By Dr. Mercola
Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS) is not contagious.
It is an autoimmune disorder that develops when a person's own immune system attacks and damages the myelin sheath of the body's nerves, causing muscle weakness and paralysis.
GBS symptoms can last for a few weeks or months or can become permanent.
In rare cases, people die from GBS, usually because they cannot breathe.
In the U.S., an estimated 3,000 to 6,000 people develop GBS annually.
Some healthy people, who develop GBS, have recently recovered from a viral or bacterial infection within the previous 4-8 weeks but others have recently been vaccinated.
The inactivated influenza vaccine has been associated with development of GBS since 1976, when an inactivated "swine flu" shot given to millions of healthy Americans1 caused GBS in several hundred previously healthy Americans and there were 30 deaths.
The CDC says:2
"In 1976, there was a small increased risk of GBS following vaccination with an influenza vaccine made to protect against a swine flu virus. The increased risk was approximately 1 additional case of GBS per 100,000 people who got the swine flu vaccine. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) conducted a thorough scientific review of this issue in 2003 and concluded that people who received the 1976 swine influenza vaccine had an increased risk for developing GBS.
Scientists have multiple theories on why this increased risk may have occurred, but the exact reason for this association remains unknown."
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Early symptoms of GBS include sudden muscle weakness, fatigue, and tingling sensations in the legs that can take days or weeks to spread to the arms and upper body and can become painful, eventually ending with either partial or total paralysis.
When there is total paralysis, GBS becomes life-threatening because it can impair breathing and interfere with the heart rate and cause high or low blood pressure that can lead to serious complications, such as heart attack and stroke.
It is important to recognize the early symptoms of GBS, whether you have been vaccinated or not, and seek immediate medical care.
Powerful Profile of a Vaccine Victim
While infants and young children are at greatest risk, NO ONE is exempt from the potential serious complications of vaccination, one of which is GBS.
In the video profile of vaccine injury above, Barbara Loe Fisher, co-founder and president of the non-profit National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC), interviews a Connecticut artist and her mother, a former professor of nursing, who developed Guillain-Barre syndrome after getting a seasonal flu shot in 2008 and today is permanently disabled with total body paralysis. This family has chosen to share their heartbreaking story to help those, who have had the same experience, feel less alone, and to educate others about what it means to be vaccine injured. What happened to this family is a potent reminder of just how important it is to make well-informed decisions about vaccinations.
Getting a Flu Shot at Pharmacy Is a Risky Proposition
While many have become used to vaccines being considered "routine," there's really nothing routine about them. Each and every vaccine carries an inherent risk of causing a reaction, injury, or death that can be greater for some individuals than others. The seasonal flu vaccine is no exception when it comes to serious health risks, both short- and long-term, for some people. This is why the trend of getting your flu shot at the local drugstore, grocery store, or other non-medical setting is so troubling.
According to a recent article in NPR:3
"In 2010, 18.4 percent of adults who were immunized received the flu vaccine at a supermarket or drugstore, just edging out workplace vaccinations for the second most popular venue, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
... [W]hile more people are going to the pharmacy, the number of Americans who get the flu vaccine each year has remained fairly constant at about 40 percent of all adults. Drugstores and supermarket pharmacies are eager to stake out a bigger piece of that market. Nationwide, the number of pharmacists trained to deliver vaccines has nearly quadrupled since 2007, from 40,000 to 150,000."
While pharmacists are trained to administer the vaccine, 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.
All Vaccines Suppress Your Immune System
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 themselves 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. Vaccines introduce large foreign protein molecules into your body. Your body can respond to these foreign particles in a way that causes an allergic reaction or triggers autoimmunity, especially in persons genetically or biologically vulnerable to allergy and autoimmunity
The flu vaccine may also pose an immediate risk to your cardiovascular system due to the fact that they elicit an inflammatory response. One 2007 study published in the Annals of Medicine4 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."
Mercury Is a Well-Known Neurotoxin
Thimerosal, which is 49 percent mercury by volume, is a widely used vaccine preservative.
It is present in many different vaccines used in the U.S., 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.
