By Dr. Mercola
The brainwashing about influenza vaccines runs deep, and perhaps more in the US than in many other countries. So much so that, over the past couple of years, we've heard more and more reports of health care workers being required to get vaccinated against their will or be fired from their jobs.
In 2012, Missouri health care workers were threatened with corrective action for refusing the flu vaccine and were told they'd be ineligible for pay raises.
Last year, eight nurses in Indiana were fired for not complying with the hospital's new mandatory flu vaccination rule, announced in September 2012. One of them had worked at the hospital for 22 years, with a stellar work record.
Most recently, a 29-year old pregnant nurse at a hospital was fired from her position with Horizons Healthcare Services in Pennsylvania after refusing the flu shot. She recently told CNN:1, 2
"I'm a healthy person. I take care of my body. For me, the potential risk was not worth it. "I'm not going to be the one percent of people that has a problem... know that the CDC says to get it, and that's fine, but it was our choice to avoid the flu vaccine and the unknowns that come with that."
Nurse Fired by Placing Baby's Safety First...
The nurse, Dreonna Breton, who has already had two miscarriages, told her employer she did not want to get a flu shot this year due to the potential risks to her baby, noting the lack of vaccine safety studies done in pregnant women. She submitted letters from both her obstetrician and primary care doctor in support of her decision, and offered to wear a mask throughout the flu season.
Personnel exempted from the flu vaccine due to religious reasons typically wear masks, and it's an effective way to protect both yourself and your patients not only from influenza but other flu-like respiratory infections as well.
Her employer disagreed, however, and told her she'd be fired as of December 17 if she didn't get vaccinated before then. A spokesman for Horizons Healthcare Services told CNN that "it's unconscionable for a health care worker not to be immunized."
This responsible pregnant mother did her research, and subsequently rejected a pharma product. The hospital administration at Horizons Healthcare Services fired her for this. If you would like to express your unhappiness with the hospital, as well as your commitment to not going there and telling others not to as well, we encourage you to do so.
They have the right to fire her, people have the right to reject the hospital going forward.
In light of mounting research, this view is exceptionally outdated, and can hardly be considered evidence-based. "Get vaccinated" is the mantra, even though the scientific evidence backing such a recommendation is in fact grossly lacking—both in terms of efficacy and safety.
While her employer is within their legal rights to mandate flu vaccination for their workers, I would suggest that patients make their opinions known by avoiding health facilities that enact such draconian measures as forcing pregnant personnel to get vaccinated without solid evidence of safety. Especially since the medical literature is littered with studies showing that the flu vaccine doesn't work.
Is Flu Vaccination an Effective Prevention Method?
There are many studies refuting the notion that getting vaccinated against the flu is an effective way to prevent contracting and spreading the flu.
For example, not just one, but three recent studies published in the journal Eurosurveillance3, 4, 5strongly challenge the claim that the influenza vaccine will protect you against influenza. Commenting on one of the studies analyzing the 2011-2012 flu season, the European Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) wrote:6
"A multicenter study by researchers in eight European countries indicated that overall vaccine effectiveness (VE) against influenza A/H3N2 in the first months of the season was 38 percent, but after mid-February it dropped to -1 percent.
"The concept that vaccine protection can be so short-lived provides a challenge for public health policy," says the British report."
In the US, the 2013 flu vaccine was found to be just 56 percent effective7 across all age groups reviewed by the CDC —in essence, the statistical equivalent of a coin toss...
Further, the notion that vaccinating health care workers will protect hospital patients from influenza is completely unproven. According to one 2009 Cochrane Database Review8—which is the gold standard for assessing the scientific evidence for the effectiveness of commonly used medical interventions:
"There is no credible evidence that vaccination of healthy people under the age of 60, who are HCWs [health care workers] caring for the elderly, affects influenza complications in those cared for."
And, as for the general adult population, Cochrane published the following conclusion in 2010:9
"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.
...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."
Add to this the groundbreaking 2013 pertussis study showing that while the pertussis vaccine can cut down on serious clinical disease symptoms, it doesn't eliminate transmission of whooping cough.10 While that study was on whooping cough and not influenza, the research struck a major hole in the argument that vaccines achieve herd immunity, which is used as justification for mandatory vaccination campaigns of all kinds.
Flu Vaccine Has NOT Been Adequately Tested for Safety in Pregnant Women
Besides the lack of efficacy, there's also a glaring lack of safety testing—especially as it pertains to pregnant women and their unborn children. Breton presented evidence of this to her employer. Still, the health risk to her and her baby was not considered a viable reason for abstaining from the vaccine... As NVIC president Barbara Loe Fisher recently wrote in an article titled, "Vaccination During Pregnancy: Is It Safe?"
"Mothers-to-be in my generation were told to take extra vitamins and eat nutritious food but, most of all, to avoid anything that could harm the developing fetus like alcohol, cigarette smoke, medications, radiation, household cleaning products and other toxic exposures...Today, pregnant women face a different set of difficult questions and choices about keeping themselves and their babies healthy. Among them are whether or not to get vaccinations during pregnancy...
