Should I get a flu shot?
It’s that time of year again. I call it Flu Shot Season. Yesterday, I was picking up a prescription and was asked by the pharmacy technician if I wanted to get a flu shot. I politely declined (for reasons I will explain later) but this made me stop and think about how many people are not sure what they should do when faced with the decision of getting a flu vaccine.
I am not writing this blog as a pro or con stance of receiving a flu shot. This is not intended to be medical advice. It is purely informational to help you make the best decision on whether you should take the plunge and get vaccinated yet this Fall.
What is in the 2017-2018 influenza vaccine?
The following three-components are in a Trivalent Vaccine (3 component vaccine)
- an A/Michigan/45/2015 (H1N1) pdm 09-like virus (swine flu)
- an A/Hong Kong/4801/2014 (H3N2)-like virus
- a B/Brisbane/60/2008-like (B/Victoria lineage) virus
Four-component vaccines (Quadrivalent) add additional protection against a second lineage of B viruses
- B/Phuket/3073/2013-like (B/Yamagata lineage) virus.
Here are some of the other ingredients you’ll find in the flu vaccine:
- Egg protein:
- Many flu vaccines are made by growing the viruses inside fertilized chicken eggs.
- This means that they contain a small amount of egg protein.
- A newer version of the vaccine, called Flucelvax, is grown in animal cells instead.
- Vaccine manufacturers add the preservative thimerosal to multi-dose vaccine vials.
- Thimerosal prevents dangerous bacteria and fungi from getting into the vial with each use.
- Thimerosal contains mercury, which can be toxic in large doses.
- There isn’t enough evidence to show the small amount contained in the flu vaccine is dangerous. But if you’re concerned, thimerosal-free versions of the flu vaccine are available.
- They prevent vaccines from losing potency, even when exposed to heat and light.
- Sucrose is the same table sugar you spoon into coffee and sprinkle on berries.
- Sorbitol is an artificial sweetener that’s also found in chewing gum.
- MSG is a flavor enhancer added to some Chinese restaurant meals. Though certain people are sensitive to MSG, the amount found in the flu vaccine is very small.
- Neomycin, gentamicin, and other antibiotics are added to vaccines in very small amounts.
- They stop bacteria from contaminating the vaccine.
- Polysorbate 80 emulsifier:
- In vaccines, polysorbate 80 keeps all the ingredients evenly distributed.
- Though large doses can cause some people to have reactions, the amount in the flu vaccine is very small.
- This natural compound is found in household products from nail polish to wood furniture.
- It’s used in the flu vaccine to inactivate virus toxins.
- In large doses, formaldehyde is linked to eye and throat irritation, and breathing trouble. Most of the formaldehyde is removed from the flu vaccine before it’s sent to doctors and pharmacies.
- The trace levels of formaldehyde that remain are many times lower than the amount found naturally in the human body.
- For more information and credit of information see https://www.healthline.com/health/cold-flu/flu-shot-ingredients#overview1
Which form of influenza should I choose?
- Live influenza vaccine (LAIV or Flu Mist) nasal spray contains a live, but weakened form of the virus. It is the only vaccine actually in a live form of the virus. People like this option for children because it means not receiving a shot. The problem is receiving the live virus may make it more likely to have mild flu symptoms. The last few years it has proven ineffective for children and is no longer recommended for that age group.
- Intra-dermal Influenza is an inactivated virus. This is a subcutaneous version of the flu shot they started several years ago. It is a smaller needle so some feel it is less painful. There may be a greater chance of inflammation at the site post injection.
- Intra-muscular (IM) Influenza Injections is an inactivated virus. It is given in a large muscle in your upper arm (deltoid) muscle or ventral or dorsal gluteal sites. The front of the thigh is a common delivery site for young children. The main complaint from this form of injection is muscle ache.
Who should get a flu shot according to the CDC?
- Anyone over the age of 6 months.
- People with chronic health conditions, such as asthma or diabetes.
- Pregnant women
- Older people (actually a high dose vaccine is recommended for those over the age of 65)
- Anyone who is a primary caregiver for a newborn infant or anyone who is immune suppressed.
- For more details: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/professionals/acip/2017-18summary.htm
Who should NOT get a flu shot?
- Anyone with history of Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS)
- In 1976, a swine flu vaccine was linked to an increased risk for Guillain-Barre, which causes the immune system to attack and damage the protective coating around nerve cells. Guillain-Barre syndrome causes extreme weakness and tingling in the limbs, known as severe peripheral neuropathy. It can be life threatening in rare cases.
