Influenza Vaccine and Misinformation

Influenza Vaccine

Each year the influenza vaccine is a source of many questions and debates which can result from misinformation. Despite being available for over 50 years people still struggle with the decision of whether or not to get one.

Individuals who avoid getting the flu each year, but who have gotten the vaccine are likely to attribute their good fortune to the shot. Those who get the shot and wind up getting the flu anyway, doubt the effectiveness of the vaccine. Individuals who get the vaccine and become ill because of it are left somewhere in between wondering if getting the flu may or may not have been worse than the reaction. People are unlikely to get a deadly reaction to the vaccine, but people are also highly unlikely to die from the flu. Those who have experienced a substantial reaction to the shot are quite adamant that the annual push to get the influenza vaccine is questionable.

There are many things to take into account when joining the debate over influenza vaccines, but the major problem is that plenty of evidence used in these debates is somewhat anecdotal. Numbers provided by the CDC are very misleading and it is unethical to conduct a study on people which can cause death and permanent disability. In order to determine if vaccines are worth the risk large groups of people would have to be studied, then the study would be replicated effectively, and control groups be properly selected.

In the event enough people volunteered for a potentially deadly study it would be extremely costly. Instead of attempting to do that, researchers have to try to analyze numbers that are already obtained about how many people get sick with the flu and how many get the vaccine and stay healthy.

There are well-educated and well-intentioned scientists and medical professionals who stand on both sides of this issue. However, again much of the data is inaccurate because it is incomplete. Records are not kept consistently. To offer anyone truly solid advice on the flu vaccine all variables would have to be controlled, but it is impossible when people cannot be kept in enclosures or guaranteed to not have complicating and co-morbid illnesses.

While this article will not instruct anyone as to whether or not to get the vaccine, it may offer some information that will aid in making an educated decision.

When it boils down to numbers most people realize that statistics can be skewed to support any position. This can be done intentionally as well as inadvertently. Although any good scientist or statistician will do their best to collect data, they are still human and prone to bias and occasional error.

After a study is completed wide publication of findings often falls on the shoulders of people who have vested interests (as does the funding of the original research that is done).

People who question the vaccine highly are often of a naturalist perspective while those who promote it are frequently of a more medical one. It can be useful to consider the opinions of those who fall closer to the middle of the health continuum.

Chiropractors are practitioners of a treatment approach that has an Eastern and Western basis. Chiropractors use meridian theories from Oriental medicine to provide relief from a long list of health problems. Medical doctors in the United States typically refer patients to chiropractors for spinal, back and neck, problems. Chiropractic adjustments have been shown to be of great aid in many other areas of health.

Chiropractors are increasingly utilized in the United States and have become more widely accepted by strictly Western medical doctors. Physicians are continuing to refer patients to chiropractors and more and more insurance companies are covering chiropractic services. In other words, they are trusted professionals.

Chiropractic has a solid research backing and its’ growing popularity is likely helping that. So what do chiropractors think about the influenza vaccine?

It can be difficult to find this out quickly since they are often busy taking care of clients and do not provide flu shots from their offices. However, numerous publications by them critique the influenza vaccine vehemently.

Part of the vaccine information that chiropractors seem privy to is about severe reactions and illnesses that can result from getting the vaccine along with efficacy. This information is not widely publicized.

One wellness book published by a chiropractor states that “The U.S. Federal Government’s National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP) has paid out over $834 million to parents of vaccine-injured children and families of children who have died.” This is only children and only reasonably applies to the ages at which children are on regular vaccine schedules. Injuries and deaths to children from flu vaccines only represent a part of this number.

Nearly half of vaccine injury cases are never resolved, as it is very hard to tie some problems directly to vaccines according to CDC standards. Just as immunity is not gained instantaneously from vaccines, though typically within two weeks, complications resulting from them can take time to develop with the exception of severe allergic responses. Given this, the numbers the CDC discloses as injuries or deaths from vaccines are falsely low. Regardless of a person’s decision to obtain or avoid the influenza vaccine it is important to clear up some misinformation that exists.

The number of people who will die from the flu is also very low. It is easy to still get the flu even having gotten the vaccine. Is it better to risk dying from just one thing, especially when it is so unlikely to begin with, than to complicate matters in healthy individuals?

The numbers are hard to interpret because even fewer people die from strictly the flu. It is most deadly to people who have altered immune function or have pre-existing health problems. This is a gap in the statistics that is significant, and without a study, in which inhumane and unethical actions are taken, will continue to exist.

