By Dr. Mercola
As recently reported, a hardier than normal type of flu has spread around the US, and much earlier than normal, causing some states to declare public health emergencies.
To speed up flu vaccine production, the US FDA has approved a new insect-based, genetically engineered flu vaccine, as well as vaccines grown in cultures of dog kidney cells rather than eggs.
And while mainstream media claims the flu vaccine is working well this year, a recent review of published research shows flu vaccines are ineffective at best, and produce neurological complications at worst, while having no effect at all on hospitalizations or working days lost.
Flu Outbreak Showing Signs of Waning
In response to the flu outbreak, New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo issued an executive order allowing pharmacists to give flu vaccine injections to minors. If you believe this is a good thing, you're still in the dark about the side effects of flu vaccines — some of which can be fatal — which makes getting it at a neighborhood pharmacy risky business.
Besides, all vaccinations should be carefully recorded in your child's medical file, which will not happen when you pop into a pharmacy. They're also unlikely to be properly trained to ascertain and/or address any acute side effects that may occur.
On January 11, media outlets such as ABC News1 reported the outbreak was waning in some parts of the nation, claiming the flu shots appeared to be doing a good job in curbing the outbreak. However, in the same article, CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden points out that the flu tends to ebb and flow throughout the season.
Furthermore, this year's flu vaccine contains a very good match to the circulating strains, yet the reported efficacy of the vaccine is still only slightly over 60 percent — a point made by Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota2. According to Osterholm:
"A match doesn't tell us how well a vaccine is going to work. It's almost meaningless."
Perhaps the headlines are best explained as counter-propaganda to the latest scientific review that, yet again, found that the flu vaccine offers minimal, if any, protection against the flu, and that it comes at some risk. One of the most recent examples is the devastating side effects of the 2009-2010 flu vaccine, which caused some 800+ cases of narcolepsy in Sweden and other European countries3.
Flu Vaccine Doesn't Work, According to Recent Research Review
If you're thinking about vaccinating yourself or your infant against the flu, I highly recommend reading the independent study review from the Cochrane Collaboration first. As Tom Jefferson, a researcher with the Cochrane Collaboration, recently told Northwestern.edu4:
"The [Center for Disease Control] is making policy based on weak evidence and it is refusing to answer questions. There is no evidence that vaccines can prevent deaths or prevent person-to-person spread of infection."
According to these independent research reviewers5:
"At best, vaccines might be effective against only influenza A and B, which represent about 10 percent of all circulating viruses. Authors of this review assessed all trials that compared vaccinated people with unvaccinated people. The combined results of these trials showed that under ideal conditions (vaccine completely matching circulating viral configuration) 33 healthy adults need to be vaccinated to avoid one set of influenza symptoms. In average conditions (partially matching vaccine) 100 people need to be vaccinated to avoid one set of influenza symptoms.
Vaccine use did not affect the number of people hospitalized or working days lost but caused one case of Guillain-Barré syndrome (a major neurological condition leading to paralysis) for every one million vaccinations.
Fifteen of the 36 trials were funded by vaccine companies and four had no funding declaration. Our results may be an optimistic estimate because company-sponsored influenza vaccines trials tend to produce results favorable to their products and some of the evidence comes from trials carried out in ideal viral circulation and matching conditions and because the harms evidence base is limited."
As you may recall, Piers Morgan recently got the flu vaccine on the air on the Dr. Oz show, "and within 10 days I've been struck down," he now reports. "Don't ever take a flu shot again," Yoakam tells him, in this January 23 interview. Good advice, I'd say. While health agencies deny the possibility of getting the flu from the flu vaccine, many still do experience flu-like symptoms and/or get ill to some degree or another after getting the vaccine.
Regulators Approve New Genetically Engineered Insect-Based Flu Vaccine
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Despite evidence to the contrary, the conventional view is that getting inoculated is the best way to protect yourself against the flu, and to make more flu vaccines available faster, the FDA recently approved a number of novel flu vaccines.
