Home > H1N1 Flu, Parent Perspective, Seasonal Flu, Vaccine Myths > An Epidemic of Apathy Towards Seasonal Flu

An Epidemic of Apathy Towards Seasonal Flu

December 13, 2010

This article was originally printed as a guest post on BlogHer, Dec. 7, 2010, under the title, Why Everyone Should Get A Flu Shot, in honor of National Influenza Vaccination Week. 

By Christine Vara

Last year at this time, the H1N1 virus, also referred to as the “swine flu,” had us all rather panicked. People were anxious to get vaccinated against the flu then. But what about now?

My guess is that the media attention given to the H1N1 epidemic last year left a skeptical public uncertain about the impact of the flu, and the safety and effectiveness of flu shots in general.

Regrettably, H1N1 made itself personally known to my family last year when my own 9-year-old daughter, Marissa, received a positive diagnosis. Unfortunately, she contracted H1N1 before a vaccine became available. I’ll admit that my husband and I were very concerned.  In the back of our minds, we knew that she could easily become a tragic statistic, and the feeling was one of helplessness.

We did our best to quarantine her in order to keep the virus from spreading to our other four children. We tried to make her as comfortable as possible in her room, and gave her a walkie-talkie to call us with when she needed something. My husband even downloaded a week’s worth of Brady Bunch, Partridge Family and Happy Days reruns to keep her entertained. Her sisters slipped get well cards under her door and we served her meals on special trays that only my husband or I would handle and deliver.

After a week or so, my daughter recovered and resumed life as usual. It sure is interesting how a brief brush with an unpredictable disease can change your perspective. The unspoken fear that we faced last year has faded into a childhood memory for Marissa. Surprisingly, it appears that public memory has been short-lived as well — which troubles me as a mom of five active kids.

Due to the heightened concern from last year’sH1N1 outbreak, I would have guessed that more people would be inclined to get flu shots this year. Unfortunately, it appears that a significant portion of the public is more concerned about potential side effects of the vaccine than with the consequences of falling ill with influenza.

A survey of 1,500 adults, recently conducted by The Consumer Reports National Research Center, indicated that 30 percent of those surveyed will skip the flu shot this year, citing concerns about side effects, exaggerated epidemic messages, and a desire to build up their own immune systems.

Another recent Time article indicates that this sentiment is echoed among many parents. The National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) questioned more than 600 mothers of kids ages 6 to 18, and revealed that 80 percent of mothers said their attitude toward vaccination was not swayed by last year’s H1N1 scare and one-third were opting to forgo flu vaccination for their children, citing fear of side effects as their main concern.

What the public may fail to understand is that seasonal flu vaccines are extremely safe. Consider the fact that flu vaccines are administered year after year to a large percentage of the population. Because of this, they are some of the most widely used and well tested immunizations being administered today and their safety record is proven.

So what is all the worry about? Some minimal discomfort and minor side effects? 

Unfortunately, many of the common worries are actually based on unfounded myths.

To read the remainder of this post click here.  You will be redirected to the BlogHer website.  Feel free to submit your comments there, or include them here on Shot of Prevention. 

  1. Darlene
    December 13, 2010 at 2:20 pm

    Christine,
    Without cited evidence and studies, your emotionally-driven article is hardly printable. It seems that all the influenza and infectious disease vaccine drives rely on emotional manipulation and guilt to drive parents like herds of cattle toward the toxic needle.

    The attitude towards vaccines is prevelant in our society today. Americans would rather put a bandaid on the problem than fix it. Even if the bandaid isn’t 100% effective. Even if the bandaid causes its own set of problems in some. We’d rather file bankruptcy than curb our spending habits. We’d rather get gastric bypass than curb our eating habits. We’d rather get a vaccine than quit eating out and cooking real food at home that can nourish our children’s bodies and boost immunity naturally. We’d rather let the government tell us what we should do instead of doing our own research and using our own mommy instincts. We’d rather give our children fever reducers (even if they can result in febrile seizures and liver damage) rather than supporting our children’s bodies as it utilizes its God-given bug weapon.

    It is time we stop using bandaids and go to the source of the problem. Mamas, nourish your children. Don’t just feed them. Mamas, know that every allopathic drug you put in your child’s body will only cause it to work HARDER, not better. Mamas, stop listening to government propoganda – H1N1 was hardly a pandemic, in fact, they had to change the definition of pandemic in order for it to be used for H1N1.

