While state and government agencies across the nation are beseeching us all to get flu shots to protect ourselves, to protect others, and to do the ‘right thing’ for the greater good of course, we thought we would give another perspective that does not get so much coverage by the corporate media. Namely, discuss three reasons NOT to get a flu shot.
So here we go:
1) Perhaps the most important reason we shouldn’t bother with flu shots is that they don’t work. Yep, that’s right. According to the prestigious, independent Cochrane Collaboration, flu vaccines don’t work.1 In their paper, the authors state, “At best, (flu) vaccines might be effective against only influenza A and B, which represent about 10% of all circulating viruses.” They go on to say that even in a year when the flu vaccine matches the flu viruses that are widely circulating, 33 healthy adults need to be vaccinated in order to prevent one person from getting influenza symptoms. In a year when there is not a perfect match between the vaccine and the viruses circulating, 100 healthy individuals need to be vaccinated in order to prevent one case of flu symptoms. Those are horrific odds even before you begin to consider the possibility of adverse reactions. In the pharmaceutical world, a very good drug is a drug that needs to be given to only a couple of people in order to cure one person. Clearly, vaccinating 33 or 100 people in order to prevent one case of influenza is an unmitigated failure according to their own criteria and one needs to wonder why FDA ever approved flu vaccines. The fact that Federal health agencies continue to promote flu vaccines despite clear evidence they don’t work surely casts doubt on their credibility.
2) So if they don’t work, you may wonder why I need to write on. Well because there is more to flu vaccines and vaccines in general than whether they work. There is also the downside to consider. Unfortunately, flu vaccines are known to cause a variety of adverse reactions from pain and swelling at the injection site to “flu-like symptoms” to Guillain Barre (neurological damage that leads to paralysis) and even death. The Cochrane paper cited above says that the flu vaccine caused 1 case of Guillain Barre for every 1 million doses given but they caution that a large number of the studies were done by the vaccine makers themselves and that “there is evidence of widespread manipulation of conclusions and spurious notoriety of the studies” so that 1 in a million number probably understates the problem. In a search of the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS), I found 67,856 reports of adverse events since in the past 23 years. This includes 21,081 ER visits, 8,455 reports of “serious” events, 3,091 hospitalizations, 1,365 reports of permanent disability, and 882 deaths.2 As a reminder, VAERS is a passive system – you have to know it exists and go to the trouble of reporting an event or pressure your doctor to do so. Also, reports to VAERS are voluntary and CDC states that adverse events are underreported. Lastly, you have to know enough to connect the adverse reaction to the vaccine. So there are likely many more adverse events than are ever reported.
Let’s take a step back and process the information so far. First, the evidence shows vaccines don’t work. Second, there is a genuine risk of adverse events including death. So if you get a flu shot you have essentially no upside (they don’t work) and plenty of downside. Not a particularly attractive trade-off.
3) Flu vaccines don’t protect against transmission. This is another variation of “they don’t work” but Cochrane did another evaluation looking at disease transmission and here is what they found: “The studies found that vaccinating healthcare workers who look after the elderly in long-term care facilities did not show any effect on the specific outcomes of interest, namely laboratory-proven influenza, pneumonia or deaths from pneumonia.”3 Oops. So much for the evidence base for forcing healthcare workers to get flu vaccines to protect their patients.
4) OK, so I was only supposed to do 3 bullet points but how can we talk about flu vaccines and avoid the elephant in the room: mercury???
Half the flu shots in the US contain thimerosal, which is half mercury, which, needless to say is a known neurotoxin. If you are as old as me, you can remember that thermometers used to be made from mercury and they came with a big warning to be very careful with them, not to break them and if you did break them, to clear the area, follow a very specific protocol to clean up the area, and call poison control if you need help as mercury causes brain damage and might never leave your body!4
While there is clearly less mercury in a flu vaccine than in a thermometer, is the mercury in flu vaccines safe? FDA and CDC both say it’s fine, nothing to worry about, but another US Federal agency, EPA, says that levels much lower than what is found in flu shots is hazardous! EPA says safe drinking water contains 2 parts per billion (ppb) or less mercury. EPA classifies anything above 200 ppb as toxic waste yet some flu shots have 50,000 ppb mercury.5 And some flu vaccines, whose labels say they contain only a trace, contain 2,000 ppb mercury. Hmmm. Perhaps these agencies need to coordinate because EPA’s guidelines make FDA and CDC look like they don’t know what they are talking about.
Interestingly, the manufacturer of thimerosal’s own Material Safety Data Sheet states: “May be fatal if absorbed through skin…May be fatal if inhaled…May be fatal if swallowed.”6 But FDA and CDC say it is safe to inject it…I think I’ll play it safe and go with the manufacturer’s own material safety data sheet warnings.
If that doesn’t give you pause, read Catherine De Soto’s research. She analyzed the body of empirical science exploring a link between mercury and autism and found that 3:1 the research FAVORED a link, not the other way around.7 But wait, doesn’t the government tell us that there is NO research linking mercury to autism? Wow, CDC and FDA need to get down to the medical library or go on PubMed and read some of this stuff!
And a few parting facts about the dangers of mercury:
0.5 parts per billion (ppb) mercury kills human neuroblastoma cells (that’s a type of cancer cell)8
20 ppb mercury destroys neurite membrane structure in rats (neurites are part of nerve cells or neurons – similar lesions have been found in 80% of humans with Alzheimer disease)9
700 ppb mercury is the amount of mercury in a large predator fish and we are supposed to limit our consumption of them.
As always, it is up to you to decide whether to get vaccinated but at least you have more information now!