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Do you need a Flu Shot?


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As a Holistic Nutritionist, I approach the flu, with curiousness because that means there is an imbalance in the body. When proper diet and lifestyle precautions are taken, illness is rare.  When someone is sick, some detective work is necessary to find out what missing pieces are interfering with the efficacy of their immune system.

My goal is to help you strengthen your immune system so there is less risk of a virus affecting you, leaving you vulnerable to its aftermath of feeling sick and miserable.

When the immune system is compromised it has less ability to fight off the flu, or really any of the myriad viruses, bacteria or toxins we are perpetually faced with every minute of every day.

I give some tips for preventing the flu at the bottom of this article. Personally, I always start with food because it is the best medicine.

But first, let’s take a look at how flu vaccines work.

The Vaccine:

Each year health officials inoculate this year’s virus into chickens.  Then, they take the created viral strains to use as the antigen - the agent which elicits an immune reaction in the human body so you create your own antibodies against that strain of flu. But creating antibodies is not the same as protection against a disease.

It takes about two weeks after you are vaccinated for your body to create these antibodies. We assume scientists match the vaccine to the exact flu strain going around.  It’s an educated guess essentially and the efficacy of the vaccine lies in our ability to match the two correctly. The CDC states the rates of efficacy are 0% to 52% in any given year. Yes, that’s right, 0%.

You can still get the flu if you have been vaccinated if the strain you caught doesn’t match that which was in your vaccine.  And you can still get the flu even if the strains were properly matched but your immune system is not functioning properly!

What’s In a Flu Shot?

  • Egg proteins: Including avian contaminant viruses
  • Formaldehyde: Known carcinogen, in amounts of 5-25 mcg
  • Thimerosal: Mercury-based preservative (only in multi-dose vials), 25 mcg
  • Other heavy metals such as aluminum: Known neurotoxin
  • Sugar: The essence of all inflammatory disease
  • Triton X100: A detergent, 50-250 mcg, varies by specific brands
  • Neomycin, an antibiotic
  • Polysorbate 20 and 80, known to cross the blood-brain barrier, opens tight junctions, causes infertility in mice
  • Other additives known to cause allergic reactions

Influenza (Afluria)

beta-propiolactone, thimerosol (multi-dose vials only), monobasic sodium phosphate, dibasic sodium phosphate, monobasic potassium phosphate, potassium chloride, calcium chloride, sodium taurodeoxycholate, neomycin sulfate, polymyxin B, egg protein, sucrose

December 2013

Influenza (Agriflu)

egg proteins, formaldehyde, polysorbate 80, cetyltrimethylammonium bromide, neomycin sulfate, kanamycin, barium

2013

Influenza (Fluarix) Trivalent and Quadrivalent

octoxynol-10 (Triton X- Į-tocopheryl hydrogen succinate, polysorbate 80 (Tween 80), hydrocortisone, gentamicin sulfate, ovalbumin, formaldehyde, sodium deoxycholate, sucrose, phosphate buffer

June 2014

Influenza (Flublok)

monobasic sodium phosphate, dibasic sodium phosphate, polysorbate 20, baculovirus and host cell proteins, baculovirus and cellular DNA, Triton X-100, lipids, vitamins, amino acids, mineral salts

March 2014

Influenza (Flucelvax)

Madin Darby Canine Kidney (MDCK) cell protein, MDCK cell DNA,

Cetyltrimethlyammonium Bromide, b-propiolactone, phosphate buffer

March 2014

Influenza (Fluvirin)

nonylphenol ethoxylate, thimerosal (multidose vial–trace only in prefilled syringe), polymyxin, neomycin, beta-propiolactone, egg proteins, phosphate buffer

February 2014

Influenza (Flulaval) Trivalent and Quadrivalent

thimerosal, formaldehyde, sodium deoxycholate, egg proteins, phosphate buffer

February 2013

Influenza (Fluzone: Standard (Trivalent and Quadrivalent), High-Dose, & Intradermal)

formaldehyde, octylphenol ethoxylate (Triton X-100), gelatin (standard trivalent formulation only), thimerosal (multi-dose vial only) , egg protein, phosphate buffers, sucrose

 

Ingredients in Vaccines, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, B-10

The biggest controversy about the ingredients in the shot surrounds the use of the preservative Thimerosal.  Thimerosal contains mercury.  Exposure to mercury leads to systemic health problems running the gamut from neurological dysfunction (memory loss, confusion, inability to concentrate) to depression, renal failure, skin troubles and gastrointestinal disturbances.

But aren’t Flu Vaccines recommended for pregnant women?

