It’s not too late for a flu shot—but that doesn’t mean you should get one

March has arrived. Spring is just a few short weeks away. So you might think that the annual flu shot blitz is over.

But you’d be wrong.

Just in the past week, CDC officials made yet another announcement urging everyone over the age of six months to get a flu shot. “It’s not too late” they said, and “vaccination is the single most important thing you can do to protect yourself.”

These aren’t scare tactics you’d expect to encounter at the end of February. But 2014 is proving to be an exception. In fact, I recently heard from a patient who told me that her local internist said she should actually get a second shot, because this year’s flu was so bad.

That’s a whole new level of paranoia. But as you may have noticed, the latest flu season has certainly brought it out in people.

Flu shot mania has gotten so bad—and the propaganda has gotten so good—that some employers are mandating that their employees get flu shots. Or risk serious consequences if they fail to comply.

Like the pregnant nurse who made headlines back in December for losing her job when she refused vaccination, for example.

Dreonna Breton felt strongly about the poor science surrounding the flu shot’s safety for pregnant women. Strong enough that she was willing to be fired rather than comply with the vaccine mandate her employer had imposed.

It’s incredible to see someone stand by their principles so fiercely. But Breton isn’t the first healthcare worker to face termination for turning down flu vaccination. And I doubt she’ll be the last.

It’s an infuriating situation. Because as I’ve said many times before, the flu shot is not your best form of protection against the flu. Even generous statistics suggest it’s only effective half the time. And often, the rate is far lower than that.

What’s more, it does come with risks—especially for people who may be allergic to the shot’s contents. And what about pregnant women? Is the flu shot really safe for this vulnerable population?

Lots of health organizations would like us to believe it is. But flu shot manufacturers themselves admit the science simply isn’t there.

The labels of several different flu vaccines clearly state that no safety and effectiveness studies on pregnant and nursing women were performed prior to FDA approval.

Does this mean that a flu shot will harm a pregnant mother or her unborn baby? No. But it’s not an ironclad guarantee that it won’t, either.

So can you blame an expectant mother for not wanting to take that chance? Can you blame anyone, really?

I certainly can’t. Not with the flu vaccine’s perpetually lame effectiveness rates. And not when simple steps offer just as much protection from illness. Steps like:

  • Avoiding sugar. Just one teaspoon suppresses your immunity by 50 percent.
  • Regular hand washing, with plain old soap and water.
  • Smart supplementation. I wrote about my foolproof prescription for a healthy immune system in the December issue of my Logical Health Alternatives newsletter. If you don’t still have your copy, you can download it for free by logging on to the Subscriber section  at the top of the site. (And if you’re not already a subscriber, the Newsletter tab has all the details you need to sign up today, so you don’t miss out on critical information like this.)

Given how effective these shot-free flu solutions are, the risk-benefit ratio of annual vaccination just doesn’t add up.

Look, I’m not arguing that this flu season hasn’t been a rough one. H1N1—the same “swine flu” that triggered all of those panicked headlines back in 2009—is among this year’s strains. And it hit the younger (typically healthier) population particularly hard.

But facts are facts. Just like years past, reports suggest that this year’s flu shot was a total goose egg for half of the people who actually got one.

With spring right around the corner, I can’t help but wonder if these eleventh hour appeals have more to do with moving extra inventory than with protecting the public health.

Source:

“CDC urges flu vaccinations amid mounting H1N1 illnesses.” LA Times. Feb 20, 2014.

“Pregnant RN Fired for Refusing Flu Vaccine: Not So Simple?” Medscape. Feb 05, 2014.


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