fetus DNA, and heavy metals in these vaccines. How could anyone knowing what’s in it, take it in exchange for an ice cream? How is that even possible?

    I’m not suggesting we’re immune to flu. If a child has stayed the course for childhood vaccines, their immune system is far less ready to resist the flu virus – but it’s just that the flu virus has maybe a 10% chance of hitting the mark and meanwhile you’ve got a 90% chance of hitting a toxin that puts you over the edge, – including past vaccines with 630% of the max dose for metal (according to the CDC) and environmental exposure to metals and toxins, fish, and glyphosate from our wheat, corn, soy, etc. plus what we’re getting from our surroundings – nobody knows what kind of load you’re carrying around and the next dose may put you over the top.

    Just seems like we’re talking about ice cream and ignoring the risk because we’re having a conversation for 8 year olds. Buy them an ice cream to forget about it and see how long they bug you for a flu shot.

    Reply
  5. Lady M   October 4, 2019 at 10:44 pm

    It’s difficult to believe that an adult would not consider the offer of food in order to submit to a medical procedure, as a complete insult to their intelligence.

    You might think that a thinking adult might be inspired by this insult to look into the subject a little more closely.

    Is that wishful thinking?

    Reply
  6. M   October 4, 2019 at 11:24 pm

    Then when a child has a bad reaction, they will say, it couldn’t have been the shot, must have been the icecream! ( sarcasm)

    Reply
  7. Christine   October 5, 2019 at 12:19 am

    That is so insane. So they offer ice cream – sugar, a substance that works against the immune system in ex-change for the flu shot, which is supposed help the immune system, yet we all know the efficacy of the flu shot is very poor. I’d even go as far as saying the flu shot damages the immune system. Idiotic

    Reply
  8. Protonius   October 5, 2019 at 3:19 am

    Ice cream is generally considered, by the public (and of course by the food industry), to be “a treat”. Yet, for PHARMACIES — which THEORETICALLY are SUPPOSED to be concerned with peoples’ HEALTH — to be offering, specifically as a vaccination-incentive, ICE CREAM — which is typically LOADED with SUGARS and FATS and CHEMICAL ADDITIVES and all of which may be HARMFUL TO A RECIPIENT’S HEALTH — is, IMO, an oxymoron.

    Reply
  9. Kimberly   October 5, 2019 at 12:25 pm

    If you have an allergy to eggs (in particular the whites/albumin) UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCE should you get a flu vaccine! Despite some fake news that states they no longer use eggs in making vaccines….they absolutely do. My last ever flu shot was for the during the Swine Flu mania of 1976. I passed out within seconds of getting it…blown off by the group giving them. Then I began to feel weak and ill during the next couple hours. By the time I got home from work, I was so sick that I went to bed and was unable to get up, eat, or drink ANYTHING for 4 days. Being the working wife of a college student, we could not afford to seek medical care, so I suffered through that nightmare for a full week before I finally began to feel like I might live. Sadly, my mom didn’t even mention HER albumin allergy until AFTER my life threatening reaction. From my experience, I learned to find out any and all information on allergies and got my children tested to see if they also carried it. They did, and I never got a flu vaccine for them despite their doctors anger and insistence I HAD to be wrong. Never believe anyone who stands to profit from something. The danger is far too high!

    Reply
  10. Elaine Frick   October 5, 2019 at 1:01 pm

    Some of those offering “treats” for a flu shot may actually think they’re doing a public service. Are these pharmacies paid per shot, like doctors often
    are?

    Reply
  11. blue   October 5, 2019 at 1:01 pm

    Their murdered baby-animal-plant DNA-formaldehyde-glycophosphate-live virus ridden concoctions of poison are bad enough on their own — evil, vile, murderous even…. BUT people have no idea how much of a poison SUGAR IS to our systems also!!!! Why is sugar always given a pass??? Then aside from the sugar in ice cream, there are all kinds of chemicals and additives, especially in the cheap brands of “ice cream”. If one thing doesn’t kill you right away, the other one will over time – take your pick.

    It’s a case of “the lesser of the two evils”…. kind of like voting anymore… or is it???

    Reply
  12. Gram   October 5, 2019 at 3:51 pm

    Stores like Walgreens sell crap food and crap candy to destroy the gut, poison the brain, and tax the immune system. They vaccinate you and give you more crap food, a free ice cream, to make sure you’ll feel really CRAPPY and be back to purchase their OTC and Rx crap! What a crap-racket!

    The people that don’t read vaccine package inserts, most likely don’t read nutritional information labels either. Thrifty Cookies-n-Cream Summary: 7 types of MSG; 4+ doses of natural flavor and artificial flavors (MSG); 10 ingredients that are genetically modified, 3 doses of water (fluoridated?), 2 doses propylene glycol (anti-freeze), hydrogenated oil (trans fat), high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), polysorbate 80 (preservative that disrupts sleep, etc.).
    https://www.nutritionix.com/i/thrifty-ice-cream/cookies-n-cream-ice-cream/55a045cfb8d3bd0a1f9121d1

    “Get a Shot, Give a Shot. Walgreens will donate the value of a life-saving vaccine to a child in need. From Sept. 1 through Jan. 31, 2020, Walgreens will donate to UNF (United Nations Foundation) 23 cents per shot for each immunization a patient receives from a Walgreens pharmacy or from Healthcare Clinic locations managed by Take Care Health Systems in the United States, up to an aggregate maximum donation value of $2.6 million.”

    What does this mean? The value of a life-saving vaccine = 23 cents? Is that how much is costs to produce the vaccine?

