Remember when I won this book, Super Immunity from Meghan Telpner's blog?
He explains that any intervention has a benefit-to-risk ratio that needs to be taken into consideration when determining treatment options, and the flu shot is no exception. In weighing these factors, we also need to keep in mind that the flu is most dangerous to those who are sickly and poorly nourished; those who are healthy have little to fear from the flu.
The vaccine is designed every year based on scientists best guess as to what strains of influenza will be most prevalent the following year. On their best years, the shot only covers 10% of the correct viruses. So how well does that really protect against the flu?
The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews examined fifty studies involving over 70,000 participants in an effort to gain a more thorough understanding of the vaccine's efficacy. Their analysis revealed that the vaccine does not affect either the number of people hospitalized from influenza or days lost from work due to the virus. None of the vaccines showed a significant effect in reducing the risk of complications of the flu among healthy adults. That doesn't sound very effective to me. The researchers also found that about half of the trials they studied were funded by vaccine companies and often included only ideal viral-matching conditions. They also found widespread manipulation of the conclusions in those studies.
Fuhrman writes, "The fact that the flu vaccination is heavily promoted by government and medical authorities, despite the marginal benefits, fuels distrust of the entire medical/pharmaceutical/ government health complex, which reeks of collusion and conflict of interest. The situation is reflective of a foundational problem with health care today: governmental authorities shaping our personal medical decisions are heavily influenced by commercial interests wielding political donations, by powerful lobbyists, and by industry-funded experts," (p. 50). Almost all of the members of the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices have financial ties to the vaccine industry. That doesn't sound like a very balanced committee to me.
So what does the benefit-to-risk ratio of the flu vaccine look like for you and your family? Serious complications and death from the flu can and do occur, but those who are most in danger include those over seventy-five, those with chronic medical conditions, steroid-dependent individuals or those on other immunosuppressive drugs, those with significant immunosuppression, infants and toddlers under two who were not breastfed, and those who smoke cigarettes or whose food intake is primarily junk food.
Our society loves the flu shot because it's like a get out of jail free card. We like to think that we can build health by ingesting all of these modern medicinal substances, but the fact is, you can't buy health. You have to earn it! "Our bodies are highly resilient and self-repairing, but medicines cannot enable us to escape the biological laws of cause and effect. When we damage ourselves with exposure to toxic, disease-causing diets, we develop disease. Medicines cannot drug away the cellular defects that develop in response to improper nutrition throughout life," (p. 44). The most effective (and delicious) thing you can do is eat a whole foods plant based diet!