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Arm Yourself Against the Flu – Don’t Get the Flu Shot!
Gary Null PhD and Nancy Ashley VMD, MS
It is fall and another flu season is upon us. The CDC’s big marketing claim about the flu vaccine emphasizes repeatedly that “36,000 Americans die of flu each year.” But is this true? A 2005 study from the British Medical Journal debunks this figure by revealing two things: first, the number is not based in counting actual deaths. It comes from a statistical model which only estimates mortality but doesn’t actually track it. Second, if anyone questions this large mortality, the CDC inflates the numbers by combining deaths from flu and pneumonia as though they were all flu deaths. Actually, the annual deaths from pneumonia unrelated to flu are far greater than those from flu.1 How do they make the annual flu shot? The annual flu vaccine is trivalent, consisting of 2 random strains of the influenza virus type A and one of type B. Since 2010, the Swine Flu virus (H1N1), a type A virus, has replaced one of the other type A viruses. Because officials can never know in advance which strains of influenza are going to be at large, the flu vaccine is entirely a guessing game. They might be right or they might be wrong.
Which Flu Vaccine You are Given Makes a Big Difference There are currently 7 different types of flu vaccines. The Flumist vaccine by Medimmune merits special mention. It is a live virus vaccine that is administered intranasally, thus causing virus shedding and unwitting inoculation of anyone in the vicinity of the vaccinated person for a period of up to 3 weeks. Like with the oral polio vaccine, this could lead to unintended consequences for the pregnant or immunocompromised,2 and Flumist has been an unpopular choice as a result. Of the 6 injectable flu vaccines, 4 offer both a single dose and a multi dose version. The immediate problem with multi dose vaccines is that they require more preservative, which in this case is thimerosal -- ethyl mercury. In July 1999, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Public Health Service agencies agreed that thimerosal should be reduced or eliminated from vaccines because of the potential risks: mercury is a known neurotoxin with cumulative effects and to give it to a developing brain is to ask for permanent neurological dysfunction. While the additive has been removed from most pediatric vaccines, it has not been removed from the flu vaccine. Adults likewise are not immune from the neurotoxic effects of mercury, even though their brains are fully developed. These multi dose flu vaccines, from CSL Limited (Merck), Novartis, GlaxoSmithKline, and Sanofi Pasteur, all contain 25 micrograms (mcg) of mercury per 0.5 ml. The EPA’s safe limit of mercury is 0.1 mcg/kg3: to be able to tolerate 25 mcg of mercury and still be at a safe level, a person would have to weigh 550 lbs! So what about those folks who weigh less than this, which is the vast majority of us? We – and especially our children -- are receiving a toxic dose of mercury with every injection. None of the package inserts suggest not giving the mercury-laden product to children and
actually recommend that children receiving the flu vaccine for the first time should get two doses four weeks apart! How does this make any sense?
The Multi Dose Vial – Hidden Risks What they never mention in any of these studies is the inherent flaw of the multi dose vial of any vaccine: namely, the actual dose received depends on the vagaries of how well and consistently the vial is agitated and mixed before each dose is drawn up because the constituents do not remain in suspension. It is impossible that every dose will contain an identical amount of virus and mercury – each injection will vary hugely. Further, multi dose vials require multiple needle penetrations over time, thereby increasing the risk for contamination in each successive dose administered. If you get your flu vaccine in a Duane Reade or a CVS pharmacy, you will be receiving just such a mystery dose of the Fluvirin or Fluzone multi dose flu vaccine.
By the Way, Who is Giving You the Flu Vaccine? Because of the intense campaigning to ensure that every American get a flu shot, one can now get a flu shot in a drug store, big box store, shopping mall or even a drive through pharmacy! As a result, unqualified personnel are actually the ones administering the vaccine in many cases. If you get a vaccine outside of a health care facility, it is likely you will be dealing with a pharmacist, pharmacy assistant, or general employee. Do you really trust them to know what they are doing? To know anatomy well enough to give it in the correct location? To manage an anaphylactic reaction? The package inserts all have the caveat that prior to administration of any dose of vaccine a healthcare provider
should review the patient’s prior immunization history for possible adverse events to
determine the existence of any contraindication to immunization and to allow an assessment of benefits and risks. And more importantly, “appropriate medical treatment and supervision must be available to manage possible anaphylactic reactions following administration of the vaccine.”4 Can a Wal-Mart employee handle this?
