The Flu shot: What You Need to Know

The Flu is a illness caused by the influenza virus.  The flu virus has the ability to mutate and have multiple strains, making the illness a moving target when it comes to treatment. Symptoms of the flu vary depending on the type of flu A, B and C. Type A and B make up most of the annual flu breakouts. Fever, coughing, achy joints/muscles, headaches, and sore throat. The CDC estimates that the fatality rate of the flu is 1.2 deaths per 100,000 people, and 114,000-120,000 hospitalizations every year.

During the early fall months we have all at least one sign for the flu shot. The flu shot has been around since the 1940’s. Before the flu shot, doctors tried many things to combat the flu virus including but not limited to blood letting, oxygen therapy and magnetic healing. Asprin was shown to be ineffective in the 1918 when there was a huge epidemic of the flu. 1918 Flu:Aspirin

Doctors starting using blood from previously infected people and found some success, from there the flu shot had its beginning.

Today’s flu shot is recommended to just about everyone from babies to elderly and is mandatory in many occupations that involve contact with potentially infected people, or are in constant contact with general public.

The flu shot is deemed safe and effective by the CDC, however, as with any medication, there are possible side effects such as fever, runny nose, headache, and muscle soreness. More severe reactions involve allergic reactions, hives, dizziness swelling, trouble breathing, and accelerated heartbeat. These reactions can occur hours after the shot and should be addressed immediately.

The ingredients to the flu shot such as thimerosal or mercury (multidose vials), Aluminum salts, and formaldehyde give potential patients pause. In fact a flu shot can contain 25mcg of mercury which translates to 250,000 ppb(parts per billion). Drinking water is deemed unsafe and dangerous at 2 parts per billion. This leads many wonder if there is another way.

A recent study has shown that Vitamin D supplementation will reduce the risk of contracting the flu. Flu and Vit D Study from Japan

The main source of Vitamin D is the sun. You can also supplement with cod liver oil, or a whole food supplement.  Flu Epidemiology and Vitamin D.

Vitamin D or Vitamin D3 as its specific to humans, is made when sunlight reaches the skin and through the use of cholesterol, and a trip to the liver and kidneys, vitamin D is made.

As the month get colder and the sun shines shorter, our ability to make vitamin D is suppressed. It is no coincidence that during this same period of the year, flu cases rise.

Years ago we were aware of the benefits of vitamin D and bone health but now we are seeing that vitamin D also plays a role in our immunity as well. There has been strong evidence that vitamin D stimulates the production of antimicrobial peptides, specifically defensin. Defensin inhibits influenza virus infections by making the virus unable to latch in the body. But that’s not all, Vitamin D also reduces inflammation in the body by regulating cytokine release. Having less inflammation in the body will result in a healthier bodily environment, which in turn lessens the risk of becoming infected.

While the flu shot currently remains the more prescribed defense against the seasonal flu, everyone should consider the risks with both forms of defense and also consider their own probable exposure to the flu virus. (example hospital nurse compared to an administrative worker)

Since I have posted this page there have been a few studies to suggest the ineffectiveness of the Flu Shot. Flu shot ineffective over a 2 season span.

Flu Vaccine evidence for ineffectiveness. A Look for Policy Change.

Influenza vaccination and risk of community-acquired pneumonia.