Why is Canada Changing Its Flu Vaccine Policy?

flu, influenza, swine flu, swine flu vaccine, flu vaccine, vitamin DMany countries are pouring millions into orders for swine flu vaccine from pharmaceutical companies. But one country is taking a different approach.

The Irish Independent reports that the some Canadian provinces have suspended the 'normal' seasonal flu shots for anyone under 65 in response to a recent study there. However, the vaccine suspensions do not apply for people over 65.

The study suggests that people vaccinated against seasonal flu are actually twice as likely to catch swine flu.

But plans vary across the provinces of Canada. Last month, British Columbia announced it is suspending seasonal flu shots for anyone under 65 years old, joining Quebec, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario and Nova Scotia in halting the immunizations.

Quebec's Health Ministry announced it would postpone vaccinations until January, clearing the autumn months for health professionals to focus on vaccinating against H1N1, which is expected to the more severe influenza strain this season.

"By the time the H1N1 wave is over, there will be ample time to vaccinate for seasonal flu," said Dr. Ethan Rubinstein, head of adult infectious diseases at the University of Manitoba.

Other provinces, including Manitoba, are still pondering a response to the research. New Brunswick, one of the lone holdouts, made an announcement in September that it would forge ahead with seasonal flu shots for all residents in October, as originally planned.

Yet according to an even more recent posting by PreventDisease.com, some provinces are still recommending co-administration of both vaccines in as little as 60 days, according to a staggered schedule.

An international panel is currently scrutinising the controversial study's data. Dr Ethan Rubinstein, who has read the study, said it appeared sound.

"There are a large number of authors, all of them excellent and credible researchers," he said. "The sample size is very large, at 12 or 13 million people."

It was back in 1981 that R. Edgar Hope Simpson proposed that a principal cause of seasonal influenza is linked with the deficiency of solar radiation which triggers the production of vitamin D in the skin. Vitamin D deficiency is common in the winter, and vitamin D is crucial in allowing your immune system to defend itself against invading organisms.

In addition to vitamin D, studies have suggested that people who exercise moderately suffer fewer and less severe colds and flu infections.

In a new study, researchers found that when they had a group of mice regularly run on a treadmill over 3.5 months, the animals developed less-severe symptoms when infected with the flu virus.

Additionally, mice that exercised right before flu infection, but not regularly over the preceding months, also showed some protection against severe symptoms -- which in mice means dampened appetite and weight loss. Those benefits, however, were only apparent in the couple days after infection, whereas regular long-term exercise reduced flu symptoms over the whole course of infection.

In August of this year, I was pleased to publish the news that the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) will be investigating the role of vitamin D in protection against swine flu. The agency began a study last year on the role of vitamin D in severe seasonal influenza, which it is now adapting to the H1N1 swine flu virus.

Carole Baggerly, a major proponent of vitamin D, was the primary person responsible for this amazing, ground breaking decision. After donating one year of her time to convince Canadian government officials to do this, she deserves hero status for her efforts. Her tireless work has helped push a whole nation towards the truth.

She is an incredible role model and source of inspiration for all of us as to the power of what one person can do if they are committed to a noble cause.

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Vitamin D and the Flu

Most people do not realize that vitamin D, unlike flu shots, is a proven method to keep yourself from catching an infectious disease.

According to the Irish Independent, R Edgar Hope Simpson was one of the first to discover the link between a deficiency in solar radiation and seasonal influenza. Then, in 2006, the journal Epidemiology and Infection published Dr. John Cannell’s paper Epidemic Influenza and Vitamin D, which presents the hypothesis that influenza is merely a symptom of vitamin D deficiency.

He followed this up with another study published in the Virology Journal last year.

His findings were again confirmed by another recent study -- the largest and most nationally representative of its kind to date -- that involved about 19,000 Americans.

It found that people with the lowest blood vitamin D levels reported having significantly more recent colds or cases of the flu. In conclusion, lead author Dr. Adit Ginde stated:

"The findings of our study support an important role for vitamin D in prevention of common respiratory infections, such as colds and the flu. Individuals with common lung diseases, such as asthma or emphysema, may be particularly susceptible to respiratory infections from vitamin D deficiency."