Deaths from pneumonia that developed secondary to the flu still get attributed to the flu. However, other factors are involved in getting pneumonia and steps can be taken to prevent this. Measures can easily be taken to help prevent both the flu and pneumonia, other than just the available vaccines. These measures can also support the immunity gained from vaccines for those who get them.

Individuals with lung disorders are much more likely to get severely ill from the flu and people over the age of 65 (without lung disorders) are 16 times more likely to die from the flu than any other age group. This information comes straight from the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The CDC advises pregnant women to get the vaccine, but how much immunity passes to the fetus is unknown and the immunity is short-lived, which is part of why flu vaccines are given annually. Each year the shot may contain different subtypes of the flu virus, 306 have been identified. If a mother effectively passes immunity to the fetus, it likely wears off before the child is even one year old and the child may not even be outside of the womb during a single flu season. It is disconcerting that the vaccines are given to women who are pregnant for said reasons and when they are bombarded with advice on avoiding exposure to toxins. Formaldehyde, aluminum, and Thimerosal (mercury) are three ingredients in flu vaccines which are well-established as being carcinogenic, and the latter two neurotoxic.

When a pregnant woman asked a reputable OB/GYN about whether or not to get the flu vaccine the doctor, who wishes to remain anonymous said, “The CDC says that I should tell you to get it, but I don’t think it is necessary.” Another doctor when prompted with the question, “Do you recommend for or against getting the flu vaccine?” replied, “I never recommend against it, what I prefer to say is that I don’t get them, the two ladies who work for me do not get them and none of us have gotten the flu in over 5 years.” He adds, “If you are really worried about getting the flu or have other serious health problems you should get it, but then you need to get it every year.”

The flu vaccine has a limited effect on immunity and if a person gets the vaccine one year and not the next but contracts a strain for which they had previously been inoculated their illness will be more severe. Naturally acquired immunity on the other hand lasts a lifetime and therefore does not pose this problem.

The only recommendation from either of these doctors was to take precautions such as washing hands, avoiding contact with those who are ill, and most importantly optimizing natural immune defenses. Yet, as doctors and staff, they have high contact with people who have the flu and still manage to remain healthy.

Flu symptoms include fever, chills, sore muscles, and cough. Mild reactions to flu vaccines include headache, fatigue, muscle pain, fever, runny nose, vomiting, sore throat, cough, and wheezing. These reactions occur in 30% of people who receive the vaccine. Severe cases such as anaphylactic shock or autoimmune disorders are rare, but debilitating and potentially deadly.

Reactions like Guillain-Barre syndrome have occurred as a result of flu vaccines though the CDC states it has not been proven to result from the vaccine since 1976, in which it increased by 1 in 100,000 cases. The CDC said that the specific reason for the increase that year remains unknown. That was the finding of an extensive scientific review conducted by the Institute of Medicine not conducted until 2003.

In 2011, according to the CDC the influenza vaccine killed 51 people, created 232 life-threatening events, resulted in 116 permanent disabilities, and over 700 hospitalizations. In that year it also caused 109 prolonged hospitalizations and over 4,000 emergency room visits. Well over 6,000 reports described as “not serious” were also made to the CDC. The National Vaccine Information Center reports that less than one percent of adverse reactions to the vaccine are ever even documented.

Numbers of people who die from the flu each year have decreased drastically since the vaccine’s approval in the 1950s but the decrease in flu mortality cannot be attributed to just the vaccines. Medical knowledge, interventions, and public health initiatives have all improved greatly in over 50 years as well.

The CDC shares a very selective amount of information with the general public, but warns as many people as possible each year that the flu can cause “death.” The truth is there are many threats in day to day life that are more likely to kill a person than the flu, or the flu vaccine for that matter.

Living makes a person more likely to die, because each day people are surrounded by dangers, but most of them are inconsequential (if looking just at numbers). Risk factors are important and should be taken into consideration before suggesting a person take part in a treatment or prevention measure which is dangerous.

A resident of the U.S. has a 20% chance of dying from heart disease and a 1 in 7 chance of dying from cancer, but this does not warrant putting everyone on heart medications. Doctors are not even taking time to inform patients about cancer prevention, but they often encourage patients to get the annual flu shot.

Approximately 25% of people get an annual flu vaccine. This year any given person has a 1 in 8 chance of getting the flu. So the odds of not getting it to begin with are pretty good. There is a 1 in 345,000 chance that the flu will turn deadly for a single person. To give readers an idea of this scale this is one person out of five football stadiums packed to capacity.