- Anyone with an Egg Allergy (Flucelvax uses other methods)
- Anyone with a previous reaction to a flu vaccine.
- Anyone who is on current antibiotic, steroid or is currently ill.
- Anyone who has had another vaccine within the past two weeks.
- Talk to your doctor if you have a weakened immune system, or if you take medicine to
suppress your immune system.
- For more detailed information: https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/vis/vis-statements/flu.pdf
- People have the MTHFR mutation may not be good candidates for vaccination.
- MTHFR makes an individual’s detoxification system function less than optimally.
- Methylation is required to produce glutathione, one of the major molecules in a detoxification cycle. If you don’t methylate properly, you won’t be able to detoxify properly. This can lead to is a higher susceptibility to heavy metal toxicity and toxicity from any source like pesticides, other environmental toxins and pollutants, mold toxicity, toxicity from lipopolysaccharide or any other bacterial or pathogen-based toxin, environmental toxins and pollutants, and other bacterial or pathogen-based toxins.
- What do vaccinations contain? Heavy metals (mercury, aluminum), environmental toxins and
pollutants (formaldehyde, monosodium glutamate, antibiotics), and bacteria and pathogens (the diseases they are formulated to create an immune response to, among others due to contamination).
While manufacturers of the influenza vaccine and the CDC (Center for Disease Control) make the best guess of what virus is to be prevalent this season, viruses are in survival mode and therefore they mutate to adapt and survive. Even with recent mutations, I was always told that the vaccine would still offer some protection. People can die from the flu. Data from the CDC website shows that there were higher death rates from influenza and pneumonia combined in the 2014-2015 season https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr65/nvsr65_04.pdf Death rates from flu have actually gone down the past two years.
What I want people to know?
Vaccines are not risk adverse. Not everyone requires them as you may have been led to believe. Some members of the population can actually have genetic issues that do not allow their bodies to clear some of the components of the vaccines easily and are more at risk because of all the other things to which we are exposed in the environment. If you want to find out the latest statistics, please search VAERS (Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting) data for the year in question. The site is difficult to navigate. I am beginning to wonder if it is purposefully difficult or if it’s simply because there are so many adverse reactions. I am linking only one resource related specifically to the influenza vaccine (HIB) from 1990-2013. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25598306. All of this information is public knowledge, but it takes a dedicated person to navigate through the files.
Reports have surfaced that the flu vaccine fell short of doing what it promised for the most vulnerable of our populations last year. It is sad when the statistics do not show that those who are supposed to benefit most from the flu vaccine did not benefit in the way that they had hoped. http://vaxxter.com/health-officials-admit-2017-flu-vaccine-failed/
This year, vaccine manufacturers are also offering an additional vaccine marketed to contain certain adjuvant products to increase the potency of the vaccine. The product they are referring to is called Squalene. We do not yet know all of the affects of the additive, but this product was used in chemical attacks during the Gulf War and it is known to have a cause and effect relationship with chronic fatigue, muscle aches and neurological damage.
One Australian study revealed that 1 in 110 children suffered seizures after receiving the H1N1 vaccination in 2007 and another study revealed that there was an increase in the number of narcolepsy diagnoses in adolescents after receiving the H1N1 vaccination. As a person who has suffered from narcolepsy for the past 10 years this study definitely caught my attention. http://ewao.com/2017/08/16/johns-hopkins-researcher-releases-shocking-report-on-flu-vaccines/
There is big money in pharmaceuticals. I saw this first hand in the facilities where I have worked. Flu shots have great reimbursement rates from insurance companies so it is profitable for physician practices, wellness companies, and pharmacies to offer many of them each season. Do you really want to increase someone else’s bottom line without the knowledge of all the benefits vs. risks this may cause to you or loved ones down the road?
So, what can do you do if you need to get a flu shot for your job or to protect someone you love?
Here are some tips from Kelly Moeggenborg who wrote an article on Vax or Get Fired? How to Prepare for Forced Vaccination:
- Avoid Acetaminophen or Tylenol. Acetaminophen found in Tylenol is used for pain relief, but it also reduces the production of glutathione, a powerful antioxidant used to eliminate toxins.
- Eat a lower sugar intake diet. Viruses thrive more in a sugary environment and lowers your immune response.
- Do not get vaccinated when ill.
- Spreading out vaccinations as much as possible can reduce likelihood of vaccine damage.
- Use of a cold pack immediately following vaccination can help block an immune reaction.
- Drink plenty of fluids including water, kefir/kombucha daily for extra probiotics, plus detox help.