    Mamas, it’s time to take back our God given responsibility to protect our children – from drugs, from doctors, and from disease (those three go together, by the way).

  2. Darlene
    December 13, 2010 at 2:25 pm

    “A definitive review and close reading of medical peer-review journals, and government health statistics shows that American medicine frequently causes more harm than good. The number of people having in-hospital, adverse drug reactions (ADR) to prescribed medicine is 2.2 million. Dr. Richard Besser, of the CDC, in 1995, said the number of unnecessary antibiotics prescribed annually for viral infections was 20 million. Dr. Besser, in 2003, now refers to tens of millions of unnecessary antibiotics. The number of unnecessary medical and surgical procedures performed annually is 7.5 million. The number of people exposed to unnecessary hospitalization annually is 8.9 million. The total number of iatrogenic deaths shown in the following table is 783,936. It is evident that the American medical system is the leading cause of death and injury in the United States. The 2001 heart disease annual death rate is 699,697; the annual cancer death rate, 553,251.”

    http://www.newmediaexplorer.org/sepp/2003/10/29/medical_system_is_leading_cause_of_death_and_injury_in_us.htm

  3. Karen
    December 13, 2010 at 2:38 pm

    Darlene–
    I wonder about your stance on the H1N1 pandemic of 1918. In that pandemic, those who died were the healthiest–people who, according to your logic, should have been protected by their natural immune systems (their “god-give bugs weapons”) and should have been able to fend off the illness. (Half of all Spanish flu deaths were adults between 20 and 40 years old). I am positive that in 1918, people would have been falling over themselves with glee had a flu vaccine been available.

    Good nutrition, exercise, and healthy lifestyles are great. You are correct that we should all strive to take care of our bodies before they get ill. Unfortunately, viruses and bacterium can strike even the healthy. Catching a virus has no benefit and (depending on the virus) real risk. Fortunately, we have another tool (besides healthy living) to prevent contracting viruses: vaccines.

  4. December 13, 2010 at 2:42 pm

    Now for the truth.

    “Superstar CBS Reporter Blows the Lid Off the Swine Flu Media Hype and Hysteria

    http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2009/11/24/Superstar-CBS-Reporter-Blows-the-Lid-Off-the-Swine-Flu-Media-Hype-and-Hysteria.aspx”

  5. Jenn
    December 13, 2010 at 4:20 pm

    “the common worries are actually based on unfounded myths.”

    These ‘myths’ are not unfounded. They’re real and right in everyone’s face. And that is the reason people aren’t interested in flu shots. There is no supporting evidence the flu is effective and safe.

    Myth: Its effective.
    Truth:
    1. Each year the flu strain is a guesstimate. It is very possible, and has happened, the ‘scientists’ could guess the wrong flu strain for that year. So, even if the flu vaccine were very effective you’d be taking a chance on if they got the right strain.
    2. Detailed review of flu vaccines effectiveness proves they aren’t has effective as they claim. We can look to Tom Jefferson’s research regarding effectiveness. http://www.bmj.com/content/333/7574/912.full.pdf
    Please read the paragraphs titled “Which evidence?” and “Evidence”
    Author’s summary points:
    *Because viral circulation and antigenic match vary
    each year and non-randomised studies
    predominate, systematic reviews of large datasets
    from several decades provide the best
    information on vaccine performance
    *Evidence from systematic reviews shows that
    inactivated vaccines have little or no effect on the
    effects measured
    *Most studies are of poor methodological quality
    and the impact of confounders is high
    *Little comparative evidence exists on the safety of
    these vaccines

    Myth: its safe
    Truth: not so fast.
    1. The amount of pressure CDC, media, and allopathic community place on pregnant women to get a flu shot is astounding, to say the least. To date there is NOT one flu vaccine that is sure if it is safe for pregnant women and their unborn fetus.
    2. Like all other vaccines, the flu vaccine isn’t sure if it has carcinogenic effects or cause fertility issues.
    3. The ingredients: Many flu vaccines use Thimerasol, a preservative that is 50 times more toxic than regular mercury. There are other toxic ingredients like antifreeze and formaldehyde. Carbolic acid is poisonous if touched or swallowed. Neomycin and streptomycin are antibiotics. While people who support the use of flu vaccines say these such ingredients are safe and we come into contact with them everyday, but they don’t have any studies proving that year, after year, after year of flu shots plus the mandated vaccines are safe and those ingredients (over time) don’t damage the immune system.
    4. Flu vaccine, 1 stop shop. In the real world, outside clinical trials, we know a person’s immune system is not naturally attacked by 2, 3, or 4 different viruses at a time. Yet, like many other vaccines, the new flu vaccines contain more than 1 virus.
    5. Guillain-Barre Syndrome is a risk. Supporters of the vaccine say this is a rare risk and a risk worth taking. But the majority know this is not true and have no desire to take this risk.
    6. FluMist may appear to be safe at first glance but the virus sheds for up to 21 days, allowing the recipient to possibly spread to those he/she comes in contact with.

