Flu Shot Controversy

Flu Shot Controversy

As flu season approaches, almost everywhere you look there is an opportunity to get a flu shot and sometimes for no charge. From your doctor’s office to your local pharmacy, school or even library flu shots seem to be a mandatory part of flu season. Yet, rarely do people question whether or not it is a good idea to succumb to this preventative approach or take your health into your own hands instead.

The Mechanics

Every year the media and the government unite to advertise the importance of receiving a flu shot. Scientists use a detailed model to develop each year’s vaccine by basically guessing what strain of flu will manifest and infect the public. Usually it is between two to four strains out of potentially hundreds that are determined from the combined results of thousands of research studies throughout the year.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),

“More than 100 national influenza centers in over 100 countries conduct year-round surveillance for influenza. This involves receiving and testing thousands of influenza virus samples from patients.”

However, this guessing game does not always work. The CDC continues,

“some years certain influenza viruses may not appear and spread until later in the influenza season, making it difficult to prepare a candidate vaccine virus in time for vaccine production. This can make vaccine virus selection very challenging.”

Overall, the effectiveness rate has been reported to be between fifty and sixty percent as, “Each year, millions of people get [the] flu, more than 200,000 Americans are hospitalized with complications, and the virus kills thousands of people.” (CNBC)

Although many people swear that getting a yearly flu shot is paramount to staving off contracting the virus, many others feel it isn’t worth many factors that are not covered by the media or otherwise regarding safety and effectiveness.

A Profit Push

As with most things, the flu vaccine is big business. It is a highly competitive market that has three top pharmaceutical companies vying for their place in the millions of vaccines sold across the globe.

It is estimated that, according to a report by CNBC, last year’s the flu vaccine market was a billion dollar industry. But why not? Big Pharma does make the vaccine after all, however it is essentially producing something that has a cornered, built in consumer base guaranteeing profits.

Yes, millions of vaccines are given away free of charge, particularly to low income communities throughout the globe but it is the wealthier communities that make up for these “giveaways” bringing in high profit margins.

Some feel that this may veer from the altruistic message of the importance of jumping on board for the greater good.

Suspect Ingredients

There has been much controversy regarding vaccine ingredients prompting the pharmaceutical industry to adhere to a demanded that mercury be removed. According to some science, mercury has been directly linked to autism.

Vactruth reports this quote by Dr. William Weil, American Academy of Pediatrics, Simpsonwood, GA, June 7, 2000,

“…the number of dose related relationships [between mercury and autism] are linear and statistically significant. You can play with this all you want. They are linear. They are statistically significant.

The public was told that mercury had been removed from flu (and other) vaccines yet the ingredient thimerosal has been used as a replacement. Thimerosal contains, you guessed it, 25 micrograms of mercury.

The following brands use thimerosal in their flu shot ingredients:

Afluria CSL (Limited for Merck)

FluLaval (GlaxoSmithKline)

Fluvirin (Novartis)

Fluzone (Sanofi Pasteur)

If you must get the flu shot, you may want to ask for a thimerosal-free choice.

Your Natural Defense

Flu vaccine manufacturers are doing their best to create the best and safest seasonal choice but it seems that even though, in the grand scheme of things, adverse incidence is probably minimal, you may not want to be one of the chosen few that has a poor response. Instead, there are ways you can shore up your system to create a natural defense. This just may be as effective as the guessing game of taking a synthetically produced mass remedy with potential side effects and possibly no benefit.

  • Vitamin C – Between 1000 mg and 5000 mg of vitamin C (ester-C is the best choice for high absorption) will kick your immune system into high gear. If diarrhea presents, lower your dosage.
  • Use Botanicals – There are a variety of herbal remedies and preventative protocols you can use to keep your system running on all cylinders. Some notable ones are black elderberry, oregano oil and olive leaf extract.
  • Avoid Inflammatory Foods – Sticking to a non-processed, fresh food, mainly plant-based diet could make all the difference in reducing systemic inflammation and acidity an environment that is highly advantageous for viruses and bacteria to thrive.
  • Calm Stress – Take an inventory of your life to find a way to calm your mind from stress. Stress compromises your immune system.
  • Wash Your Hands – Make a point to keep your hands extra clean especially if traveling in a closely packed urban environment.

Always keep in contact with your physician and/or naturopathic doctor during flu season remaining particularly diligent in protecting yourself as well as the elderly and the very young. Hopefully the flu and vaccine controversy will eventually put big business aside and err on the side of the people for once, regardless of the bottom line.