However, 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 still clueless about the health risks associated with thimerosal.
Some don't even know that thimerosal is a mercury derivative!
A typical dose of thimerosal-containing flu vaccine contains 25 micrograms thimerosal. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the safe limit for human exposure to mercury is 0.1 mcg per kilo of weight per day.
Since almost half of the thimerosal is mercury, this means that each flu shot contains just over 12 mcg's of mercury, which would be considered unsafe for anyone weighing less than 120 kilos, or just under 265 pounds.
There's really no debate about whether or not mercury is a neurotoxin5. It's a well-established fact that it is. 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 mercury6, why would it suddenly become harmless when injected directly into your body, bypassing all of your body's natural detoxification pathways?
If anything, the damage is likely to be far more profound! The following video offers a powerful illustration of how mercury literally destroys brain neurons.
Why Did the Vaccine Maker Fail to Reveal Massive Increase in Reactions?
On October 18, The Australian published an article questioning the omission of research showing a dramatic uptick in side effects from the flu vaccine in 2006. As you may recall, last year, Australia temporarily suspended all seasonal flu vaccinations for children under the age of five after noticing a 200 percent increase in unusual fevers and convulsions. At that time, CSL submitted updated research from 2006 showing a sharp rise in fevers linked to its vaccine, which they had omitted from the legally required product information sheets given to doctors.
The product sheets instead listed figures from 2005.
The 2005 information showed 22.5 percent of children under three, and nearly 16 percent of children aged three to nine experienced fevers as a side effect. Meanwhile, the updated figures for 2006 showed the rate of unusual fevers had nearly DOUBLED, to 39.5 percent in children up to three, and 27 percent for three to nine-year olds.
According to The Australian:7
"Both sets of results were published in 2009, but CSL has still not included the more alarming set of figures in the product information. The Medical Journal of Australia reported... that CSL did not give this information to Australia's drug regulator, the Therapeutic Goods Administration, until last year when the spate of serious febrile convulsions in young children given the annual flu jab triggered a suspension on the use of such vaccines for children under five."
The CSL's explanation for the omission is that they didn't think the 2006 figures were "clinically substantially different" to the 2005 figures. Really? If a doubling of side effects is not substantially and clinically different, then what is?
Was Blend of Flu Viruses to Blame for Increase in Adverse Effects?
CSL now claims to have pinpointed the potential problem causing their H1N1 vaccine (Fluvax) to be so much more reactive than seasonal flu vaccines of the past. According to a September 3 article in The Australian8:
"CSL followed World Health Organization recommendations when it concocted its controversial Fluvax vaccine, which combined swine flu with two seasonal strains of influenza for the first time... CSL yesterday revealed a breakthrough in its 18-month scientific investigation... It said the interim findings pointed to a problem with how the three virus strains interacted.
Our scientific studies indicate that the interaction between the particular virus strains used in the 2010 . . . vaccine contributed to the reactions, but we are still working to understand the how and why,’ a CSL spokeswoman told The Weekend Australian. ‘We have completed comprehensive investigations into our manufacturing operations (which) have not identified any change or deviation in our standard registered manufacturing process that could have contributed to the increased reactions.’"
However, the World Health Organization (WHO) has rebutted CSL's conclusions stating that:9
"’None of the other manufacturers have seen the same sort of effects with these strains,’ Dr [Ian] Barr [deputy director of the WHO's influenza research laboratory in Melbourne] said. He ruled out testing the WHO's flu-shot recipe -- which tends to change each year -- before new vaccines were used on people. ‘It's just not possible because this is more or less a just-in-time vaccine,’ he said."
Both the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Australian counterpart, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), have blamed the problem on manufacturing deficiencies, poor management, and inadequate cleaning and testing at the CSL facility. According to The Australian10:
"The TGA said yesterday different manufacturing processes could explain why only CSL's vaccine caused such widespread side-effects in children last year."While the different brands of seasonal influenza vaccines use the same strains of virus, there are differences in manufacturing processes that may result in differences in the biology of the vaccines," an administration spokeswoman said.