    The evidence is out this vaccine isn’t effective and isn’t safe. In at least one study Vit D3 was proven to be considerably more effective than the flu vaccine yet CDC isn’t telling Americans about its benefits. The flu, like any other virus, needs to run its course. If you’re older or your immune system is compromised you need to make sure you take extra special care during the winter months but getting a flu vaccine is the last thing you’d want to run and do. If you do become ill get plenty of fluids and rest. If taking off from work or school is needed, do it. Get some ‘me’ time in :) Even the

    Myth: A flu shot would save the lives of many during the flu months.
    Truth:
    1. Even the FDA agrees the flu isn’t something to be too concerned about (but this was before the big flu vaccine push)
    FDA said in 2005: “Deaths from influenza are uncommon among both children with and without high-risk conditions, but do occur,”
    2. The numbers game. The CDC is either blatantly lying or they have really bad math skills. The numbers are so twisted no one knows what is what.
    3. Flu related death rate has remained constant, with or without use of flu vaccine. The years they got the wrong strain the flu related deaths didn’t increase. And over time flu vaccine use has increased, the jump in % is huge over the last 20yrs yet the flu related death rate is still the same.

  6. Jenn
    December 13, 2010 at 4:26 pm

    Sorry about the typo after the smiley face. I also wanted to add, if you do come down with the flu under NO circumstances take Tamiflu (or any other prescribed anti-viral). If you’re interested in the list of studies which prove its both extremely dangerous (especially in children) and resistant to H1N1, let me know as I’d be more then happy to share.

  7. Jenn
    December 13, 2010 at 4:32 pm

    The deaths of the H1N1 pandemic of 1918 has been attributed to the use of aspirin use while ill.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/13/health/13aspirin.html

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19528118

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091002132346.htm

    We will see the same with Tamiflu if they continue to use that.

  8. Jenn
    December 13, 2010 at 4:36 pm

    And they would have been falling over themselves with glee if their doctors didn’t play God with their life. They threw a med at that hoping it would help but it blew up in their face.

    Allowing the body to do its job of killing off a virus is the best thing you can do for yourself. Taking medication to stop something the body needs to do is ridiculous.

  9. Karen
    December 13, 2010 at 4:44 pm

    Jenn–
    Those articles are indeed interesting. However, a sweeping statement such as “The deaths of the H1N1 pandemic of 1918 has been attributed to the use of aspirin use while ill” is an inaccurate synopsis of the articles. Some scientists posit that aspirin toxicity might account for a small number of the Spanish flu deaths. And it does not answer my question–why did the 1918 flu pandemic hit the young and the healthy so disproportionately.

  10. Karen
    December 13, 2010 at 4:46 pm

    Jenn–in reply to your second post above…
    How is being invaded by a virus a good thing? What job does your body need to do? How do medications inhibit this important job?

  11. Jenn
    December 13, 2010 at 6:30 pm

    Aspirin. I’ve already told you the answer. Seems the only answer you want to hear is “lack of flu vaccine”. It did account for a large number, you just refuse to believe it. And knowing aspirin caused such issues, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand why the young and healthy were hit so hard – especially since the flu is easy to shake off when you are young and healthy.

    Here you go…please read the last sentence.

