Flu Season. Halloween. I Recommend the Flu Shot for Zombies.
Yeah, I know. That photo on the left of the kid getting the flu shot is really scary. It’s been about five years since I last wrote about the flu and the flu vaccine, and two years since I discussed the Swine Flu and its vaccine. I figured it was time to give a bit of an update, and Halloween was a good time to do so because I think the flu shot is really scary.
This post is not about whether you should get the flu shot or not. That’s not my job to tell you what you should do. Actually, it’s nobody’s job to tell you to get a flu shot (or not get one) and that includes your own primary care physician. I believe in informed consent and an individual making an informed decision based off unbiased information they have been provided and researched themselves. Unfortunately, most people don’t know much about the flu vaccine other than what the news or their doctor tells them, so they think there is nothing wrong with receiving the flu shot. They’re told it will prevent the flu and comes without any risk – or the risk of catching the flu will be much, much worse. These claims, as well as others claims such as how deadly the actual flu virus is, are not entirely true. I have never received the flu shot and neither has anyone in my family. Most of my patients share the same philosophy. We believe in maintaining a strong immune system through living healthy lives and taking natural preventive measures, as described below, and making choices which promote health and well-being. The flu shot is not part of that plan. Flu vaccines weaken the immune system and many times make a person actually more predisposed to illnesses. I believe the vaccine carries too great a risk to one’s health – from the chance of developing Guillain-Barre syndrome to other immune system complications such as allergies, autoimmune diseases, and ear infections. Toxicity issues are associated with many of the vaccines given today as mercury and formaldehyde are still present in many shots. Their link to Autism and developmental learning and behavioral disorders is strong.
Each year, federal health agency officials try to guess which three flu strains are most likely to be prevalent in the U.S. the following year to determine which strains will be included in that following year’s flu vaccine. When the match between the vaccine and circulating viruses is close, the flu vaccine is thought to provide a 70-90% chance of temporary immunity to selected strains in healthy persons less than 65 years old. (The only way to get natural and permanent immunity to a strain of flu is to recover naturally from the flu.) For those over 65 years old, which is one of the target groups, the efficacy rate drops to a mere 30-40%. It is however considered to be 50-60% effective in preventing hospitalization or pneumonia and 80% effective in preventing death from flu caused by the covered strains. The vaccine typically contains two type A and one type B strain. This year’s winners are:
A/Christchurch/16/2010, NIB-74 (H1N1) (an A/California/7/2009-like virus);
A/Victoria/210/2009, NYMC X-187 (H3N2) (an A/Perth/16/2009-like virus);
How accurate is this year’s vaccine? Uh, well, – we’ll know that at the end of the flu season.
The CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older as the first and most important step in protecting against this serious disease. Yes, it is “the most important step.” Eating well and taking other measures to stay healthy (such as washing your hands) are not as important to the CDC.
Interesting though, the FDA says that the vaccines should only be used for the immunization of persons aged 4 years and over because that’s what their studies show to be as safe (less dangerous) and is provided in the drug’s package insert. For example, in the Fluvirin package from Novartis it states, “The safety and immunogenicity of FLUVIRIN® have not been established in children under 4 years of age.” In GSK’s Flulaval it says, “Safety and effectiveness of FLULAVAL in pediatric patients have not been established.”
The drugs also note that it is not known whether they are excreted in human milk. Many drugs are excreted in human milk, so they advise caution when administering the vaccine to a nursing woman. It is also not known whether the drugs can cause fetal harm when administered to a pregnant woman or can affect reproduction capacity. Furthermore, the vaccines have not been evaluated for carcinogenic or mutagenic potential, or for impairment of fertility.
The four main vaccines you’re likely to come in contact with are the following. Each drug also contains residual amounts of egg proteins (ovalbumin), as well as other preservatives. Thimerosal (mercury) is used in manufacturing of the drugs but some companies remove all of it before completion. GSK, as you can see, leaves it in. Here’s a fun fact that’s not so fun. Actually since it’s Halloween I’ll call it a scary fact: One dose of thimerosal exceeds the EPA’s safety limit of mercury exposure by over 250 times.
- Fluzone (Sanofi Pasteur) – No mercury. Formaldehyde up to 100mcg
- Fluvirin (Novartis) – Mercury in multi-dose (25mcg), not single. No formaldehyde
- Flulaval (GlaxoSmithKline) – Mercury (25mcg) and formaldehyde (25mcg) all doses
- Afluria (Merck) – Mercury in multi-dose (24.5mcg), not single. No formaldehyde
**So, as you can see, if you’re going to vaccinate a zombie I’d choose GSK’s Flulaval. I don’t know if it would kill the zombie but it’s worth a shot. For humans who want to at least stay away from mercury and formaldehyde, ask for Afluria or Fluvirin in the SINGLE DOSE. What??? You have a choice? Probably nobody told you that.**
Hey, how about that Tamiflu? That is the drug available if you get the flu that blocks the enzyme neuraminidase. Neuraminidase inhibitor medications prevent new virus particles from being released, thus slowing or stopping the spread of the virus. On average, a person recovers 30% faster on Tamiflu. Common adverse drug reactions associated with Tamiflu include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and headache. Rare reactions include hepatitis and elevated liver enzymes. See how to naturally block the neuraminidase enzyme below.
The flu vaccine is not the answer in avoiding the flu. Staying in good health is.
Some tips for staying healthy and preventing all viral infections:
- Avoid refined foods such as white sugars and flours which suppress the immune system
- Avoid fake sweeteners such as Splenda and Nutrasweet
- Avoid “bad” fats – partially hydrogenated oils – these are proven to dampen the immune system
- Reduce the amount of omega 6 fats in your diet which are in many packaged, baked, and fast foods. They’re the corn, soy, safflower, peanut, and yes even canola oil. More here.
- Eat organic fresh fruits and vegetables and lots of them
- Drink plenty of pure filtered water
- Limit caffeine intake (coffee, tea, chocolate, soda of course because of the sugar too)
- Check your vitamin D level and consider supplementing. All about vitamin D here.
- Exercise daily, at least 30 minutes (see information under Fitness)
- Wash your hands frequently, especially after visiting public places
- Get plenty of high quality sleep (and correct those sleep problems). More here.
If you get the flu, or any virus for that matter: Follow the information above and:
- Take elderberry extract. The Israeli extract commonly referred to as Sambucal is proven to block the neuraminidase enzyme responsible for viral replication. This can be used for support during the cold season by taking 2 teaspoons,(1 teaspoon for children), 4 times a day. It can significantly reduce infection time. Some studies show that this can resolve flu symptoms in as fast as 2-3 days, compared to a typical 6-7 day infection period.
- Vitamin C? I rarely find vitamin C in its common ascorbic acid form to be of any benefit to a person, other than to acidify their tissues which can have its own advantages (and disadvantages). More important is to eat plenty of organic, nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables to get all the natural phytonutrients found in the whole food. I also like Camu powder for its natural vitamin C content. I like the products Camu Supreme and Thera Supreme, available in my office or here.
- The mineral selenium is also known to help with the immune system and fight viruses. Typically 200mcg a day can be beneficial.
- Rub your thymus reflex point. Your thymus is the master gland of your immune system and rubbing over this typically tender spot will help to support the organ’s function. The area to rub is on the right side of your body midline to your armpit at the level of your nipple. The area can be tender in a small place or as large as 3 inches vertical to 2 inches lengthwise. Rub out the tender areas in a firm, circular motion for 1-2 minutes, 4-5 times a day – or better yet, get someone to do it for you! It will feel more tender than what you can do yourself!