excerpt from The Vaccine Guide
Everyone knows about the flu and the flu vaccine. What people do not know is that flu vaccines are nearly useless in preventing flu, they will cause the flu, and they often result in nervous system damage that can take years for the body to repair. Other nations chuckle at Americans’ infatuation with the flu vaccine. The joke would indeed be funny, if it weren’t for the damaging effects caused by the vaccine.
The history of the flu vaccine reads like one stumbling fiasco after another. Take an example. Ever wonder how the particular viruses are chosen for next year’s vaccine? The answer could be drawn from a 1930s film noir of Shanghai villainy. Scientists kill migrating ducks in Asia, culture the viruses and put those in next year’s vaccine, because they have seen an association between bird and pig viruses and the following year’s human flu epidemics. Perhaps this desperate guesswork is responsible for so many years when the flu vaccine’s viruses had nothing in common with circulating viruses. According to a CDC report of the 1994-1995 flu season, 87 percent of type A influenza virus samples were not similar to the year’s vaccine, and 76 percent of type B virus were not similar to the virus in that year’s vaccine. During the 1992-1993 season, 84 percent of samples for the predominant type A virus were not similar to the virus in the vaccine.
Here is a list of the most common side effects of the flu vaccine as stated by the CDC – fever, fatigue, muscle aches, and headache. Sound familiar?
The primary targeted population for flu vaccine is the elderly, yet the vaccine is notoriously ineffective in preventing disease in that population. According to the CDC, the effectiveness of flu vaccine in preventing illness among elderly persons residing in nursing homes is 30-40 percent (CDC, 2001b). Other studies have shown an even lower efficacy of 0-36 percent (averaging 21 percent). The CDC proudly notes that for those elderly persons living outside of nursing homes, flu vaccine is 30-70 percent effective in preventing hospitalization for pneumonia and influenza. Yet the Department of Human and Health Services found that, with or without a flu shot, pneumonia and influenza hospitalization rates for the elderly are less than one percent during the influenza season. Regardless of vaccination status, 99 percent of the elderly recover from the flu without being hospitalized. The ineffectiveness of flu shots in the elderly led the CDC in 2000 to begin recommending the shots for all persons age 50 years and older. The rationale being that one third of Americans have a risk factor or chronic disease that puts them at risk of increased morbidity from the flu.
Annual flu vaccination is recommended for those individuals with asthma and other chronic respiratory and cardiovascular disorders. However, those people with impaired immune systems are the most likely to suffer adverse autoimmune reactions.
Children are the next frontier for the lucrative flu vaccine campaign. Vaccination is currently recommended for children over six months of age with high-risk medical conditions, but is not recommended for healthy children. Experts in the field suggest that parents of children age six months to two years “be informed that their children are at risk for serious complications of influenza, and allowed to make individual informed decisions regarding influenza immunization for their children” (Neuzil et al., 2001). This statement was made by Marie Griffin (and others), the same author who was implicated in the flawed study that supposedly exonerated the pertussis vaccine of nervous system damage. She is also a paid consultant to one of the world’s largest vaccine manufacturers, Burroughs Wellcome. The children’s market is the next big hope for vaccine campaigners. A 1998 working group began investigations to not only support, but also to “recommend” flu vaccine for young children.
The next big change in flu vaccines will be the introduction of a live intranasal flu vaccine, a dose that is actually sprayed into the nose. This vaccine has already been tested on young children. Live intranasal vaccine was found 93 percent effective in preventing influenza in children age one to six years old (Belshe et al., 1998). Unanswered questions about the live vaccine include the possibility of transmitting other, more dangerous viruses through the vaccine, the possibility of enhanced replication of the attenuated virus in individuals with compromised immune systems, and the possibility of bacterial superinfection if the replicating live virus disrupts nasal membranes (Subbarao, 2000). This vaccine waits in the wings for its chance as the next big gun in the vaccine arsenal aimed at our children.
In 1976 the flu vaccine was dealt a near fatal blow when reports appeared that the vaccine caused Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS), an autoimmune nervous system reaction characterized by unstable gait, loss of sensation, and loss of muscle control. A mass vaccination program was mounted that year by the US Government, and 45 million Americans received the swine flu vaccine. Statistical studies have confirmed a causal relationship between the vaccine and GBS. During that year the rate of GBS in Ohio was 13.3 per 1,000,000 in vaccine recipients compared to 2.6 per 1,000,000 in nonrecipients (Marks & Halpin, 1980). A follow-up study also showed a significantly increased incidence of GBS during the first 6 weeks following receipt of the vaccine in patients residing in two other states. The rate of GBS was 8.6 per million vaccinees in Michigan and 9.7 per million vaccinees in Minnesota (Safranek et al., 1991). This episode, which became known as the swine flu catastrophe, left doctors extremely reluctant to administer flu vaccine, and shattered the public trust in the flu vaccine campaign.
The association between GBS and flu shots was not unique to the swine flu. Earlier reports had also summarized cases of nervous system disorders occurring soon after the flu vaccine (Flewett & Hoult, 1958; Horner, 1958). More recently, an increased risk for GBS occurring in patients during the six weeks following the flu vaccine was revealed in the 1992-1993 and the 1993-1994 flu seasons (Lasky et al., 1998).
One of the most bizarre twists on the flu vaccine saga is the CDC recommendation of 2001 that all pregnant women receive the vaccine in their second or third trimester. This recommendation even has doctors confused, since the vaccine remains a category C drug (unknown risk for pregnancy). No adequate studies have been conducted to monitor safety of the vaccine for mother and fetus. The only studies of adverse effects in pregnancy were conducted in the 1970s (Heinonen et al., 1973; Sumaya & Gibbs, 1979). Some flu vaccines still contain mercury as a preservative, despite a 1998 FDA instruction to remove mercury from all drugs. According to the CDC, two groups are most vulnerable to methylmercury¾the fetus and children ages 14 and younger. An article published in the American Journal of Epidemiology in 1999 stated, “the greatest susceptibility to methylmercury neurotoxicity occurs during late gestation” (Grandjean et al., 1999). How did CDC committee members determine that flu vaccines were safe for pregnant women? They did not. The committee, despite its own recommendation, states, “additional data are needed to confirm the safety of vaccination during pregnancy” (CDC, 2001b).
·Flu vaccine manufacturers are notoriously inaccurate at predicting the appropriate viruses to use in an individual year’s vaccine, rendering the vaccine ineffective.
·Flu vaccine is relatively ineffective in those patients most at risk of flu complications.
·The vaccine has caused GBS in recipients during several different flu seasons.
·Those most at risk of flu complications probably share a higher risk of adverse reactions to the flu vaccine as well.
A Personal Strategy
Avoid the flu vaccine. Risks are not worth the slim chance of vaccine effectiveness.