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Articles of Interest
  • The Fluzone High-Dose vaccine, designed specifically for  seniors, contains four times the amount of antigen compared to the  regular flu vaccine. Yet there is no scientific evidence to support the theory  that a higher dose of antigen will result in decreased risk of flu and related  health complications.
  • Effectiveness studies, comparing the high-dose flu  vaccine to the regular vaccine, are not scheduled to be completed until 2015.  But "gold standard" scientific reviews have repeatedly concluded that flu  vaccine does not work in seniors (and can be ineffective for other age groups  as well).
  • Compared to the regular vaccine, Fluzone High-Dose has  been found to cause more side-effects, including slightly higher rates of  Serious Adverse Events.
  • Over 200 viruses cause influenza and influenza-like  illness with identical symptoms. At best, vaccines might be effective against  influenza A and B, which represent about 10 percent of all circulating  viruses. If the vaccine is partially matched to the circulating flu strains,  100 people must be vaccinated to prevent ONE case of influenza-like  illness.
  • According to a review of the scientific evidence,  influenza vaccine use does not affect the number of people hospitalized or  working days lost. But flu vaccine has been associated with Guillain Barre  syndrome (GBS) and it has been estimated that, at a minimum, one case of  Guillian-Barré syndrome occurs per one million vaccinations.

By Dr. Mercola

"Fluzone High-Dose <http://www.vaccine-tlc.org/docs/pi/vicId-61.pdf> " is a new influenza vaccine  manufactured by Sanofi Pasteur.  The new vaccine was created specifically  for seniors, 65 and older.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are quick to reassure  seniors  that Fluzone is just as safe as regular seasonal flu  vaccines.  If you read the details on the CDC website, however, you will  quickly realize that Fluzone may not be as safe as claimed. .  

Fluzone appears to cause a lot more side effects, including fevers.

According to the CDC <http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/vaccine/qa_fluzone.htm> :

"The safety profile of Fluzone High-Dose vaccine is similar to that  of regular flu vaccines, although adverse events (which are also reported  after regular flu vaccines) were reported more frequently after vaccination  with Fluzone High-Dose.

The most common adverse events experienced during clinical studies  were mild and temporary and included pain, redness and swelling at the  injection site and headache, muscle aches, fever and  malaise."

Why do Seniors Get a Higher Dose Vaccine?

One of the primary differences between the 'regular' Fluzone vaccine and  Fluzone High-Dose for seniors is that the latter contains four times as much microbial antigen—the lab altered flu viruses - that prompt your body  to produce antibodies to the three different influenza strains contained in  the flu vaccine.

The idea is that seniors need more antigen in order to provoke the desired  immune response, because studies have found that the flu vaccine creates only  a weak immune response in the elderly. In essence, they've realized that the  flu vaccine does not work in the elderly, and the belief is that upping the  dose will do the trick.

However, if you read the package insert <http://www.vaccine-tlc.org/docs/pi/vicId-61.pdf> , it will clearly tell you  that there is absolutely no evidence backing up this theory… It  states:

"Data from clinical trials comparing Fluzone to Fluzone  High-Dose among persons aged 65 years or older indicate that a stronger  immune response (i.e. higher antibody levels) occurs after vaccination with  Fluzone High-Dose.

Whether or not the improved immune response leads to greater  protection against influenza disease after vaccination is not yet known.   An ongoing study designed to determine the  effectiveness of Fluzone High-Dose in preventing illness from influenza  compared to Fluzone is expected to be completed in  2014-2015."

What this means is that for the next four years or so, seniors receiving  this much more potent dose of the flu vaccine are participating in what  amounts to an uncontrolled experiment. There is already admission that nobody  knows whether it will actually prevent seniors from getting the flu or not!
High-Dose Flu Vaccine has Higher Rates of Serious Adverse Events

According to the manufacturer's safety studies, compared to the regular  Fluzone vaccine the high-dose version not only resulted in more frequent  reports of common adverse reactions, it also caused slightly higher rates of  Serious Adverse Events (SAE's).

A total of 6.1 percent of seniors injected with the regular Fluzone vaccine  experienced a serious adverse event, compared to 7.4 percent of those  receiving the high-dose version. According to the package insert <http://www.vaccine-tlc.org/docs/pi/vicId-61.pdf> , the SAE's reported  during the post-approval use of the vaccine include:


While the annual flu vaccine is touted as the "best" way to avoid catching  the seasonal flu, what many fail to realize is that there's virtually NO good  scientific evidence to support it. Again and again, the Cochrane Database  Review—which is the gold standard for assessing the scientific evidence for  the effectiveness of commonly used medical interventions—has concluded that  flu vaccines do not appear to have any measurable benefit either for children,  adults, or seniors.

Take a look at these five Cochrane Database Reviews, published between 2006  and 2010, which call into serious question the claim that flu shots are the  best way to stay healthy during the flu season.