Finland Vows to Pay for Lifetime Medical Care for Kids Harmed by H1N1 Vaccine
The 2009-2010 H1N1 swine flu vaccine wreaked uncommon havoc in many countries. For example, several European countries noticed a staggering uptick in narcolepsy—a rare and devastating sleeping disorder. Unfortunately, vaccine makers are completely shielded from liability for any harm caused by a pandemic vaccine, which is what the H1N1 flu vaccine was, so the fact that this vaccine turned out to be so harmful is a red flag for everyone to carefully weigh potential benefits and risks, and not trust blindly when health officials and doctors give standard assurances of vaccine safety and effectiveness.
In a rare and welcome demonstration of compassion and respect for the vaccine injured, the Finnish government and major health insurance companies recently announced they will pay for lifetime medical care for all the children diagnosed with narcolepsy after receiving the swine flu vaccine.
As reported by Yahoo News:11
"Finnish and international researchers recently found a conclusive link between the Pandemrix swine flu vaccine and new cases of narcolepsy… The Finnish Pharmaceutical Insurance Pool (LVP), which represents insurance companies, said… it would honor all insurance claims in this category… The Finnish government meanwhile agreed to cover any medical costs exceeding the insurance claims.
In Finland, 79 children between the ages of four and 19 developed narcolepsy after receiving the Pandemrix vaccine in 2009 and 2010. Of these cases, an unusually high number, 76, also suffered from bouts of cataplexy, suffering hallucinations or paralyzing physical collapses, according to Finnish research."
Flu Vaccine for Pregnant Women Now Called into Question
In the U.S., trivalent influenza vaccination is universally recommended for all pregnant women, but a new study now calls this practice into question12. The study examined "the magnitude, time course, and variance in inflammatory responses following seasonal influenza virus vaccination among pregnant women." The women were assessed prior to, and at one day, two days, and one week following vaccination.
The analysis showed significant increases in C-reactive protein (CRP) and other markers of inflammation following the vaccinations. According to the authors:13
"Trivalent influenza virus vaccination elicits a measurable inflammatory response among pregnant women ... There was considerable variability in magnitude of response; coefficients of variation for change at two days post-vaccination ranged from 122 percent to 728 percent, with the greatest variability in IL-6 responses at this timepoint.
… As adverse perinatal health outcomes including preeclampsia and preterm birth have an inflammatory component, a tendency toward greater inflammatory responding to immune triggers may predict risk of adverse outcomes, providing insight into biological mechanisms underlying risk… further research is needed to confirm that the mild inflammatory response elicited by vaccination is benign in pregnancy."
Are Flu Vaccines Increasing Inflammation in Pregnant Women to Dangerous Levels?
The issue of inflammation is very important, and may be a crucial concern for pregnant women and infants. Pregnant women experiencing acute inflammation, whether from natural infection or from a vaccination, may well suffer an increased risk of their unborn child suffering health damage as a result.
It has always been a principle in medicine that one should not expose pregnant women to unnecessary risks from smoking or ingesting drugs or alcohol or other toxins because the risk to the unborn child is too great. Until a decade ago, most women were not routinely advised by doctors to get vaccinated during pregnancy but, today, there is a big push by the CDC and medical trade organizations to vaccinate all pregnant women in any trimester. The really big push began in earnest during the much-hyped pandemic "swine flu" influenza scare of 2009, a flu that turned out to be less severe than most annual "flu seasons."
Researchers are now questioning the assumed safety of giving flu shots to pregnant women because stimulating a woman's immune system during midterm and later term pregnancy may significantly increase the risk that her baby will develop autism during childhood and schizophrenia14 sometime during the teenage years and afterward. This risk is not minor. According to Dr. Blaylock, it's a well-accepted fact within neuroscience that eliciting an immune response during pregnancy increases the risk of autism and schizophrenia in her offspring seven- to 14-fold!
In fact, a number of neurodevelopmental and behavioral problems can occur in babies born to women immunologically stimulated
15 during pregnancy. For example, in one study done by Dr. Laura Hewitson16, a professor of obstetrics at the University of Pittsburg Medical Center, found that a single vaccine used in human babies, when used in newborn monkeys, caused significant abnormalities in brainstem development.
