The Flu Shot: More Harm than Good?

Posted on 11/7/2013 by Dr. Adrian den Boer
Categories: flu, immune system, kid's health

This past week, I saw an ad for the flu shot on the side of a bus. This public health advertisement is exactly what prompted me to write this post. In just twenty years’ time, the number of flu vaccines available annually has risen from 32 million to 135 million doses (Doshi, 2013)!  Yet, a closer look at this profit-driven growth fueled by public health campaigns and drug companies proves the vaccine may do more harm than good.
In fact, the flu vaccine’s benefits are hugely over-stated; they are minimal, if any, and carry proven health risks. Folks, we seriously need to reconsider the flu vaccine, as shown by research below.
The Facts
1) Back in the early 1980’s, I caught early wind of its risks. The European Union stopped a large, multinational study on the flu vaccine prematurely due to increasing evidence of ineffectiveness, and a possible link to Alzheimer’s and other autoimmune diseases.
2) The British Medical Journal – one of the top tier medical journals – issued a vehement report by John Hopkins’ scientist Peter Doshi, Ph.D. This scientific report claims the side effects outweigh benefits (Doshi, 2013).
3) The flu vaccine contains allergenic and toxic substances harmful to health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "The following substances are found in flu vaccines: aluminum, antibiotics, egg protein, formaldehyde, human aborted fetal apparatus (dead human tissue), monosodium glutamate (MSG), and thimerosol (mercury)." Exposure to mercury, a strong immune-depressant, leads to many neurological and systemic problems.
4) It has been linked to narcolepsy in children (Sample, 2012).
5) According to the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, “At best, vaccines might be effective against only influenza A and B, which represent about 10% of all circulating viruses” (Jefferson, et. al, 2010.  This does not protect against 90% of the circulating flu viruses! Also, "In the relatively uncommon circumstance of vaccine matching the viral circulating strain and high circulation, 4% of unvaccinated people versus 1% of vaccinated people developed influenza symptoms..." (Jefferson, et al., 2010). 
6) Even the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) acknowledges that the effectiveness of the flu vaccine may vary.
“How well the flu vaccine works (or its ability to prevent flu illness) can range widely from season to season…During years when the flu vaccine is not well matched to circulating viruses, it’s possible that no benefit from flu vaccination may be observed. During years when there is a good match between the flu vaccine and circulating viruses, it’s possible to measure substantial benefits from vaccination in terms of preventing flu illness. However, even during years when the vaccine match is very good, the benefits of vaccination will vary across the population, depending on characteristics of the person being vaccinated and even, potentially, which vaccine was used” (Centers for Disease Control, 2013).
7) The perceived reduction in death rates due to the flu vaccine may be due to the “health user effect,” or the tendency of healthy people to get vaccinated more than less healthy people. This, therefore, can drastically skew the statistics.
Optimizing the Immune System
Just because the flu is common this time of the year does not mean that you have to get it! Eating an anti-inflammatory, plant-based Mediterranean diet; exercising, and practicing good hygiene are all weapons that can protect against bugs. Staying well-hydrated, sleeping 7 – 8 hours per night, managing stress, and ensuring a healthy vitamin D3 status are also powerful immune boosters.
For more detailed advice on optimizing your immune system, refer to our seminar here.
Here’s to navigating a healthy and happy flu season!
Doshi, P. (2013). Influenza: marketing vaccine by marketing disease.British Medical Journal.
Jefferson, T., Di Petrantonj, C., Rivetti, A., Bawazeer, G., Al-Ansary, L., Ferroni, E. (2010). Vaccines for preventing influenza in healthy adults. Cochrane Systematic Reviews. Issue 7.
Sample, I. (2012). UK health officials probe possible flu jab link to narcolepsy in children. The Guardian.
Vaccine effectiveness – How well does the flu vaccine work? (2013). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 
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