By Dr. Mercola
"Fluzone High-Dose" is a new influenza vaccine manufactured by Sanofi Pasteur. The new vaccine was created specifically for seniors, 65 and older.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are quick to reassure seniors that Fluzone is just as safe as regular seasonal flu vaccines. If you read the details on the CDC website, however, you will quickly realize that Fluzone may not be as safe as claimed. .
Fluzone appears to cause a lot more side effects, including fevers.
According to the CDC:
"The safety profile of Fluzone High-Dose vaccine is similar to that of regular flu vaccines, although adverse events (which are also reported after regular flu vaccines) were reported more frequently after vaccination with Fluzone High-Dose.
The most common adverse events experienced during clinical studies were mild and temporary and included pain, redness and swelling at the injection site and headache, muscle aches, fever and malaise."
Why do Seniors Get a Higher Dose Vaccine?
One of the primary differences between the 'regular' Fluzone vaccine and Fluzone High-Dose for seniors is that the latter contains four times as much microbial antigen—the lab altered flu viruses - that prompt your body to produce antibodies to the three different influenza strains contained in the flu vaccine.
The idea is that seniors need more antigen in order to provoke the desired immune response, because studies have found that the flu vaccine creates only a weak immune response in the elderly. In essence, they've realized that the flu vaccine does not work in the elderly, and the belief is that upping the dose will do the trick.
However, if you read the package insert, it will clearly tell you that there is absolutely no evidence backing up this theory… It states:
"Data from clinical trials comparing Fluzone to Fluzone High-Dose among persons aged 65 years or older indicate that a stronger immune response (i.e. higher antibody levels) occurs after vaccination with Fluzone High-Dose.
Whether or not the improved immune response leads to greater protection against influenza disease after vaccination is not yet known. An ongoing study designed to determine the effectiveness of Fluzone High-Dose in preventing illness from influenza compared to Fluzone is expected to be completed in 2014-2015."
What this means is that for the next four years or so, seniors receiving this much more potent dose of the flu vaccine are participating in what amounts to an uncontrolled experiment. There is already admission that nobody knows whether it will actually prevent seniors from getting the flu or not!
High-Dose Flu Vaccine has Higher Rates of Serious Adverse Events
According to the manufacturer's safety studies, compared to the regular Fluzone vaccine the high-dose version not only resulted in more frequent reports of common adverse reactions, it also caused slightly higher rates of Serious Adverse Events (SAE's).
A total of 6.1 percent of seniors injected with the regular Fluzone vaccine experienced a serious adverse event, compared to 7.4 percent of those receiving the high-dose version. According to the package insert, the SAE's reported during the post-approval use of the vaccine include:
✓ Thrombocytopenia (abnormally low platelet count, which can result in abnormal bleeding)
✓ Guillain-Barre syndrome
✓ Myelitis (spinal cord inflammation)
✓ Optic neuritis (inflammation of the optic nerve)
✓ Lymphadenopathy (enlarged lymph nodes)
✓ Facial palsy (Bell's palsy)
✓ Paresthesia (numbness/tingling of the skin)
✓ Itchy skin
✓ Anaphylaxis (life-threatening whole-body allergic reaction)
✓ Stevens-Johnson syndrome
✓ Vasculitis (inflammatory destruction of blood vessels)
✓ Difficulty breathing, shortness of breath
✓ Chest pain
✓ Brachial neuritis (excruciating unilateral shoulder pain, followed by paralysis of shoulder)
✓ Pharyngitis and rhinitis (inflammation of the throat or pharynx, and the nose, respectively)
✓ Convulsions, fainting, dizzyness
Shocking LACK of Evidence Supporting Flu Vaccines
While the annual flu vaccine is touted as the "best" way to avoid catching the seasonal flu, what many fail to realize is that there's virtually NO good scientific evidence to support it. Again and again, the Cochrane Database Review—which is the gold standard for assessing the scientific evidence for the effectiveness of commonly used medical interventions—has concluded that flu vaccines do not appear to have any measurable benefit either for children, adults, or seniors.
Take a look at these five Cochrane Database Reviews, published between 2006 and 2010, which call into serious question the claim that flu shots are the best way to stay healthy during the flu season.
1. Last year, Cochrane reviewed the available scientific evidence that flu shots protect the elderly, and the results were abysmal. The authors concluded that:
“The available evidence is of poor quality and provides no guidance regarding the safety, efficacy or effectiveness of influenza vaccines for people aged 65 years or older.”
