To Flu Shot or not to Flu Shot, that is the Question!

Get ready for controversy. My point in bringing up this conversation is to, well, have a conversation. To get us exploring and questioning and ensure that we each get to make our own informed choice.

In light of the Covid-19 respiratory illness, I thought I would see if there is a boost or a drag on immunity by adding the flu shot to our bodies.

I’ve heard pundits declare that we should have the shot so we don’t contract the flu at the same time as Covid. Having both at once is, apparently, a thing—and not a very fun one, I would imagine.

I’ve also heard it wondered in prime time if the flu shot might actually fend off Covid.

Insert buzzer sound.

A study was done at the Department of Defense which explored that last question:

According to the study, “vaccine derived virus interference was significantly associated with coronavirus and human metapneumovirus.”…

Examining non-influenza viruses specifically, the odds of both coronavirus and human metapneumovirus in vaccinated individuals were significantly higher when compared to unvaccinated individuals...”

That represents a 36% and 51% increased risk of coronavirus and human metapneumovirus in influenza vaccinated individuals, respectively.

(I got this from this source; the highlighted portion of the quotation is directly from the study in question—read it here.

Based on the Department Of Defense study, then, there is the chance that having a flu vaccine can actually make one more susceptible to a coronavirus.


So how about that flu shot season anyway?

Before you dismiss this as an anti-vaxxer diatribe, please know that I am not pigeon-holing myself. I am asking questions. I am reporting what I read in my research.

Diving into the flu shot is like diving into already hot water. It is fraught. And that offends my sensibilities as someone who thrives on questioning things. I want to be aware of what goes on in my body and what goes into my body.

So what, pray tell, is in a flu shot?

Well, we hope that the season’s flu virus is in there.

Intended to give our immune system a chance to prep us for the onslaught of the actual flu, experts from around the world decide together which strains are most likely to emerge and combine them in a lab.

Most likely.

Effectiveness rates range from 3-50% for the annual flu shot—in school that would be serious cause for concern. Data here.

Okay, so there are droplets of flu virus in there. Is that it?

You can’t just take drops of influenza and bung ‘em in a vial to inject in your arm. There has to be liquid in which to put the droplets. There have to be stabilizers to keep the droplets suspended in the liquid. There have to be preservatives to keep it from going bad while the vials await shipment to your local pharmacy.

There gets to be a lot of stuff other than virus in the innocuous-looking vial with its “sterile, milky-white emulsion”.

To wit:

From the package insert--FLUAD QUADRIVALENT also contains MF59C.1 adjuvant (MF59®), a squalene based oil-in-water emulsion. Each of the strains is harvested and clarified separately by centrifugation and filtration prior to inactivation with formaldehyde. The inactivated virus is concentrated and purified by zonal centrifugation. The surface antigens, hemagglutinin and neuraminidase, are obtained from the influenza virus particle by further centrifugation in the presence of cetyltrimethylammonium bromide (CTAB). The antigen preparation is further purified. FLUAD QUADRIVALENT is prepared by combining the four virus antigens with the MF59C.1 adjuvant. After combining, FLUAD QUADRIVALENT is a sterile, milky-white injectable emulsion supplied in single-dose pre-filled syringes containing 0.5 mL dose. Each 0.5 mL dose contains 15 mcg of hemagglutinin (HA) from each of the four recommended influenza strains FLUAD® QUADRIVALENT - Seqirus Inc. US Package Insert 25 June 2020 Confidential Page 9 of 12 and MF59C.1 adjuvant (9.75 mg squalene, 1.175 mg of polysorbate 80, 1.175 mg of sorbitan trioleate, 0.66 mg of sodium citrate dihydrate and 0.04 mg of citric acid monohydrate) at pH 6.9-7.7. FLUAD QUADRIVALENT may contain trace amounts of neomycin (≤ 0.02 mcg by calculation), kanamycin (≤ 0.03 mcg by calculation) and hydrocortisone (≤ 0.005 ng by calculation) which are used during the initial stages of manufacture, as well as residual egg protein (ovalbumin) (≤ 1.0 mcg), formaldehyde (≤ 10 mcg) or CTAB (≤ 18 mcg). FLUAD QUADRIVALENT does not contain a preservative.

From the package insert--FLUARIX QUADRIVALENT is formulated without preservatives. FLUARIX QUADRIVALENT does not contain thimerosal. Each 0.5-mL dose also contains octoxynol-10 (TRITON X-100) ≤0.115 mg, αtocopheryl hydrogen succinate ≤0.135 mg, and polysorbate 80 (Tween 80) ≤0.550 mg. Each dose may also contain residual amounts of hydrocortisone ≤0.0015 mcg, gentamicin sulfate ≤0.15 mcg, ovalbumin ≤0.050 mcg, formaldehyde ≤5 mcg, and sodium deoxycholate ≤65 mcg from the manufacturing process.

This is a fascinating rabbit hole. The flu shots whose package inserts I have pulled have various antibiotic ingredients as well as a type of soap intended to break down cell walls so the influenza particles can penetrate the immune cells. They do not need to add preservatives—because of the antibiotic. There are trace amounts of formaldehyde—a known carcinogen. And, if you have egg allergies, you should only have the shot under very close supervision. Oh my.

All of this information is in the package insert. Please read it if you want to have the shot. Or if someone you love wants to have the shot.