Although since the 1970's public health officials have recommended influenza vaccinations for pregnant women in the second or third trimester,11 relatively few obstetricians promoted the vaccine until the past decade when, in 2006, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) strengthened recommendations that all pregnant women, healthy or not, should get a flu shot in any trimester12... [C]urrent vaccine recommendations13,14, 15 are endorsed by the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gyncologists (ACOG)16, 17 the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and other medical trade associations.18,19
With these recommendations, the time-honored rule of avoiding any potential toxic exposure that might interfere with the normal development of the fetus has been suspended and replaced with an assumption that vaccination during pregnancy is safe."
She goes on to list a number of vaccine facts pertaining to the lack of evidence of safety in pregnant women. For starters, drug companies did not test the safety and effectiveness of giving influenza vaccine to pregnant women before the vaccines were licensed in the US20, 21 and data on inflammatory and other biological responses to vaccination during pregnancy that could affect pregnancy and birth outcomes is still lacking.22
As far as the scientific evidence is concerned, it's still completely unknown whether the influenza vaccine can cause fetal harm or affect your reproduction capacity,23 which is why the vaccine manufacturer product inserts state that the influenza vaccine should only be given to a pregnant woman if it's "clearly needed." In light of these facts, aren't mandatory flu vaccinations of pregnant women really just based on opinion or sheer faith? It's certainly not based on the weight of the scientific evidence...
New York Mandates Flu Vaccine for Kids Under Five
Your right to make independent health decisions for yourself and your family is being eroded at a rapid clip these days, and the following news story is yet another example highlighting the importance of getting involved to protect those rights. As of this year, the city of New York, NY will require your child to get an annual flu shot in order to attend preschool or daycare. According to DNAinfo New York:24
"Any school that fails to show documentation of a child's vaccine will be subject to fines, and kids who don't have proof of the vaccine starting from Dec. 31, 2014, can be kicked out of their programs until they provide proof, the Health Department said. As with other immunizations, exemptions will only be given for valid medical or religious reasons."
Across the US, state health department officials are increasingly joining with medical trade association lobbyists to severely restrict or eliminate medical, religious, and conscientious belief vaccine exemptions for all children and their parents. Connecticut25 and New Jersey26 also already have annual flu shot mandates in place that force parents to vaccinate their infants and young children if they are to attend daycare.
One excellent way to keep abreast of the latest vaccine-related legislation in your state and make your voice heard is by signing up for the NVIC's free online Advocacy Portal. Now more than ever, we need to work to educate legislators about changing vaccine policies and laws to include informed consent protections so parents can make educated, voluntary vaccine choices for their children without being punished—in this case, by being denied daycare, which will put some parents out of work if they don't comply with the new law.
The Flu Vaccine Is Not Without Risks
Many are now so used to the idea of the flu vaccine that they don't even stop to consider the potential risks, which can be severe. For example, one recent article out of the United Kingdom27 tells the story of 15-year old Chloe Glasson, who developed narcolepsy four months after getting Pandemrix, an influenza vaccine licensed in Europe but not distributed in the U.S. She now falls asleep up to 30 times a day.
It's also important to realize that the flu vaccine may not prevent you from either getting influenza or suffering influenza complications. In Portland, OR, a five-year old boy reportedly recently died from flu-related complications. He received a flu shot the month prior his death. Tragically, because this child was vaccinated, nobody thought to check for influenza. Instead, the doctor prescribed steroids. As reported by KVAL TV:28
"Calandra said her 5-year-old Ronan came down with the flu Friday Dec. 20 while she and her husband were working through the flu. Calandra took Ronan to his pediatrician when he developed a barking cough often characterizing croup 'She didn't think about doing an influenza test, because it had been past the 48-hour mark for the antivirals,' said Calandra. She started giving Ronan doses of steroidal medication Monday, prescribed by his pediatrician to combat the coughing, croup symptoms."
How many health care workers who get the flu shot will get sick with influenza and keep on working because everyone will assume they don't have influenza? They will then come in contact with immune-suppressed patients in the hospital. Yet, the unvaccinated and healthy workers are prevented from caring for the patients...
Guidelines for Natural Flu Prevention
It's important to remember that your immune system is your primary line of defense against any virus, so keeping your immune function high should be at the top of your list if you want to avoid influenza or other flu-like illness. The following guidelines 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 will be 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 may need as much as 8,000 IUs a day.
- Avoid Sugar/Fructose 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 incorporate high-intensity interval exercises like Peak Fitness into your routine.
- 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.
- 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 Immune Boosters. Examples include oil of oregano and garlic.
- 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 Defend Vaccine Exemptions
With all the uncertainty surrounding the safety and efficacy of vaccines, it's critical to protect your right to make independent health choices and exercise voluntary informed consent to vaccination. It is urgent that everyone in America stand up and fight to protect and expand vaccine informed consent protections in state public health and employment laws. The best way to do this is to get personally involved with your state legislators and educating the leaders in your community.
THINK GLOBALLY, ACT LOCALLY.
National vaccine policy recommendations 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 voluntary 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 the National Vaccine Information Center'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 choice rights 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 website of the non-profit charity, the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC), 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.