It's true that serious flu infections or E. coli infections during pregnancy are a major risk for all these complications, but a woman's risk of actually becoming infected is quite small.
Two years ago, I interviewed Dr. Blaylock, a board certified neurosurgeon and author of Excitotoxins: the Taste that Kills, on this topic. At the time, we were discussing the swine flu and H1N1 vaccine, but one particular segment relates to the issue of vaccinations during pregnancy in general. As stated above, vaccines elicit an inflammatory response, and according to Dr. Blaylock, this is of considerable concern for pregnant women.
Based on the data Dr. Blaylock shared in that interview17, pregnant women had about a 99.97 percent chance of NOT becoming so ill from the swine flu that they would require any type of hospital care. Put another way, a pregnant woman only had a 0.03 percent chance of contracting a life-threatening case of influenza. These statistics would likely be applicable for most "regular" flu seasons as well. With the risk of suffering complications from naturally-acquired influenza being so low, why is the US government insisting on vaccinating ALL pregnant women; thereby significantly increasing the risk to ALL unborn infants?
What Your Obstetrician Doesn't Know About Vaccines Can Jeopardize Your Baby
Each year, the CDC and medical trade associations like the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) urge pregnant women and young children to get a flu shot because, they say, pregnant women and young children are "particularly at risk" for flu complications and death. However, the statistics simply do not support this recommendation.
Neither does the science...
Unfortunately, many obstetricians and pediatricians strongly recommend the flu vaccine to their pregnant patients because they simply don't know any better.
Doctors typically do not read neuroscience journals, perhaps because they don't have the time or because it is a lot easier to just blindly trust and follow the CDC or AAP "recommendations" without every checking them out. But the link between inflammatory cytokine production during pregnancy and subsequent health problems in infants and young children is well explained in the medical literature; it's been published in well-respected journals and is already accepted within the field of neuroscience.
How to Protect Yourself Against the Flu Without Vaccination
Fortunately, avoiding a serious case of the flu doesn't require a flu vaccine. By following these simple guidelines, 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. As I've previously reported, optimizing your vitamin D levels is one of the absolute best strategies for avoiding infections of ALL kinds, and vitamin D deficiency is likely the TRUE culprit behind the seasonality of the flu -- not the flu virus itself. This is probably the single most important and least expensive action you can take. Regularly monitor your vitamin D levels to confirm your levels are within the therapeutic range of 50-70 ng/ml.
Ideally, you'll want to get all your vitamin D from sun exposure or a safe tanning bed, but as a last resort, you can take an oral vitamin D3 supplement. According to the latest review by Carole Baggerly (Grassrootshealth.org), adults need about 8,000 IU's a day.
- Avoid Sugar and Processed Foods. Sugar impairs the function of your immune system almost immediately, and as you likely know, a healthy immune system is one of the most important keys to fighting off viruses and other illness. Be aware that sugar is present in foods you may not suspect, like ketchup and fruit juice.
- Get Enough Rest. Just like it becomes harder for you to get your daily tasks done if you're tired, if your body is overly fatigued, it will be harder for it to fight the flu. Be sure to check out my article Guide to a Good Night's Sleep for some great tips to help you get quality rest.
- Have Effective Tools to Address Stress . We all face some stress every day, but if stress becomes overwhelming then your body will be less able to fight off the flu and other illness. If you feel that stress is taking a toll on your health, consider using an energy psychology tool such as the Emotional Freedom Technique, which is remarkably effective in relieving stress associated with all kinds of events, from work to family to trauma.
- 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.
- Take a Good Source of Animal-Based Omega-3 Fats. Increase your intake of healthy and essential fats like the omega-3 found in krill oil, which is crucial for maintaining health. It is also vitally important to avoid damaged omega-6 oils that are trans fats and in processed foods as it will seriously damage your immune response.
- Wash Your Hands. Washing your hands will decrease your likelihood of spreading a virus to your nose, mouth or other people. Be sure you don't use antibacterial soap for this -- antibacterial soaps are completely unnecessary, and they cause far more harm than good. Instead, identify a simple chemical-free soap that you can switch your family to.
