I do not take the flu shot. Period. For me , there are too many unknowns and ingredients I really do not want in my body. I will, however, try to present information from the CDC’s own website, Wikipedia citations and package inserts of the influenza vaccinations. As a nurse, I have heard both sides of the debate from patients receiving the flu shot. Many people claim they “haven’t been sick since they started taking the flu shot” and others claim “they got the flu” a week or so after getting vaccinated. There are statistics on both sides that are skewed to favor whatever opinion people wish to adhere to.
The CDC recommends everyone (almost) get a flu shot. Who should according to CDC get the flu shot
The flu season, and the flu vaccinations start in October and can run into mid to late spring. Depending on your age and health status, the CDC recommends either the regular or high potency shot, or the intranasal route.
There are three types of influenza viruses- A, B, and C. Influenza C is considered to be a very mild respiratory virus and is not thought to cause an epidemic.
Influenza A viruses are divided into subtypes based on two proteins on the surface of the virus: the hemagglutinin (H) and the neuraminidase (N). There are 18 different hemagglutinin subtypes and 11 different neuraminidase subtypes. Influenza A viruses can be further broken down into different strains. Current subtypes of influenza A viruses found in people are influenza A (H1N1) and influenza A (H3N2) viruses. In the spring of 2009, a new influenza A (H1N1) virus emerged to cause illness in people. This virus was very different from regular human influenza A (H1N1) viruses and the new virus caused the first influenza pandemic in more than 40 years. That virus (often called “2009 H1N1”) has now mostly replaced the H1N1 virus that was previously circulating in humans.
Influenza B viruses are not divided into subtypes, but can be further broken down into different strains. Types of influenza from CDC website
Anigenic Drift, Antigenic Shift
One of the challenges of making the flu vaccine is due to the constant mutations occurring.
One is called “antigenic drift.” These are small changes in the virus that happen continually over time. Antigenic drift produces new virus strains that may not be recognized by the body’s immune system. This process works as follows: a person infected with a particular flu virus strain develops antibody against that virus. As newer virus strains appear, the antibodies against the older strains no longer recognize the “newer” virus, and reinfection can occur. This is one of the main reasons why people can get the flu more than one time. In most years, one or two of the three virus strains in the influenza vaccine are updated to keep up with the changes in the circulating flu viruses. So, people who want to be protected from flu need to get a flu shot every year.
The other type of change is called “antigenic shift.” Such a “shift” occurred in the spring of 2009, when a new H1N1 virus with a new combination of genes emerged to infect people and quickly spread, causing a pandemic. When shift happens, most people have little or no protection against the new virus. While influenza viruses are changing by antigenic drift all the time, antigenic shift happens only occasionally. Type A viruses undergo both kinds of changes; influenza type B viruses change only by the more gradual process of antigenic drift. How flu viruses change
The influenza vaccines are made to target the following:
H1N1, also called the swine flu is an influenza A subtype. It is responsible for the 2009 pandemic.The 2009 H1N1 pandemic was made up of bird, swine and human flu viruses further combined with a Eurasian pig flu virus. This virus was very different from regular human influenza A (H1N1) viruses and the new virus caused the first influenza pandemic in more than 40 years. That virus (often called “2009 H1N1”) has now mostly replaced the H1N1 virus that was previously circulating in humans.
H3N2 is also an influenza A subtype. It is made up of human, swine and avian (bird) lineages. It is the cause of the 1968-1969 Hong Kong flu pandemic which killed up to 750,000 humans. H3N2 and Hong Kong flu pandemic
Influenza B viruses are only known to infect humans and seals giving them influenza. This limited host and range is apparently responsible for the lack of Influenzavirus B-caused influenza pandemics in contrast with those caused by the morphologically similar Influenzavirus A . Further diminishing the impact of this virus in man, influenza B viruses evolve slower than A viruses and faster than C Virus . Information on influenza B
A shot in the Dark- Literally
The influenza viruses in the seasonal flu vaccine are selected each year based on surveillance-based forecasts about what viruses are most likely to cause illness in the coming season. WHO (World Health Organization) recommends specific vaccine viruses for inclusion in influenza vaccines, but then each individual country makes their own decision for which strains should be included in influenza vaccines licensed in their country. In the United States, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) determines which vaccine viruses will be used in U.S.—licensed vaccines. How seasonal flu viruses are selected to make vaccines
Given the fact that the influenza virus can change and recombine into so many different strains, it is really a shot in the dark as to whether or not the vaccination will work. According to the CDC “Flu Vaccine Effectiveness, Questions and Answers for Health Professionals,” a well matched vaccine to the circulating virus was estimated to have a 50-70% efficacy. When the strains are not well matched, for healthy individuals the efficacy was estimated at 60% and for persons with high risk conditions 48%. Efficacy of flu shot
What else is in the flu shot?
Here is a link to the current influenza immunizations offered for this year: Current vaccines offered this year
Current vaccine inserts
Ingredients that can be found in various vaccinations
Flucelvax is made with dog kidney cells. This is a type of cell culture technology that is already being used in many of our immunizations, including rotavirus, polio, smallpox, hepatitis, rubella and chickenpox. It is supposed to be an alternative to egg based manufacturing process, which relies on an adequate supply of eggs. It is touted as being a lot faster to manufacture the vaccine. I have one question- are there more dog kidneys than there are eggs? Cell based technology
Flublok has fall armyworms- a type of caterpillar. I am not sure what the point of that is. Something to do with only growing the outer coating of the flu virus-I don’t know why that would matter. Nor do I really care.
Among the other ingredients found in at least one of the vaccines was the following: Aluminum, ethylene glycol (antifreeze), Thimerosol (mercury), porcine (pig), gelatin, gentamicin (an antibiotic), and formaldehyde to name a few. Interestingly, Fluviron had 25mcg mercury per dose listed in their multi-dose vial. The upper limit, per the FDA, for someone to receive mercury is 0.1 mcg per kilogram (2.2lbs) of body weight per day. So, 1 mcg mercury for every 22lbs body weight. So, a 220lb person should only receive 10mcg mercury a day. EPA limit on daily mercury exposure
The manufacturers of the injectable vaccines state one cannot get the flu from the shot since it is an inactivated virus. On the other hand, the Flumist is a live virus given via nasal passages. It can cause viral shedding for up to 21 days, more on that next week.
Next week, I will go into the side effects of the vaccine(s), why vaccination is really not a “preventative” measure, how the vaccine is supposed to “prevent the flu” and how the CDC arrives at its statistics. Also, I will be linking more educational and informative websites so that a person can make up their own mind as to whether taking “the shot” is worth the risks.