Last year the flu season was predicted to peak in February. However, this year the news media, on cue from the Centers for Disease Control, is starting their vaccination campaign early by planting the idea of vaccination in the minds of senior Americans who are most at risk for the flu and suggesting in doubletalk that seniors wait and get their vaccine later rather than sooner (??).
US News & World Report continues with the annual drivel that 36,000 people in the US die from the flu annually. [US News Sept 21, 2016] The Centers for Disease Control states: “Hundreds of thousands are hospitalized and thousands or tens of thousands of people die from flu every year.” [CDC.gov Aug 3, 2016]
The Global Vaccine Institute sets the record straight. For reference, in the era prior to flu data manipulation there were only 257 deaths attributed to influenza in 2001. [ThinkTwice.com]
Flu vaccination rates are so low as to be of little significance in heading off a flu epidemic. Most of the population is unvaccinated for the flu strain in circulation yet the flu is at all time low marks.
Adults over age 65 have the highest flu vaccination rate, close to 70%, probably because they are most at risk for mortal consequences from the flu. [FoxNews Sept 21, 2016] Persons age 85 years and up are 16 times more likely to succumb from a flu-related illness compared to adults aged 65-69 years. [Journal American Medical Assn. 2003]
But flu vaccination has not been effective in older age groups because the ability to produce antibodies to mutating flu viruses is limited among the aged. This fact is evidenced by the newly licensed high-dose flu vaccine specifically for adults over age 65. [Morbidity Mortality Weekly Report Aug 6, 2010] The primary reason why retirees get the flu is because their immune system is in decline, not because they are not vaccinated.
Flu vaccine ineffectiveness
For the record, in 2013 those Americans over age 65 who chose to be vaccinated against the flu were just as likely to visit the doctor for flu symptoms as older adults who were unvaccinated. [Live Science Feb 21, 2013]
Last year at about this time it was reported a flu shot was only 38% effective against the H3N2 flu strain which was deemed to be “terrible.” A similar low response rate was reported in 2009. [Vaccine Sept 22, 2016
The Centers for Disease Control lists the effectiveness of flu vaccines for years 2005-2016 which never exceeded 60% and was as low as 10% in 2004-05 and 20% in 2005-06 and 23% in 2014-15. [CDC.gov, April 15, 2016] It’s a crapshoot chance you might avert the flu by undergoing vaccination.
Flu viruses mutate so fast that even if a vaccine matches the flu strain in circulation that may not be the variety of the flu by mid flu season. But, but, say the experts, even if the flu strain in the vaccine doesn’t match the one in circulation, “it’s somewhere around 60-70% effective for all circulating strains combined.” [Blog.PLoS.org]
True, an inactivated trivalent (3 flu strains) vaccine can afford some protection against mismatched influenza strains. [BMC Medicine 2013] But you still can get the flu from the strain that wasn’t included in the shot, right?!
And get this – it is not just the circulating flu virus that mutates during the flu season, but also the very strain of the virus placed in a vial to be injected in patients. [Wired.com Oct 9, 2015; PLoS One March 25, 2014] Most of the time the strain of the flu virus in the vaccine does not match the flu strain in circulation.
In addition to age obesity also impairs white blood cells known as macrophages and reduces flu vaccine effectiveness. [Acta Virology 2016]
So Sanjay Gupta at CNN says you can’t get the flu from the flu shot because the virus is dead in the vaccine. [CNN.com Jan 6, 2016]
Ah hem, there is no such thing as a “live” or “killed” flu virus. Viruses are not living. They require a host cell to replicate. Viruses are inactivated by heat, UV radiation or by chemicals such as formalin. It is possible for some vaccine vials to harbor “active” viruses when the “inactivator” has not been completely employed. This results in what are called “hot lots” where 10 or more reports of adverse reactions are tallied.
Furthermore, maybe theoretically you can’t get the flu from a flu shot but children who have never been inoculated before are more likely to develop a fever or a rash that lasts 1-2 days.
The risk of fever-induced seizures is estimated to be as high as 5 to 9 cases per 1000 vaccinated children under age 5.
In a study of 791 healthy children post-vaccination fever, body aches, headache and malaise was noted among 12% in the 1-5-year age group and 5% among those age 6-15 years. [American Journal Epidemiology 1976] So what’s the difference? The kids are sick with symptoms normally associated with the flu!
Live flu vaccine shelved
The live flu virus vaccine (FluMist) has been shelved this year due to ineffectiveness, not to mention viral shedding that spreads the flu virus to other vulnerable immune-compromised family members. [Contemporary Pediatrics]
In fact, administration of FluMist might even provoke most of the cases of the flu that are reported. It’s a puzzlement that the public doesn’t realize vaccines ARE a little bit of the disease they portend to prevent even if the vaccines claim they only use snippets of a virus or attenuated (heat-treated/chemically-treated) viral particles.
Will Presidential candidates roll up their sleeves?
Regardless, we’re likely to see both Presidential candidates line up for their annual flu shot. Well, uh, maybe not Hillary Clinton who appears to be immune compromised at the moment. But wouldn’t she have all the more need to be immunized against this year’s anticipated flu strain? Well, if she and her doctors want to take that risk. Flu vaccines are said to prevent pneumonia but there isn’t much data on vaccine effectiveness (exposure of the flu virus itself, delivered by needle injection) among those who already have pneumonia.
