Year after year we get the same question: “Should I get the flu shot?” And according to experts, this year’s flu season is going to be a whopper.(1)
The topic of whether to vaccinate is a loaded one and not what we’ll be tackling in its entirety today.
Rather, we will present the cold hard facts on why the standard medical answers to preventing and fighting the flu, the flu shot and Tamiflu®, are highly ineffective at preventing and treating the flu.
No, this is not an opinion piece inspired by a quest to make you reject all-things-pharmaceutical. The truth is, drugs and vaccines can, have, and do save lives.
My goal in providing this information is simply to present the facts and let you make your own choice from there.
Let’s get down to it, shall we?
Why the Flu Shot Just Doesn’t Make Sense
While opinions and debates run hot on this topic, there are three main factual reasons the flu shot doesn’t make sense.
#1: The Flu Shot is Historically Ineffective
Granted this isn’t breaking news, but do you know why the flu shot is ineffective? Most people don’t know the whole story.
First, it takes 4 months to grow the virus in chicken eggs for vaccination production.
Therefore, a panel of experts [toggle]convene at the World Health Organization early in the year to try and predict what strain(s) of flu virus to grow.
This proves incredibly difficult to predict (even for the smartest flu-experts in the world) given the randomness of the strains and how they morph throughout the season. Which is why most years, they admittedly get it wrong.
Second, according to a report published in the Boston Globe, the way the virus is grown seems to create a glitch within the vaccine that makes it stimulate a weaker antibody response (1).
In sum, it’s nearly impossible to predict which strain of flu to cultivate for the vaccine, and the process of making the vaccine creates an error that makes it largely ineffective.[/toggle]
#2: The Flu Shot Is Not As Safe As You Think
One of the big myths about all pharmaceuticals, including vaccinations, is that they must be safe for everyone.
And that’s partly true, they do have to pass rigorous safety studies to be FDA-approved. But that doesn’t mean they don’t have side-effects, and the flu shot is no exception.
Per the CDC’s website(3), [toggle]common side effects of the flu shot can include: soreness, redness, and/or swelling from the shot, headache, fever, nausea and muscle aches—all of which sound an awful lot like getting the flu!
In addition, more serious side-effects include:
- High fever
- Behavioral changes
- Difficulty breathing
- Hoarseness or wheezing
- Swelling around the eyes or lips
- A fast heart beat or dizziness
While not everyone will experience these side effects, it is wise to weigh their risks against the flu shot’s effectiveness record.[/toggle]
#3: The Flu Shot Contains a Mercury-Based Preservative
Thimerosal is a mercury-based preservative that has been used in vaccinations for decades.
However, in 1999 it was quietly recommended thimerosal be removed from nearly all vaccinations to reduce infant exposure to mercury…
…except it’s still used in various forms of the flu shot.
Though there is officially no known safe level of exposure to mercury(4), the FDA never admitted [toggle]thimerosal as “unsafe”…yet they recommended it be removed from all childhood vaccines.
I’ll leave you to ponder that one.
If you decide to get a flu shot and are concerned about exposing yourself to mercury, ask your healthcare provider for a thimerosal-free vaccine, which is typically a one-dose vial or spray (as opposed to multi-dose).[/toggle]
Now, Let’s Look at Why Tamiflu Is Ineffective
So, let’s say you skip the flu shot (or not) and wind up with a whopping case of the flu.
Aches, pains, fever, nausea, headaches…the whole nine yards.
Given the misery of your current state, you may be tempted to call your doctor for a dose of Tamiflu.
However, based on the following facts you may wish to reconsider.
- Like the flu shot, Tamiflu has an insufficient effectiveness track record.
- It’s prohibitively expensive.
- The potential side-effects are downright disturbing.
Let’s break down these facts on Tamiflu
It’s rarely effective
Like the flu shot, Tamiflu has been elevated to miracle-like status even though it’s one of the most ineffective antiviral drugs out there.[toggle]
That’s right. Despite its advertising, Tamiflu does not reduce complications from the flu such as serious upper respiratory infections, it doesn’t prevent transmission and it only may work if taken at the very early stages of the flu(5).
The prestigious Cochrane Collaboration, a group that issues careful analyses of the evidence behind drugs and vaccines, has even gone so far as to say there is not enough evidence that Tamiflu really works(6).[/toggle]
It’s prohibitively expensive
A typical round of Tamiflu can set you back over $100.00 (and no refunds folks!).
The disturbing side effects, according to the FDA, include:
- Nose bleeds
And then there’s the less-common, lesser-known side effects [toggle] which seem to afflict children and teenagers especially:
- Abnormal behavior (including psychiatric episodes)
I want to strongly emphasize the “abnormal behavior” side effect because it has been seriously down-played in the advertising and recommendation of Tamiflu.
Per a study published in the Indian Journal Pharmacology entitled: “The Tamiflu Fiasco And Lessons Learnt”(6), psychiatric side effects of Tamiflu occurred most frequently in children and teens within 48 hours of ingestion and included:
- Depressed mood
- Behavior disturbance
- Panic attack
- Suicidal ideation
- And encephalitis
Given that these more serious psychiatric side effects target children and that Tamiflu is largely ineffective, please think twice before filling that prescription.[/toggle]
Despite the bleak state of medical solutions to the flu, the good news is there are loads of proven ways you can effectively address colds and flu using natural medicine.
To learn more, check out our previous posts:
Stay healthy and happy!
1: “Why the Vaccine May Not Help Against the Flu Virus This Year.” Time, Time, time.com/5068553/this-years-flu-virus-could-be-worse-than-usual/.
2: Dwyer, Dialynn. “Q&A: Why the Flu Vaccine Isn’t Always Effective.” Boston.com, The Boston Globe, 7 Dec. 2017, www.boston.com/news/national-news/2017/12/07/flu-vaccine-effectiveness-for-2017-2018-season.
3: “Influenza (Flu).” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 5 Oct. 2017, www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/vaccine/general.htm.
4: Bose-O’Reilly, Stephan, et al. “Mercury Exposure and Children’s Health.” Current Problems in Pediatric and Adolescent Health Care, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Sept. 2010, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3096006/.
5: “Tamiflu: Major Report Claims Drug Is ‘Ineffective’.” BBC News, BBC, 10 Apr. 2014, www.bbc.com/news/av/health-26969811/tamiflu-major-report-claims-drug-is-ineffective.
6: DeNoon, Daniel J. “Does Tamiflu Work? Questions Continue.” WebMD, WebMD, 14 Nov. 2012, www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/news/20121114/does-tamiflu-work-questions-continue#1.
7: Maxwell, Simon R J. “Tamiflu and Neuropsychiatric Disturbance in Adolescents.” BMJ : British Medical Journal, BMJ Publishing Group Ltd., 16 June 2007, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1892497/.