About Those Flu Vaccines…

Written by Jill Chapin. Posted in Healthcare

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Published on November 24, 2013 with 4 Comments

flu_shot

By Jill Chapin

November 24, 2013

With flu season officially underway, there are people lining up like lemmings to get flu shots. Others have taken a step back from the constant media barrage to get a shot because they know that some people will get the flu shot and the flu, and others will get neither, remaining healthy throughout the season.

For every report of the effectiveness of flu vaccines, there are other, quite respectable counter-reports that all is not as rosy with them as you might believe. And anyone implying that the anti-vaccine crowd has zero scientific evidence for its claims is simply out of touch, especially in light of what even the CDC and many medical professionals also believe.

For starters, just a few years ago, a new analysis found that the flu vaccine provides only moderate protection, and even that can be greatly reduced – or even absent – during some flu seasons.

For instance, the CDC’s recent studies showed that this year’s vaccine – one with a better match with the virus than usual – can reduce your risk of contracting the flu by about only 60%. This is close to your having a 50-50 chance of getting the flu with the flu shot. Further, the CDC acknowledges that studies finding any perceived reduction in death rates may be due to the “healthy-user effect” which is the tendency for healthier rather than less healthy people to be vaccinated.

Dr. Peter Doshi, a Johns Hopkins scientist charges that although flu vaccines are being pushed on us in unprecedented numbers, they are even less effective than the CDC’s above estimates. He further says that people, including doctors, assume that solid research is behind officials’ claims that vaccines save lives, when in fact this is not the case.

He succinctly summed up the aggressive flu vaccine drive by saying that influenza is a case of “disease mongering” in an effort to expand markets. It couldn’t have been due to a genuine threat inasmuch as deaths from the flu declined sharply during the middle of the 20th century, long before the big push for vaccines in recent years.

But there is solid research showing that what we ingest plays a much larger role in flu prevention than what the medical profession tells us. For starters, just eating lots of foods high in anti-oxidants such as blueberries, artichokes, nuts, and scores of other foods can strengthen our immune system. Antioxidants help prevent and repair oxidative stress which is a process that damages cells. Common sense and logic would tell us that healthy cells are better able to fend off the flu.

Conversely, flu shots contain mercury which suppresses healthy immune functions. Mercury is an immunotoxin, a poison to the immune system. Are you comfortable with your doctor advocating a flu shot, essentially advising you to take a little poison?

Shortly after a flu shot, your immune system can actually be less able to fight off the flu. This could be why some people think the flu shot gave them the flu. It may have, but not in the way they imagine.

Wouldn’t it be more in line with your doctor’s profession to first do no harm, and instead redirect you towards foods you can eat and things you can avoid to build your immune system to more effectively stave off the chances of your getting the flu?

Dr. Russell Blaylock, a neurosurgeon, said that promoting flu vaccines is one of the most aggressive public health policies in the U.S. Available doses of vaccines skyrocketed from 32 million only 20 years ago to 135 million today. Health officials are worried about these large stockpiles because a lot of money would be lost if too many Americans choose to decline the flu vaccine; in fact, less than 50% of Americans are getting vaccinated this season.

As with most medicines, even the ones that are proven highly effective, they must be taken with more than a little caution. Sir William Osler, a physician who was one of the four founding professors of Johns Hopkins Hospital, explained it best. He said that the person who takes medicine must recover twice, once from the disease, and once from the medicine.

Jill Chapin

Jill Chapin

Jill Chapin has been a guest writer and columnist in several Los Angeles area papers for over fifteen years. She has written a bilingual parenting book titled, “If You Have Kids, Then Be a Parent!” and a children’s book entitled, “My Magic Bubble.”

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  • Garrison Hack

    The author is a good writer in as much as she uses her language skills correctly. As far as piecing together information that serves the community with regards to making informed health decisions based on evidence based practice, I fear her skill is lacking.
    The CDC is mentioned four times in the article. I review the CDC website frequently http://www.cdc.gov/flu/ and would greatly welcome a citation where “the vaccine… can reduce your risk of contracting the flu by about only 60%.” Also, when one writes that a risk reduction of 60% is noted, the so-called chances don’t magically become 50/50 because that numeric combination happens to sound better.
    What the author fails to mention is the fact that there are populations who are at high risk for influenza based on chronic conditions. These comorbidities can indeed cause serious complications (which might even include death). http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/disease/high_risk.htm
    While healthy diet, good hand hygiene, and avoidance of people who sneeze in one’s direction are excellent practices, the author is unrealistic to suggest that blueberries are as effective an agent against the flu as the vaccine is. As for Sir William Osler’s quote, I cannot say in what context the Canadian physician wrote that quote, but I can say that there are indeed medications from which people have negative reactions. Such an example is chemotherapy. I would strongly suggest that if therapies are offered, they should not be smugly cast aside.

    • Jill

      I would respectfully disagree with this reader’s comments. and apparently over half of Americans also share my suspicion of flu vaccine’s efficacy inasmuch as they have refused to get a flu shot.

      And I would easily trust blueberries and other foods rich in antioxidants over a drug laced with mercury.

      Please know that I don’t make up numbers. A CDC spokesman cited this year’s
      vaccine’s 60 percent effectiveness with pride, stating that most years don’t produce a flu vaccine with that high of a success rate.

      • Garrison Hack

        Good luck with your blueberries. You are entitled to your opinion. I don’t know who the CDC spokesman was, but a blanket claim of 60% effectiveness is absurd. One does not make such claims over a diverse population. Add to that, Afluria is but ONE of many influenza vaccines. I’m not here for a competition of righteousness.
        Is the ‘drug laced with mercury’ of which you speak thimerosol? Have you looked up anything about thimerosol?
        I wish you the best for a healthy flu season.

        • Jill

          If you go to http://www.cdc.gov, you will find the 60 percent number I wrote about regarding one’s chances of not getting the flu with a flu shot.
          Wishing you a healthy new year with or without the shot:-)