2. Cochrane reviewers also evaluated whether or not flu shots given to health care workers can help protect the elderly patients in nursing homes with whom they work. The research did not find an effect from the vaccinations on laboratory-confirmed influenza. Influenza vaccinations were also not linked to a reduction in either pneumonia or deaths from pneumonia. In conclusion, the authors state that:
“[T]here is no evidence that vaccinating health care workers prevents influenza in elderly residents in long-term care facilities.
3. Ditto for children. A large-scale, systematic review of 51 studies, published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews in 2006, found no evidence that the flu vaccine is any more effective than a placebo in preventing influenza in children under two. The studies involved 260,000 children, age 6 to 23 months.
4. Two years, later, in 2008, another Cochrane review again concluded that “little evidence is available” that the flu vaccine is effective in preventing influenza in children under the age of two.
5. As for the general adult population, Cochrane published the following bombshell conclusion last year:
“Influenza vaccines have a modest effect in reducing influenza symptoms and working days lost. There is no evidence that they affect complications, such as pneumonia, or transmission.
WARNING: This review includes 15 out of 36 trials funded by industry (four had no funding declaration). An earlier systematic review of 274 influenza vaccine studies published up to 2007 found industry funded studies were published in more prestigious journals and cited more than other studies independently from methodological quality and size. Studies funded from public sources were significantly less likely to report conclusions favorable to the vaccines.
The review demonstrated that reliable scientific evidence confirming that influenza vaccines are effective is thin and there is plenty of reason to suspect that there may be a manipulation of conclusions when the studies are funded by drug companies. The content and conclusions of this review should be interpreted in light of this finding.” [Emphasis mine.]
Did You Know? 100 People Must be Inoculated in Order to Prevent ONE Case of the Flu...
Cochrane also published the following telling statistics:
"Over 200 viruses cause influenza and influenza-like illness, which produce the same symptoms (fever, headache, aches and pains, cough and runny noses). Without laboratory tests, doctors cannot tell the two illnesses apart. Both last for days and rarely lead to death or serious illness. At best, vaccines might be effective against only influenza A and B, which represent about 10 percent of all circulating viruses. Each year, the World Health Organization recommends which viral strains should be included in vaccinations for the forthcoming season.
Authors of this review assessed all trials that compared vaccinated people with unvaccinated people. The combined results of these trials showed that under ideal conditions (vaccine completely matching circulating viral configuration) 33 healthy adults need to be vaccinated to avoid one set of influenza symptoms.
In average conditions (partially matching vaccine) 100 people need to be vaccinated to avoid one set of influenza symptoms.
Vaccine use did not affect the number of people hospitalised or working days lost but caused one case of Guillain‐Barré syndrome (a major neurological condition leading to paralysis) for every one million vaccinations."
Is it really worth risking the health and well-being of 100 people in order to prevent ONE case of the flu, which may or may not result in serious illness or death in that one individual to begin with?
The Two Most Potent Flu Prevention Strategies I Know of
Since the flu vaccine myth is nearing its ultimate demise, what is the best way to avoid contracting the flu each and every year?
The answer lies in maintaining a robust immune system, and the first thing you want to do when you feel yourself coming down with a cold or flu is to avoid ALL sugars (fructose in particular), artificial sweeteners, and processed foods. This also includes fructose from fruit juice, and all types of grains (as they break down as sugar in your body).
It's important to remember that excessive sugar consumption effectively suppresses your immune system and impairs your defenses against all infectious disease.
I also strongly recommend taking one specific action that can help reduce your chances of ever developing symptoms in the first place, and that is to make sure your vitamin D levels are optimized year-round. There's a new hypothesis stating that the widespread prevalence of colds and flu's may actually be due to vitamin D deficiency, which is incredibly common in the United States, especially during the winter months when cold and flu viruses are at their peak.
Scientific Evidence Supports Vitamin D as a Viable Flu Prevention Strategy
Just like eating too much sugar, getting too little vitamin D can seriously impair your immune system and make you far more susceptible to contracting colds, influenza, and other respiratory infections. And, while studies keep confirming the ineffectiveness of flu vaccines, several studies now support that vitamin D can help keep you healthy during flu season:
- In the largest and most nationally representative study of its kind, people with the lowest vitamin D levels reported having significantly more recent colds or cases of the flu.