The first, Flublok, is produced by programming insect cells to produce hemagglutinin, a flu virus protein essential for entry of the virus into your body's cells. Flublok is "the first the first trivalent influenza vaccine made using an insect virus (baculovirus) expression system and recombinant DNA technology6," and is approved for use in adults only, ages 18-49. This kind of genetically engineered vaccine technology, while you may never have heard of it before, has already been used in the production of vaccines against other infectious diseases. According to CNN7:
"This method allows for more rapid production, making more of the vaccine available more quickly in the event of a pandemic... Flublok will be available in limited supply this winter and widely available during the next flu season, said Protein Sciences, which is based in Meriden, Connecticut.
Flublok contains the elements necessary to help fend off three different flu strains, including H1N1 and H3N2, the regulator said. And it proved 44.6% effective against all influenza strains in circulation, not just those that matched the strains included in the vaccine, according to the FDA."
Other Novel Flu Vaccines Being Unleashed
Last November, the FDA also approved a new flu vaccine by Novartis called Flucelvax, which is grown in cultures of dog kidney cells rather than chicken eggs8 . This too allows for speedier vaccine production, should another pandemic erupt. But does speedier production equate to safer products? If history offers any clues, the answer is no. But, as demand for vaccines of all kinds increases, the relationship between the US government and Big Pharma keeps getting cozier. As reported by Reuters9:
"In 2006, HHS [US Department of Health and Human Services] provided more than $1 billion in contracts to six manufacturers to develop cell-based flu vaccine technology in the United States... In 2009, spurred by difficulties in growing vaccine for the H1N1 swine flu pandemic, HHS provided Novartis with nearly $500 million to build the first U.S. facility capable of producing cell-based vaccine for seasonal and pandemic flu in the United States."
The newly approved Flublok vaccine also received financial backing from the US government. The HHS bailed out the small manufacturer, Protein Sciences, with a $147-million investment, allowing it to create the first gene-based flu vaccine to win FDA approval. It certainly won't be the last however. Two other genetically engineered flu vaccines are under development. According to Reuters, one of them, created by Novavax, will use "bits of genetic material grown in caterpillar cells called "virus-like particles" that mimic a flu virus."
I for one am not looking forward to finding out what the side effects might be from this new generation of genetically engineered flu vaccines... Even worse, the HHS also has its eye on a "universal" flu vaccine that would cover any and all flu strains, and only require one dose every five to 10 years. As reported by Reuters:
"Work by Fauci and Dr. Gary Nabel, former head of NIH's Vaccine Research Center who just joined Sanofi as chief science officer, showed that a portion of the flu virus that is usually hidden from the immune system may be the key.
Fauci describes the hemagluttinin part of the flu virus as bulb-shaped with a stem on one end, sort of like a dandelion that has gone to seed or a lollipop on a stick. Most vaccines target proteins on the bulb portion of the virus, which mutates from year to year, but Fauci says the stem contains proteins that don't change much from virus to virus. The problem is that when the flu virus is presented to the body, these stem proteins are structurally hidden from the immune system. A genetically engineered vaccine could overcome that by only presenting these stem proteins to the immune system."
According to Robin Robinson, director of the U.S. Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), a part of the HHS, it's "a good hypothesis" that will hopefully work. The HHS is "keeping fingers crossed." What could possibly go wrong by making your body attack genetically engineered virus structures that are normally hidden from immune system detection, right?
Irresponsible Flu Vaccine Recommendations Reach a New Low
In related news, while a new breed of genetically engineered flu vaccines are hitting the market, some experts are now actually proclaiming the conventional egg-based flu vaccine safe for those with severe egg allergies. According to a recent article in the New York Times10:
"Amid an unusually widespread outbreak of the flu, a medical association of allergy specialists said Friday that even children with severe egg allergies should get flu shots. Because the vaccine is grown in chicken eggs, manufacturers recommend that the roughly 2 percent of all children who have egg allergies not get them. But flu hospitalizes 21,000 young children a year, said Dr. James L. Sublett, chair of the public relations committee of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.
Because only trace amounts of egg protein remain in the vaccine, 'we now know administration is safe,' he said. "'The benefits of the flu vaccination far outweigh the risks.' Even children who have gone into anaphylactic shock from eating eggs should get flu shots, but from an allergist trained to handle emergencies, the association recommended."
