Annual Flu Article

The hard sell for flu shots has reached a new level this year. One can’t walk into a pharmacy or even a big department store without being solicited to get one. That’s a shame. Imagine if that type of advertizing muscle was spent on reminding people to eat well, get appropriate exercise and take immune enhancing nutritional supplements instead. Imagine even further if those dollars were spent on educating people about the specifics of eating well – like avoiding sugar, artificial additives, excess carbohydrates, etc – and what nutritional supplements might be most appropriate to avoid the flu – like Vitamin D, fish oils, and good quality antioxidants.

Make no mistake about it, flu shots are at best not particularly effective and at worst down right dangerous. A recent article published in The Lancet, which bills itself as ‘the world’s leading general medical journal’ and is a known bastion of conventional medical opinion, illustrated how relatively negligible the effect of these shots really is.

The study referred to in the Lancet article was a meta-analysis of 28 earlier studies on the efficacy of flu vaccines from the 1960’s until this year. The control group, that is, those that were not vaccinated, consisted of a little over 13,000 people. Of these, 357 people, or 2.73% of the total number contracted the flu.

Amongst those vaccinated, 1.18% got the flu. So, the difference is about 1.5% - meaning the vaccine was beneficial for between 1 to 2 person per hundred. Is that worth all the resources directed at getting people to get a flu shot?

Especially in light of the fact that these shots are not without side-effects I would say it isn’t anymore worthwhile than spending millions of dollars on getting men to buy the latest razor blade. (How many blades are they up to now? I stopped counting at 3.) Somebody is benefiting, but it certainly isn’t the public good.

Particularly galling about the result of this meta analysis is the way in which these numbers were used to promote a distorted picture about the efficacy of flu vaccines in general. Because 1.18 people in 100 got the flu if they were vaccinated and 2.73 got it if they weren’t, the numbers manipulators reasoned that since 1.18 divided by 2.73 equals 43, meaning 43%, then the vaccine was 57% effective. Round that up to 60, and voila, you’ve got the claim that flu vaccines are 60% effective.

It’s not really lying, but it certainly is messing with people’s heads. The real issue is do you want to risk the downside of a vaccine to perhaps be that 1 ½ person in a 100 who won’t get the flu because of it?

Now what about those side-effects? In my personal clinical experience, a number of patients have come down with the flu soon after getting the shot. But that may be the least worrisome problem.

Dr. Hugh Fudenberg, MD, speaking at a conference on the safety of vaccinations, citing a study conducted from 1970 to 1980, stated that, “If an individual has had 5 consecutive flu shots between 1970-1980 his/her chance of developing Alzheimer’s Disease is 10 times greater than if they had 1, 2, or no shots.”1 When asked to clarify these comments, Fudenberg explained that it is due to the mercury, more specifically, the mercury based preservative thimerosal, as well as aluminum that is in the vaccine.

That statement was made nearly 15 years ago and there has been a lot of discussion and publicity about the damaging effects of thimerosal since then – but flu shots are still being made with it and aluminum. And Dr. Fudenberg still stands by his statement, having subsequently published a number of articles on the topic.

As I have written about many times over the years, there are numerous effective strategies to prevent the flu as well as treating it effectively if it does arise. The key point is that the flu, like any disease really, is a reflection of our internal state of health. We ‘catch’ it because we are in a condition to be caught. Appropriate lifestyle choices concerning exercise, diet and work habits will go a long way to protect us – a much longer way than a needle jab.

There is a long list of nutritional supplements like the aforementioned fish oils and Vitamin D that act preventatively. In addition, one might consider Vitamins C and A, Zinc, probiotics, Echinacea, olive leaf extract, oregano oil, to name just a few.

There are also very effective homeopathic remedies. Some of the most commonly used are Belladonna, Bryonia, Eupatorium perfoliatum, Ferrum phosphorica, Gelsemium, Mercury, and Oscillococcinum. But that is a incomplete and somewhat arbitrary list because the appropriate remedy depends on the symptoms that arise. Suffice it to say there is no dearth of treatment, prophylactic and otherwise, that is free of side-effects for the flu.

1. NVIC International Conference, Arlington, VA 1997.