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Low-cost Calgary IVF clinic took advantage of the ‘vulnerable and desperate,’ woman says

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Several Calgary women are raising concerns about the care they received at a private fertility clinic that has been without a full-time doctor since it opened more than a year ago.

Effortless IVF — which has plans to open clinics in Ottawa and Toronto — bills itself as a more affordable alternative to traditional in vitro fertilization, but some patients say their treatment was fraught with delays, confusion and frustration.

The company says it’s the only clinic of its kind in Canada that reduces costs by incubating eggs and sperm in a cylinder inside a woman’s body, avoiding expensive lab work and incubators. It also offers a simplified treatment, with less medication and fewer doctors appointments all — it claims — while offering similar birth rates to traditional IVF.

“I have nothing but sadness and disappointment with that clinic,” said Tanya Driscoll, 37, who has been trying to conceive for 10 years.

Driscoll and her husband became some of Effortless IVF’s first so-called “founding customers” when they made a payment of $4,000 before the doors opened.

But early delays with the opening meant the couple didn’t begin treatment until a year after making that initial payment.

‘Delay after delay after delay’

Once their treatment started, the clinic was able to produce one good embryo and Driscoll says that’s when her experience went from “bad to worse.”

She struggled to make an appointment to have the frozen embryo transferred into her uterus because — with no doctor on staff — the clinic’s Montreal-based medical director was flying in for days at a time to conduct appointments.

“Every month it was ‘well, the doctor’s not available. He’s not going to be in Calgary.’ There was delay after delay after delay,” said Driscoll.

The embryo transfer was eventually done, but according to Driscoll it happened eight days after an ultrasound showed her uterus was ready and she ultimately did not become pregnant.

“It just seemed like they were constantly adjusting, trying to make it so that you would fit [the doctor’s] schedule…. And anybody who is familiar with how the female body works, that’s not how it works,” said Driscoll.

After paying the clinic $6,000, Driscoll wrote to Alberta’s health minister with her concerns.

“I absolutely feel unfortunately that we wasted two years,” she said. “Those are two precious years we’re never going to get back.”

‘Giant money grab’

Sandra Lavery and her husband put down a $500 deposit with Effortless IVF in May 2018 and have yet to set foot in the clinic.

“I think that they’re taking advantage of a population that’s vulnerable and desperate,” she said.

Sandra Lavery gave Effortless IVF a $500 deposit in May and has yet to see a doctor or a nurse. (Jennifer Lee/CBC News)

Lavery, who initially contacted Effortless IVF in April, says she was told at the time that she could have the procedure done as early as June.

While she has been sent for blood work and an ultrasound, she hasn’t had an appointment with a doctor or a nurse.

“They kept putting me off. So by September, I was getting suspicious,” said Lavery, who then asked for her money back.

“It seems like a giant money grab. It doesn’t seem like anybody’s watching them or making sure that they’re providing the services they’re saying that they can.”

While Sandra initially received no response to her request for a refund, a cheque for half her original deposit arrived in her mailbox six days after CBC News initially contacted the company for a response.

‘It’s heart-wrenching’

Amber Smoch, 34, was stunned by what she calls disorganization and a lack of compassion during her time as a patient at Effortless IVF

“The entire experience was very sad. I was sad they didn’t call back. I was sad I didn’t connect with the doctor,” she said.

Smoch had an embryo transfer in February 2018 and it appeared as though she was pregnant.

But a nurse called her in late March to say her test results showed she’d miscarried and she was advised to stop her fertility medication and book a procedure to remove the tissue from her uterus.

According to Smoch, a nurse called back two days later to report the doctor, who was not in Calgary at the time, believed there was a chance she was still pregnant .

Smoch was told to resume her fertility medication — this time by injection to catch up on the two days she had gone without — and to cancel the procedure.

A week later an ultrasound confirmed what she had already been told — she had miscarried.

“It’s heart wrenching. It’s gutting,” said Smoch. “And to have the lack of support from the clinic — the chaos — it just adds insult to injury, really.”

Effortless responds

Effortless IVF opened its doors in Calgary more than a year ago without a full-time Calgary-based reproductive endocrinologist — or fertility specialist — and the clinic says it’s been working to recruit one ever since

“Since recently taking over as managing director, my focus has been on securing a full-time [reproductive endocrinologist] for Calgary, and expanding to provide service to the rest of Canada,” said Ric Ross in a statement emailed to CBC News. “I strive to provide safety to our patients and a good experience.”