I really cannot believe how far they will go to endanger your health — especially when you consider that, for an industry that claims to be science-based, flu vaccine recommendations go AGAINST the hard evidence. Worse yet, while studies show flu vaccination is ineffective, when it comes to safety, which is the other and more important factor (especially for infants), the evidence is basically non-existent! According to an independent study review from the Cochrane Collaboration11 published August 15, 2012, the efficacy of inactivated vaccine is similar to placebo in children under the age of two. Furthermore:
"Influenza vaccines were associated with serious harms such as narcolepsy and febrile convulsions [in children]. It was surprising to find only one study of inactivated vaccine in children under two years, given current recommendations to vaccinate healthy children from six months of age."
Vaccine Damaged Child Awarded $1 Million
A lot of people still believe vaccines are safe, not realizing that children are being permanently harmed each and every day by mandated childhood vaccinations. Sadly, once that happens, the family is left 'holding the bag,' with no recourse.
In December last year, a family won a nearly $1 million settlement12 from the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, but this is a rarity. Severe flaws in the system results in the majority of vaccine injured children not receiving any compensation at all for the harm inflicted on them. According to the court's decision13:
"Petitioners alleged that as a result of 'all the vaccinations administered to [Ryan] from March 25, 2003, through February 22, 2005, and more specifically, measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccinations administered to him on December 19, 2003 and May 10, 2004,' Ryan suffered 'a severe and debilitating injury to his brain, described as Autism Spectrum Disorder ('ASD')...'
Petitioners specifically asserted that Ryan 'suffered a Vaccine Table Injury, namely, an encephalopathy' as a result of his receipt of the MMR vaccination on December 19, 2003. Id. In the alternative, petitioners asserted that 'as a cumulative result of his receipt of each and every vaccination between March 25, 2003 and February 22, 2005, Ryan has suffered. . . neuroimmunologically mediated dysfunctions in the form of asthma and ASD.'"
In this case, while the MMR vaccine was indicated as a possible culprit, the primary cause was believed to be the sheer number of vaccinations. The cumulative effect of multiple vaccinations simply cannot be underestimated, and now they're asking you to vaccinate your children against the seasonal flu, each and every year, starting from the age of six months! And they're recommending this without ANY proof whatsoever that this is indeed safe. Safety is "assumed." Not tested and verified. Please do remember this.
One way to evaluate your child's potential for vaccine damage is to get his or her gut flora checked prior to getting any vaccine. For more information about this novel but promising way to prevent vaccine damage, please see my interview with Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride.
How to Protect Yourself During the Flu Season
Avoiding a serious case of influenza is not about vaccination but more about maintaining a healthy, well functioning immune system. By following these simple guidelines, you 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 are better prepared to move through it without complications and soon return to good health.
- Optimize Your Gut Flora. This may be the single most important strategy you can implement as the bacteria in your gut have enormous control of your immune response. The best way to improve your beneficial bacteria ratio is to avoid sugars as they will feed the pathogenic bacteria. Additionally, processed foods and most grains should be limited and replaced with healthy fats like coconut oil, avocados, olives, olive oil, butter, eggs and nuts. Once you change your diet than regular use of fermented foods can radically optimize the function of your immune response.
- 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 need about 8,000 IU's a day. Be sure to take vitamin K2 if you are taking high dose oral vitamin D as it has a powerful synergy and will help prevent any D toxicity.
- Avoid Sugar and Processed Foods. Sugar impairs the quality of your immune response 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. It also can decimate your beneficial bacteria and feed the pathogenic yeast and viruses. 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. If you are healthy then sugar can be consumed but the LAST thing you should be eating when you are sick is sugar. Avoid it like poison while you are sick.
- Get Plenty of 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 stay hydrated – drink plenty of fluids, especially water. However, it would be wise to radically reduce the intensity of your workouts while you are sick. No Peak Fitness exercises until you are better.
- Take a High Quality 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.
- 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 Antibiotics. Examples include 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.
Protect Your Right to Informed Consent and Vaccine Exemptions
With all the uncertainty surrounding the safety and efficacy of vaccines, it's critical to protect your right to informed consent to vaccination and fight to protect and expand vaccine exemptions in state public health laws. The best way to do this 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. 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 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 NVIC'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 choices 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 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 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.