Like medications the influenza vaccines carry deadly risks but when a doctor prescribes a medication a patient gets a print off listing all of the things to watch for, as some adverse reactions can be life threatening. If a person is given a vaccine they are sometimes, not always, given a list of mild side effects that can be expected. Rarely is it made clear all of the severe adverse effects that might occur. This makes it much more difficult for such reactions to be accurately reported and recorded.

Vaccines might help to prevent death in particularly susceptible groups. Children under the age of two and adults over the age of 65 are most likely to suffer from complications of the flu. However, it is not advisable that any child under six months of age be given the influenza vaccine. Vaccines and all ingredients are not dosed differently according to body size or age.

The flu vaccine can be a useful tool in preventing illness, but it can also have costly and dangerous consequences. The decision over whether or not to get the shot should be an educated one rather than led by misinformation.

 

By Lara Stielow

Chiropractic Health Source

Science Based Medicine

Chiropractic Resource Organization

Well Adjusted Babies (Author website)

CDC Vaccine Ingredients

CDC Guillain Barre

Live Science

US News

Vymedic

Fluzone Vaccine Provider

Cancer

National Institute of Health

24 Responses to "Influenza Vaccine and Misinformation"

  1. Toni Barker   January 7, 2014 at 5:10 pm

    I refuse to get my son a flu shot because A) it gives him the flu symptoms worse than the damn flu and B) the flu shot only protects against a certain strain of the virus. It does not protect from every strain therefore your chances of getting the flu after a flu shot are still pretty high. I have never had a flu shot and have never had the flu. I think it’s all bologna
    .

    Reply
  2. Trudy   December 28, 2013 at 9:04 am

    I had a flu shot in 2011. It was required even though I had reactions to 2 shots previously. I work in the office at a well-known medical center/university and do not come in contact with patients unless it is on my way in or out of the building. I suffered from neurological and muscular problems for about 6 months. Then, they went away. Even though I went to some of the best specialists in the US, they did not want to say that the flu shot was the cause of the problem. The day I took the shot, I climbed 5 flights of stairs. Then, I was barely able to walk after this shot within 3-4 days. I was given high dose prednisone and it helped a little, but I couldn’t stay on it because of side effects. I had unbelievable pain 24/7 and was given multiple anti-depression medicine because they thought it would help nerve pain. It did nothing. I had EMG which showed not nerve damage. It was quite painful and would be good to give to terrorists. I was given gabapentin, but it caused more swelling. I wear size 7 and then I had to go buy size 9 because my feet were so swollen. So were my legs arms, and hands. A rheumatologist (had been department chair) gave me 2 steroid shots in the collarbone area because of my shoulder/arm pain. He also prescribed sleeping pills. He said if I slept better, my pain would go away. It was not true. My pain was causing me not to sleep. If I had to live with that pain/swelling forever, I think I might have killed myself. I went to a neurologist and she just didn’t know. I told her about the other 2 shots I had that had affected my arm. It took about 6 months for the numbness/pain to go away and that I thought the same thing would happen this time. She was going to admit me (almost 6 months since the flu shot) to do plasmasensis (sp)
    but then I began to improve. I went back to her office several times and she could not believe the improvement in my symptoms. I had a complete autoimmune workup and there was nothing, by the way. It is 2 years later, and I’ll be damned if I will ever have another flu vaccine!! The flu would have been gone in 2 weeks or less.
    In my opinion, a person should take the flu vaccine if you wish. I think you can build up an immunity to illnesses. Some people will die from complications of the flu, but who can really say that these vaccines help. There are too many variables to consider.

    Reply
  3. Alice Robertson   December 16, 2013 at 10:27 am

    Is there a reason why some comments aren’t being uploaded?

    Reply
  4. Melody RN   December 16, 2013 at 9:56 am

    This article is a great example of why the public needs to get their medical information from legitimate and accurate sources. Talk to your doctors. Read the websites like http://www.flu.gov for up-to-date recommendations. Families Fighting Flu (www.familiesfightflu.org) is another great source. Don’t rely on articles that quote chiropractors for medical advice.

    Reply
  5. Alice Robertson   December 15, 2013 at 8:45 pm

    Cochrane Collaboration already deemed the shot useless. Why is the debate still continuing? http://summaries.cochrane.org/CD001269/vaccines-to-prevent-influenza-in-healthy-adults
    Then this article is a good read: http://www.cochrane.org/news/blog/eminence-vs-evidence

    <<<>>>>

    Reply
  6. W.L. Williams, MD   December 15, 2013 at 1:48 pm

    Not a very well written article. You failed to mention the fact that newer vaccines are soon forthcoming that are not grown on eggs and which may be used regardless of the strain of influenza A or B which might be predicted for a Northern Hemisphere “flu season.”
    Right now (contrary to the article) we have an FDA-approved “potent” vaccine with four times the viral antigen in the syringe — to be used for those whose immune systems are waning, i.e., those over 65 years of age. We know that the elderly cannot muster a good antibody response; hence the new formulation that has been available for the last 4 years or so.
    Do a better job of investigating before writing something like this.
    W.L. Williams, MD

    Reply
  7. David   December 14, 2013 at 3:38 pm

    Informative article. Nice to see a skeptical look at something so many people just “accept.”