In the email, Ross says they have found a physician from outside Canada who received specialty training at McGill University, but they’re still waiting for approval through Immigration and Citizenship Canada — something that’s expected “very soon.”

Up until May, the clinic’s medical director, Dr. Andrew Mok, was flying into Calgary once a month for up to 10 days at a time to see patients. During the summer, a physician from Edmonton travelled in twice to see patients and another doctor is expected to take over this month when treatments will resume.

“It is always our intention to provide services,” said Ross in his email.

Amber Smoch, pictured here with her husband David Feinstein, calls her experience at Effortless IVF “heartwrenching” and “gutting.” (Submitted by Amber Smoch)

According to Ross, patients who signed on in May and requested a refund have received one.

“I really try my very best to make things work for people in Calgary,” said Mok, a reproductive endocrinologist and assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at McGill University.

He joined the clinic as its medical director in March 2017.

Mok says because the clinic has no physician on staff, it uses a system called “batching” — where birth control pills are used to adjust the menstrual cycles of a number of women to align with the days a doctor is in town.

That can lead to delays, he says, if a woman’s period doesn’t fall within the corresponding time period.

“This is a month or maybe even possibly a two- or three-month delay due to other things,” said Mok. “It’s still not that excessive because some [traditional] programs have a waiting period of up to a year or much longer.”

Mok says traditional IVF programs conduct batching to a lesser extent so they don’t have to operate on weekends and holidays, for example.

According to Mok, who has a full-time practice in Montreal, Effortless IVF conducts more “extensive” batching which won’t have to continue once a full-time physician is in place.

“Obviously … if you have somebody 100 per cent there, it’ll work a lot better and things will move more smoothly for sure,” he said. 

Batching ‘not ideal’

So why start offering the service before there is a full-time doctor on staff?

According to Mok, the clinic wanted to start treating the first so-called “founding” patients, like Tanya Driscoll, who were offered a better deal if they paid upfront, before the clinic opened.

“They’re choosing the lesser of two evils — to have batching. Obviously it’s not the ideal. We don’t want to do that, but this is the best way out because they have hundreds of patients, founding patients, waiting to be done,” he said.

It was also about getting the clinic off the ground and establishing a reputation so it could attract a specialist of its own, according to Mok.

“It’s not that there [are no] doctors. There are plenty. But it’s not attractive enough for them. So I go there to start from scratch to get things going to show them that it works because it’s brand new in Canada.

“In Dallas, Texas, it’s been going on for many years and it’s working very well,” said Mok.

He says he can’t yet release data, but says babies have been born as a result of the treatment offered through the Calgary clinic.

When it comes to specific patient concerns, Mok says there may be medical reasons for the delay in Driscoll’s embryo transfer and adjustments can be made at the last minute if the timing isn’t right.

“It may not be the doctor’s not available, it may be that she’s not ready,” said Mok.

As for Smoch’s claims that confusion led the clinic to second-guess its miscarriage diagnosis causing her more stress, Ross says he won’t comment on the specifics for confidentiality reasons but the clinic is in contact with its medical director by phone when needed and also has access to an on-call emergency physician who works out of the Foothills hospital.

“We do understand that this is [a] very stressful time in our patients’ lives, especially when they do not achieve a positive outcome. We do make every effort to give them the best chance at success and a support system to avoid confusion and prove the proper information,” he said.

Regulator keeps eye on clinic

According to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta (CPSA), which accredits non-surgical facilities and labs, Effortless IVF is operating under a provisional accreditation because it is a relatively new clinic.

“We’re aware of the issues they’re having with recruiting a physician,” said Steve Buick, CPSA spokesperson. “That’s normal for a small clinic like this that’s newer and doing a procedure that’s very specialized like the one they do.”

The CPSA says it’s in regular contact with the facility’s medical director and staff recently conducted a site visit. Buick says Effortless IVF is considered competent to do the procedures it advertises and no safety issues have been identified.

“We’re aware of the concerns,” he said. “And we’re willing to keep working with the facility to maintain their accreditation.”

According to Buick, the college can step in and wants to hear from patients if they have concerns about their medical care.

But as the regulator of physicians, he says, it’s difficult for the CPSA to intervene in a dispute between a private business and its customers.

“Over time, if the facility just cannot in general do the procedures that it’s telling patients to do, and especially if they’re promising services and over and over again failing to deliver them, then yes, that does begin to bring its status into question,” said Buick.