Virus cells grown on egg. Formaldehyde (I remember the smell of that from biology class in high school--used to preserve the dead animals we were dissecting—they don’t use it anymore because it’s carcinogenic. Wait. What?! But it’s in the vaccine?). A soap. Antibiotics. And hit-or-miss virus particles.

No wonder the pharmacies beg and plead us to take the vaccine. No wonder the hard sell. If we all knew this stuff, we wouldn’t be very willing, would we?

And let’s make it very real.

The package insert warns about a specific autoimmune disorder: Guillain-Barré syndrome. It’s a real thing, guys.

My mother could have died from GBS—she will always bear traces of it. And there is a suspected link with the flu shot. Information here.

The crazy thing is that the package insert reassuringly tells us that if we’ve had GBS we should wait 6 weeks to have a flu injection. Six weeks?!

It took my mother, a fit and active woman, over a year to get back on the tennis court—over a year of physical therapy.

The package further reassures us that having another bout of GBS is unlikely—it only happens to 1 out of 1 million people. What if you’re that 1? What if you’re that 1 who, like the snowboarder, Jake Burton, is temporarily paralyzed and dependent on a respirator and feeding tube?

What if a flu shot reactivated it in my mother?

Real people, real stories. Real risks.

It was awful, by the way, my mother still struggles to keep her head up straight. Breathing problems, intense cramping, nerve damage. She had it.

Yeah. Information is power.

Don't they test for safety?

FLUARIX QUADRIVALENT in Adults Trial 1 (NCT01204671) was a randomized, double-blind (2 arms) and open-label (one arm), activecontrolled, safety, and immunogenicity trial. In this trial, subjects received FLUARIX QUADRIVALENT (n = 3,036) or one of 2 formulations of comparator trivalent influenza vaccine (FLUARIX; TIV-1, n = 1,010; or TIV-2, n = 610), each containing an influenza type B virus that corresponded to one of the 2 type B viruses in FLUARIX QUADRIVALENT (a type B virus of the Victoria lineage or a type B virus of the Yamagata lineage). The population was aged 18 years and older (mean age: 58 years) and 57% were female; 69% were white, 27% were Asian, and 4% were of other racial/ethnic groups

FLUARIX QUADRIVALENT in Children Trial 7 (NCT01439360) was a randomized, observer-blind, non-influenza vaccine-controlled trial evaluating the efficacy of FLUARIX QUADRIVALENT. In this trial, subjects aged 6 through 35 months received FLUARIX QUADRIVALENT (n = 6,006) or a control vaccine (n = 6,012). The comparator was pneumococcal 13-valent conjugate vaccine [Diphtheria CRM197 Protein] (Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, Inc.) in children younger than 12 months, HAVRIX (Hepatitis A Vaccine) in children 12 months and older with a history of influenza vaccination, or HAVRIX (Dose 1) and a varicella vaccine (U.S. Licensed Manufactured by Merck & Co., Inc. or Non-U.S. Licensed Manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals) (Dose 2) in those with no history of influenza vaccination. Subjects were aged 6 through 35 months, and one child aged 43 months (mean age: 22 months); 51% were male; 27% were white, 45% were Asian, and 28% were of other racial/ethnic groups.

I share this section because I personally find it appalling that the studies done to claim safety don’t even share the basics of grade school biology: One group gets the active variable. The other group gets nothing. Boom.

Easy to see any effect.

In the studies noted on the package insert, one group received the flu vaccine. The other group got a different vaccine. Not a syringe of saline. A different vaccine. What?!

All of this information is in the package insert. Please read it if you want to have the shot. Or if someone you love wants to have the shot.

Here’s the section on alternatives!

So what if we decide to give the flu shot a miss? What do we do instead?

I created an acronym! I think this is becoming an expectation I have for myself. Let’s spell out influenza and leave it on the paper—spell it here and leave it here. Just say, No, to influenza, and Yes to:

I for the immune-boosting power of Vitamin D3 (also supports good moods!).

N for the nourishing powers of Vitamin C as an anti-viral.

F for the immune-boosting power of Essential Fatty Acids (study here).

L for elderberry! Oh, what a rich source of nutrients to support immunity and fight viruses. Take it in syrup, tincture, tea, capsules.

U is for unwinding because stress opens us up to illness. Boom.

E is for Echinacea as a representative of a pantheon of herbal anti-virals. Also try pau d’arco, astragalus, lemon balm, licorice, and olive leaf.

N for the homeopathic remedy, Oscillococcinum. Not much science on it, but personal experience tells me it works.

Z is for zinc. Crucial for the immune system. Along with selenium. Eat Brazil nuts and oysters; grass-fed beef. Or grab a supplement.

A for good ole garlic. Our long-time friend for long-time health! Anti-viral for the win—as is Ginger! Yum, yum, stir-fry here we come.

So that’s my acronym of the week. Support the immune system with a clean diet, de-stressing, plenty of sleep, exercise, appropriate hydration—and, if you’re called, try the foods and supplements I mention above.

And, finally—something new I learned while preparing this blog: Gargling with black or green tea shows promise in averting flu. I may have a bit of fun with this one—take a sip, gargle a sip, take a sip.

Instead of a tea party, we’ll have a gargle ‘n’ tea party. On zoom, no less!

There are as many ideas to avert illness as the day is long—and that’s because humans and viruses have been coexisting for that long, as well. I challenge us to build up our bodies, build up our immunity in harmony with the earth out of which we were born.

And leave the milky-white emulsions in the vials where they came from.

Sources: : :

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