    Reply
  8. Robert Parent   December 14, 2013 at 2:47 pm

    Thanks for letting me comment. I am one of those that has an unacceptable reaction to the flu vaccine. I have been using Zinc based (zicam) over-the-counter remedies and havent had a full-blown flu for 4 (now into 5) years. I am curious what your take is on that treatment.

    Reply
  9. randy   December 14, 2013 at 2:25 pm

    Who is this quack and why did Google list this inane drivel in the health section?

    Reply
  10. Daniel Worku   December 14, 2013 at 2:06 pm

    @ Mark Wentlandt:

    Sir,

    IF: you honestly believe that all-caps acronyms, long white robes, official sounding titles, large bank accounts, government stamps of approval, “majority opinions,” uniforms, and “consensus” somehow equals accuracy, morality, and truth….

    THEN: I represent the “ministry of honest perfect genius wealth makers,” please forward all of your financial data to me as a first step to your golden financial future. Also, I may know a couple of places that are recruiting for the fourth reich. Stick unflinchingly to your philosophy and your sure to rise quickly or at least be greatly valued in the next manifestation of Orwellian-style world government 😉

    I’m not defending everything that has ever been published in the attempt to disseminate information to those who seek it, however an honest seeker of information usually does not turn away data and critical review in favor of soothing propaganda 😉

    Okay, that’s all sir. Again, I guess in the attempt to end positively, I must admit you gave your honest sincere response, and that (as any author would say) is priceless.

    Cheerio!

    Reply
  11. Daniel Worku   December 14, 2013 at 1:43 pm

    Lara, keep writing with confidence ma’am. Considering the nation’s Medical Industrial Complex’s idea of preventative medicine can be characterized by the philosophy of “amputate the arm to prevent tennis elbow” lol, you’re likely to encounter bitter feedback when writing critically of man’s profitable system of treatment based medicine, better characterized as disease maintenance.

    I appreciate your work.

    As for those who so bitterly oppose critical discussion of the information surrounding such areas, just smile and take the shot ;-). Why so much resistance to critical review of the subject.

    Keep in mind that when propaganda is the norm, critical thinking/writing can and does appear to be incredibly biased. Anyways, I guess to commend the negative comment writers, they did honestly provide their feedback, and for that one (especially an author) must be grateful.

    Cheerio! 😉

    Reply
    • Robert Parent   December 14, 2013 at 2:59 pm

      …”As for those who so bitterly oppose critical discussion of the information surrounding such areas, just smile and take the shot ;-). Why so much resistance to critical review of the subject….”

      The dental industry conquered cavities….then it was all about gum disease… then bleaching…… They still make a ton of $
      So… keep on smiling…. the Dr.’s have your back.

      Reply
  12. Bill   December 14, 2013 at 1:24 pm

    Thimerosol is not always used in the flu vaccine. This CDC page states that it is not used for the nasal vaccine or for single dose injections. http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/vaccine/thimerosal.htm

    Reply
  13. James Moore   December 14, 2013 at 1:23 pm

    Thank you for this article. Though it does have some bias, I believe you presented the information well. I’m one who believes the flu vaccine has it’s place, but shouldn’t be presented as a one-size-fits-all condom against flu. The CDC is more irresponsible in its own bias than this article is, in my humble opinion.

    Reply
  14. SW Boy   December 14, 2013 at 1:08 pm

    Thimerosal-free vaccines are available for those in higher risk groups like young children but don’t let facts like that get in the way of your anecdotal BS.

    Reply
  15. Beth Goldie   December 14, 2013 at 1:01 pm

    I agree that the article was very much AGAINST people getting a flu vaccine. I lost all faith in the author as soon as I saw this sentence: “However, again much of the data is inaccurate because it is incomplete.” When the author doesn’t know that data is a plural noun and the sentence should read “However, again much of the data are inaccurate because they are incomplete.”:I tend to think the author is somewhat uneducated.