Recruiting more patients

Meanwhile, Effortless IVF is offering a free information session in Calgary on Oct. 29 and will have a booth at the Calgary Women’s Show on Oct. 21 and 22.

That worries Lavery — who is still hoping to get the rest of her deposit refunded.

She wonders why the clinic is recruiting new patients when it appears to be struggling to provide service to its current customers.

“I worry that … more people will give them their money and get nothing for it,” said Lavery.

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Sweet! Here are 7 reasons to eat sweet potatoes

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(Natural News) Sweet potatoes may not be as popular as regular potatoes, which is too bad — since they’re packed with vitamins and minerals. One cup of sweet potatoes can provide more than 100 percent of the daily value of vitamin A. It’s also rich in vitamin C, dietary fiber, and manganese. Both purple and orange varieties contain antioxidants that can protect the body from damage caused by free radicals.

Eating sweet potatoes is beneficial for your health

Sweet potatoes are brimming with micronutrients and antioxidants —  making them useful to your health. Below is a list of reasons why you should incorporate sweet potatoes into your diet.

They improve brain function

The purple variety of sweet potato contains anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are known for their anti-inflammatory properties. Studies have revealed that anthocyanins are effective at improving cognitive function. Moreover, the results suggest that purple yams can help protect against memory loss. Antioxidants from the purple variety safeguard the brain against damage from free radicals and inflammation.

They aid digestion

Sweet potatoes are rich in dietary fiber. This macronutrient prevents constipation, diarrhea, and bloating by adding bulk and drawing water to the stool. In addition, fiber keeps a healthy balance in the gut by promoting the growth of good bacteria.

They slow down aging

The beta-carotene in orange sweet potatoes can help reduce damage caused by prolonged sun exposure. This is especially true for people diagnosed with erythropoietic protoporphyria and other photosensitive diseases. Sweet potatoes also contain antioxidants that protect against free radical damage. Free radicals are not only linked to diseases but also premature aging.

They boost the immune system

Orange and purple sweet potatoes are loaded with a good number of antioxidants that help protect the body from harmful molecules that cause inflammation and damage DNA. This, in turn, protects the body from chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease.

They can prevent cancer

Eating sweet potatoes can help protect against various types of cancers. The compounds in sweet potatoes restrict the development of cancer cells. Test tube studies have shown that anthocyanins can prevent cancers in the bladder, breast, colon, and stomach.

They lower blood sugar

Despite its relatively high glycemic index, studies have shown that the regular intake of sweet potatoes can help lower blood sugar, thanks to the presence of dietary fiber. While fiber falls under carbohydrates, it is digested differently, compared to starchy and sugary forms of carbohydrates. Interestingly, insulin doesn’t process fiber (unlike other types which get turned into glucose), and it only passes through the digestive tract.

They promote healthy vision

Orange sweet potatoes are rich in a compound called beta-carotene, an antioxidant which transforms into vitamin A in the body. Adequate intake of vitamin A promotes eye health. Conversely, deficiencies in vitamin A have been linked to a particular type of blindness called xerophthalmia.

Sweet potatoes are easy to incorporate into your everyday meals. They are best prepared boiled but can also be baked, roasted, or steamed — they can even replace other carbohydrates such as rice, potatoes, and toast. (Related: Understanding the phytochemical and nutrient content of sweet potato flours from Vietnam.)

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Frostbite: What it is and how to identify, treat it

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Manitoba’s temperature has plummeted to its coldest level this season, triggering warnings about the extreme risk of frostbite.

Oh, we know it’s cold. We can feel Jack Frost nipping at our noses. But what about when he gnaws a little harder — what exactly does “frostbite” mean?

People tend to underestimate the potential for severe injuries in the cold, says the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority. We laugh off the sting of the deep freeze, rub our hands back from the brink of numbness and wear our survival proudly like a badge.

That’s because, in most cases, frostbite can be treated fairly easily, with no long-term effects.

But it can also lead to serious injury, including permanent numbness or tingling, joint stiffness, or muscle weakness. In extreme cases, it can lead to amputation.

Bitter cold can cause frostbite in just minutes. Here’s how to recognize the warning signs and treat them. 0:59

Here’s a guide to identifying the first signs, how to treat them, and when to seek medical help.

What is frostbite and frostnip?