    “A sharper perspective emerges when 1918 age-specific influenza morbidity rates (21) are used to adjust the W-shaped mortality curve (Figure 3, panels, A, B, and C [35,37]). Persons <35 years of age in 1918 had a disproportionately high influenza incidence (Figure 3, panel A). But even after adjusting age-specific deaths by age-specific clinical attack rates (Figure 3, panel B), a W-shaped curve with a case-fatality peak in young adults remains and is significantly different from U-shaped age-specific case-fatality curves typically seen in other influenza years, e.g., 1928–1929 (Figure 3, panel C). Also, in 1918 those 5 to 14 years of age accounted for a disproportionate number of influenza cases, but had a much lower death rate from influenza and pneumonia than other age groups. To explain this pattern, we must look beyond properties of the virus to host and environmental factors, possibly including immunopathology (e.g., antibody-dependent infection enhancement associated with prior virus exposures [38]) and exposure to risk cofactors such as coinfecting agents, medications, and environmental agents."

    http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/EID/vol12no01/05-0979.htm

    This strange phenomenon of the young and healthy dying can be explained "environmental factors (e.g., medications)"

    and this article below…in the first sentence…"especially among young adults"

    "The high case-fatality rate—especially among young adults—during the 1918–1919 influenza pandemic is incompletely understood. Although late deaths showed bacterial pneumonia, early deaths exhibited extremely “wet,” sometimes hemorrhagic lungs. The hypothesis presented herein is that aspirin contributed to the incidence and severity of viral pathology, bacterial infection, and death, because physicians of the day were unaware that the regimens (8.0–31.2 g per day) produce levels associated with hyperventilation and pulmonary edema in 33% and 3% of recipients, respectively. Recently, pulmonary edema was found at autopsy in 46% of 26 salicylate-intoxicated adults. Experimentally, salicylates increase lung fluid and protein levels and impair mucociliary clearance. In 1918, the US Surgeon General, the US Navy, and the Journal of the American Medical Association recommended use of aspirin just before the October death spike. If these recommendations were followed, and if pulmonary edema occurred in 3% of persons, a significant proportion of the deaths may be attributable to aspirin. "

    http://cid.oxfordjournals.org/content/49/9/1405.abstract

  12. Jenifer
    December 13, 2010 at 7:01 pm

    Yikes! You seems to have seriously confused you facts and myths!

    1. On flu vaccine effectiveness and the studies supporting it: is the flu vaccine as effective as, say, the MMR or HiB vaccines? No, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth using. I certainly don’t assume it is 100% effective at preventing all flu, and I’ve never heard anyone claim otherwise. It only takes a few seconds to do a search of pubmed and find articles on the effectiveness of the flu vaccine. It’s not that hard. Just go over to http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed and type in the search terms influenza+vaccine+efficacy. I got a little over a thousand results. Doesn’t really matter what Tom Jefferson wrote in an editorial, you can search the peer reviewed research to get an idea of how effective the vaccine typically is, and how well matched it is to the circulating virus most years. Personally, I’d gladly take any reduction in my risk of catching the flu considering the risks associated with the vaccine are so incredibly small, both in real incidence and relative to influenza complications. And vaccination is just one part of staying healthy for my family – on top of eating right, exercising, hand washing, etc. Washing my hands isn’t a 100% guarantee to prevent the flu, but it’ll help quite a bit – so I wouldn’t give up on that one either.

    2. On flu vaccine safety: wow, did you really say that the flu vaccine contains antifreeze and that thimerosal is more toxic than elemental mercury?! I’d thought even the most staunch vaccine denialists had moved away from saying things like that considering they’re completely false and utterly absurd. For some information on vaccine ingredients (what they are, why they’re there, and the quantities used) I highly recommend this discussion: http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=9 I can’t even begin to address all the chemistry and basic science misconceptions you’ve posted, and since it has already been discussed in depth elsewhere, I’m not going to bother. Getting a flu vaccine doesn’t mean your body is “attacked” by 3 or 4 viruses at once. The vaccine contains dead or attenuated viruses, and the handful that are in that vaccine are nothing compared to the antigens you encounter and your immune system responds to every single day. Plus, the vaccine package inserts contain all the information on vaccine ingredients and the amounts used in each dose. It isn’t a big secret, and, quite frankly, once one takes a look at the ingredients and quantities, the anti-vaccine arguments start to look pretty silly.

    3. The flu vaccine can save lives: considering that it is both safe and effective, I’m not sure why you think it couldn’t save lives. Of course, there’s more to this as well. And saving lives isn’t the only metric that we can apply. How about reducing flu-related complications, hospitalization, etc? Reducing my chances of being miserable and sick for several days? Yeah, still worth it for me and my family.

  13. Jenifer
    December 13, 2010 at 7:11 pm

    Thanks for the article, Christine, and for sharing your experience and insights. I’m always amazed at how pervasive medical myths can be. I suppose Twain was right when he said, “a lie will fly around the whole world while the truth is getting its boots on”. I’m glad to see people out there talking about this. When I was pregnant with my son a few years ago, no one even mentioned the flu shot to me. Now, awareness about vaccination seems a lot higher, especially among parents with young children. We’ve already had the the flu shot in my household. I’d absolutely prefer the minimal discomfort of a shot to potentially passing the disease to someone I know or risking the possible complications.