Yes, they are. But none of the 24 flu vaccines on the market have been tested for safety in pregnancy. In fact, none are FDA approved for use in pregnancy. This past week, a new study found a 7.7 fold increase in miscarriage and flu vaccines. This is probably due to the Thimerosal (my summation). Thimerosal is mutagenic for developing embryos. It actually says this very fact on the label of the box – “Causes mutation in mammal germ cells” - otherwise known as developing embryos.

Pregnant women and infants are often advised to opt for the single dose mercury-free vaccines as once mercury is in the body it can enter the fetus via the placenta.  Studies have also reported that children can become symptomatic from mercury toxicity from as little exposure as 10 mcg/kg/day.

Many flu vaccines contain up to 25 mcg of mercury per dose so this is one area where I will state how important it is to look for a mercury-free vaccines.  Some may argue that this isn’t very much, but consider this fact: 25 mcg in a .5 ml shot = 50,000 PPB. Two PPB is the FDA limit for drinking water and 200 PPB is considered toxic and requires a hazard label. That’s 250x the allowable limit in a flu vaccine. By comparison, the average can of tuna contains120 PPB.

Here are some options to ask your doctor about:

Types of Vaccines Available:

  • Single-dose vaccines such as Fluzone: Contains an inert virus that is incapable of causing infection and tends to be free of mercury.
  • Some pre-filled syringes such as Afluria are mercury-free.
  • Multi-dose vaccines tend to contain the most mercury.

If mercury is such a problem, then why are we even using it?  Mercury is part of the preservative necessary when using multi-dose vaccines. The single-dose vaccine doesn’t require the preservative which is why this vaccine is preferred. It is also the least cost-effective for manufacturers to produce so until this changes.  YOU, the consumer, need to advocate for yourself.

How Safe is the Flu Vaccine?

While the CDC reports that safety is always being monitored to ensure risk from the vaccine is negligible, certain serious complications have been reported:

  • Allergic reactions (anaphylactic)
  • Fever (dangerous for pregnant women)
  • Guillain-Barre Syndrome (can be fatal)
  • Neurological disorders

Always contact your local physician if you suspect any serious complications post injection.

A study by Cochrane Review states the evidence is poor and provides no guidance regarding the safety, efficacy and effectiveness of flu vaccine for those 65 and older. In another study by Dr. Ben Cowling, of 100 vaccinated with the flu vaccine, they were found to have 4-5 times higher incidence of non-flu viral infections than those unvaccinated. In 2016, there were 108 cases of severe injury and death due to the influenza vaccine. It has the highest rates of adverse events of any vaccine, according to the Vaccine Adverse Events website or VAERS.

Why Do We Get Sick?

I find it interesting that “flu-season” coincides with the start of sugar season - Halloween candy, Thanksgiving pies and holiday treats, coupled with dry indoor air, a lack of sunshine and decreased activity. This is why we get sick!

Why confuse ourselves about the pros and cons of a vaccine’s worth, safety, and strain availability when we have so much in our medicinal arsenal to fight the flu’s onset?

Preventing the flu depends on improving the quality of our lifestyles to include more pleasure and relaxation, increasing access to fresh, nutrient-dense food, and limiting sugary and processed junk food in our lives.

Taking care of the way we eat, keeping fit, getting enough sleep and taking a few nutritional supplements including a multivitamin, fish oil, and vitamin D can prevent most from ever getting sick in the first place. Don’t forget about frequent hand-washing too!

The influenza virus can be very uncomfortable and cause a major disruption in our busy lives.  It is important to remember that most healthy people will suffer a mere 3-5 days.

While the fever/chills, sore throat, headache, and fatigue are definitely not fun, they usually come and go without much major harm caused to the body.

In fact, most deaths are only associated with the flu via contraction of pneumonia and its influence on existing medical conditions.  The CDC reported 500 deaths in 2010 from flu, most were elderly with co-infections, like pneumonia. The flu’s mortality rate itself is much less common-in fact, more people die each year from malnutrition than from the flu!

Preventative Measures:

Get your vitamin D levels optimized (50-80), focus on your diet by adding in antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, eat lean and grass-fed protein and healthy anti-inflammatory fats from fish, nuts, and seeds, and healthy olive oil, ghee and coconut oils. Consider a Vitamin C supplement.

Add garlic, ginger, raw honey, turmeric and fresh spices and herbs to your meals. If you do feel the sniffles coming on, immediately crush 2 cloves of garlic and place in a small glass of water, add a splash of raw honey and drink. This is the equivalent of 1 dose of antibiotic and will kill bacteria and viruses.

Stay well hydrated, practice common sense hygiene, and create time to rest and restore your energy.  And of course get outside and enjoy all that nature has to offer this season!

Wishing you and your loved ones a happy and healthy Winter!