Is the flu shot harmful? In Australia in June 2010, more than 1000 adverse responses following seasonal flu vaccine in children under five were reported to the Therapeutic Goods Administration -- young children were more likely to end up in hospital because of side effects from a flu vaccine than they were from the disease itself!5 Research into the outbreak showed that the vaccine caused two to three hospital admissions due to febrile seizures for every hospital admission due to influenza prevented, thus the vaccination program in children under five clearly did more harm than good. Most significantly, the flu vaccine has been linked to a high rate of Guillain-Barre Syndrome, a wasting neurological disease which usually causes loss of the ability to walk, debilitating fatigue, and sometimes death. Guillain-Barre Syndrome occurs when the body’s immune system overreacts to foreign invaders. The immune response creates inflammation in the nerves and degrades the myelin sheaths. This damage interferes with the nerve’s ability to transmit impulses.6 It has been suggested that because influenza virus is grown in chicken embryos there is an increased incidence of salmonella, which produces a powerful endotoxin. This salmonella endotoxin may increase the permeability of the blood-brain barrier, thus
allowing deleterious proteins to enter the nervous system, setting the stage for a variety of neurological impairments from the vaccine.7 Other adverse effects of the influenza vaccine include: general malaise and flu-like symptoms for days following the vaccine, anaphylaxis, convulsions, myelitis, facial palsy, Bell’s palsy, optical neuritis, brachial neuritis, syncope, thrombocytopenia, lymphadenopathy, vasculitis, dyspnea, pharyngitis, rhinitis, chest pain, and fatigue.8 The Swine Flu/H1N1 Charade In 2009, alarms were sounded that we would be facing a pandemic of epic proportions from the Swine Flu and there might not be time to make enough vaccine to protect us all. Miraculously, many Americans actually remembered the Swine Flu pandemic of 1976 in which far more people were injured from the vaccine than from the disease -- which turned out to be a non-event -- and did not jump on the opportunity to save themselves from certain death with the 2009 Swine Flu vaccine. As predicted by reasonable folks, the Swine Flu epidemic of 2009 was also a non-event. But the Swine Flu vaccine didn’t go away. The manufacturers were geared up for production, and so the H1N1 virus has become part of the annual flu shot. A confidential letter in August 2009, sent to the UK government by senior neurologists at the Health Protection Agency was leaked to the British tabloid, The Mail, warning that the H1N1 vaccine was likely to trigger Guillain-Barre Syndrome because of its similarity to the 1976 Swine Flu vaccine.9 At that time, 80,000 people came down with Guillain-Barre Syndrome and only 1 person died of Swine Flu. Since the regular influenza vaccine already carries an increased risk of Guillain-Barre
Syndrome, the addition of H1N1 to the formulation makes this unfortunate occurrence even more likely. The H1N1 vaccine by itself has a host of adverse effects, and was specifically banned in Finland for causing narcolepsy.9 Is the flu shot effective? Package inserts of all flu vaccines start off with the same disclaimer: the indication for vaccinating against influenza disease “is based on the immune response elicited by the vaccine; there have been no controlled clinical studies demonstrating a decrease in influenza disease after vaccination.”10 This means that since all they have tested for is an antibody response, they have no way to know if the vaccine will prevent disease – they admit that they don’t know if the flu vaccine is effective! Yet the CDC recommends that every American over the age of 6 months get the flu vaccine every year for an entire lifetime. Why? The CDC states that the vaccine is most effective in healthy adults, but how do they know that these same healthy adults wouldn’t have avoided the flu anyway, even without the vaccine? No one has yet had the courage to undertake a study comparing vaccinated healthy adults versus unvaccinated healthy adults to assess if there are differences in rates of getting the flu. If a healthy adult is unlikely to get the flu without getting a vaccine, why on
earth get the vaccine? And how can this so-called science be used as proof of vaccine effectiveness? According to many meta-analyses of the influenza vaccine by the unbiased Cochrane Collaboration based in Italy, there is no evidence from many systematic reviews of the scientific literature that inactivated influenza vaccines have any effect. Although
studies are plentiful, they are generally of poor quality and lack convincing evidence supporting the conjecture that vaccination minimizes transmission of disease.11 A 2008 study published in The Lancet contested the accepted wisdom that influenza vaccination programs for the elderly reduce hospital admissions for pneumonia. It found that in a US managed-care population of older adults over three seasons, the effect of influenza vaccination was “strikingly lower” than previous estimates.