    “We offer 4-strain flu vaccines to anyone 7 years and older, vaccines designed for seniors 65+ (to help create a stronger immune response), and preservative-free flu vaccine options if you’re pregnant or allergic to thiomersal/mercury.”

    Wake Up, Walgreens! EVERYONE IS ALLERGIC TO MERCURY!!!

    Reply
  13. TIM   October 5, 2019 at 5:49 pm

    I’m having trouble getting over the contradiction between trying to get a flu shot to stay healthy and eating something loaded with sugar which weakens the immune system.

    Reply
  14. David L   October 5, 2019 at 11:44 pm

    The World Health Organization found that the flu vaccine may be a mismatch for this year’s flu strain in the United States. Even a mismatched flu vaccine is better than nothing, so experts say you still need your flu shot. But early reports from the World Health Organization (WHO) suggest this year’s shot might not be the most effective. Two of the strains that just struck the Southern Hemisphere and then predictably may move north, aren’t included in the new vaccine. However, that doesn’t mean the shot’s useless. It’s still too soon to know exactly which strains will pop up this winter, and even if the shot is off the mark and fails to cover the strains likely to hit the United States this year, health experts say you should still plan to get vaccinated. https://www.askideas.com/media/30/Flu-Shots-Here-Funny-Image.jpg
    Furthermore, the Southern Hemisphere strains could undergo subtle genetic variation and start changing. “There are four types of influenza viruses and every year, different strains of these viruses circulate and mutate. The H3N2 is a pesky virus to predict and to contain because it is very good at mutating and changing its proteins that vaccines target,” Weiss said.
    https://www.healthline.com/health-news/the-flu-vaccine-might-be-mismatched-but-you-still-need-your-shot#Predicting-flu-patterns-is-difficult
    Not convinced? Ok, And you get a free ice cream!
    Based on those patterns and predictions, which aren’t a guarantee but rather an educated guess, a new flu vaccine is designed. It’s made up of three or four strains, which are considered the most likely to circulate in a given year. “These virus strains vary quite rapidly season to season and even within a given season. So when experts meet twice a year to prepare the next year’s vaccine they need to use intuition, guesswork, and luck to choose the most likely candidates for the vaccine,” Cutler said. https://www.davegranlund.com/cartoons/wp-content/uploads/Flu-shots.jpg

    “If the vaccine is not a perfect match for the strains of influenza in circulation this winter, the vaccine may still prevent severe complications, mitigate the extent of illness, and prevent hospitalizations and deaths. Vaccines carry little risk and the potential benefits far outweigh the risks,” Weiss said. 1 in a million https://s3.amazonaws.com/lowres.cartoonstock.com/medical-balloon-flu_shot-vaccine-vaccination-puncture-nfkn2405_low.jpg

    Reply
  15. Redpill   October 6, 2019 at 12:00 am

    it is difficult to make a case for a vaccine with an effectiveness rate that rarely surpasses 50 percent in a given year and, on average, is closer to 40 percent.

    Data from the “Hospitalized Adult Influenza Vaccine Effectiveness Network” (HAIVEN) show that the vaccine was -43% effective against influenza A(H3N2).

    This negative effectiveness was based on a small sample and not statistically significant, but the CDC conceded that its analysis of data from HAIVEN as well as two other networks “identified no vaccine protection against predominant H3N2 virus this season”.

    -https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/acip/meetings/downloads/slides-2019-06/flu-3-flannery-508.pdf?utm_source=ActiveCampaign&utm_medium=email&utm_content=CDC+Reports+-43++Flu+Shot+Effectiveness+Against+H3N2&utm_campaign=CDC+Reports+-43++Flu+Shot+Effectiveness+Against+H3N2

    Reply
  16. Mike   October 6, 2019 at 4:47 pm

    Free vaccine when you buy a cone

    Reply
  17. Anne Mayer   October 6, 2019 at 6:00 pm

    Walgreens in Huntington Station NY is offering a Pheumonia vaccine on their billboard. The first I’m seeing this. BTW No ice-cream incentives.

    A know a trauma specialist that was invited to a well known corporation to give advise on how to lessen the anxiety for those remaining following a layoff. Her advise to corporate was “feed them”.

    People are being targeted and manipulated on a very primal level to go against their better judgement and protective instincts.

    There are some deep questions that need to be explored.

    What else will the populous submit to given an offer of an ice-cream cone, or something even bigger and better? Look how Dr’s were incentivized dispite taking the hipocratic oath. All the blame for the opioid epidemic is aimed at Big Pharma. What about all the frontline Dr’s. (i.e. drug pushers) that did Big Pharma’s bidding for a steak dinner, a golf outing, an all expense paid vacation to the Caribbean?

    Now Dr’s are being monetarily incentivizing to push vaccines. I’ve heard
    eighty-thousand dollars annually (At $2.50 each, that’s 32,000 ice-creams!) if their patients are made to adhere to the stated vaccination schedule. It’s no wonder medical practices are refusing to treat noncompliant families.

    It’s also important to look at the take over of private practices across the country by hospital networks. A drive for full compliance to the medical model is underway; no exceptions, be they ethical, religious, or medical, period.

    Reply
  18. Hannah   October 7, 2019 at 10:08 am

    Don’t forget that the effectiveness rates are very bloated–they are relative rates, not absolute rates. It means that for example, if 5 people out of every hundred get the flu each year, if those 5 got the shot and now only 3 got sick, that would be called a 40% effectiveness rate (2 fewer compared to 5). What we really have is a 3% effectiveness rate–or in other words, 97 people out of 100 who took the shot have not received any benefit.

    Reply

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