Every year when flu season rolls around, you see the signs go up advertising the seasonal flu vaccine and how important it is to get it. In response, drugstores, doctor’s offices and supermarkets ramp up their efforts to meet the growing demand for flu shots. Of course, no one wants the flu, but are we placing our health on the line when we get the flu vaccine? Some experts believe we may be. In fact, there’s growing evidence that the benefits of the influenza vaccine may be overstated and the risks underplayed.
At least one Johns Hopkins scientist, Peter Doshi, Ph.D., actively questions the safety and effectiveness of the seasonal influenza vaccine. Based on his research, Dr. Doshi believes the benefits of the influenza vaccine have been overstated. Even the CDC admits that the seasonal influenza vaccine has its limitations. The degree to which it’s effective depends on how good of a match the vaccine is for the strain of influenza virus that’s circulating during a given year. Some years, it’s possible for the vaccine to be a complete “miss” and offer no protection against the current influenza strains causing illness.
The effects of vaccines vary from individual to individual. People who are older or in poor health as well as young children may not be able to mount an immune response to the vaccine and may be unprotected even after being vaccinated. Children under the age of 5 are the least likely to gain significant protection from an influenza vaccine due to the immaturity of their immune system. Plus, the seasonal influenza vaccine is only effective against certain strains of influenza virus and offers no protection against other viruses that cause flu-like symptoms.
As Dr. Doshi points out, there’s no evidence that getting the seasonal flu vaccine protects against the complications of influenza. Every year hundreds of people, usually the very young and the elderly, experience complications from influenza that require hospitalization. Some don’t survive. Individuals who get the influenza vaccine may have a false sense of security that they’re protected from influenza, and not take precautions like avoiding sick people, hand washing etc.
Is the Seasonal Influenza Vaccine Safe?
When you see advertisements for the seasonal influenza vaccine, they don’t point out the potential risks of getting it. An Australian study showed 1 out of 110 kids under the age of 5 experienced seizures after being vaccinated for the H1N1 influenza virus. As the CDC points out, “there is a very remote chance of a vaccine causing a serious injury or death.” Remote chance of death? That’s enough to raise some concerns.
Despite popular belief that the influenza vaccine can “cause” the flu, this isn’t the case. On the other hand, some people experience side effects related to the vaccine that mimic some of the symptoms of the flu including fever, headache and muscle aches. Needless to say, most people don’t enjoy the needlestick or the sore arm they experience the day after a vaccine. The influenza vaccine is typically painful since it goes into the muscle.
Are There Better Alternatives?
With the effectiveness of influenza vaccines being called into question and the potential for risks and side effects, it may be time to question whether the influenza vaccine is for everyone. Taking other precautions like hand washing and taking steps to maintain a healthy immune system through diet and supplements may offer protective benefits without the potential risks of getting a vaccine.
There are many supplements that help increase the strength of the immune system, however, only those that will strengthen the cellular immune system are effective against viruses. The body must have the ability to recognize and identify the different types of viruses and bacteria utilizing the CD4 or helper lymphocytes so they can relay that information to the CD8 or killer lymphocytes in order to eliminate them and make us well.
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-By Alternative Health Concepts
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Vaccine Effectiveness – How Well Does the Flu Vaccine Work?”
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Possible Side-effects from Vaccines”
NewsMaxHealth.com. “John Hopkins Scientist Reveals Shocking Report on Flu Vaccines”
Source: Alternative Health Concepts