Ultimately, although vaccination programs are directed against influenza, in reality it is influenza-like illnesses that cause most of the malaise referred to as flu. Because these illnesses are not caused by the influenza viruses found in the annual vaccine, the vaccine cannot possibly prevent such disease. According to the CDC’s own Mortality and Morbidity Weekly Report (MMWR), “Many people vaccinated with the flu vaccine can still get 4-6 episodes of an influenza-like illness during the flu season.” 13 So if the flu shot poses potentially serious health risks, contains mercury, has varying doses of flu virus and mercury if it comes from a multi dose vial, weakens the immune system, and doesn’t protect against the flu – what would be the reason to actually subject oneself or one’s children to this vaccine?
1. Are US
Flu Death Figures More PR Than Science? British Medical Journal 2005; 331; 1412 (10 December).
2. Medimmune, Flumist package insert, http://www.medimmune.com/pdf/products/flumist_pi.pdf, accessed October 7, 2011. 3. Methylmercury, http://www.epa.gov/iris/subst/0073.htm, accessed October 10, 2011 4. Fluvirin package insert, http://www.fda.gov/downloads/BiologicsBloodVaccines/Vaccines/ApprovedProducts/U CM123694.pdf, accessed October 7, 2011, Fluzone package insert, http://www.fda.gov/downloads/biologicsbloodvaccines/.../ucm195479.pdf., accessed October 7, 2011. 5. Corduroy A, Side Effects Worse Than the Disease, The Sydney Morning Herald, September 18, 2010. 6. Grimaldi-Bensouda L, Guillain-Barre syndrome, influenzalike illnesses, and influenza vaccination during seasons with and without circulating A/H1N1 viruses, Am J Epidemiol. 2011 Aug 1;174(3):326-35. Epub 2011 Jun 7 7. Geier M, Influenza vaccination and Guillain Barre syndrome, Journal of Clinical Immunology; 107 (2003) 116–121 8. VAERS, Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, http://www.vaers.hhs.gov/index, accessed October 7, 2011. 9. Macfarlane J, Swine Flu Jab Link to Killer Nerve Disease: Leaked Letter Reveals Concern of Neurologists over 25 Deaths in America, Mail Online, 15 August 2009. 10. Finland Vows Care For Narcolepsy Kids, Helsinki Times, 13 October 2011. 11. Medimmune, Flumist package insert, http://www.medimmune.com/pdf/products/flumist_pi.pdf, accessed October 7, 2011, Fluvirin package insert, http://www.fda.gov/downloads/BiologicsBloodVaccines/Vaccines/ApprovedProducts/U CM123694.pdf, accessed October 7, 2011, Fluzone package insert, http://www.fda.gov/downloads/biologicsbloodvaccines/.../ucm195479.pdf., accessed October 7, 2011. 12. Jefferson T, Influenza Vaccination: Policy Versus Evidence, British Medical
Journal; Vol 33, 24 October 2006. 13. Jackson M, Influenza vaccination and risk of community-acquired pneumonia in immunocompetent elderly people: a population-based, nested case-control study The Lancet, Volume 372, Issue 9636, Pages 398 - 405, 2 August 2008 14. Notice to Readers: Considerations for Distinguishing Influenza-Like Illness from Inhalational Anthrax, MMWR Nov. 9, 2001; 5044; 984-6, http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5044a5.htm, accessed October 12, 2011.
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