Frostbite is defined as bodily injury caused by freezing that results in loss of feeling and colour in affected areas. It most often affects the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers or toes — those areas most often exposed to the air.

Cooling of the body causes a narrowing of the blood vessels, slowing blood flow. In temperatures below –4 C, ice crystals can form in the skin and the tissue just below it.

Frostnip most commonly affects the hands and feet. It initially causes cold, burning pain, with the area affected becoming blanched. It is easy to treat and with rewarming, the area becomes reddened.

Frostbite is the acute version of frostnip, when the soft tissue actually freezes. The risk is particularly dangerous on days with a high wind chill factor. If not quickly and properly treated, it can lead to the loss of tissues or even limbs. 

Signs of frostbite

Health officials call them the four P’s:

  • Pink: Skin appears reddish in colour, and this is usually the first sign.
  • Pain: The cold becomes painful on skin.
  • Patches: White, waxy-feeling patches show when skin is dying.
  • Prickles: Affected areas feel numb or have reduced sensation.

Symptoms can also include:

  • Reduced body temperature.
  • Swelling.
  • Blisters.
  • Areas that are initially cold, hard to the touch.

Take quick action

If you do get frostbite, it is important to take quick action.

  • Most cases of frostbite can be treated by heating the exposed area in warm (not hot) water.
  • Immersion in warm water should continue for 20-30 minutes until the exposed area starts to turn pink, indicating the return of blood circulation.
  • Use a warm, wet washcloth on frostbitten nose or earlobes.
  • If you don’t have access to warm water, underarms are a good place to warm frostbitten fingers. For feet, put them against a warm person’s skin.
  • Drink hot fluids such as hot chocolate, coffee or tea when warming.
  • Rest affected limbs and avoid irritation to the skin.
  • E​levate the affected limb once it is rewarmed.

Rewarming can take up to an hour and can be painful, especially near the end of the process as circulation returns. Acetaminophen or ibuprofen may help with the discomfort.

Do not …

There are a number of things you should avoid:

  • Do not warm the area with dry heat, such as a heating pad, heat lamp or electric heater, because frostbitten skin is easily burned.
  • Do not rub or massage affected areas. This can cause more damage.
  • Do not drink alcohol.
  • Do not walk on your feet or toes if they are frozen.
  • Do not break blisters.

Seek immediate medical attention

While you can treat frostbite yourself if the symptoms are minor — the skin is red, there is tingling — you should seek immediate medical attention at an emergency department if:

  • The exposed skin is blackened.
  • You see white-coloured or grey-coloured patches.
  • There is severe pain or the area is completely numb.
  • The skin feels unusually firm and is not sensitive to touch after one hour of rewarming.
  • There are large areas of blistering.
  • There is a bluish discolouration that does not resolve with rewarming.

Be prepared

The best way to avoid frostbite is to be prepared for the weather in the first place.

Wear several loose layers of clothing rather than a single, thick layer to provide good insulation and keep moisture away from your skin.

The outer garment should breathe but be waterproof and windproof, with an inner thermal layer. Retain body heat with a hat and scarf. Mittens are warmer than gloves because they keep the fingers together.

Be sure your clothing protects your head, ears, nose, hands and feet, especially for children.

Wind chill and frostbite rates

Wind chill: 0 to –9.
Frostbite risk: Low.

Wind chill: –28 to –39.
Frostbite risk: Moderate.

Exposed skin can freeze in 10-30 minutes

Wind chill: –40 to –47.
Frostbite risk: High.

Exposed skin can freeze in five to 10 minutes.

Wind chill: –48 to –54.
Frostbite risk: Very High.

Exposed skin can freeze in two to five minutes.

Wind chill: –55 and lower.
Frostbite risk: Extremely High.

Exposed skin can freeze in less than two minutes.
 

NOTE: In sustained winds over 50 km/h, frostbite can occur faster than indicated.

Source: Environment Canada

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Awkward Flu Jabs Attempted at Golden Globes

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In what can only be described as a new level of propaganda, hosts Andy Samberg and Sandra Oh featured a flu shot stunt during the 76th Golden Globe Awards ceremony. They told the audience to roll up their sleeves, as they would all be getting flu shots, while people in white coats stormed down the aisles, syringes in hand.

Most of the audience looked thoroughly uneasy at the prospect of having a stranger stick them with a needle in the middle of an awards show. But perhaps the worst part of the scene was when Samberg added that anti-vaxxers could put a napkin over their head if they wanted to be skipped, basically suggesting that anyone opposed to a flu shot deserved to be branded with a proverbial scarlet letter.

