By Dr. Mercola
About 43 percent of the U.S. population opted to get a flu shot last season, a trend that has unfortunately been steadily increasing in the last several years.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 8 million more people received the flu shot in 2010, which CDC director Dr. Thomas Frieden told Fox Newsi "is the most people who have ever been vaccinated in this country."
Most likely, this is a direct result of the massive marketing campaign that is ongoing in the United States, encouraging every person 6 months and older to get a flu shot.
Now they're available not only from your physician, but also at your drugstore and supermarket.
The CDC is now encouraging ""universal" flu vaccination in the U.S. to expand protection against the flu to more people" -- a move that is highly suspect considering the lack of evidence supporting their effectiveness and safety.
Flu Vaccines Have Little to No Measurable Benefit
The CDC states that the annual flu vaccine is the "best" way to avoid catching the seasonal flu, but what many fail to realize is that there's virtually NO valid scientific evidence to support it, in either its effectiveness or its safety.
This is particularly true for key target groups for which the CDC says the flu shot is most important, like seniors, children and pregnant women!
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.
- Last year, Cochrane reviewed the available scientific evidence that flu shots protect the elderly, and the results were abysmal. The authors concluded:
"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."
- 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:
"[T]here is no evidence that vaccinating health care workers prevents influenza in elderly residents in long-term care facilities.
- Ditto for children. A large-scale, systematic review of 51 studies, published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviewsii 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.
- Two years, later, in 2008, another Cochrane reviewiii again concluded "little evidence is available" that the flu vaccine is effective in preventing influenza in children under the age of two.
- As for the general adult population, Cochrane published the following bombshell conclusioniv 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."
CDC Recommends Flu Shots to Pregnant Women Despite Serious Risks
According to Frieden of the CDC, more pregnant women were vaccinated in 2010 than ever before, and about half of them received a flu shot. Unfortunately, many obstetricians and pediatricians strongly recommend the flu vaccine to their pregnant patients because they simply don't know any better. Most of them simply do so at the urging of the CDC and medical trade associations like the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), as it is a lot easier to just blindly trust and follow the CDC or AAP "recommendations" without really checking into them.
If you were following the latest research, however, you would see a new study that seriously calls into question the wisdom of giving pregnant women flu shots. It examined "the magnitude, time course, and variance in inflammatory responses following seasonal influenza virus vaccination among pregnant women."
The analysis, which assessed women prior to, and at one day, two days, and one week following vaccination, showed significant increases in C-reactive protein (CRP) and other markers of inflammationv following the vaccinations. Preeclampsia and preterm birth both have an inflammatory component, leading researchers to state that a tendency toward greater inflammatory responding to immune triggers may predict risk of adverse outcomes.
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 schizophreniavi 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 stimulatedvii during pregnancy. For example, in one study done by Dr. Laura Hewitsonviii, 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.
Further, this is not even addressing the questionable preservatives and adjuvants added to the flu vaccine.
One place that women go when they're looking for information on how to have a healthy pregnancy and baby is the CDC's own website. There, under "Birth Defects: Having a Healthy Pregnancy," they list the ABC's of pregnancy tips for making sure nothing bad happens to your baby while you're pregnant.
I find it interesting, if not ironic, that the "A" of the ABC's is:
Avoid exposure to toxic substances and chemicals – such as cleaning solvents, lead and mercury, some insecticides, and paint.
Thimerosal, which is 49 percent mercury by volume, is a widely used preservative in most flu injectable vaccines. 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, but there is no data available to show whether pregnant women are in fact getting the thimerosal-free version.
Are Aluminum Adjuvants in Vaccines More Dangerous than Mercury?
Another serious issue, not only for pregnant women and children but for everyone, is aluminum. Aluminum is a known neurotoxin that is contained in a number of common childhood and adult vaccines and may even exceed the toxicity of mercury in the human body.
According to a study published in Current Medical Chemistryix, children up to 6 months of age receive 14.7 to 49 times more aluminum from vaccines than the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) safety limits allow.
Like other adjuvants, aluminum is added to the vaccine in order to boost your immune response to the antigen. The antigen is what your body responds to and makes antibodies against (the lab altered bacteria or virus being injected). By boosting your body's immune response, the vaccine manufacturer can use a smaller amount of antigen, which makes production less expensive.
However, although aluminum is a common, "natural" substance, it's important to realize that it has absolutely no biological role inside your body and is, in fact, a demonstrated neurotoxin that may lead to long-term brain inflammation, along with other health problems.
There is overwhelming evidence that chronic immune activation in your brain is a major cause of brain dysfunction in numerous degenerative brain disorders, such as multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's and ALS, which may explain the reported association between aluminum-containing vaccines and these diseases.
Writing in Current Medicinal Chemistryx, researchers also noted that aluminum adjuvants in vaccines can carry serious health risks that have not been thoroughly evaluated:
"Despite almost 90 years of widespread use of aluminum adjuvants, medical science's understanding about their mechanisms of action is still remarkably poor. There is also a concerning scarcity of data on toxicology and pharmacokinetics of these compounds. In spite of this, the notion that aluminum in vaccines is safe appears to be widely accepted.