  14. Jenifer
    December 13, 2010 at 9:00 pm

    Jenn-
    Neither of those two articles you’ve linked to come close to stating that any deaths during the 1918 pandemic were attributed to aspirin use. The first says other co-risk factors may have played a role, and the second argues that aspirin may have played some role, but presents no evidence. It only states in the conclusion that aspirin should be investigated to determine prospectively what role it may have played. In order to draw any conclusions about the science, you first need the ability to distinguish between opinion speculation, and actual hard data that has undergone peer review. But even if aspirin had a small role in increasing mortality among young adults, what does that matter in this argument? The flu vaccination can reduce incidence and severity of the flu. You can’t die from flu related complications if you don’t have the flu in the first place.

  15. Karen
    December 13, 2010 at 9:23 pm

    Jenifer–
    Excellent response. Thank you for taking the time to wade through and clarify the misinformation!

  16. Karen
    December 13, 2010 at 9:26 pm

    Ahh–You beat me to it, Jenifer. At this point I will let your words stand and save mine until later.

  17. Jenn
    December 13, 2010 at 9:47 pm

    “is the flu vaccine as effective as, say, the MMR or HiB vaccines? No, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth using. I certainly don’t assume it is 100% effective at preventing all flu, and I’ve never heard anyone claim otherwise.”

    First, no vaccine is 100% – we know that. Second, on average flu vaccines are considered 30-50% effective. What am I thinking, maybe you’ve got a 50/50 chance – have fun!

    “only takes a few seconds to do a search of pubmed and find articles on the effectiveness of the flu vaccine. It’s not that hard. Just go over to http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed

    Oh, how convenient – yeah, sure. Can’t wait to jump on over to that governmental and pharmaceutical funded website! Thanks!

    “risks associated with the vaccine are so incredibly small”

    According to the manufacturers the most common side effects are the same as the flu. What’s the point, really??

    “wow, did you really say that the flu vaccine contains antifreeze”

    Whoops, silly me. Guess I got confused with another vaccine. They all begin to sound the same after awhile. Toxic ingredient this, toxic ingredient that. Regardless, how ever you want to slice it or dice it – those ingredients aren’t healthy or helpful to any human body. And you can find that in your trust governmental websites.

    “Getting a flu vaccine doesn’t mean your body is “attacked” by 3 or 4 viruses at once.”

    What I meant by this was they include 2 or 3 different flu viruses in this years flu vaccines, don’t they? I thought they included not only the current year’s strain but also H1N1? I don’t know. I don’t inject myself with junk.

    “It isn’t a big secret, and, quite frankly, once one takes a look at the ingredients and quantities, the anti-vaccine arguments start to look pretty silly.”

    Yeah, we’re all pretty silly. Silly about staying healthy. Anyway, please don’t assume you know everything they are doing. You have no clue, none of us do, what is in their placebo. And its not sugar water, honey.

    “I’m not sure why you think it couldn’t save lives”

    Pretty simple actually. The flu related death rates don’t support that.

    “Reducing my chances of being miserable and sick for several days?”

    Actually, Echinacea (not recommended for those with autoimmune issues) has been proven quite effective and has antiviral properties. Taken with Vit C and Zinc – you’ve got a winning combo. I’m a super huge fan of probiotics too. Not sure how well I take care of myself though, gotta have my coffee. But, if and when I do get sick I’m ready to give my immune system what it needs. Being miserable for a few days isn’t something that happens. Imagine that, and I didn’t even have to get injected with junk?? Wow.

  18. Jenn
    December 13, 2010 at 10:00 pm

    Jenifer – I know how we can solve this. Lets do our own study?? What do you think, up for it?

    You take some aspirin next time you get the flu and let me know what happens?? Yeah, sound good? What do you think?? I’m sure I could arrange to have it peer reviewed.

    “There’s none so blind as those that will not see”

  19. Jenn
    December 14, 2010 at 12:58 am

    What excellent information. Thank you!