The flu shots, for the record, were reportedly fake,1 nothing more than a bizarre gag that left many people stunned by the Globe’s poor taste in turning a serious medical choice into a publicity gimmick.

Flu Shot Stunt Reeks of Desperation

Whoever came up with the idea to turn the Golden Globes into a platform for a public health message probably thought it was ingenious, but the stunt only serves as a seemingly desperate attempt to make flu shots relevant and in vogue. During the 2017 to 2018 flu season, only 37 percent of U.S. adults received a flu shot, a 6 percent drop from the prior season.2

“To improve flu vaccination coverage for the 2018-19 flu season, health care providers are encouraged to strongly recommend and offer flu vaccination to all of their patients,” the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) wrote. “People not visiting a provider during the flu season have many convenient places they can go for a flu vaccination.”3

Yet, perhaps the decline in people choosing to get vaccinated has nothing to do with convenience and everything to do with their dismal rates of efficacy. In the decade between 2005 and 2015, the influenza vaccine was less than 50 percent effective more than half of the time.4

The 2017/2018 flu vaccine was a perfect example of this trend. The overall adjusted vaccine effectiveness against influenza A and B virus infection was just 36 percent.5

Health officials blamed the flu season’s severity on the dip in vaccination rates, but as Dr. Paul Auwaerter, clinical director of the division of infectious diseases at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, told USA Today, “[I]t is also true that the vaccine was not as well matched against the strains that circulated.”6

But bringing flu shots to the Golden Globes, and calling out “anti-vaxxers,” is nothing more than “medical care, by shame,” noted Dr. Don Harte, a chiropractic activist in California. “But it was entertaining, in a very weird way, including the shock and disgust of some of the intended victims, notably [Willem Dafoe],” he said, adding:7

“This Hollywood publicity stunt for the flu vaccine is one of the stupidest things I’ve ever seen from celebrities. But it does go with the flu shot itself, which is, perhaps, the stupidest of all the vaccines available.”

Did 80,000 People Really Die From the Flu Last Year?

The CDC reported that 79,400 people died from influenza during the 2017/2018 season, which they said “serves as a reminder of how severe seasonal influenza can be.”8 It’s important to remember, however, that the 80,000 deaths figure being widely reported in the media is not actually all “flu deaths.”

According to the CDC, “We look at death certificates that have pneumonia or influenza causes (P&I), other respiratory and circulatory causes (R&C), or other nonrespiratory, noncirculatory causes of death, because deaths related to flu may not have influenza listed as a cause of death.”9

As for why the CDC doesn’t base flu mortality estimates only on death certificates that list influenza, they noted, “Seasonal influenza may lead to death from other causes, such as pneumonia, congestive heart failure or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease … Additionally, some deaths — particularly among the elderly — are associated with secondary complications of seasonal influenza (including bacterial pneumonias).”10

In other words, “flu deaths” are not just deaths directly caused by the influenza virus, but also secondary infections such as pneumonia and other respiratory diseases, as well as sepsis.11

According to the CDC, most of the deaths occurred among those aged 65 years and over, a population that may already have preexisting conditions that makes them more susceptible to infectious diseases. As Harte said of annual flu deaths, “[M]ost if not all, I would assume, are of people who are already in very bad shape.12

CDC Claims Flu Vaccine Reduces Flu Deaths in the Elderly — But Does It?

Since people aged 65 and over are those most at risk from flu complications and death, the CDC has been vocal in their claims that the flu shot significantly reduces flu-related deaths among this population. The research, however, says otherwise.

Research published in 2005 found no correlation between increased vaccination rates among the elderly and reduced mortality. According to the authors, “Because fewer than 10 percent of all winter deaths were attributable to influenza in any season, we conclude that observational studies substantially overestimate vaccination benefit.”13

A 2006 study also showed that even though seniors vaccinated against influenza had a 44 percent reduced risk of dying during flu season than unvaccinated seniors, those who were vaccinated were also 61 percent less like to die before the flu season ever started.14

This finding has since been attributed to a “healthy user effect,” which suggests that older people who get vaccinated against influenza are already healthier and, therefore, less likely to die anyway, whereas those who do not get the shot have suffered a decline in health in recent months.

