Flu Vaccine: The Latest Risky Fad to Hit Your Child's Pediatrician's Office

Flu Vaccine: The Latest Risky Fad to Hit Your Child's Pediatrician's Office

Story at-a-glance -

  • The American Academy of Pediatrics has given the green light for pediatricians to offer vaccinations to children’s parents and close family members. Known as “cocooning,” this controversial practice is intended to protect babies from disease by vaccinating their parents and other caregivers
  • No studies have been conducted to determine whether vaccinating family members with the flu vaccine reduces rates of flu in their children
  • Research shows that at least 1 million parents would need to be vaccinated with the TDaP vaccine, which is intended to protect against tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough (pertussis) in order to prevent one infant death from pertussis
  • Pediatricians do not have access to adults’ medical records in order to evaluate contraindications … but if a serious reaction does occur, pediatricians are shielded from virtually any liability, as are vaccine manufacturers
  • Natural lifestyle strategies, including optimizing your vitamin D levels, exercising and eating right, are very effective at boosting your immune system health, which is the cornerstone of any disease prevention program

By Dr. Mercola

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is now giving their seal of approval for physicians, particularly pediatricians, to offer vaccinations to parents and close family members of babies who are too young to receive the immunizations themselves.

They also suggest giving it to parents of children who, for a number of reasons, may not be "vaccine protected."

Known as "cocooning," the AAP notesi:

"The objective of providing immunizations for parents and other close family contacts of children in pediatric practice is to decrease infections in the family member, with subsequent reduction in exposure to the children."

But is this really a strategy to protect children... or just another opportunity to sell more vaccines to a sector of the population that is notoriously hard for vaccine manufacturers to reach -- healthy adults?

Let's take a look at the facts...

Cocooning is "Inefficient and Resource Intensive"

Two vaccines are currently the main focus of the AAP's cocooning report, the flu vaccine and the TDaP vaccine, the latter of which protects against tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough (pertussis).

According to the U.S. vaccine schedule, babies must be at least six months old to get a flu shot, and six weeks old to get the TDaP.

So now, when parents bring in their child to see a pediatrician, they (and other close family contacts) may be offered a vaccine for themselves purportedly to protect their child. Well, the first glaring problem with this controversial practice is that no one knows whether it works! The AAP states in their reportii:

"... no studies have been conducted to determine whether postpartum vaccination or vaccination of other close family contacts with influenza vaccine reduces the incidence of influenza in their children."

What IS known, however, is that the idea that a flu shot is all you need to stay healthy, or keep your infant healthy, is totally inaccurate, as was demonstrated in a recently published scientific study that found flu shots are less than 70 percent effectiveiii in preventing influenza -- and this was in those who were directly vaccinated, not even trying to be protected by proxy.

And as for vaccinating other close family contacts, such as grandparents, the effectiveness is likely to be even lower, as a 2010 study reviewed the available scientific evidenceiv for a protective effect of flu shots in 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."

If the flu shot has such low efficacy in protecting those who are vaccinated, how is it going to protect the infants in their care? In regard to TDaP, Canadian researchers recently investigated how many parents would need to be vaccinated in order to prevent infant hospitalizations and deaths from pertussis using the cocoon strategy, and the results were also dismal! They found the number needed to vaccinate (NNV) for parental immunization was at least 1 million to prevent 1 infant deathv, approximately 100,000 for ICU admission, and >10,000 for hospitalization.

They concluded:

"... the parental cocoon program is inefficient and resource intensive for the prevention of serious outcomes in early infancy."

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Is Your Child's Doctor Qualified to Treat YOU?

While many have become accustomed to vaccines being considered "routine," there's really nothing routine about them. Each and every vaccine carries an inherent risk of causing a reaction, injury or death that can be greater for some individuals than others.

This is one of the major problems with the growing number of vaccines being offered at drugstores, grocery stores and even churches, because the pharmacists administering them are not necessarily trained to address a sudden and life-threatening health emergency that may arise after the shot is given. Now, those in favor of cocooning are using this as a platform to say, "If you can get a flu shot at your grocery store, why not from your child's pediatrician?"

While it's true that your child's pediatrician is a trained medical professional, many of the same issues remain, because a pediatrician specializes in treating children, not adults.