  1. Last year, Cochrane reviewed the available scientific evidence that flu shots  protect the elderly <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20166072> , and the results were abysmal. The authors  concluded that:
  2. “The available evidence is of poor quality and  provides no guidance regarding the safety, efficacy or effectiveness of  influenza vaccines for people aged 65 years or older.”
  3. Cochrane reviewers also evaluated whether or not flu shots given to  health care workers can help protect the elderly patients in nursing homes  with whom they work. The research did not find an effect from the  vaccinations on laboratory-confirmed influenza.  Influenza vaccinations  were also not linked to a reduction in either pneumonia or deaths from  pneumonia. In conclusion, the authors state that:“[T]here is no  evidence that vaccinating health care workers prevents influenza in elderly  residents in long-term care facilities.
  4. Ditto for children. A large-scale, systematic review of 51 studies,  published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16437500> in  2006, found no evidence that the flu vaccine is any more effective than a  placebo in preventing influenza in children under two. The studies involved  260,000 children, age 6 to 23 months.
  5. Two years, later, in 2008,  another Cochrane review <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18425905> again concluded that “little evidence is  available” that the flu vaccine is effective in preventing influenza in  children under the age of two.
  6. As for the general adult population, Cochrane published the following bombshell  conclusion <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20614424> last year:
  7. “Influenza vaccines have a  modest effect in reducing influenza symptoms and working days lost. There is  no evidence that they affect complications, such as pneumonia, or  transmission.
  8. WARNING: This review includes 15 out of 36  trials funded by industry (four had no funding declaration). An earlier  systematic review of 274 influenza vaccine studies published up to 2007  found industry funded studies were published in more prestigious journals  and cited more than other studies independently from methodological quality  and size. Studies funded from public sources were significantly less likely  to report conclusions favorable to the vaccines.
  9. The review  demonstrated that reliable scientific evidence confirming that  influenza vaccines are effective is thin and there is plenty of reason to  suspect that there may be a manipulation of conclusions when the studies are  funded by drug companies. The content and conclusions of this  review should be interpreted in light of this finding.” [Emphasis  mine.]

Did You Know? 100 People Must be Inoculated in Order to Prevent ONE Case of the Flu...

Cochrane also published the following telling  statistics <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0010949/> :

"Over 200 viruses cause influenza and influenza-like illness, which  produce the same symptoms (fever, headache, aches and pains, cough and runny  noses). Without laboratory tests, doctors cannot tell the two illnesses  apart. Both last for days and rarely lead to death or serious illness.  At best, vaccines might be effective against only influenza A and B,  which represent about 10 percent of all circulating viruses. Each  year, the World Health Organization recommends which viral strains should be  included in vaccinations for the forthcoming season.

Authors of this review assessed all trials that compared vaccinated  people with unvaccinated people. The combined results of these trials showed  that under ideal conditions (vaccine completely matching circulating viral  configuration) 33 healthy adults need to be vaccinated to avoid one set of  influenza symptoms.

In average conditions (partially matching vaccine) 100 people  need to be vaccinated to avoid one set of influenza  symptoms.

Vaccine use did not affect the number of people hospitalised or  working days lost but caused one case of Guillian-Barré syndrome (a major  neurological condition leading to paralysis) for every one million  vaccinations."

Is it really worth risking the health and well-being of 100 people  in order to prevent ONE case of the flu, which may or may not result in  serious illness or death in that one individual to begin with?
The Two Most Potent Flu Prevention Strategies I Know of

Since the flu vaccine myth is nearing its ultimate demise, what is  the best way to avoid contracting the flu each and every year?

The answer lies in maintaining a robust immune system, and the first thing  you want to do when you feel yourself coming down with a cold or flu is to  avoid ALL sugars (fructose in particular), artificial sweeteners, and  processed foods. This also includes fructose from fruit juice, and all types  of grains (as they break down as sugar in your body).

It's important to remember that excessive sugar consumption effectively suppresses your immune  system <http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/04/20/sugar-dangers.aspx> and impairs your defenses against all infectious disease.  

I also strongly recommend taking one specific action that can help reduce  your chances of ever developing symptoms in the first place, and that is to  make sure your vitamin D levels are optimized year-round <http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2008/12/16/my-one-hour-vitamin-d-lecture-to-clear-up-all-your-confusion-on-this-vital-nutrient.aspx> . There's a  new hypothesis stating that the widespread prevalence of colds and flu's may  actually be due to vitamin D deficiency, which is incredibly common  in the United States, especially during the winter months when cold and flu  viruses are at their peak.
Scientific Evidence Supports Vitamin D as a Viable Flu Prevention Strategy

Just like eating too much sugar, getting too little vitamin D can seriously  impair your immune system and make you far more susceptible to contracting  colds, influenza, and other respiratory infections. And, while studies keep  confirming the ineffectiveness of flu vaccines, several studies now support  that vitamin D can help keep you healthy during flu season:

This is not surprising once you realize that vitamin D produces 200 to 300  different antimicrobial peptides in your body that kill bacteria, viruses and  fungi. Essentially, it works as a very broad antibacterial and  antiviral agent. For comparison, a flu vaccine is designed to protect against  just two very specific viral strains...