- In another study, published last year, schoolchildren were given either vitamin D or a placebo for a year. Influenza A occurred in just 10.8 percent of the children in the vitamin D group, compared with 18.6 percent children in the placebo group.
- At least five additional studies also show an inverse association between lower respiratory tract infections and vitamin D levels.
This is not surprising once you realize that vitamin D produces 200 to 300 different antimicrobial peptides in your body that kill bacteria, viruses and fungi. Essentially, it works as a very broad antibacterial and antiviral agent. For comparison, a flu vaccine is designed to protect against just two very specific viral strains...
While the temptation to reach for a vitamin D3 supplement can be great, I urge you to make a concerted effort to optimize your levels by getting adequate sun exposure or by using a safe tanning bed, even in the winter months, if you can.
Because when you expose your skin to sunshine, your skin synthesizes vitamin D3 sulfate. This form is water soluble, and can therefore travel freely in your blood stream. Oral vitamin D3 supplements are NOT sulfated, and therefore require LDL (the so-called "bad" cholesterol) as a vehicle of transport. According to Dr. Stephanie Seneff, there's reason to believe that the oral non-sulfated form of vitamin D may therefore not provide the same benefits as the vitamin D created in your skin from sun exposure, because it cannot be converted to vitamin D sulfate.
However, if you do not have access to a safe tanning bed or sunshine then it is best to take oral vitamin D3. New research shows that the dose MOST adults need to reach therapeutic levels is 8,000 units per day. If you are taking 5,000 IU's, you may want to consider increasing it as most adults need more. Of course it is important to confirm your blood levels though, as some people require considerably more in order to reach therapeutic levels.
Other All-Natural Immune-Boosting Strategies
Aside from boosting your vitamin D levels and abstaining from sugary foods, additional long-term prevention strategies include getting plenty of quality sleep, exercising regularly, and effectively addressing the daily stresses of your life. Taken together, these strategies lay the groundwork for a robust immune system that can stand up to all kinds of viral and bacterial assaults.
However, there are also a number of all-natural therapies that can help you combat colds and flu's on a more short-term basis. Here's a listing of some of the most effective ones:
• Zinc—According to a Cochrane Database Review of the medical research on zinc, when taken within one day of the first symptoms, zinc can cut down the duration of a cold by about 24 hours. It was also found to greatly reduce the severity of symptoms.
• Chicken soup—Chicken contains a natural amino acid called cysteine, which can thin the mucus in your lungs and make it less sticky so you can expel it more easily. For best results, make up a fresh batch yourself (or ask a friend or family member to do so) and make the soup hot and spicy with plenty of pepper. The spices will trigger a sudden release of watery fluids in your mouth, throat, and lungs, which will help thin down the respiratory mucus so it's easier to cough up and expel.
• Mushrooms—While most people think only of eating the fleshy fruiting body of the mushroom (the part that grows above ground), most of the benefits are actually located in their complex root structure, called the mycelium. Beta glucans and proteoglycans are the primary biologically active compounds in the mushroom fruit body and mycelia that support your immune system. The beta glucans are special proteins with unique side-branching patterns that “fit” perfectly with cellular receptor sites that support your immune system, just like a key in a lock.
Mushrooms also contain trace minerals, polysaccharides, amino acids and fiber that support your health by protecting against environmental stressors; supporting your detoxification process; and promoting healthy gut flora and optimal digestion, just to name a few of the known health benefits.
• Vitamin C: A very potent antioxidant; use a natural form such as acerola, which contains associated micronutrients. You can take several grams every hour till you are better unless you start developing loose stools
• Oregano Oil: The higher the carvacrol concentration, the more effective it is. Carvacrol is the most active antimicrobial agent in oregano oil.
• Propolis: A bee resin and one of the most broad-spectrum antimicrobial compounds in the world; propolis is also the richest source of caffeic acid and apigenin, two very important compounds that aid in immune response.
• A tea made from a combination of elderflower, yarrow, boneset, linden, peppermint and ginger; drink it hot and often for combating a cold or flu. It causes you to sweat, which is helpful for eradicating a virus from your system.
• Olive leaf extract: Ancient Egyptians and Mediterranean cultures used it for a variety of health-promoting uses and it is widely known as a natural, non-toxic immune system builder.