By Dr. Mercola
With flu season just around the corner, health agencies are telling Americans to just "get your flu shot," assuring everyone that it's safe and effective. Many, like MedicineNet.com,1 chalk up any and all safety concerns as "myths."
"It's the time of year when you should be thinking about flu vaccinations for yourself and your family," they write. "Some people, however, decide not to get the flu vaccine and put themselves and others at risk of getting sick just because they believe long-held myths about the vaccine."
Myths? I think not.
Vaccine Claims are Not Based on Science-Backed Medicine
The only myth here is the unscientific claim that the flu vaccine is safe and effective and "the best way" to protect yourself against the flu. Nothing could be further from the truth. Numerous studies have shown that the flu vaccine is NOT an effective way to prevent influenza and the real-life experiences of vaccine victims offer a window into the indisputable reality that flu vaccines are NOT without serious risks.
Most recently, a University Of Minnesota study2 published in January found that flu vaccines may not offer as much protection as previously thought. The elderly, in particular, do not appear to receive measureable value from the flu shot, which is the same conclusion reached by several previous studies. Trivalent inactivated influenza vaccines also didn't offer much protection to children over the age of seven.
The study differs from other meta-analyses in that it assessed efficacy and effectiveness of licensed influenza vaccines in the US by including only those studies that used sensitive and highly specific diagnostic tests to confirm cases of influenza. Eligible articles were published between Jan 1, 1967, and Feb 15, 2011, and used RT-PCR or culture for confirmation of influenza. According to the authors:
"Influenza vaccines can provide moderate protection against virologically confirmed influenza, but such protection is greatly reduced or absent in some seasons. Evidence for protection in adults aged 65 years or older is lacking."
In essence, if you're a senior, you're taking a health risk for a theoretical health benefit that can't be confirmed and, if you're a healthy adult, it's a shot in the dark. According to this analysis, at best you'll have up to 59 percent protection IF the selected type A and B influenza strains included in the vaccine are exactly those you happen to be exposed to. If not, you'll have no protection at all. So, again, you're taking a health risk for little or no benefit. Lead researcher Osterholm told WFMY News 2:3
"We found that current influenza vaccine protection is substantially lower than for most routine recommended vaccines and is suboptimal."
Even the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, Michael T. Osterholm, is questioning the effectiveness of the vaccine. "We have overpromoted and overhyped this vaccine, it does not protect as promoted. It's all a sales job: it's all public relations" said Osterholm.
Powerful Profile of a Vaccine Victim
While the efficacy of flu vaccines may be "suboptimal" or missing altogether, the same cannot be said about the potential health risks, so a calm, level-headed risk versus benefit analysis is crucial before you decide to get vaccinated.
I urge you to watch the profile of a flu vaccine victim below, and weigh the potential of such an outcome against the potential of having to spend a week in bed with the flu... Remember most deaths attributed to the flu are actually due to bacterial pneumonia. But these days, bacterial pneumonia can be effectively treated with advanced medical care and therapies, like ICUs, respirators and parenteral antibiotics.
While infants and young children are at greatest risk, NO ONE is exempt from the potential serious complications of vaccination, one of which is Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS). In the video 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 GBS 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.
The inactivated influenza vaccine has been associated with development of GBS since 1976, when an inactivated "swine flu" shot given to millions of healthy Americans caused GBS in several hundred previously healthy Americans and there were 30 deaths.4
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.
All Vaccines Cause Inflammation, Can Alter Immune Response
You also need to understand that vaccines can 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 other ways vaccines can impair and alter your immune response:
- Some components in vaccines are neurotoxic and may cause brain and immune dysfunction, including heavy metals such as mercury preservatives and aluminum adjuvants.
- The lab altered bacteria and viruses in vaccines may also affect your immune response in a negative way.
- Vaccines may alter your t-cell function and lead to chronic illness.
- Vaccines can trigger allergies, autoimmune or neurological disorders, particularly in individuals genetically predisposed to being unable to resolve inflammation. Vaccines introduce large foreign protein molecules into your body and induce an inflammatory response to stimulate antibodies. However, if your body responds to these foreign particles in a way that causes a type of inflammatory response that does not resolve, you can develop severe allergies, autoimmunity or brain dysfunction. In 2011, the Institute of Medicine acknowledged there is individual susceptibility to adverse responses to vaccination involving unidentified genetic, biological and environmental factors. So check your family history for evidence of allergy, autoimmunity and neurological disorders and carefully evaluate the potential individual risks of vaccination for you and your family.
The flu vaccine may also pose an immediate risk to your cardiovascular system due to the fact that vaccination elicits an inflammatory response. One 2007 study published in the Annals of Medicine5 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."
Novartis Flu Vaccine Now Banned in Several Countries Following Particle Contamination
It all began on October 17, when vaccine maker Crucell, a unit of U.S. drugmaker Johnson & Johnson, suspended delivery of 2.36 million doses of their seasonal flu vaccine, Inflexal V, destined for Italy and other European countries, after discovering "problems" with two of the 32 lots.6
A week later, on October 24, Italy banned the sale and use of four flu vaccines manufactured by Novartis.7 The Italian Health Ministry issued an advisory stating that use of Agrippal, Fluad, Influpozzi and adjuvanted Influpozzi was suspended until further notice, following the discovery of white particles in the vaccines. The following day, the ban on Novartis' flu vaccines spread to a number of other countries:
On October 27, Canada also suspended sale and use of Novartis' flu vaccines sold under the names of Fluad and Agriflu, both of which are manufactured in Italy.11
According to a report by the Wall Street Journal:12
"Problems with its flu vaccines represent a new blow for the Swiss drug maker [Novartis], which has struggled with a series of manufacturing problems recently. The Basel-based company is still trying to resume production at its troubled facility in Lincoln, Nebraska, which was shut down in December because of manufacturing flaws, and recently had to recall a birth-control pill because of a packaging error.