Further, he or she will not have access to your medical history, which is important to know when evaluating whether you are at risk of a vaccine reaction. The AAP, acknowledging this, notes that pediatricians may have concerns about safety and being able to obtain enough medical information to evaluate contraindications... but essentially brushes them off because the pediatricians will be afforded the same protections as vaccine manufacturers and will be shielded from virtually any liability should a serious reaction occur!

"Pediatricians may be concerned about liability if an adverse event occurs during adult immunization. However, physicians are protected by the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 (Public Law No. 99-660), which limits the liability for vaccine manufacturers and established the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. The act both protects and requires physicians to report suspected adverse events, and the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program covers all vaccines recommended for routine use in children, regardless of the age of the person being vaccinated.

Claims arising from covered vaccines must be adjudicated through the program before civil litigation can be pursued. Therefore, because both Tdap and influenza vaccines are recommended for children, this act would protect pediatricians when administering these vaccines to adults," the AAP statesvi.

Vaccine Manufacturers Know There's a Good Chance You Won't Get Vaccinated as an Adult

...and this is all the more reason why making an ally out of your child's pediatrician to push their products onto adults may translate into increased profits. Many healthy adults are unlikely to make a doctor's visit solely to get vaccinated, which is why offering these products at airports, drugstores or your pediatrician's office is so lucrative for the vaccine manufacturers.

As the AAP noted, many healthy adults see little need to seek out vaccination:

"First, there are patient factors, such as a reluctance of healthy adults to seek preventive health care. Many adults see little need for a visit to a health care provider in the absence of an acute or chronic illness. Even among insured adults, influenza vaccination represented the least frequently received preventative health service among routine recommended services (26%) during a 2-year study period."

By offering you a chance to get vaccinated when you're already at a doctor's appointment with your child, the vaccine industry knows it can tap into some of this untapped market. It's not surprising, by the way, that the AAP is on board with cocooning, as they have not only made outrageous attempts to censor flu prevention information but they also receive millions of dollars from big pharmaceutical corporations selling vaccines to pediatricians, money that has even been used to help build the AAP headquarters. As revealed by CBS News investigative correspondent Sharyl Attkissonvii:

"The vaccine industry gives millions to the Academy of Pediatrics... The totals are kept secret, but public documents reveal bits and pieces. There's nothing illegal about the financial relationships, but to critics, they pose a serious risk for conflicts of interest. As one member of Congress put it, money from the pharmaceutical industry can shape the practices of those who hold themselves out to be "independent.""

  • A $342,000 payment from Wyeth, maker of the pneumococcal vaccine - which makes $2 billion a year in sales.
  • A $433,000 contribution from Merck, the same year the academy endorsed Merck's HPV vaccine - which made $1.5 billion a year in sales.
  • Another top donor: Sanofi Aventis, maker of 17 vaccines and a... five-in-one combo shot... added to the childhood vaccine schedule...

Top Tips to Stay Healthy Naturally

It's important to remember that no disease is caused by a "vaccine deficiency." The state of your immune system is what determines whether or not you will get sick when exposed to an infectious agent, so if you want to protect yourself and your children, it makes sense to nurture and support your immune system health.

All vaccines are immune suppressive, by the way -- that is, they suppress your immune system (particularly cell-mediated immunity), which may not return to normal for weeks to months. This could increase your risk of contracting the flu or another infectious disease.

If you want to join the ranks of "those people" who rarely get sick, whether you're interested in your personal health or protecting those in your care, start with the strategies listed below. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it does give you a general idea of how to live healthy and avoid getting sick. Other factors, like getting high-quality sleep and avoiding exposure to environmental toxins, are important too, but if you're looking for a few simple "secrets" to get started on today... start with these...

  • Optimize Your Vitamin D Level

This takes the number one position for a reason: if you're vitamin-D-deficient, and many are, your immune system will not be able to do its job. Just one example of an important genetically-based function that vitamin D up-regulates is your ability to fight infections, including the flu. It produces over 200 antimicrobial peptides, the most important of which is cathelicidin, a naturally occurring broad-spectrum antimicrobial.

At least five studies show an inverse association between lower respiratory tract infections and vitamin D levels. That is, the higher your vitamin D level, the lower your risk of contracting colds, flu, and other respiratory tract infections. To find out more, including your best sources of vitamin D, dosing and what proper levels should be, please watch my free one-hour lecture.