Journalist Jeremy Hammond summed up the CDC’s continued spreading of misinformation regarding the flu vaccine’s effectiveness in the elderly, as they continue to claim it’s the best way to prevent the flu:15

[T]here is no good scientific evidence to support the CDC’s claim that the influenza vaccine reduces hospitalizations or deaths among the elderly.

The types of studies the CDC has relied on to support this claim have been thoroughly discredited due to their systemic ‘healthy user’ selection bias, and the mortality rate has observably increased along with the increase in vaccine uptake — which the CDC has encouraged with its unevidenced claims about the vaccine’s benefits, downplaying of its risks, and a marketing strategy of trying to frighten people into getting the flu shot for themselves and their family.”

Death of Vaccinated Child Blamed on Not Getting Second Dose

In January 2019, the state of Colorado reported the first child flu death of the 2018/2019 flu season — a child who had received influenza vaccination. But instead of highlighting the vaccine’s failure and clear limitations, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment blamed the death on the child being only “partially vaccinated.”

“It’s an unfortunate but important reminder of the importance of two doses of influenza vaccine for young children who are receiving influenza vaccine for the first time,” Dr. Rachel Herlihy, who is the state communicable disease epidemiologist, said in a news release.16 For those who aren’t aware, the CDC notes that one dose of flu shot may not be enough to protect against the flu. Instead, they state:17

“Children 6 months through 8 years getting vaccinated for the first time, and those who have only previously gotten one dose of vaccine, should get two doses of vaccine this season …

The first dose ‘primes’ the immune system; the second dose provides immune protection. Children who only get one dose but need two doses can have reduced or no protection from a single dose of flu vaccine.”

Not only may the flu vaccine fail to provide protection against the flu, but many people are not aware that other types of viruses are responsible for about 80 percent of all respiratory infections during any given flu season.18 The flu vaccine does not protect against or prevent any of these other types of respiratory infections causing influenza-like illness (ILI) symptoms.

The chance of contracting actual type A or B influenza, caused by one of the three or four influenza virus strains included in the vaccine, is much lower compared to getting sick with another type of viral or bacterial infection during the flu season.

Does Flu Vaccine Increase the Risk of Influenza Infection, Contribute to Vaccine Shedding?

There are serious adverse effects that can come along with annual flu vaccination, including potentially lifelong side effects such as Guillain Barré syndrome and chronic shoulder injury related to vaccine administration (SIRVA). They may also increase your risk of contracting more serious flu infections, as research suggests those who have been vaccinated annually may be less protected than those with no prior flu vaccination history.19

Research presented at the 105th International Conference of the American Thoracic Society in San Diego also revealed that children who get seasonal flu shots are more at risk of hospitalization than children who do not. Children who had received the flu vaccine had three times the risk of hospitalization as children who had not. Among children with asthma, the risk was even higher.20

There’s also the potential for vaccine shedding, which has taken on renewed importance with the reintroduction of the live virus vaccine FluMist during the 2018/2019 season. While the CDC states that the live flu virus in FluMist is too weak to actually give recipients the flu, research has raised some serious doubts that this is the case.

One recent study revealed not only that influenza virus may be spread via simple breathing (i.e., no sneezing or coughing required) but also that repeated vaccination increases the amount of virus released into the air.21

MedImmune, the company that developed FluMist, is aware that the vaccine sheds vaccine-strain virus. In its prescribing information, they describe a study on the transmission of vaccine-strain viruses from vaccinated children to nonvaccinated children in a day care setting.

In 80 percent of the FluMist recipients, at least one vaccine-strain virus was isolated anywhere from one to 21 days following vaccination. They further noted, “One placebo subject had mild symptomatic Type B virus infection confirmed as a transmitted vaccine virus by a FluMist recipient in the same playgroup.”22

Are There Other Ways to Stay Healthy During Flu Season?

Contrary to the CDC’s and Golden Globe’s claims that flu vaccinations are a great way to prevent flu, other methods exist to help you stay healthy during the flu season and all year, and they’re far safer than annual flu vaccination. Vitamin D testing and optimization have been shown to cut your risk of respiratory infections, including colds and flu, in half if you are vitamin D deficient, for instance.23,24

In my view, optimizing your vitamin D levels is one of the absolute best respiratory illness prevention and optimal health strategies available. Influenza has also been treated with high-dose vitamin C,25 and taking zinc lozenges at the first sign of respiratory illness can also be helpful.

Following other basic tenets of health, like eating right, getting sound sleep, exercising and addressing stress are also important, as is regularly washing your hands.

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