By Dr. Mercola
Before you decide to get a flu shot for yourself or your child, take a few minutes to look into the research on both their effectiveness and safety.
What you will find may very well impact your decision.
Case in point, new research in the Journal of Virology found that the seasonal flu vaccine may weaken children's immune systems and increase their chances of getting sick from influenza viruses not included in the vaccine.
Further, when blood samples from 27 healthy, unvaccinated children and 14 children who had received an annual flu shot were compared, the former unvaccinated group naturally built up more antibodies across a wider variety of influenza strains compared to the latter vaccinated group.
Unfortunately, the pattern with many doctors aggressively promoting vaccinations, the flu shot included, is to "shoot first" and ask questions later.
The truth is there are many unanswered questions about whether or not the flu shot is safe and effective, but the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends them for everyone over the age of 6 months, nonetheless.
As ABC News reported, the study's lead author noted:
"Annual vaccination against influenza… may have potential drawbacks that have previously been underappreciated and that are also a matter of debate."
Warning: All Vaccines Compromise Natural Immunity
The more vaccines are studied, the more apparent it becomes that proper vaccine studies are lacking, as vaccine expert and pediatrician Larry Palevsky explains. There is a major difference between natural acquired immunity and vaccine-induced immunity. Obtaining natural immunity has far greater benefits, but this fact seems to be completely overlooked in the United States, considering it's recommended that U.S. babies receive 26 doses of vaccines before age 1 (which, incidentally, is twice as many vaccinations as are given to babies in Sweden and Japan).
When children are born, they develop natural immunity to a large variety of microorganisms that they breathe, eat, and touch.
The immune responses initiated by cells lining their airways, skin and intestines are very important in creating "memory" and protection against the microorganisms they naturally come into contact with every day. That primary line of defense is a very important step in the maturation of your child's immune system—and it's bypassed when he/she gets a vaccine.
With vaccination, you are merely creating an antibody, but as the Journal of Virology study showed, the unvaccinated children actually built up more antibodies against a wider variety of flu virus strains than the vaccinated children!
Vaccines usually do not impart long-term immunity because they don't create the kind of memory that occurs when you go through the process of a natural immune response. Natural exposure does not necessarily lead to infection—it is possible to obtain natural immunity without actually getting sick, if your immune system is functioning well. In fact, vaccines do NOT strengthen the healthy functioning of the immune system, but actually weaken it.
Past Research Shows Flu Shot May Double Your Risk of Catching Another Type of Flu
ALL vaccines are immune suppressing, meaning they affect immune function for a period of time and can make some people more susceptible to coming down with a viral or bacterial infection.. The chemicals, adjuvants, lab altered viruses and bacteria and foreign DNA/RNA from animal and human cell substrates in the vaccines may compromise immune system function and depress immunity -- that is the trade-off you are risking.
The conventional belief is that it is acceptable to exchange this small overall immune suppression for immunity to one infectious disease. However, remember that this means you're trading a total immune system suppression, which is your main defense against ALL known disease -- including millions of pathogens -- for a temporary immunity against just one disease.
This may help explain why people who get a flu shot may actually be more likely to acquire an infection from another virus, as was shown to be the case with H1N1 (swine flu).
Back in the spring of 2009, just when the swine flu hysteria was building, a Canadian study revealed that people, who had received a regular, seasonal flu shot, were twice as likely to catch swine flu. This was initially passed off as unproven but, lo and behold, in 2010 the results of several epidemiologic investigations revealed that seasonal flu shot DID increase the risk of catching swine flu.
The four studies, which were conducted by public health agencies in Canada, involved about 2,700 people in all, and each one had the same result: if you got the seasonal flu shot, you were more likely to get the swine flu. The researchers wrote in PLoS Medicine:
"…Estimates from all four studies (which included about 1,200 laboratory-confirmed pH1N1 cases and 1,500 controls) showed that prior recipients of the 2008-09 TIV [seasonal flu shot] had approximately 1.4-2.5 times increased chances of developing pH1N1 illness that needed medical attention during the spring-summer of 2009 compared to people who had not received the TIV."
The researchers stopped short of stating that a causal relationship had been established, saying instead that there could have been unidentified factors within the groups studied that accounted for the increase. However, it is certainly plausible that the seasonal vaccine modified people's immune systems in such a way that made them less able to fight off H1N1, similar to what researchers recently reported in the Journal of Virology.
Does the Flu Shot Even Work?
You would probably think that, since the CDC states the annual flu vaccine is the "best" way to avoid catching the seasonal flu, that it has been proven to be effective. However, it is hard to find ANY valid scientific evidence to support flu vaccine effectiveness or safety -- and 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!
For instance, a large-scale, systematic review of 51 studies, published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 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.
In 2010, Cochrane also reviewed the available scientific evidence that flu shots protect the elderly, and the results were abysmal. The authors concluded that:
"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."
Then there is the new study in The Lancet Infectious Diseases, which reveals that the flu vaccine prevents lab confirmed type A or type B influenza in only 1.5 out of every 100 vaccinated adults... although the media is reporting this to mean "60 percent effective," depending on how you use the statistics, the study confirmed that flu shots provide only "moderate protection" against the flu, and in some seasons protection is altogether "reduced or absent."
The risk you take for this marginal or "absent" protection can be steep.
In the video below, Barbara Loe Fisher, co-founder and president of the non-profit National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC), interviewed 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.
Do You Really Want to Avoid the Flu This Winter?
Ultimately, it is the health of your immune system that determines whether or not you will get sick from being exposed to viral or bacterial organisms associated with infectious diseases like the flu or experience complications.
The key to boosting your immune system into a "lean, mean, disease-fighting machine" lies in your lifestyle habits -- healthy food, stress relief, exercise, sleep, and safe exposure to sunlight, among other things. Artificially manipulating your immune system with a vaccine to try to stay healthy is not a normal physiological response despite what the media or your doctor may say, and may actually suppress your immune system and make you less healthy in the long run.
Since numerous studies show that vitamin D boosts immunity, particularly vitamin D3, the first thing you want to do is make sure you maintain your vitamin D levels at 50-70 ng/ml year-round. The only way you can be sure of what your levels are is to be tested. For an in-depth explanation of everything you need to know before you get tested, please read my latest updates in Test Values and Treatment for Vitamin D Deficiency. My free one-hour vitamin D lecture can also help you optimize your levels.
While a supplement is OK, the best way to get your vitamin D is with safe exposure to sunshine, or by using a safe tanning bed (one with electronic ballasts rather than magnetic ballasts, to avoid unnecessary exposure to EMF fields). Other healthy steps you can take include eating healthy, avoiding sugars and artificial sweeteners, exercising, reducing stress and getting enough sleep. I address these issues in my free nutrition plan here, and you can read my full guidelines for preventing colds and the flu here.
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 legal 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 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 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.