  20. Jenn
    December 14, 2010 at 1:44 am

    FDA approved 7 influenza vaccines for 2010-2011, 1 of which was FluMist. 3 (see below) state in the insert the following…

    “No controlled clinical studies demonstrating a decrease in influenza disease after vaccination with AFLURIA have been performed.”

    http://www.merck.com/product/usa/pi_circulars/a/afluria/afluria_pi.pdf

    “there have been no controlled clinical studies demonstrating a decrease in influenza disease after vaccination with AGRIFLU.”

    https://www.novartisvaccinesdirect.com/PDF/AgriFlu-PI-2010-2011_approved.pdf

    “there have been no controlled clinical studies demonstrating a
    decrease in influenza disease after vaccination with Fluzone High-Dose.”

    https://www.vaccineshoppe.com/image.cfm?image_type=product_pdf&pi=flu

    Regarding the safety for pregnant women and their fetus all said: “Safety and effectiveness have not been established in pregnant women or nursing mothers. (8.1, 8.3)”
    example: http://us.gsk.com/products/assets/us_fluarix.pdf

    How is this considered science?? How have they gotten away with telling people its safe and effective for so long??

    http://www.fda.gov/BiologicsBloodVaccines/GuidanceComplianceRegulatoryInformation/Post-MarketActivities/LotReleases/ucm202750.htm

  21. Jenifer
    December 14, 2010 at 1:39 pm

    Jenn-

    “First, no vaccine is 100% – we know that. Second, on average flu vaccines are considered 30-50% effective. What am I thinking, maybe you’ve got a 50/50 chance – have fun!”

    Thanks – I will! Honestly, reducing my change of getting the flu by even 50% sounds great considering the low risks of the vaccine. Like I said before, vaccination is just one part of what I do to keep my family healthy. You’re certainly cherry-picking the studies though if you’ve come out with an effectiveness of only 30-50%.

    “According to the manufacturers the most common side effects are the same as the flu. What’s the point, really??”

    The rate and the severity of those side effects are significantly different when you compare contracting the flu to getting the flu vaccine. The most common side effect of the vaccine is a sore arm. A significantly smaller percentage of people might run a low fever or be a bit congested. What percentage of people who contract the flu show flu-like symptoms? Didn’t you look through the package inserts that you posted?

    “Whoops, silly me. Guess I got confused with another vaccine. They all begin to sound the same after awhile. Toxic ingredient this, toxic ingredient that. Regardless, how ever you want to slice it or dice it – those ingredients aren’t healthy or helpful to any human body. And you can find that in your trust governmental websites.”

    I think you’re just confused in general. No vaccine contains antifreeze. Not the flu vaccine, not any of them. And toxicity is highly dependent on dosage. How can you say that ‘those ingredients’ aren’t healthy and helpful when they’ve been shown to reduce the likelihood of disease? Personally, I find viruses and bacteria that cause human disease to be unhealthy and unhelpful. I vaccinate to reduce my exposure to them.

    “What I meant by this was they include 2 or 3 different flu viruses in this years flu vaccines, don’t they?”

    Maybe you should spend a little more time understanding what vaccines contain before you make arguments about them. Vaccines don’t contain the ‘flu virus’, they contain dead virus or attenuated versions that cannot replicate the way that the wild type virus does. We’re talking about vaccination, not variolation. They do not burden the body’s immune system the way that influenza does. But yes, the seasonal flu vaccine contains antigens for 3 different influenza strains.

    “You have no clue, none of us do, what is in their placebo. And its not sugar water, honey. ”

    Actually, I do. All I need to do is read the clinical trails. Sugar water wouldn’t be a great vaccine placebo. But I’ve seen saline solution, water, other vaccines, among others. Again, all one needs to do to learn about vaccines is read the medical literature and clinical trails. – easily accessible via the internet or a library.

    “Actually, Echinacea (not recommended for those with autoimmune issues) has been proven quite effective and has antiviral properties. Taken with Vit C and Zinc – you’ve got a winning combo. I’m a super huge fan of probiotics too.”

    None of these things have been scientifically proven to reduce likelihood of infection or limit the severity of the flu. But if they make you feel better, I suppose that’s good, too.

    “How is this considered science?? How have they gotten away with telling people its safe and effective for so long??”

    You’re sure reading a lot more into those package inserts that what is actually being stated there. RCT’s are not the only type of study to demonstrate the effectiveness of a medical treatment or preventative measure. That statement in the product inserts come right after they lay out the safety studies and the evidence of higher seroconversion in those who received the vaccine. There are multiple lines of evidence and different types of studies showing flu vaccine safety and efficacy (go back and look through those 1000+ hits on pubmed that I mentioned earlier). Took about 6 seconds of searching to find one about influenza LIAV: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19095024

  22. Jenn
    December 14, 2010 at 3:59 pm

    “Vaccines don’t contain the ‘flu virus’, they contain dead virus or attenuated versions that cannot replicate the way that the wild type virus does.”