Experimental research, however, clearly shows that aluminum adjuvants have a potential to induce serious immunological disorders in humans. In particular, aluminum in adjuvant form carries a risk for autoimmunity, long-term brain inflammation and associated neurological complications and thus may have profound and widespread adverse health consequences.
In our opinion, the possibility that vaccine benefits may have been overrated and the risk of potential adverse effects underestimated, has not been rigorously evaluated in the medical and scientific community. We hope that the present paper will provide a framework for a much needed and long overdue assessment of this highly contentious medical issue."
It is up to you whether you want to avoid aluminum-containing vaccines, but if you do decide to use them for yourself or your child, you may want to consider separating the administration of aluminum-containing vaccines by several months and choosing single dose or combination vaccines with the lowest aluminum content.
For more information, I strongly urge you to listen to this interview with Dr. Ayoub to learn more about the dangers of this common vaccine adjuvant. You can also read Aluminum in Vaccines -- a Neurological Gamble, an e-book by Neil Miller, director of the Thinktwice Global Vaccine Institute, which documents many of the hazards associated with aluminum-laden vaccines.
Total Video Length: 0:41:58
Read a transcript of this interview
Flu Shot Side Effects DO Happen
Considering you can shop for a gallon of milk and get your flu shot at the same location, you may think this medical procedure is completely safe. But the truth is, NO ONE is exempt from the potential serious complications of vaccination, one of which is Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS), 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.
In the video below, 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.
Getting your flu vaccination at a local pharmacy compounds the risks to your health, as 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 and virtually none of them are likely to warn you of the vaccine risks as required by federal law.
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. Further, all vaccines are immune suppressive -- that is, they suppress your immune system, which may not return to normal for weeks to months. Here are just some of the ways vaccines impair and alter your immune response:
- Some components in vaccines are neurotoxic and may cause immune and brain dysfunction, particularly heavy metals such as mercury preservatives and aluminum adjuvants
- The lab-altered vaccine viruses and bacteria themselves may further impair your immune response
- Foreign DNA/RNA from animal tissues can wreak havoc in your body and trigger serious health problems for some people
- Vaccines may alter your t-cell function and lead you to become chronically ill
- Vaccines can trigger allergies by introducing large foreign protein molecules into your body that have not been properly broken down by your digestive tract (since they are injected). Your body can respond to these foreign particles in the form of an allergic reaction
So you've got to ask yourself the question: does the benefit of the flu shot truly outweigh its risks?
Do This to Really Prevent the Flu AND Flu-Like Illnesses
Avoiding a serious case of the flu doesn't require a flu vaccine! Further, you may also not be aware that only about 20 percent of flu-like illnesses are actually caused by influenza type A or B, according to CDC. The other 80 percent are caused by more than 200 other bugs that can make you feel just as sick -- respiratory syncytial virus, bocavirus, coronavirus, and rhinovirus, to name a few. Of course, the flu shot will do virtually nothing to prevent those latter viruses that cause 80 percent of flu-like symptoms.
As the authors stated again in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviewsxi:
"Neither type [injected or nasal spray vaccine] was particularly good at preventing 'flu-like illness' caused by other types of viruses (33% and 36% respectively)."
By following the simple guidelines below, however, you can keep your immune system in optimal working order so that you're far less likely to acquire an infection with the flu or a flu-like illness 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. If neither of those are available, 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, 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 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 non-toxic soap that you can switch your family to. Be sure you avoid over-washing your hands, however, as this can strip your skin of its natural moisture leading to small cuts that provide an entry point for pathogens.
- 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.
- iAfter Fear of H1N1, More Americans Putting Flu Shot on To-Do List, Fox News, October 25, 2011.
- iiVaccines for Preventing Influenza in Healthy Children, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, Jan 25, 2006:; (1); CD004879, S. Smith, et al.
- iiiVaccines for Preventing Influenza in Healthy Children. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. April 16, 2008: (2); CD004879, T. Jefferson, et al.
- ivVaccines for Preventing Influenza in Healthy Adults, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, July 7, 2010; (7):CD001269, T. Jefferson, et al.
- vInflammatory Responses to Trivalent Influenza Virus Vaccine Among Pregnant Women, Vaccine, November 8, 2011: 29(48); 8982-7, L.M. Christian, et al.
- viMaternal Immune Activation Alters Fetal Brain Development through Interleukin-6, The Journal of Neuroscience, October 3, 2007: 27(40); 10695-10702, Stephen E.P. Smith, et al.
- viiMaternal Cytokine Levels During Pregnancy and Adult Psychosis, Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, December 2001: 15(4); 411-20, S.L. Buka, et al.
- viiiDelayed Acquisition of Neonatal Reflexes in Newborn Primates Receiving a Thimerosal-Containing Hepatitis B Vaccine: Influence of Gestational Age and Birth Weight, NeuroToxicology, September 17, 2009: Laura Hewitson, et al.
- ixAluminum Vaccine Adjuvants: Are They Safe?, Current Medicinal Chemistry, June 2011: 18(17); 2630-2637, L. Tomljenovic and C. A. Shaw.
- xAluminum Vaccine Adjuvants: Are They Safe?, Current Medicinal Chemistry, June 2011: 18(17); 2630-2637, L. Tomljenovic and C. A. Shaw.
- xi Vaccines for Preventing Influenza in Healthy Children, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, April 16, 2008: (2); CD004879, T. Jefferson, et al.