Should you get the Flu Vaccine?
It’s the season for flu shots, which means the government is encouraging all citizens to be vaccinated. Read this first to understand the potential risks of getting the flu shot.
Studies Show the Flu Shot Increases Risk of H1N1
Last year, the Canadian press broke the story that new research confirms initial findings that the flu vaccine appeared to actually increase people’s risk of getting sick with H1N1, and cause more serious bouts of illness to boot.
“Researchers, led by Vancouver’s Dr. Danuta Skowronski, an influenza expert at the B.C. Centre for Disease Control, noticed in the early weeks of the [2009 H1N1] pandemic that people who got a flu shot for the 2008-09 winter seemed to be more likely to get infected with the pandemic virus than people who hadn’t received a flu shot. Five studies done in several provinces showed the same unsettling results.”
Professor Collignon, a microbiologist from the Australian National University said it is the opposite of what vaccines should do.
Professor Collignon says the findings of the study also highlight the benefits for healthy people who are exposed to some illnesses.
‘Some interesting data has become available which suggests that if you get immunized with the seasonal vaccine, you get less broad protection than if you get a natural infection,’ he said.
‘It is particularly relevant for children because it is a condition they call original antigenic sin, which basically means if you get infected with a natural virus, that gives you not only protection against that virus but similar viruses or even in fact quite different flu viruses in the next year.’
In September 2009, news stories reported that researchers in Canada had found an increased risk of pandemic H1N1 (pH1N1) influenza in people who had previously been vaccinated against seasonal influenza.
Several public health agencies in Canada therefore undertook four additional studies during the summer of 2009 to investigate further. Taken together, the four studies included approximately 2,700 people with and without pH1N1.
The studies found the seasonal vaccine to be associated with an increased risk for pH1N1 disease.
Colds and the Flu, or Influenza, are infectious illnesses typically caused by Viruses. Viruses are parasitic micro-organisms much smaller than bacteria that are incapable of reproducing on their own. After they invade the cells of a host, they must use the DNA or RNA replication capability of the host to reproduce and make their “offspring”.
Viruses are spread from person to person through body fluids, mainly respiratory droplets. When another person sneezes, coughs or even talks we can inhale tiny droplets that contain the virus. These respiratory droplets can also be spread when infected individuals fail to wash their hands, and anything they touch can then become a source of infection.
Early symptoms of colds and flu, along with many other viral illnesses, include Fever, headache, extreme fatigue, dry cough, sore throat, nasal congestion, watery eyes and body aches. If the infectious organism is stronger than your immune system, the illness can progress to deeper levels of the body and cause active infections in the lungs, including bronchitis and pneumonia.
According to the Public Health Agency of Canada statement for 2012-2013, “influenza is a respiratory infection caused by influenza A and B viruses. In Canada it generally occurs each year in the late fall and winter months. Symptoms typically include the sudden onset of headache, chills, cough, fever, loss of appetite, muscle aches and fatigue, running nose, sneezing, watery eyes and throat irritation. Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea may also occur, especially in children.
Most people will recover within a week or ten days, but some – including those 65 years of age and older and adults and children with chronic conditions – are at greater risk of more severe complications, such as pneumonia.
Who to immunize, according to Public Health Agency of Canada?
Immunization programs should focus on:
- those at high risk of influenza-related complications – adults and children with underlying health conditions, including morbid obesity; residents of nursing homes and other chronic care facilities; people ≥ 65 years of age; children 6 to 59 months of age; pregnant women; and Aboriginal peoples;
- those capable of spreading influenza to individuals at high risk of complications – health care providers in facilities and community settings; household contacts of high-risk persons including infants <6 months of age; those providing care to children ≤ 59 months of age; and those providing services in closed settings to those at high risk (e.g. crew on a ship); and
- those who provide essential community services.
National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) also encourages influenza vaccine for all Canadians, because significant illness and societal costs also occur in people not considered to be at high risk of complications.”
On March 25, 2011 the Government of Canada announced that it awarded contracts for the Supply of Influenza Vaccine. The statement was as follows:
“To reduce possible delays in delivery and distribution, the Government has entered into a 10-year contract with GlaxoSmithKline Inc., headquartered in Mississauga, Ont., as the primary domestic supplier of pandemic vaccine. The contract, valued at $425.9 million, will ensure that Canada has access to the pandemic vaccine at a competitive price from the supplier if needed. The vaccine will be manufactured at GlaxoSmithKline’s world-class vaccine production facility in Ste.Foy, Quebec.