While the temptation to reach for a vitamin D3 supplement can be great, I  urge you to make a concerted effort to optimize your levels by getting  adequate sun exposure or by using a safe tanning bed <http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/01/19/FDA-Implements-Tax-for-Tanning.aspx> , even in the winter months,  if you can.

Why?

Because when you expose your skin to sunshine, your skin synthesizes  vitamin D3 sulfate. This form is water soluble, and can therefore  travel freely in your blood stream. Oral vitamin D3 supplements are NOT  sulfated, and therefore require LDL (the so-called "bad" cholesterol) as a  vehicle of transport. According to Dr. Stephanie Seneff <http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/09/17/stephanie-seneff-on-sulfur.aspx> , there's reason to  believe that the oral non-sulfated form of vitamin D may therefore not provide  the same benefits as the vitamin D created in your skin from sun exposure,  because it cannot be converted to vitamin D sulfate.

However, if you do not have access to a safe tanning bed or sunshine then  it is best to take oral vitamin D3.  New research shows that the dose  MOST adults need to reach therapeutic levels is 8,000 units per day. If you  are taking 5,000 IU's, you may want to consider increasing it  as most  adults need more. Of course it is important to confirm your blood  levels though, as some people require considerably more in order to reach  therapeutic levels.
Other All-Natural Immune-Boosting Strategies

Aside from boosting your vitamin D levels and abstaining from sugary foods,  additional long-term prevention strategies include getting plenty of quality sleep <http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/10/02/secrets-to-a-good-night-sleep.aspx> , exercising regularly <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21041243> , and effectively addressing the daily stresses of your life <http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2008/01/02/stress-and-flu.aspx> . Taken  together, these strategies lay the groundwork for a robust immune system that  can stand up to all kinds of viral and bacterial assaults.

However, there are also a number of all-natural therapies that can help you  combat colds and flu's on a more short-term basis. Here's a listing of some of  the most effective ones:

      • Zinc—According to a Cochrane Database Review of the medical research on  zinc <http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/03/03/is-zinc-really-good-for-a-cold.aspx> , when taken within one day of the first symptoms,  zinc can cut down the duration of a cold by about 24 hours. It was also  found to greatly reduce the severity of symptoms.
      • Chicken soup—Chicken contains a natural amino acid  called cysteine, which can thin the mucus in your lungs and make it less  sticky so you can expel it more easily. For best results, make up a fresh  batch yourself (or ask a friend or family member to do so) and make the soup  hot and spicy with plenty of pepper. The spices will trigger a sudden  release of watery fluids in your mouth, throat, and lungs, which will help  thin down the respiratory mucus so it's easier to cough up and expel.
      • Mushrooms—While most people think only of eating the  fleshy fruiting body of the mushroom (the part that grows above ground),  most of the benefits are actually located in their complex root structure,  called the mycelium. Beta glucans and proteoglycans are the primary  biologically active compounds in the mushroom fruit body and mycelia that  support your immune system. The beta glucans are special proteins with  unique side-branching patterns that “fit” perfectly with cellular receptor  sites that support your immune system, just like a key in a lock.
      • Mushrooms also contain trace minerals, polysaccharides, amino acids  and fiber that support your health by protecting against environmental  stressors; supporting your detoxification process; and promoting healthy gut  flora and optimal digestion, just to name a few of the known health  benefits.
      • Vitamin C: A very potent antioxidant; use a natural  form such as acerola, which contains associated micronutrients. You can take  several grams every hour till you are better unless you start developing  loose stools
      • Oregano Oil: The higher the carvacrol concentration,  the more effective it is. Carvacrol is the most active antimicrobial agent  in oregano oil.
      • Propolis: A bee resin and one of the most  broad-spectrum antimicrobial compounds in the world; propolis is also the  richest source of caffeic acid and apigenin, two very important compounds  that aid in immune response.
      • A tea made from a combination of elderflower, yarrow, boneset,  linden, peppermint and ginger; drink it hot and often for combating  a cold or flu. It causes you to sweat, which is helpful for eradicating a  virus from your system.
      • Olive leaf extract: Ancient Egyptians and Mediterranean  cultures used it for a variety of health-promoting uses and it is widely  known as a natural, non-toxic immune system builder.

Source:  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention <http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/vaccine/qa_fluzone.htm>
Source:  Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews February 17, 2010; (2): CD005187 <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20166073>
Source:  Green Med Info <http://www.greenmedinfo.com/article/influenza-vaccination-healthcare-workers-who-work-elderly-has-no-effect-laboratory-proven-in>