- Talk with your doctor or naturopath regarding beneficial supplementation before or after vaccination. Vitamins A, B-6, C, and E as well as copper, iron, folic acid, selenium, and zinc can be found in a healthful diet and can help with immune response. Juicing of celery and parsley can help prevent an autoimmune reaction.
- Get rest and reduce stress which also can boost your immune system.
- Use good hand washing to cut down on exposure to viruses before during and after the vaccine. People do not get the flu from an inactivated virus. But their immune system is challenged and they are likely to get sick if their body was already managing fighting a virus to which they were recently exposed.
- Consider finding a naturopath with an infrared sauna to help further the detox process. Infrared saunas stimulate the immune system. It is advised to wait at least a week or two after vaccination before considering this method to detox.
- Avoid whey protein or other immune-stimulating substances leading up to the vaccine.
- Avoid inflammatory-causing polyunsaturated vegetable oils or junk food, which hopefully you aren’t eating anyway!
Preventing the Flu Without Shots
7 Ways to Boost Your Immune System for Cold and Flu Season By Tiffany Ayuda
- Clean your hands for 15 seconds. Soap, warm water, and a period of vigorous rubbing will wash viruses down the drain.
- Cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze. Use a tissue, rather than a cloth hankie, or cough into your sleeve in the crook of your arm. Then wash your hands.
- Avoid close contact. And if you feel ill, please stay at home or keep your child at home. Do not go to work.
- Get plenty of rest
- Eat a healthy diet
- According to Harvard University, deficiencies in certain micronutrients, including vitamins A, B-6, C, and E as well as copper, iron, folic acid, selenium, and zinc, seem to correlate with illness in animals.
- Eating a healthy diet full of nutrient-rich greens, vitamin-filled vegetables, and colorful fruits, as well as whole grains, can give your immune system the support it needs to stay well.
- Drink plenty of fluids, but don’t over consume alcohol.
- Get plenty of exrcise
- Moderate exercise (such as brisk walking) brings about measurable changes in the immune system.
- People who exercise four to five times a week are less likely to get colds or other viruses.
- Zinc can help shorten the duration of a cold by a few days because it has powerful immune-boosting and protective effects and may stop the replication of a cold’s cell.
- Food sources of zinc include pumpkin seeds, spinach, oysters, nuts, and bean If you feel a cold coming on, supplement a healthy diet with 25 mg of zinc per day on a short-term basis.
- Essential oils used topically or infused are known to have some great protective qualities. Contact your naturopath to determine the best ones for you. https://www.up-nature.com/blogs/news/20-of-the-best-essential-oils-for-colds-and-relieving-the-flu
My personal story:
Working as a Registered Nurse in healthcare made it a necessity for me to get annual flu shots. I always believed that they would protect me from the most severe form of the flu and I readily took them to protect myself and those around me. I argued that it was good for those who could not get vaccinated to be protected by those that could to reduce the overall spread of the flu. Over the years, I have given thousands of vaccinations to others. I never tried to persuade others to receive them, but I felt they needed to be available to those who needed to protect themselves or their family.
I felt that way until I had a reaction to my own flu shot 2 years in a row with two different types of the vaccines. The first was a very mild reaction from quadrivalent vaccine drawn from a multi-dose vial. My symptoms were mild and consisted of flushing, some dizziness, and the inner ear pressure you feel when on a flight. The following year I opted to receive a trivalent vaccine in a prefilled syringe with a low preservative profile because I thought the year before I reacted to the preservative. The reaction that year was much more severe and within a half hour of receiving the vaccination, I experienced symptoms of ototoxicity. I had severe ear pain and ringing (more prominent in my left ear), visual changes and balance issues. To this day, I am thankful that I was surrounded by providers who were knowledgeable and recognized the connection of my symptoms to the vaccine administration. My chiropractor and nurse practitioner friend reacted in a timely manner initiating treatment and a detox program to minimize the toxicity and prevent long term complications which ultimately saved my hearing. Recently, I have also discovered that I have the MTHFR gene mutation that makes it difficult for my body to eliminate toxins. These adverse reactions opened my eyes to the dangers and lack of education in the general public.
I hope this information has been helpful for you to become better educated on whether or not you should be vaccinated against the influenza virus this year. My goal was to provide you sufficient information to be better informed and to inspire more research on your own.
Here is to a healthy winter! Come back and visit my website throughout the year. I will continue to provide you with the most recent information available that you can use to make informed choices for your health and the health of those you love!