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The Flu Shot: Who’s Looking Out For You? (I Am)

by Dr. Stephen Gangemi on October 1, 2012

Flu Season 2012-2013Another flu season is upon us and just like every year we’re advised to get the flu vaccine or suffer the terrible consequences we hear about on TV or at the drug store. The CDC wants pretty much everyone to be vaccinated. So should you get the shot – or not? Do you know there are several types of vaccines, all with various risks, and there’s plenty you can do naturally to help prevent and/or treat the influenza virus.

Flu vaccines weaken the immune system and many times actually make a person more predisposed to illnesses. The vaccine can put one’s health at great risk – from the chance of developing Guillain-Barre syndrome, (a neurological disease that can result in death), to 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. Several chemical preservatives are in them too. The vaccine link to Autism Spectrum Disorders and developmental learning and behavioral disorders is becoming more evident.

Who Should Get the Flu Shot?

Flu Shot LineI’m not here to tell you whether you should, or should not, get the flu shot. 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 upon unbiased information they have been provided and researched themselves. Unfortunately, most people don’t know much about the flu vaccine other than what the media, their friend, 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 ever-popular claim that “catching the flu will be much, much worse than getting sick from the shot.”

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. Did you know there’s only one vaccine (shot) approved for your child under three years old and even the others have their own approved age group ranges? Unfortunately this shot for your infant will come with some formaldehyde, and that’s highly toxic to all, especially little ones. Most people don’t know that there are several different types of flu vaccines and some are clearly worse than others. Most never know which one they already got. Interestingly, those people specifically advised to get vaccinated, the “immune compromised” such as children and the elderly, show little if any benefit from being vaccinated. And those with asthma, another target group, can often have their symptoms exacerbated by a flu vaccine.

The drug companies also note that it is not known whether their vaccine is excreted in human milk. Since many drugs are excreted in human milk, they advise caution when administering the vaccine to a nursing woman. It is also not known whether the drugs can cause fetal harm or how they affect reproduction capacity in women. Furthermore, the vaccines have not been evaluated for carcinogenic or mutagenic potential, or for impairment of fertility. Yet, the CDC continues to recommend all pregnant women get the flu shot since they too are “high risk.” Are you scratching your head yet?

The 2012-2013 Flu Vaccine

Flu Shot 2012-2013

That needle is huge!

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:

  • an A/California/7/2009 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus;
  • an A/Victoria/361/2011 (H3N2)-like virus;
  • a B/Wisconsin/1/2010-like virus (from the B/Yamagata lineage of viruses)

The names do look strange, (and mean nothing special if you live in CA or WI), but  the H1N1 virus used to make the 2012-2013 flu vaccine is the same virus that was included in the 2011-2012 vaccine. Though, as noted above, that immunity is most likely gone already if you got last year’s shot. The H3N2 and B vaccine viruses are different from those in the 2011-2012 influenza vaccine.

So how accurate is this year’s vaccine? Uh, well, – we’ll know that at the end of the flu season.

The six main vaccines you’re likely to come in contact with for 2012-2013 are listed here. Each drug also contains residual amounts of egg proteins (ovalbumin), as well as other preservatives. So if you’re allergic to egg, you might not want to shoot that into your veins. Thimerosal (mercury) is used in manufacturing of the drugs but some companies remove it before completion. *One dose of thimerosal exceeds the EPA’s safety limit of mercury exposure by over 250 times.

This is my Quick Reference Guide which I made by reading through each respective drug insert (that was a couple fun hours). You can click on the name for the pdf insert to see it all.

Flu Vaccination By State

They love the shot in Mass

Note that FluLaval is very toxic with both mercury and formaldehyde, (ages 18+ only). Most single-dose shots do not have mercury. Only Fluzone is approved for kids under 3 – and it contains formaldehyde and the multi-dose comes with mercury too.

Tamiflu For Your Flu?

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.

** This drug, Tamiflu, is currently being investigated for “missing information” and hiding the true outcomes of clinical trials.

I believe in maintaining a strong immune system through living a healthy life and taking natural preventive measures, and making choices which promote health and well-being. The flu shot is not part of this plan.

Healthy Tips for the Flu Season

Choose the one on your right!

Healthy Tips For Avoiding the Flu

  • Avoid refined foods such as white sugars, (especially high fructose corn syrup), and flours which suppress the immune system
  • Avoid fake sweeteners such as Splenda and Nutrasweet
  • Avoid “bad” fats – partially hydrogenated oils
  • 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 this at Sock-Doc)
  • Wash your hands frequently, especially after visiting public places
  • Get plenty of high quality sleep (and correct sleep problems)

Healthy Suggestions If You Have the Flu (or Any Virus)

  • 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 refined 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). It’s 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 (for patients) or here.
  • The mineral selenium is also known to help with the immune system and fight viruses. Typically 200mcg a day can be beneficial.
  • Consider vitamin D supplementation (per the above recommended test) as well as vitamin A. I typically use 6,000IU to 20,000IU of vitamin A per day in patients who show a need for it. Check with your doctor!
  • 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!

