The Flu Shot Debate


Every year as flu season approaches (flu season is typically October-May), we are flooded with directives to get our flu shot.  We see signs at our doctor’s offices, pharmacies, on the news, from schools and sometimes employers.  It has become a very accessible, cheap vaccine to get with many pharmacies offering it at a discounted rate and many employers setting up mobile health units to administer the vaccine.

Controversy over getting the vaccine has intensified in recent years.  My personal stance is that unless you are part of a high-risk health group with a compromised immune system, you should not expose yourself to the ingredients of the vaccine which is a concoction of certain strains (remember this — we’ll come back to it!) of the virus as well as preservatives and antibiotics in the vaccine.  Yeah, they don’t advertise those ingredients on the flyers to “come in and get your flu shot!”

From the Center for Disease Control (CDC) website:

Type of Ingredient Examples Purpose
Preservatives Thimerosal (only in multi-dose vials of flu vaccine)* To prevent contamination
Adjuvants Aluminum salts To help stimulate the body’s response to the antigens
Stabilizers Sugars, gelatin To keep the vaccine potent during transportation and storage
Residual cell culture materials Egg protein To grow enough of the virus or bacteria to make the vaccine
Residual inactivating ingredients Formaldehyde To kill viruses or inactivate toxins during the manufacturing process
Residual antibiotics Neomycin To prevent contamination by bacteria during the vaccine manufacturing process

Your Body’s Natural Immunity!

Your body’s immune system is an amazing system if you let it be, and do not hinder its optimal functioning.  Let me explain the basic biology behind immunity.

What are antibodies? They are proteins within our immune system that attack viruses and bacteria that invade our system.  Sometimes they are referred to as immunoglobulins.  When we become sick, our bodies produce what are called “Memory B Cells,” which are formed and stored in our cells after we are infected with an invading germ and fight it off, making our immune system better able to fight it next time it tries to get us down!  This is called adaptive immunity.

Now, lets talk about how antibiotics affect the formation of these natural antibodies I’ve just explained.  Antibodies are formed by our body, naturally, where antibiotics are synthetic, chemical antibodies we ingest or take intravenously.  The difference in the two is their chemical structure (we will get into physics another day, perhaps).  What you must understand is that if you constantly fill your body with these chemical antibodies, as opposed to natural antibodies that your body produces, your natural immune system will not be as strong, and will depend on the antibiotics.

I completely understand and agree that antibiotics have their place.  They are absolutely necessary for certain illnesses.  I am not in any way saying they should never be taken.  I am saying we should not run to the doctor and get an antibiotic prescribed every time we have a runny nose.  When we become dependent on antibiotics, they also become less effective each time we take them.

Think about generators, auxiliary heat on your furnace, and battery backups on computers.  They are there to kick on when the primary system fails, right? What if they were always there to supplement the primary system, never allowing it to fail and need backup? The primary systems wouldn’t have to work as hard for themselves.  Those systems can each be replaced if a fuse blows, but your immune system cannot be replaced.

It is very important that we keep our immune system strong and not dependent on antibiotics and medications except when absolutely necessary.  That way, when we do get seriously ill and need that backup, our body is not immune to it due to overexposure.

From WebMD:

Can the Vaccine Give me the Flu?  No. The viruses in the flu shot are dead. Even the nasal spray, which has a weak version of the flu virus, cannot give you the flu.

What Are the Possible Side Effects?

Most people have no problems from the vaccine.  If you get the flu shot, you might have a mild fever and feel tired or achy after you get vaccinated. Some people also have soreness, redness, or swelling where they got their shot. These problems aren’t serious and don’t last long.

Serious side effects are rare. If they do happen, it’s within a few minutes to a few hours after you get the shot. Call your doctor right away if you have trouble breathing, hives, feel weak or dizzy, or have a fast heartbeat afterward.

If you get the nasal spray, you might have side effects like a runny nose, headache, cough, and sore throat. These are milder and shorter than the flu.

Should I Talk to My Doctor Before I get Vaccinated?

Some people should make sure it’s OK to take the vaccine. Ask your doctor first if:

  • You’ve had an allergic reaction to a flu shot in the past.
  • You’ve had Guillain-Barre syndrome that happened after you got the flu vaccine. That’s a disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks part of the nervous system.
  • You’re very ill. If you have a mild illness, it’s OK to get vaccinated. Otherwise, talk to your doctor first.

They say it does not give you the flu (it just injects a “weak version of the flu”), so WHY the potentially serious side effects if the vaccine is so safe? Why would your Why not just take your chances and save your groggy day for the actual flu? Oh, right, because these side effects are generally milder and shorter in duration.

Let’s revisit what I said to remember earlier about certain strains being vaccinated against.  I have witnessed so many people get the flu shot, and then get the flu a month or so later when all their co-workers or family members get it.  Hmm, how could that be, since they were vaccinated? Because about about six months prior to flu season, scientists identify the strains they believe will be circulating most widely in the next year (generally two A’s and one B) and inject them into fertilized hen eggs. After the virus multiplies in the eggs, it is harvested, and then weakened for use in live viruses, or inactivated with a chemical such as formaldehyde for injectable killed-virus vaccines.  So, again, your taking a serious gamble with your health here, as the scientists developing the vaccine truly do not have any clue what strain may be circulating this season.

Please, if you decide to get the flu shot, at least make sure to ask your healthcare provider what might be hiding in your flu shot this year.  They should be honest and explain the following:

  •  Thimerosal is a mercury-based preservative that was removed from other vaccines used in children in 2001.
  •  Formaldehyde is classified as a human carcinogen by the Department of Health and Human Services. One version of the flu shot used in the United States uses formaldehyde to inactivate the influenza virus in the vaccine-manufacturing process, after which the formaldehyde is purified out, but trace amounts may remain.

Tips to avoid the flu and strengthen your immune system

  • Avoid close contact with sick people whenever possible.
  • When you are ill, stay home from work, school and errands in consideration for others. Urge your friends, family and coworkers to do the same.
  • During flu season, wash your hands frequently to protect yourself and others from germs.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.
  • Keep your hands away from your face. Germs routinely spread when a person touches something contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.
  • Stick to a nutrient-dense, toxin-free diet, and avoid foods that tend to weaken the immune system, such as sugar, refined grains, industrial vegetable oils, and processed and refined foods.
  • Support your immune system by getting plenty of sleep and avoiding chronic stress. Constant anxiety at work or in your relationships suppresses the immune system, opening the door to flu.
  • Get plenty of sunshine and supplemental vitamin D. High levels of vitamin D have long been linked to lower rates of flu.
  • Get at least 20 minutes of exercise a day to prime the immune system.
  • Avoid antibiotics and antibacterial cleansers and sanitizers whenever you can. They can weaken your natural defenses and entice your “immunity muscles” to atrophy. By steering clear of chemical antibacterial agents as much as practical, you’ll encourage your body’s immune system to get smarter and harder-working over time. As a result, it will stand a better chance of effectively vanquishing infections and diseases of all kinds, including influenza.

I’m not going to link them all here, but you can google “deaths from flu shot” and find several very disturbing stories of otherwise healthy individuals falling ill an dying after getting their flu shot.

As I always suggest, please, do your own research and make informed decisions.  As with everything, this very controversial issue depends largely on your overall health, immune system, and your own unique body.

Please check out my other articles and the rest of my website for information on maintaining optimal health and wellness – naturally.

Sources:  Center for Disease Control, WebMD