Other causes of flu-like symptoms
One of the unstated problems in calculating flu cases is that many drugs induce flu-like symptoms: fever, chills, aches, diarrhea, vomiting. An online list of 129 drugs including anti-inflammatory drugs like and statin cholesterol-lowering drugs used by millions of American is available. [Right Diagnosis]
Some diseases like meningitis, sepsis (blood infection), leukemia (cancer of the blood), food poisoning, enteroviruses, hepatitis B and C, Salmonella poisoning, can also mimic the flu. In fact, there is a long list of conditions that produce flu-like symptoms, including anthrax, chickenpox, Lyme and Legionnaire’s disease. [Right Diagnosis]
Chance of dying from the flu remote
What are the chances you will succumb to a flu-related death? An estimated 5-20% of the population gets the flu each year says the CDC. That is quite a wide ranged estimation. But let’s say it is semi-accurate. That would mean somewhere between 16 and 65 million Americans get the flu annually.
However, with all the fear mongering over the flu, one study shows three-quarters of the adults who develop seasonal or pandemic flu never exhibit any symptoms. [Science Daily March 6, 2014]
Then among those who get the flu, even using the CDC’s exaggerated data, the annual rate of influenza-associated death in US ranges from 1.4 to 16.7 deaths per 100,000 persons. [Morbidity Mortality Weekly Reports Aug 27, 2010] Such a wide range suggests these estimated figures are highly inaccurate. That would mean 224-910 to 2,672-10,855 flu-related deaths per year. At 10,855 deaths per year the risk for death would be 0.00334% or 3/1000ths of 1%. At 224 deaths per year the risk for flu-related death would be 0.000069%.
Germ theory of Alzheimer’s and vaccination
Don’t forget noted immunologist Dr. Hugh Fudenberg’s study that revealed the risk for Alzheimer’s disease is ten times (1000%) more likely after receiving five consecutive flu shots. [Wikipedia]
This is particularly interesting because just this year it was conceded that the blood-brain barrier breaks down allowing pathogenic bacteria and viruses to enter the brain which are linked with Alzheimer’s memory loss. [Science Daily May 31, 2016]
Why do health authorities continue this flu vaccine charade?
Flu vaccines are big business costing ~$1.6 billion a year in the US. Government health authorities issue purchase orders to vaccine makers and then it is up to government to drum up fears to get those vaccines off the shelf and have the public pay for them or otherwise the tab for unused vaccines is left on the public ledger. [CNBC Oct 19, 2015] The entire vaccine market generates $24 billion of business. [The Atlantic Feb 10, 2015] There is too cozy a relationship between government health authorities and vaccine makers. People are going to be told then need flu vaccines whether they are effective or not.
What to do to avert the flu and the common cold?
Senior Americans are largely immune compromised because their thymus gland, located under the breastplate, shrinks with advancing age due to a lack of zinc. The thymus gland produces peptides that prime (activate) T-cells that are critically needed to fight infections including influenza virus. [Current Opinion Virology Aug 2013; Trends Immunology May 2011]
Supplemental zinc (~30 mg/day in adult humans) resolves thymus gland atrophy (shrinkage) in lab animals. Probably senior Americans would reduce their risk of the common cold and the flu with regular zinc supplementation.
Investigator George Eby has long advocated zinc acetate lozenges to shorten the duration of a cold. [Medical Hypotheses March 2010; Clinical Infectious Diseases Feb 1, 2008] The zinc lozenges need to be properly made zinc acetate. [Clinical Infectious Diseases 2001]
Modern medicine ignores the reason for the seasonal (wintertime) onset of the common cold and the flu. As the Earth tilts away from the sun in the winter, sun rays have to pass through a thicker atmosphere and UV-rays that produce vitamin D in the skin are less intense. Limitation of outdoor activity in the winter can reduce vitamin D blood levels and weaken immunity. [Journal Nepal Health Research Council, Jan 2016]
Vitamin D is necessary for healthy immunity, particularly activation of a class of white blood cells called neutrophils. A recent study showed that vitamin D significantly reduces the risk of laboratory-confirmed influenza even among those who have been vaccinated as well as those who are unvaccinated. [HealthBlog] Co-administration of vitamins A & D may be beneficial with or without flu vaccination. [Clinical Vaccine Immunology Jan 6, 2016]
Consumers may ask their doctor about an anti-viral drug like Tamiflu. Approved medicine for the flu (neuroaminidase inhibitors- Oseltamivir, trade name Tamiflu) have been roundly dismissed as “not every useful.” [Canadian Family Physician June 2015]
Once stricken with the flu it might be wise to purchase some resveratrol pills as they are strong inhibitors of the same enzyme (neuraminidase) as Tamiflu. [China Journal of Chinese Materia Medica Oct 2012]
A physician in Canada reports that a serious blunder was made in estimating the amount of vitamin D needed to maintain vitamin D adequacy in the wintertime in northern latitudes. The Institutes of Health recommended 600 units of vitamin D daily to achieve an adequate blood level (50 nanomoles/liter of blood) for 97.5% of individuals but there was a statistical error and the recommendation should have been 8800 units! No correction has been made.
The Canadian physician says the attainment of vitamin D blood levels greater than 100 nanomoles/liter has nearly abolished the number of patients seen in his office for the flu. Among patients who have an active case of the flu, a one-time 50,000 unit dose of oral vitamin D3 or 10,000 units 3 times daily for 2-3 days results in “dramatic, complete resolution of symptoms within 48-72 hours. These are completely safe doses over a short term. [Canadian Family Physician June 2015]
Elderberry syrup has also been shown to shorten the duration of flu symptoms by 4 days. [Journal International Medical Research March 2004] Compare that to the anti-viral drug Tamiflu that shortens a bout of the flu by 1 day. [Record Univ. Michigan 2015]
Vitamins C and D, zinc and elderberry syrup should be handy in winter months, especially for families with young children and senior adults.