Home » Health and Wellness » A Look at the Influenza Vaccine- Part One of Two

A Look at the Influenza Vaccine- Part One of Two

 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:

Influenza A:

 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:

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

Flumist          Fluarix          Fluzone          Afluria          Agriflu          Flulaval          Fluarix          Flublok          Flucelvax          Fluvirin     Fluzone          Fluzone high dose          Fluzone intradermal

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.







About Brooke Lounsbury

Profile photo of Brooke Lounsbury
Brooke Lounsbury is a holistic registered nurse who left the mainstream medical field in 2008 when she saw the current medical model was not about prevention. She is a public speaker, blogger and nutritional consultant who has interest in helping others to become as healthy as possible with as little money as possible using the holistic model. She holds ten day detoxification workshops twice a year to help the body get rid of all the environmental assault our lives are under, speaks on topics such as Seasonal Affective Disorder, putting balance back in our lives, and how attitude predicts the success in our lives. Brooke and her husband recently purchased a home on five acres and are completely off grid. They own two goats, several chickens, a kitten and will soon be adding some Great Pyrenees as guard dogs.

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  1. Hi Brooke,

    I am very interested in reading your articles on this subject. I am in nursing school now. Through work and school, I was basically forced to get the flu vaccine this year. I could decline the vaccine but I had to sign paperwork saying I declined and I would have to wear a mask at all times while at work and in my clinical agency. Wearing a mask is like a scarlet letter so I got mine. I would be interested in your take on these policies. They are widespread in my neck of the woods for most hospitals and health care agencies.

    We addressed some of the “issues” with the vaccine in nursing school last semester. Apparently there are some brands of vaccine with out mercury. Our instructors told to get a different vaccine if are concerned with mercury. The dog kidney thing is interesting to say the least…we didn’t learn about that one.

    • Profile photo of Brooke Lounsbury

      My husband works in a clinic and refused the flu shot. He has to wear a mask. For him it is a badge of honor that he is exercising his FREEDOM in our country to be able to decline the shot. If people are educated about the shot, it is their right to take it. I abhor the pressure you were put under in nursing school to take the shot. Being a nursing student many years ago, I remember the intense pressure placed on students to “conform”. Hold your head up high and realize each time we are coerced into “giving in” to this pressure from society without being able to make an intelligent INFORMED position we are giving up our rights to function in a free society. Remember, there are a shortage of healthcare workers. You do hold a lot of power you do not realize you have. You are in the trenches advocating for the public you will soon be taking care of. My article is backed up with the CDC’s own information and cited with the flu vaccine makers inserts. Please feel free to email me if you would like to speak on this matter further. My email is healthbeginsathome@gmail.com

  2. Profile photo of Steve Baze

    Good on your husband Brooke. We do live in many illusions and everything to do with our health is just one of many. Keep up the good works of informing folks, so they can make good choices by having more information. Not just being force fed dogma. Lots of relavent and good info.

  3. Profile photo of Butch Trail

    I just wanted to give a little incite to the 60% effective number the CDC uses for the flu vaccine. If you take 100 people, none of whom get the vaccine, then you can expect 2.6 people to get the flu. If all 100 people take the vaccine then you can expect 1.5 people to get the flu. That is how they calculate 60% effective.

    But, if you were to look at the total population sample only 1% less get the flu with the vaccine. But, how many of those 100 people will have side effects from the vaccine? CDC says 1 out of one million will have a major side effect.

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