    Duh. I assumed that was common knowledge and didn’t have to explain it in detail. But thanks for the summary, the new flu vaccines contain 3 dead or attenuated versions of the viruses. I think we’re all pretty aware it cannot replicate the way that the wild type virus does, hence 1 big reason anti-vaxers not wanting to bother with them.

    “I think you’re just confused in general. No vaccine contains antifreeze.”

    You’re right, I’m sorry I didn’t use the industry term. My mistake, its proper name is Propylene Glycol. I think the polio vaccine has it, can’t remember.

    *Propylene Glycol (PG)
    Material Safety Data Sheets warn users to avoid skin contact with this substance, and protective clothing should be worn at all times. It is the cosmetic form of mineral oil found in automatic brake fluid, hydraulic fluid and industrial antifreeze, yet is also found in make-up, hair and skin care products, deodorants, and aftershave.
    The related agent, Polyethylene Glycol (PEG) which is found mainly in skin cleansers is a caustic used in industry to dissolve grease. Both of these are strong skin irritants and can cause contact dermatitis, liver abnormalities and kidney damage.
    It is the most common moisture-carrying vehicle, other than water, in cosmetics. It has better permeation through the skin than glycerin and is less expensive; although it has been linked to more sensitivity reaction.
    Industrial Use
    1. Anti-Freeze
    2. Paint
    3. Floor Wax
    Personal Care Products
    1. Shampoos
    2. Hair Conditioners
    3. Hand and Body Lotions
    4. Skin and Beauty Creams
    5. Deodorants
    Implicated in contact dermatitis, kidney damage and liver abnormalities; can inhibit cell growth in human tests and can damage membranes causing rashes, dry skin and surface damage. -From Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS)
    Propylene Glycol causes significant number of reactions and was a primary irritant to the skin in low levels of concentrations. -The American Academy of Dermatologists Inc, Jan 1991
    May be harmful by inhalation, ingestion or skin absorption. May cause eye irritation. Exposure can cause gastro-intestinal disturbances, nausea, headache and vomiting, central nervous system depression.
    -From Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS)

    1. “Honestly, reducing my change of getting the flu by even 50% sounds great considering the low risks of the vaccine.”
    2. “None of these things have been scientifically proven to reduce likelihood of infection or limit the severity of the flu.”

    1. I can Well then, if that’s the case…you could use Echinacea when you get sick! It’s proven to work AND it doesn’t need to be injected into you along with other ingredients. Here’s just a few of many published articles…
    2. You’ve really gotta do some research, you’re quite wrong in that assumption. While I agree Echinacea (like with any supplement) shouldn’t be taken for long periods and maybe be more effective using along with Vit C but you can’t discount its proven benefits. Its funny, you refuse to believe an herb that the earth has provided you is of little use while you have or to prevent the flu yet you haven’t got a problem with a man-made injection that hasn’t been proven to be that effective. Kinda make sense what Darlene had originally posted.

