Are Flu Vaccines Safe and Effective?

 

Have you been seeing signs everywhere telling you to get your flu shot? And getting pressured to get your kids vaccinated? It’s the time of year that flu vaccine marketing is in full swing.

But is the flu vaccine an effective way to prevent the flu? And is it safe?

There is no reliable science that confirms flu vaccines are safe. And they are certainly not very effective.

In previous years, the Cochrane Collaboration published rigorous reviews of the studies on effectiveness of the flu vaccine. Here’s what they found:

  • In children under the age of two, the efficacy of the vaccine was similar to placebo. In other words, not effective at all.
  • In children age six or older, 28 kids would need to be vaccinated to prevent one case of influenza.
  • In adults – 71 people would need vaccination to prevent one case of influenza. They also say the vaccine shows no significant effect on working days lost or hospitalization.
  • Protection for pregnant women is uncertain or limited, and the protective effect on their newborns is not statistically significant.

What does the CDC say? Last season the CDC estimated that the flu vaccine was 43% effective against the virus that caused most influenza infections. During the 2014-15 season, effectiveness was just 19%, according to the CDC. This year the CDC says their cell-based flu vaccine, made by growing viruses in animal cells rather than in eggs, “has the potential to offer better protection”. It’s a big guess as to what that means.

Did you know there are many other viruses circulating besides influenza viruses that cause the same exact symptoms as flu? There are over 200 viruses that can cause an influenza-like illness. Most “flu cases” that show up in hospitals and doctors’ offices are not even influenza. A flu shot that targets only influenza is not likely to prevent these illnesses.

The goal of public health is to induce people to get the flu shot whether it’s effective or not. They say, “It’s not perfect, but it’s the best we have.”

You might sort of agree with that line of thinking if the vaccine was safe. But there are adverse effects. You can find a lot of reports documenting health damage from flu shots, but let’s go directly to the manufacturer’s package insert.

You might want to read through the package insert, including the Warnings and Precautions and the Post Marketing Experience before deciding if it’s worth the risk to get a vaccine that is not very effective.

Here is the package insert for Afluria Quadrivalent, one of the vaccines recommended by the CDC for this flu season:

https://www.fda.gov/downloads/BiologicsBloodVaccines/Vaccines/ApprovedProducts/UCM518295.pdf

Note that the multi-dose vaccine contains 24.5 mcg of mercury per dose. That is a lot of mercury, considering that NO amount of mercury is safe, especially injected into a child’s developing body (and pregnant women)! Single dose preparations without mercury may be available, but you’ll need to specifically request it and make certain that is what you’re getting.

Note the part about the safety clinical trial – where instead of using a placebo, they compared the vaccine against other flu vaccines. The gold standard in safety research is to compare the drug or vaccine against an inert placebo. Other flu vaccines are nowhere close to being a placebo.

Unfortunately, when it comes to vaccines, you can rarely get the full story from your doctor or the media. You have to do your own research.

One way to begin your research is to read the package inserts of the vaccines you’re being told to get. You can find them here:

https://www.fda.gov/BiologicsBloodVaccines/Vaccines/ApprovedProducts/ucm093833.htm

To find out what ingredients are in vaccines and to calculate ingredient exposures for multiple vaccines:

https://vaxcalc.org

What’s a safer and more effective way to prevent illness? A strong, healthy immune system.

A child with a strong immune system has a good chance of staying healthy in spite of exposure to colds, flu, and other viruses. And if they do get sick, they can recover faster.

You can begin now to learn how to boost the immune system. Read about:

How to Boost Your Child’s Immune System: What you need to know to strengthen your child’s health and prevent illness

 

Sources:

http://www.cochrane.org/CD004879/ARI_vaccines-preventing-influenza-healthy-children

http://www.cochrane.org/CD001269/ARI_vaccines-to-prevent-influenza-in-healthy-adults

 

 

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