Novartis Chief Executive Joe Jimenez in a call with journalists sought to reassure that its flu shots are safe, adding that the company is cooperating with health authorities. 'We are confident that the safety of the vaccines is assured. The lot in question had a deviation, it has been identified and put on hold and has not been released to the market,' he said. 'The manufacturing of vaccines is a complex procedure. Italian authorities are free to continue investigating,' but there is evidence that such deviations wouldn't affect safety or efficacy, Mr. Jimenez said."
Flu Vaccine for Pregnant Women Called into Question
In the U.S., trivalent influenza vaccination is universally recommended for all pregnant women, but a study13 published last year calls this practice into question. If you're pregnant, you'd be wise to consider the potential risks involved and resist being bullied into taking the flu vaccine unless you really feel it's worth the gamble.
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:
"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 [cytokine interleukin-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."
There are serious questions about the 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 schizophrenia sometime during the teenage years and afterward.14 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!
As stated by the authors of one 2007 study in the Journal of Neuroscience:15
"Schizophrenia and autism are thought to result from the interaction between a susceptibility genotype and environmental risk factors. The offspring of women who experience infection while pregnant have an increased risk for these disorders. Maternal immune activation (MIA) in pregnant rodents produces offspring with abnormalities in behavior, histology, and gene expression that are reminiscent of schizophrenia and autism, making MIA a useful model of the disorders.
...Here we show that the cytokine interleukin-6 (IL-6) is critical for mediating the behavioral and transcriptional changes in the offspring. A single maternal injection of IL-6 on day 12.5 of mouse pregnancy causes prepulse inhibition (PPI) and latent inhibition (LI) deficits in the adult offspring."
More Craziness, ACIP Recommends Tdap Vaccine During Each Pregnancy
In light of the uncertainty around the safety of vaccines during pregnancy, the recent decision by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) to recommend that a tetanus-diphtheria-acellular pertussis (Tdap) booster vaccine be given to pregnant women during each pregnancy is truly mindboggling. The previous recommendation was that pregnant women only receive the Tdap vaccine if they had never previously received it.
Not only do we lack safety information about the use of vaccinations in general during pregnancy, we also do not have any information about the safety of multiple or consecutive Tdap vaccinations. Infectious Diseases in Children reported on October 24:16
"A lack of safety data about multiple Tdap vaccinations caused some hesitancy among the committee, especially when considering women who have short intervals between pregnancies. There are no data available that address this specific issue, but available data suggest that there is no excess risk of adverse events, Liang said, adding that the CDC working group supports the need for a prospective study to determine the adverse event risk in women with multiple pregnancies.
She said data indicate that the average woman has two children, and most have an interval of at least 13 months between pregnancies, meaning that most women would not receive more than two doses of the vaccine."
This is ludicrous. Since when is it wise to make widespread recommendations without ANY scientific evidence that it is safe to do so? Yet this is exactly what is happening with vaccine recommendations. We've seen this blasé attitude against safety again and again. The HPV vaccine is another excellent example of what can happen when you jump the gun and start mandating a vaccine for everyone without proper long-term safety and efficacy studies to back up your recommendation.
How to Protect Yourself During the Flu Season
Fortunately, avoiding a serious case of the flu doesn't require a flu vaccination. By following these simple guidelines, you can help 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 may actually be 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 (typically in the form of high fructose corn syrup) is present in foods you may not suspect, like ketchup and fruit juice.
- Optimize Your Gut Flora. The best way to do this is avoid apply the step above by avoiding sugars, processed foods and most grains, and replacing them with healthy fats and taking regular amounts of fermented foods which can radically improve the function of your immune system
- 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.
- Get Regular 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. Be sure to stay hydrated – drink plenty of fluids, especially water.
- 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 non-toxic soap that you can switch your family to.
- Tried and True Hygiene Measures. In addition to washing your hands regularly, cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze. If possible, avoid close contact with those, who are sick and, if you are sick, avoid close contact with those who are well.
- Use Natural Antibiotics. Examples include 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.
Protect Your Right to Informed Consent and Vaccine Exemptions
With all the uncertainty surrounding the safety and efficacy of vaccines, it's critical to protect your right to informed consent to vaccination and fight to protect and expand vaccine exemptions in state public health laws. The best way to do this 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. It is at the state level where your action to protect your vaccine choice rights can have the greatest impact. It is critical for EVERYONE to get involved now in standing up for the legal right to make vaccine choices in America because those choices are being threatened by lobbyists representing drug companies, medical trade associations and public health officials, who are trying to persuade legislators to strip all vaccine exemptions from public health laws.
Signing up for NVIC's free Advocacy Portal at www.NVICAdvocacy.org gives you immediate, easy access to your own state legislators on your Smart Phone or computer so you can make your voice heard. You will be kept up-to-date on the latest state bills threatening your vaccine choices and get practical, useful information to help you become an effective vaccine choice advocate in your own community. Also, when national vaccine issues come up, you will have the up-to-date information and call to action items you need at your fingertips..
So please, as your first step, sign up for the NVIC Advocacy Portal.
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 each other, 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 or public health officials promoting forced use of a growing list of vaccines 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 mandatory 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 and sanctions by doctors, employers, school and health 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.