    Reply
    • Robert Parent   December 14, 2013 at 3:04 pm

      Thank you professor for giving the heads up on a grammatical error….I shall re-read this whole article with that error in mind

      Reply
  16. Jason   December 14, 2013 at 12:56 pm

    Gary, your comment is a misleading waste of time. As for the writer of this article I thank you for having an honest view of what the flu vaccines can or cannot do. It is refreshing to see a perspective on google news that has been different from the usual articles I’ve been reading on here for the past couple years that I believe have a been a source of misinformation encouraging the public to get an unnecessary and even at times dangerous flu shot. I suppose I’m just a naturalist, but to me it is common sense that you fight off the flu naturally by taking care of yourself instead of relying on an annual flu shot made up of dead flu virus, formaldehyde, aluminum, and mercury. I think it is criminal to encourage the public in getting such a vaccination, especially one so unnecessary. My mother works in a hospital, not as a doctor or a nurse, but in an office in the administration, where she never comes in contact with patients. It is required for hospital employees (at this particular hospital, I don’t know what other hospitals’ policies are) even if they are not in contact with patients, to get the flu shot or lose their job. I find this criminal and abhorrent that the flu shot is made mandatory to hospital employees or they lose their jobs.

    Reply
  17. Mark Wentlandt   December 14, 2013 at 12:52 pm

    Right, chiropractors are privy to statistics not available to the public–because chiros are the guardians of the “real” data. Look, if I sprain my back, I go to my chiro. If I want medical advice, I go to my doctor. Or, I can be an educated consumer and use this revolutionary new to too called Google. Here’s a handy “how to” for readers frozen back in 1996: http://bit.ly/1hajbil

    Reply
  18. Nancy   December 14, 2013 at 12:26 pm

    Haha, what kind of “article” was that? Completely biased!

    Reply
  19. gary   December 14, 2013 at 12:10 pm

    You say, “this article will not instruct anyone as to whether or not to get the vaccine..,” but then go on to give selective, one sided data and anecdotes from anonymous, anti-flu vaccine doctors. I do not have a problem with you writing an anti-vaccine article, but just admit that what it from the beginning. There is no use for pretending to have no bias when you obviously do. Embrace your opinion and attempt to debate for your side. If not, then this is just a misleading waste of time.

    Reply
    • Lara Stielow   December 14, 2013 at 12:49 pm

      I am sorry that it comes across that way but details like the side effects of the vaccine being more lengthy than the symptoms of the illness itself are significant. The article would become a book if I fairly presented all of the evidence. I believe the article clearly states that people over the age of 65 benefit from it. Other findings are inconclusive at best. Some of the diseases most likely to make an individual more prone to die from the flu are these: people with asthma, diabetes, HIV or AIDS, those on long-term steroid therapy, and etc. One of the most concerning statistics is that SIDS rates are highest after the first round of scheduled vaccines. Bombarding a young child’s body with three or more typically deactivated viruses at once has been shown to produce dangerous fevers and depressed respirations, and this can last for well over a week.
      My most concise personal suggestion is this: Optimize immune defense and response with natural methods for all groups regardless of whether or not they get the vaccine (this is another article, or likely book unto itself). Get the vaccination for those at very high risk. Give flu vaccines to elderly in concentrated populations such as nursing homes. Take standard precautions such as staying home from work or school when sick, covering mouth when coughing or sneezing, washing hands thoroughly and regularly with soap and water (only use hand sanitizer if those are unavailable). DO NOT give a flu vaccine to a young child who does not have another complicating illness (3 infant deaths have been reported due to the flu so far this season, it is almost halfway over, you can never account for parental vigilance or neglect in these cases but extremely rarely want their babies to die people do kill their children and leave them in dumpsters and the like I in no way want to suggest that the three deaths were due to lack of parental concern. It is tragic, but children die daily of things that are more present dangers) . Never get a vaccine when having any other acute illness or fever (even if mild) this is important and rarely pointed out by doctors. Get the flu vaccine every year after regular vaccines have already been received. That is the most concise and balanced take I can provide.
      Be very cautious of miracle cures or any preventative measures which have not been adequately tested. Unfortunately vaccines often times fall into that category.
      “Louis Pasteur on his own death bed, condemned his own “Germ Theory” when he said, “The seed(germ) is nothing; the soil (body) is everything.”

      Reply
      • Lara Stielow   December 14, 2013 at 1:05 pm

        I also work in healthcare and see all sides of this issue regularly, it is an unbelievably complicated yet important subject matter. Please continue the debate.

        With any subject, over time the amount and accuracy of what is learned only grows when more data is collected and understood. It requires that all sides be equally researched and considered.

        Reply
        • Kelly M. Bray   December 16, 2013 at 9:57 am

          Exactly what is your job in healthcare?

          Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.