    Anti-viral properties and mode of action of standardized Echinacea purpurea extract against highly pathogenic avian influenza virus (H5N1, H7N7) and swine-origin H1N1 (S-OIV).
    Pleschka S, Stein M, Schoop R, Hudson JB.
    Virol J. 2009 Nov 13;6:197.
    Institute for Medical Virology, Justus-Liebig-University Giessen, Giessen, Germany. stephan.pleschka@mikro.bio.uni-giessen.de
    BACKGROUND: Influenza virus (IV) infections are a major threat to human welfare and animal health worldwide. Anti-viral therapy includes vaccines and a few anti-viral drugs. However vaccines are not always available in time, as demonstrated by the emergence of the new 2009 H1N1-type pandemic strain of swine origin (S-OIV) in April 2009, and the acquisition of resistance to neuraminidase inhibitors such as Tamiflu (oseltamivir) is a potential problem. Therefore the prospects for the control of IV by existing anti-viral drugs are limited. As an alternative approach to the common anti-virals we studied in more detail a commercial standardized extract of the widely used herb Echinacea purpurea (Echinaforce, EF) in order to elucidate the nature of its anti-IV activity.
    RESULTS: Human H1N1-type IV, highly pathogenic avian IV (HPAIV) of the H5- and H7-types, as well as swine origin IV (S-OIV, H1N1), were all inactivated in cell culture assays by the EF preparation at concentrations ranging from the recommended dose for oral consumption to several orders of magnitude lower. Detailed studies with the H5N1 HPAIV strain indicated that direct contact between EF and virus was required, prior to infection, in order to obtain maximum inhibition in virus replication. Hemagglutination assays showed that the extract inhibited the receptor binding activity of the virus, suggesting that the extract interferes with the viral entry into cells. In sequential passage studies under treatment in cell culture with the H5N1 virus no EF-resistant variants emerged, in contrast to Tamiflu, which produced resistant viruses upon passaging. Furthermore, the Tamiflu-resistant virus was just as susceptible to EF as the wild type virus.
    CONCLUSION: As a result of these investigations, we believe that this standard Echinacea preparation, used at the recommended dose for oral consumption, could be a useful, readily available and affordable addition to existing control options for IV replication and dissemination.
    Date of Electronic Publication: 2009 Nov 13
    Publication Status: epublish
    PMID: 19912623 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

    Echinacea purpurea along with zinc, selenium and vitamin C to alleviate exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: results from a randomized controlled trial.
    What is known and objective:  Upper respiratory tract infections (URTI) frequently cause exacerbations of chronic-obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Stimulation of the innate immune system may provide an early defence against such infections. The objective of this study was to determine whether Echinacea purpurea (EP) along with micronutrients may alleviate COPD exacerbations caused by acute URTI. Methods:  This was a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial in COPD patients with acute URTI.
    What is new and Conclusion:  The combination of EP, zinc, selenium and vitamin C may alleviate exacerbation symptoms caused by URTI in COPD. Further studies are warranted to investigate the interactions among Echinacea, zinc, selenium and vitamin C.
    Isbaniah F, Wiyono WH, Yunus F, Setiawati A, Totzke U, Verbruggen MA.J Clin Pharm Ther. 2010 Nov 10;. [Epub ahead of print]
    Department of Pulmonology and Respiratory Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Indonesia, Persahabatan Hospital, Jakarta, Indonesia Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, Faculty of Medicine, University of Indonesia, Persahabatan Hospital, Jakarta, Indonesia Totzke Scientific, Chancy/Geneva, Switzerland Frutarom Switzerland Ltd, Wädenswil, Switzerland.

    A standardized Echinacea extract demonstrates efficacy in the prevention and treatment of colds in athletes.
    Ross SM.
    Holist Nurs Pract. 2010 Mar-Apr;24(2):107-9.
    College of Nursing and Health Professions, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA 19102, USA. smr49@drexel.edu

    Conventional and alternative medical advice for cold and flu prevention: what should be recommended and what should be avoided?
    Moyad MA.
    Urol Nurs. 2009 Nov-Dec;29(6):455-8.
    University of Michigan Medical Center, Department of Urology, Ann Arbor, MI, USA
    Vitamins C and D have the largest benefit-to-risk ratio for patients and may reduce the risk of pneumonia from a recent meta-analysis. Other supplements, such has echinacea, vitamin E, and zinc, have some clinical data, but also have potential long-term safety issues.

    “You’re certainly cherry-picking the studies though if you’ve come out with an effectiveness of only 30-50%.”

    Well, I am using someones words. I originally had guessed off the top of my head 40-50% but then changed it to 30% when I read this…

    Abstract:
    A number of protective immune functions decline with age along with physiological and anatomical changes, contributing to the increased susceptibility of older adults to infectious diseases and suboptimal protective immune responses to vaccination. Influenza vaccination is the most cost-effective strategy to prevent complications from influenza viral infections; however, the immunogenicity and effectiveness of currently licensed vaccines in the United States is about 30-50% in preventing complications arising from influenza and preventing death from all causes during winter months in older adults. Hence, it is crucial to understand the molecular mechanisms that lead to immune dysfunction as a function of age so that appropriate strategies can be developed to enhance the disease resistance and immunogenicity of preventive vaccines, including influenza vaccines, for the older adult population.
    Immunosenescence and influenza vaccine efficacy.
    Sambhara S, McElhaney JE.
    Influenza Division, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1600 Clifton Road, Atlanta, GA 30333, USA. ssambhara@cdc.gov
    PMID: 19768417 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19768417

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