And as we already know, the vast majority of deaths from the swine flu have occurred in children and adults with pre-existing medical conditions, including obesity, AND, most complications and deaths have been caused by secondary bacterial infections, such as staph – not the virus itself.

Add to this the fact that vitamin D has been shown to have a dramatic impact on nearly all chronic diseases, and you begin to see why optimizing your vitamin D levels may indeed be crucial for avoiding the flu in the first place, and/or avoiding serious and potentially deadly complications from the flu.

There is so much compelling evidence that I believe 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.

I find it hard to believe that the H1N1 virus would respond much differently, especially since it has been found to be a much weaker virus than previous seasonal flu strains.

Some Canadian Provinces Temporarily Suspend Seasonal Flu Shots

Several provinces in Canada have responded proactively to the statistical findings that people who have received seasonal flu shots are TWICE as likely to contract the swine flu, by suspending or delaying the administration of seasonal flu shots.

Unfortunately, it may be too late for people who received the seasonal shot during last year’s season, as the researchers found these folks remained more vulnerable to swine flu well into 2009.

An article in the Deseret Morning News published on Homeland1.com, quotes Dr. Ethan Rubinstein, head of adult infectious diseases at the University of Manitoba as saying:

“It has confused things very badly. And it has certainly cost us credibility from the public because of conflicting recommendations. Until last week, there had always been much encouragement to get the seasonal flu vaccine."

Confusing as it may be, administering two types of flu shots in a single season has never been done before, which raises the risk of unforeseen complications as it is, so it makes sense to stop one in lieu of the other.

Think about it… Certain categories of young children -- depending on where they live and whether or not they’ve received seasonal flu shots before -- would receive as much as 100 mcg of mercury if they received the recommended total of four flu shots!

(Washington and New York state have suspended the mercury limitation for infants and pregnant women for the H1N1 vaccine, so depending on age and previous flu vaccination history, infants in these two states will receive anywhere from one to four doses of mercury-containing flu vaccines.)

This is nothing short of medical crime…

The US has so far ignored the Canadian findings. The CDC is recommending that vaccinations for both seasonal and H1N1 flu go ahead as previously planned.

Several news sources have also stated that “US and European data do not suggest that the seasonal flu vaccine has any impact on getting the swine flu.”

But I would have to raise these questions: has either the US or Europe actually conducted such a study, or compiled the data to review it, in the first place? Or are we saying that the data “doesn’t show a link” simply because we haven’t looked?

So far, no one knows what the medical link between the seasonal flu shot and the swine flu. According to Deseret News:

“One hypothesis suggests seasonal flu vaccine preoccupies the cells that would otherwise produce antibodies against H1N1.

But, according to Dr. Rubinstein, the research shows that people who received the seasonal shot during the 2007-08 flu season remained vulnerable to swine flu well into 2009, an interval that should provide most immune systems ample restoration time.”

CBC News Canada published another theory:

“ Theoretically, antibodies created by the immune system after exposure to bacteria or a virus can facilitate the entry of another strain of the virus or disease. The effect has been seen for other viral vaccinations but never for influenza, said Dr. Donald Low, chief microbiologist at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto.”

Whatever the mechanism may turn out to be, waiting for science to figure it out seems foolish.

After all, if the statistics point to what appears to be a cause and effect, why not pay attention and opt for safety first?

At the Same Time, Canada Approves Adjuvanted H1N1 Vaccine…

Fortunately, none of the swine flu vaccines used in the US are allowed to contain adjuvants such as squalene. At least not yet…

Canadians are not so lucky, however. On October 21, the Canadian minister of health issued an interim order approving the sale of an ASO3 adjuvanted H1N1 vaccine called Arepanrix.

Canadians need to know that each 0.5 ml dose of Arepanrix contains:

  • 10.69 mg of squalene
  • 4.86 mg of Tween80. Also known as Polysorbate 80, it may be a hidden inductor of anaphylactic shock. One 2005 study concluded: “Polysorbate 80 is a ubiquitously used solubilizing agent that can cause severe nonimmunologic anaphylactoid reactions. “
  • 5 mcg of thimerosal

“Sun & Exercise” Approach to Avoid Flu

In addition to optimizing your vitamin D levels, exercise may be your second best approach to avoiding the flu.