- 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. I'd recommend you stay away from hospitals unless you're having an emergency and need expert medical care, as hospitals are prime breeding grounds for infections of all kinds. The best place to get plenty of rest and recover from illness that is not life-threatening is usually in the comfort of your own home.
What You Can Do to Make a Difference
While it seems "old-fashioned," the only truly effective actions you can take to protect the right to informed consent to vaccination and expand vaccine exemptions, is to get personally involved with your state legislators and the leaders in your community.
THINK GLOBALLY, ACT LOCALLY.
Mass vaccination policies are made at the federal level but vaccine laws are made at the state level, and it is at the state level where your action to protect your vaccine choice rights can have the greatest impact.
Signing up for NVIC's free Advocacy Portal at www.NVICAdvocacy.org not only gives you access to practical, useful information to help you become an effective vaccine choice advocate in your own community, but when national vaccine issues come up, you will have the up-to-date information and call to action items you need at your fingertips to make sure your voice is heard.
So please, as your first step, sign up for the NVIC Advocacy Portal.
Contact Your Elected Officials
Write or email your elected state representatives and share your concerns. Call them, or better yet, make an appointment to visit them in person in their office. Don't let them forget you!
It is so important for you to reach out and make sure your concerns get on the radar screen of the leaders and opinion makers in your community, especially the politicians you elect and are directly involved in making vaccine laws in your state. These are your elected representatives, so you have a right and a responsibility to let them know what's really happening in your life and the lives of people you know when it comes to vaccine mandates. Be sure to share the "real life" experiences that you or people you know have had with vaccination.
Share Your Story with the Media and People You Know
If you or a family member has suffered a serious vaccine reaction, injury or death, please talk about it. If we don't share information and experiences with one another, everybody feels alone and afraid to speak up. Write a letter to the editor if you have a different perspective on a vaccine story that appears in your local newspaper. Make a call in to a radio talk show that is only presenting one side of the vaccine story.
I must be frank with you; you have to be brave because you might be strongly criticized for daring to talk about the "other side" of the vaccine story. Be prepared for it and have the courage to not back down. Only by sharing our perspective and what we know to be true about vaccination will the public conversation about vaccination open up so people are not afraid to talk about it.
We cannot allow the drug companies and medical trade associations funded by drug companies to dominate the conversation about vaccination. The vaccine injured cannot be swept under the carpet and treated like nothing more than "statistically acceptable collateral damage" of national one-size-fits-all mass vaccination policies that put way too many people at risk for injury and death. We shouldn't be treating people like guinea pigs instead of human beings.
Internet Resources Where You Can Learn More
I encourage you to visit the following web pages on the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) website at www.NVIC.org:
- NVIC Memorial for Vaccine Victims: View descriptions and photos of children and adults, who have suffered vaccine reactions, injuries and deaths. If you or your child experiences an adverse vaccine event, please consider posting and sharing your story here.
- If You Vaccinate, Ask 8 Questions: Learn how to recognize vaccine reaction symptoms and prevent vaccine injuries.
- Vaccine Freedom Wall: View or post descriptions of harassment by doctors or government officials for making independent vaccine choices.
Connect with Your Doctor or Find a New One That Will Listen and Care
If your pediatrician or doctor refuses to provide medical care to you or your child unless you agree to get vaccines you don't want, I strongly encourage you to have the courage to find another doctor. Harassment, intimidation, and refusal of medical care is becoming the modus operandi of the medical establishment in an effort to stop the change in attitude of many parents about vaccinations after they become truly educated about health and vaccination.
However, there is hope.
At least 15 percent of young doctors recently polled admit that they're starting to adopt a more individualized approach to vaccinations in direct response to the vaccine safety concerns of parents. It is good news that there is a growing number of smart young doctors, who prefer to work as partners with parents in making personalized vaccine decisions for children, including delaying vaccinations or giving children fewer vaccines on the same day or continuing to provide medical care for those families, who decline use of one or more vaccines.
So take the time to locate a doctor, who treats you with compassion and respect and is willing to work with you to do what is right for your child.