A three-year contract with Sanofi Pasteur Ltd. of Toronto, Ont., has also been put in place to provide access to a back-up supply of pandemic vaccine if needed. This contract, valued at $33.1 million, will provide an alternate source of vaccine that would be used to treat Canada’s most vulnerable populations, such as pregnant women and those suffering from chronic disease, if an outbreak were to occur.
These two contracts, along with a three-year contract with Novartis Pharmaceuticals Canada Inc. valued at $49.9 million, will also provide the provinces and territories with vaccine for their annual influenza immunization campaigns”.
That’s a cost of approximately 50 million per year to taxpayers. If your immune system is strong, you probably won’t get the flu and even if you do, you will recover on your own without the need of hospitalization or medical assistance. Research indicates that you may even be stronger than before by virtue of building up your resistance to future viruses as stated by Professor Collignon.
Flu drugs such as Tamiflu and Relenza are easily available, although they can have their own dangers: 10 Canadians have died after taking Tamiflu, while at least 84 more have reported adverse reactions to the drug. On November 29, 2006, Health Canada issued an advisory about reports of hallucinations and abnormal behaviour — including reports of self-harm — in patients taking Tamiflu.
So it appears that there are risks in taking the vaccine and in not taking the vaccine.
While pharmacists are trained to administer the vaccine, or nurses at clinics set up on your community, they’re not necessarily trained to address a sudden and life threatening health emergency that may arise after the shot is given. It’s important to understand that ALL vaccines carry a risk for provoking an acute adverse reaction, such as fainting or having a seizure, which could be truly life threatening if you’re driving a car or crossing a street after you have left the store, for example.
Vaccines can also be immune suppressive—that is, they can suppress your immune system, which may not return to normal for weeks to months. Here are just some of the ways vaccines can impair and alter your immune response:
- Some components in vaccines are neurotoxic and may depress your immune response or cause brain and immune dysfunction, particularly heavy metals such as mercury preservatives and aluminum adjuvants
- The lab altered vaccine viruses may also affect your immune response in a negative way
- Vaccines may alter your t-cell function and lead you to become chronically ill
- Vaccines can trigger allergies or autoimmune disorders.
One 2007 study published in the Annals of Medicine concluded that:
“Abnormalities in arterial function and LDL oxidation may persist for at least two weeks after a slight inflammatory reaction induced by influenza vaccination. These could explain in part the earlier reported increase in cardiovascular risk during the first weeks after an acute inflammatory disorder.”
To further confuse matters, and contrary to the above-noted study, as reported in The Toronto Star reported on October 28, 2012 a Toronto-based researcher presented a study at the 2012 Canadian Cardiovascular Congress which found that the influenza vaccine could be an important treatment for maintaining heart health and warding off cardiovascular events like strokes and heart attacks.
Dr. Jacob Udell, a cardiologist at Women’s College Hospital and the University of Toronto, says he and his team looked at published clinical trials on this subject, dating back to the 1960s.
“For those who had the flu shot, there was a pretty strong risk reduction,” Dr. Udell said in a statement.
The team claims the flu vaccine provided an approximate 50% reduction in the risk of a major cardiac event – heart attack, stroke, or cardiac death – compared with placebo after one year of follow-up.
According to Dr. Zoltan Rona, M.D., practicing in Toronto, Canada, sets out in his book titled Natural Alternatives to Vaccination, there is “a growing body of anecdotal and scientific evidence indicates that vaccines may not be as safe or as effective as claimed. In fact, studies are increasingly pointing to the conclusion that vaccines represent a dangerous assault on the immune system, leading to autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis, lupus, juvenile onset diabetes, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, as well as previously rare disorders like brain cancer, childhood leukemia, sudden infant death syndrome, autism and asthma”.
Dr. Rona states that “vaccines are the only product sold for profit in North America that carry the risk of injury or death and yet are practically forced upon every healthy citizen”.