Reuters recently published the findings of a new study that supports what natural health advocates have taught all along – that exercise improves your immune system response, hence reducing your chances of contracting illness, including viral illness such as the flu.

Previous research has found that regular exercise boosts your immune defenses in such a way that it helps limit a viral attack, or help clear a virus from your body more quickly.

In this study done on mice, even those that only exercised right before being infected with the flu, but not regularly over the preceding months, still achieved some protection against the most severe flu symptoms.

The mice that exercised regularly in the months prior to infection had reduced flu symptoms over the entire course of the infection. They also had lower concentrations of virus in their lungs early on.

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It’s quite clear that exercise can boost your body’s innate antiviral defenses, and needs to be an integral part of your lifestyle for optimal health, year-round.

Many Conventional Physicians Have Doubts about H1N1 Vaccines

If there is a silver lining to this swine flu madness, it’s that it is raising many important questions about our willy-nilly approach to vaccine safety in general, and many doctors and health care professionals are now beginning to challenge the assumptions of our vaccine programs, and question the sanity and safety of rushing to mass-vaccinate against such a mild virus as H1N1 with untested and unproven vaccines.

It takes courage to voice these concerns, as anyone who dares to oppose, or even question the logic of our excessive vaccine programs is automatically branded as a heretic of the worst kind.

So I applaud those in the health field who are courageous enough to do so in order to protect the health of their patients.

An article published in Medscape on October 28, 2009, illustrates the opposing viewpoints that clearly exist even within the medical community. The vaccine issue is NOT as clear-cut as many would like you to believe, and those who question the safety of what’s being done are neither fringe fanatics nor quacks.

Many are well-educated health professionals, willing to think for themselves and investigate beyond the dogma taught in medical school and what they’re told by pharmaceutical reps.

In her article, Physicians are Talking About: Is It Worth Getting the H1N1 Vaccine?, Nancy Terry writes:

“… However, other physicians are equally adamant about not getting the H1N1 vaccine.

"I don't want to be a lab rat," says an internist. "No way I or my family will receive the vaccine. Not a chance!" comments another internist.

"Emphatically no to both vaccines," says a family medicine physician. "I agree with Dr. Joseph Mercola's take on the swine flu and this and the prior round of vaccinations for it. I believe, based on all I've read to date, that vaccinations cause a body more harm than good."

"I remember the last vaccine rushed to production. People died and some developed paralysis," says another family medicine physician. "I prefer to take my chances."

Several physicians wonder about the advisability of vaccinating segments of the population already exposed to influenza.

An emergency medicine physician, who saw H1N1 cases throughout September, comments, "If the epidemiology here mirrors the Southern Hemisphere flu season, by the time H1N1 vaccine is available the virus probably will be done circulating through my community."…

… "This ain't your grandma's seasonal flu virus," says a pediatrician. "It's a quadruple-reassortant swine/avian hybrid that's never been seen before, significantly different from its predecessors, even if relatively wimpy." For this reason, he suggests that caution is warranted with regard to the infection and the vaccine. He adds, "It's not inconceivable that this vaccine could cause side effects not seen with seasonal vaccine, although it seems safe in trials, so far."

A family medicine physician agrees: "Any vaccine made at the last minute and made only by a few manufacturers with huge government contracts at stake cannot help but be higher risk for untoward side effects."

… A family medicine physician comments, "I'm not sure I can justify recommending this vaccine to all children until safety is better ascertained when, so far, cases on the whole seem to be mild."

swine flu posters As you can see, I’m not the only doctor on the block who has serious reservations. Hopefully, together we will be able to make a difference and save countless people from needless harm.

You Can Make a Difference

Most polls show that we ARE making a difference because more people are becoming educated about influenza and flu vaccines, especially H1N1 swine flu. Recent national polls have revealed that 30 to 50 percent in many communities are not planning to get a swine flu shot.

Those who haven't made up their minds yet have lots of questions. So we have created some posters that you can print and post ALL over your community, your local stores, office and schools.