The best way to increase your vitamin D level is by sun exposure, but that is difficult for most people in the fall and winter, so next best would be to use a safe tanning bed. Neither of these methods requires blood testing as long as you are getting enough exposure to get a tan. If neither of these options are available, you can increase your vitamin D level by taking a vitamin D3 supplement, which will require a blood test to confirm your level is correct. Most adults require 8,000 units to reach therapeutic levels and some much more. Although that may sound too high to some, remember you can get up to 20,000 units through sun or tanning bed exposures.

  • Optimize Your Insulin and Leptin Levels by Avoiding Sugar, Fructose

Eating sugar, fructose and grains will increase your insulin level, which is one of the fastest ways to get sick and also experience premature aging. Leptin is another key hormone associated with disease and the aging process.

Like your insulin levels, if your leptin levels become consistently elevated, your body will develop resistance to this hormone, which may wreak havoc in your body. My nutrition plan, based on natural whole foods, is your first step toward optimizing your insulin and leptin levels and increasing your chances of living a longer, healthier life. The heart of my program is the elimination, or at the very least, drastic reduction of fructose, grains and sugar in your diet – a change which can dramatically improve your immune function.

  • Exercise

If you are exercising regularly the likelihood of your acquiring the flu or other viral illness is significantly reduced, and studies have clearly shown this. In one such study, staying active cut the risk of contracting a cold by 50 percentviii, and cut the severity of symptoms by 31 percent among those who did catch a cold. The researchers noted that each round of exercise may lead to a boost in circulating immune system cells that could help ward off a virus.

It is actually a well-known fact that exercise improves the circulation of immune cells in your blood. The job of these cells is to neutralize pathogens throughout your body. The better these cells circulate, the more efficient your immune system is at locating and defending against viruses and other pathogens that may opportunistically overrun the body.

Due to the key role that exercise plays in supporting your immune system, it's crucial to treat exercise like a medicine that must be properly prescribed, monitored and maintained for you to enjoy the most benefits. Essentially, you need to have a varied, routine that includes high-intensity interval exercises like Peak Fitness.

  • Eat Plenty of Raw Food

One of the most important aspects of a healthy diet that is frequently overlooked is the issue of eating uncooked, natural raw food.

Unfortunately, as you may be aware, over 90 percent of the food purchased by Americans is processed. And when you're consuming these kinds of denatured and chemically altered foods, it's no surprise we have an epidemic of chronic and degenerative diseases, not to mention way too many cases of colds and flu. Ideally you'll want to eat as many foods as possible in their unprocessed state; typically organic, biodynamic foods that have been grown locally, and are therefore in season. But even when you choose the best foods available you can destroy much of the nutrition if you cook them. I believe it's really wise to strive to get as much raw food in your diet as possible.

I personally try to eat about the majority of my food raw, including raw eggs and organic, naturally raised meats.

  • Learn How to Effectively Cope With Stress

Stress has a major influence on the function of your immune system, which is why you've probably noticed you're more likely to catch a cold or the flu when you're under a lot of stress. This is true for both acutely stressful episodes, such as preparing a big project for work, and chronic stress, such as relationship troubles or grief. Both will deteriorate your immune system and leave it less able to fight off infection.

And, in the event you do get sick, emotional stressors can actually make your cold and flu symptoms worse. So be sure you take time in life to de-stress and unwind using stress management tools like exercise, meditation, massage, and solid social support.

Following these guidelines will help you optimize both your health and immune function, and by doing so minimize your risk of the flu and other infectious disease.

It truly is time for an open and fearless conversation about vaccines; one that addresses the glaring questions about vaccine effectiveness (or lack thereof) and vaccine side effects, and leaves room for real, honest answers, and alternatives to our society's use of vaccination as the primary disease prevention tool.

Until that happens, however, it is imperative to continue to educate yourself and your family on the issues surrounding vaccinations of all kinds.

To help you locate all the latest vaccine information on my site, I've created a dedicated Vaccine News page. Bookmark it and return often. I also recommend you familiarize yourself with the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) web site. As a leader for vaccine safety, the NVIC offers information on everything from vaccine laws to late-breaking vaccine news and how you can get involved to protect vaccine choices in your state.