He goes on to say that for most diseases for which vaccines are given, disease and death rates had already fallen dramatically prior to vaccinations. This was due to improved sanitation and hygienic practices rather than vaccination programs. The spread of disease is more likely due to poverty, crowed conditions, poor nutrition, lack of access to medical care and unsanitary condition, than the absence of a vaccine.
Furthermore, with respect to immunization for children, he states that “a healthy immune system defends against allergies, infections, asthma, eczema and even cancer. Suppressing normal childhood illnesses could very well backfire on the population as a whole”. “One of the theories as to why this occurs is that vaccination results in immune suppression, which then creates an increased susceptibility to infections”.
Thimerosal, which is 49 percent mercury by volume, is a widely used vaccine preservative.
It is present in many different vaccines used, including the majority of seasonal flu vaccines, although there are a few million doses of thimerosal-free single dose vials of influenza vaccine manufactured by drug companies that are supposed to be reserved for infants and pregnant women and others who medically condition warrants it.
Pregnant women must insist on a thimerosal-free version
If you are pregnant or have an infant and want to get a flu shot, be aware that you may have to specifically insist on getting the thimerosal-free single vial version as many health practitioners and pharmacists are uneducated about the health risks associated with thimerosal.
Mercury is a Neurotoxin. It’s also well understood that mercury is particularly damaging to young, developing brains, and this is one of the core concerns about vaccines. If it’s unsafe to breathe or ingest mercury, why would it suddenly become harmless when injected directly into your body, bypassing all of your body’s natural detoxification pathways?
Formaldehyde, is a toxic substance and a cancer-causing chemical. It can cause allergic reactions on both an immediate and delayed hypersensitivity basis, and may lead to chronic immune system problems.
Polysorbate 80, is suspected of being a skin or sense organ toxicant. Known to cause cancer in animals. German researchers have identified polysorbate 80 as the cause of an anaphylactic reaction in a patient. Pubmed.gov cited the study, which concluded that “polysorbate 80 is a solubilizing atent that can cause severe nonimmunologic anaphylactoid. To read the reactions report: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16400901.
Aluminum, is a toxic heavy metal that has been associated with increased incidence of Alzheimer’s disease.
It should be noted that the actual composition of the flu vaccine is based on an educated guess made by a consensus of about thirty public-health experts. These experts meet annually with the FDA in the United States to predict which specific strains of influenza will invade the country in the coming year. This is very unscientific; resulting in the flu vaccine’s effectiveness rate is about 20%.
So what approach should we take?
The approach should be to strengthen he body’s immune defenses with diet and lifestyle changes to those germs are rendered impotent.
How to Protect Yourself Against the Flu Without Vaccination
Follow these simple guidelines and you can keep your immune system in optimal working order so that you’re far less likely to acquire the infection to begin with or, if you do get sick with the flu, you are better prepared to move through it without complications and soon return to good health.
- Optimize your vitamin D levels. Regularly monitor your vitamin D levels by receiving a blood test to confirm your levels are within the normal range. If you are below, take an oral vitamin D3 supplement. Start at 2,000 IU and increase according to your values.
- Avoid Sugar and Processed Foods. Sugar impairs the function of your immune system.
- Get Enough Rest. If your body is overly fatigued it will be harder for it to fight the flu.
- Have Effective Tools to Address Stress. Examples include meditation, exercise, deep breathing techniques and cognitive behavior techniques.
- Exercise. When you exercise, you increase your circulation and your blood flow throughout your body. The components of your immune system are also better circulated, which means your immune system has a better chance of finding an illness before it spreads.
- Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids. Also, avoid damaged omega-6 oils which are trans fats in processed foods as it will damage your immune response.
- Probiotics. These “friendly” gut bacteria boost the immune system.
- Vitamin C. An antioxidant that also boosts the immune system.
- Wash Your Hands. Washing your hands will decrease your likelihood of spreading a virus to your nose, mouth or other people.
- Use Natural Antibiotics. Examples include colloidal silver, oil of oregano, and garlic. These work like broad-spectrum antibiotics against bacteria, viruses, and protozoa in your body. And unlike pharmaceutical antibiotics, they do not appear to lead to resistance.
- Avoid Hospitals. Unless absolutely necessary – breeding grounds for infections.
by Evelyne Mitskopoulos, C.N.P., Director of Wellness
Before starting any new health program or before you begin taking any medication, natural medicine, or supplement, always check with your primary health care provider.