 The flu vaccine is not the answer in preventing the flu. Staying healthy is.

Here’s a great site I got some of the information for this article from – Dr. Tenpenny. Check it out!

I'm a board certified chiropractic physician and clinical nutritionist with a passion for true natural health care. I implement dietary & nutritional therapies, exercise & movement practices, and lifestyle changes along with manual therapy techniques to help the body heal and prevent illness and injuries.

From → Health Concerns


Leave a comment
  1. Gina permalink

    Is the elderberry extract used just for the flu, or can it be used for coughs and colds?

  2. Jason permalink

    I find it irresponsible for you to further the myth that vaccines cause autism. This has been debunked time and time again. Do some research.

    • If that’s what you believe Jason good for you. I’d love to see you say that to the face of the many parents of autistic kids whose kids were perfectly fine pre-vaccine. Oh yeah, no research and just a coincidence. Don’t waste your time with my irresponsible nonsense on this site.

    • TFish permalink

      Tell that to my professor that had twins that developed autism just weeks after the shot.

  3. Kev permalink

    Just discovered your website. Great, down-to-earth info. Especially like the sleep part. Even in the alternative medicine field very few know why going to bed early is important. It certainly helped me a huge deal… Earthing is another such topic. Have you heard about it, Doc?

  4. David permalink

    I have a question doc. Once you’ve started down the route of taking flu shots, is it best to keep going with them forever?
    Here’s the thinking:

    (a) flu virus strains are constantly mutating and changing
    (b) many people without the shot are exposed to current strains without necessarily showing symptoms and develop at least partial immunity anyway.
    (c) If you have the shot your body never gets a chance to develop a natural immunity to these strains.
    (d) The vaccine is only valid for a limited time.

    So if you have been taking the vaccine for 10 years and you don’t take it in year 11, your body is suddenly exposed to 11 years worth of flu mutation it’s never had a chance to develop immunity to.

    Does this make sense?

    • Yeah I see what you’re saying but I don’t know if it’s valid or not. I’ve had plenty of patients and know many who used to always get the shot and then stop and they’ve been fine. Of course there are many factors such as your health and what you’re exposed to. Then there is all the stuff you’ve been exposed to that wasn’t part of the vaccine.

      So personally if I had been receiving the vaccine for years and I now decided to not get it due to my knowledge in the area I wouldn’t use the reasoning of my past vaccine history to stop me.

  5. Lisa Quenon permalink

    Hello. I’m so appreciative of my daughter for sending me the link to your site. As part of my contractual agreement with my employer, I have to get a flu shot. (I’m a nanny.) And I do it mostly to cover my *** for legal purposes. However…am simultaneously doing many (many) of the things you advocate since that same daughter introduced me to a good healing doc here in the city. I am grateful for the additional information that I was unaware of in terms of how to further support the immune system and ward of viral stuff. I’ve been holding very sick babies for about the last 6-8 weeks and have managed to hold fairly steady with only off and on mild symptoms. Last year I was hospitalized for pneumonia so I’m truly grateful to my body for the healing thus far. I’m off to the store tomorrow to add the things you further advocate that I did not know about. Thanks!!

  6. Michael permalink

    Good morning Doctor,

    each year they try to predict the flu, and each year they have various amounts of success with this prediction. Someone must keep track, but I just can’t find the historical data. Any idea where I ought to look? It would make a handy link on your website.

    Thank you.

  7. Stephen W. Cooper permalink

    Great article. I’m 70 and do not get a flu shot. Last time I had the flu over 10 years ago. Long time friend gets the flu shot and last year had the flu
    (bad) twice. Good diet and some simple precautions are my flu shot.

  8. Christy Castillo permalink

    Dr. Gangemi,

    Would love to hear any research and comments you may have on the Shingles shot? Does it fall into the same concern as the flu shot?


    • I haven’t looked into it other than I know even the MDs don’t recommend it for those who have compromised immune systems. So, that tells me that it must really tax the immune system. Not for me :)

  9. Msnoche permalink

    I am 63 female and almost two years ago had cancer including chemo and radiation. I am “cancer free” and I follow most of your recommendations for diet and exercise. Every year I have the same discussion with family that I should get the shot. I can never recall having the flu and the idea and risk make it a negative choice for me. Comments?

    • I can’t comment more than what I do in the article. Great to hear you are cancer-free!

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