Flu vaccine facts – January 2004
Acknowledgements to the National Vaccine Information Center, a parent-led organization advocating reformation of the vaccination system and responsible for launching the vaccine safety movement in America in the early 1980s. For more information, visit their website at www.909shot.com and www.909shot.com/Diseases/influenzafacts.htm
Influenza is a respiratory infection that produces fever, chills, sore throat, muscle aches, and cough that lasts a week or more.
The only way to get natural and permanent immunity to a strain of flu is to recover naturally from the flu. Natural immunity can be protective if that strain or closely related strains come around again in the future.
The flu vaccine
The flu vaccine is prepared from the fluids of chick embryos inoculated with specific types of influenza virus. Each year, federal health agency officials guess which three flu strains are most likely to be prevalent the following year.
The flu virus in the vaccine is inactivated with formaldehyde and preserved with Thimerosal, a mercury derivative. (Mercury is toxic to the brain and has been found to be associated with brain damage and developmental delays in babies whose mothers were exposed to high levels of mercury during pregnancy.)
The flu vaccine only protects against the three specific viral strains that are included in any given year’s flu vaccine. Because the vaccine only provides a 70 to 80 percent chance of temporary immunity to selected strains and those strains may or may not be prevalent each year, doctors say you have to get a flu shot every year.
The vaccine does not protect against throat, respiratory, gastrointestinal, and ear infections caused by bacteria or other kinds of viruses. It does not protect against SARS or the complications of SARS.
If health officials guess right, the vaccine is thought to be 70 to 90 percent effective in temporarily preventing the flu of the season in healthy persons less than 65 years old. For those over 65 years old, the efficacy rate drops to 30 to 40%, but the vaccine is thought to be 50 to 60% effective in preventing hospitalization and pneumonia, and 80% effective in preventing death from the flu. If health officials are not correct about the flu strains they predict, then the vaccine’s effectiveness is much lower for that year.
The most common reactions which begin within 12 hours of vaccination and can last several days are: fever, fatigue, painful joints, and headache. The most serious reaction that has been associated with flu vaccine is Guillain-Barre Syndrome, which occurs most often within two to four weeks of vaccination. This is an immune-mediated nerve disorder characterized by muscle weakness, unsteady gait, numbness, tingling, pain, and sometimes paralysis of one or more limbs or the face.
The following groups are vulnerable to serious complications from the flu: pregnant women (in their 2nd or 3rd trimester), the elderly, those who are suffering from diabetes, kidney dysfunction, chronic lung or heart disorders, chronic blood disorders, anyone who is immune suppressed (through medications, e.g., steroids or through disease, e.g., AIDS). People who should not get a flu shot include anyone who is sick with a fever, those with egg and/or mercury allergies, and anyone with a history of Guillain-Barre Syndrome.
Nasal-spray flu vaccine
A live-virus nasal flu vaccine was approved for use in June 2003 for healthy people between the ages of 5 and 49. Those who should not receive the FluMist vaccine include: people in the “Vulnerable groups” categories above; anyone allergic to any part of the vaccine, including eggs; children or adolescents receiving aspirin therapy; children younger than 5 and adults over 50. Due to the possibility of spreading the virus, individuals receiving this vaccine are advised to avoid close contact with immune-compromised individuals for at least 21 days.
Unlike the standard flu vaccine which contains a dead virus and is given by injection, the nasal-spray vaccine is squirted up the nose and contains a diluted, live virus that could endanger people with weak immune systems. The live vaccine virus has been shown to shed for up to 3 weeks after the vaccine is breathed in. This is why those vaccinated are advised to avoid close contact with immune compromised individuals for at least 21 days.
Reported adverse reactions to FluMist include many flu-like symptoms: runny nose, nasal congestion, cough, sore throat, headache, irritability, decreased activity, fever, chills, muscle aches, and vomiting. Other adverse events that occurred in children were abdominal pain, asthma, bronchitis, conjunctivitis, viral syndrome, middle ear infection, and wheezing or shortness of breath.
The NCH Influenza Project
Help yourself and others by participating in this nationwide data collection project!
Visit the NCH website at www. homeopathic.org to:
- See regular updates about which top remedies are working in your area
- Report remedies that have helped you, your friends, relatives, or patients
- Contribute your cured cases—the more people who participate the better
- Review the latest flu information and statistics from the CDC and other linked sites
- Get specific information about which remedies to take and when
- Read articles by renowned homeopaths about how homeopathy can help fight the flu.
Take a “Quick Flu Poll” at South Florida Study Group Leader, Ruth Pearson-Smith’s website:www.visavistech/genus.html