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Sunshine Helps Kill Germs Indoors





A new study from the University of Oregon suggests rooms exposed to sunlight contain less viable bacteria than those maintained in the dark. While more research is needed to fully understand how ultraviolet (UV) light changes household dust, I’ll take this opportunity to expose some of the toxins found in it.

Chemicals from flame retardants, household cleaners and personal care products accumulate in household dust and can potentially affect your well-being. Aside from implementing clean-air strategies in your home, another step you can take to avoid indoor dust and better your health is to spend more time outdoors.

Sunlight Shown to Reduce Dust-Dwelling Bacteria

Research performed at the University of Oregon (UO) suggests letting sunlight in through windows can kill bacteria living in household dust. The study, published in the journal Microbiome,1 quantified the dust-based bacteria that remained alive and viable when exposed to different lighting conditions. The scientists noted:2

  • Just 6 percent of bacteria exposed to UV light remained viable
  • 6.8 percent of bacteria exposed to daylight was viable
  • 12 percent of the bacteria found in dark rooms stayed viable

With respect to the context for this study, lead author Ashkaan Fahimipour, Ph.D., postdoctoral researcher at the UO’s Biology and the Built Environment Center, said:3

“Humans spend most of their time indoors, where exposure to dust particles that carry a variety of bacteria, including pathogens that can make us sick, is unavoidable. Therefore, it is important to understand how features of the buildings we occupy influence dust ecosystems and how this could affect our health.”

After analyzing the bacteria in household dust that had been seeded into miniature, climate-controlled rooms, where it was exposed to one of three types of lighting conditions for 90 days, the team discovered:4,5

  • Dust kept in the dark contained bacterial organisms that are closely related to types associated with respiratory illnesses; these organisms were largely absent in dust samples that had been exposed to sunlight
  • A smaller proportion of bacteria derived from human skin and a larger proportion of bacteria derived from outdoor air lived in dust exposed to light as compared to dust kept in the dark

Based on those findings, the researchers assert the presence of sunlight causes the indoor dust microbiome to more closely resemble bacterial communities commonly found outdoors. Says Fahimipour, “Our study supports a century-old folk wisdom, that daylight has the potential to kill microbes on dust particles, but we need more research to understand the underlying causes of shifts in the dust microbiome following light exposure.”6

Long Days Spent Indoors = Increased Exposure to Dust-Based Toxins

According to a survey sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which gathered data from 9,386 respondents, Americans spend about 87 percent of their time in enclosed buildings and an additional 6 percent inside enclosed vehicles.7

That means most people spend just 7 percent of their lives breathing outdoor air. Spending this much time indoors each day puts you at risk for health problems associated with indoor air pollution. With respect to indoor air quality and illness, the EPA states:8

“Some health effects may show up shortly after a single exposure or repeated exposures to a pollutant. These include irritation of the eyes, nose and throat, headaches, dizziness and fatigue.

Such immediate effects are usually short-term and treatable. Sometimes the treatment is simply eliminating the person’s exposure to the source of the pollution, if it can be identified.”

Some pollutants concentrate indoors, where levels may be two to five times higher than typical outdoor concentrations, the EPA says. 9,10 Though widely regarded as an aesthetic issue more than a potential health hazard, household dust has been identified as a major source of health-damaging pollutants.

The EPA notes those at increased risk of harm from indoor air pollution include the very young, older adults (especially the homebound) and those suffering from cardiovascular and respiratory diseases.11,12 In recent years, indoor concentrations of some pollutants have increased dramatically due to factors such as:13

  • Energy-efficient construction, which effectively seals buildings and homes in a manner that can reduce a structure’s breathability and hamper air exchange
  • Increased use of synthetic and toxin-laced building materials, furnishings, household cleaners, pesticides and personal care products

Household Dust Found to Contain 9,000 Species of Bacteria and Fungi

Your home, like your body, is filled with a vast array of microbes, many of which live in your household dust. In a 2015 analysis of dust from 1,200 U.S. homes, researchers discovered an average of more than 7,000 species of bacteria and 2,000 species of fungi.14,

According to BBC News, among the fungi found in dust were well-known molds such as Aspergillus, Alternaria, Fusarium and Penicillium.16 The researchers noted the exact makeup of the fungal ecosystem hinged on the home’s location more than the design of the home and other factors. Study coauthor Noah Fierer, Ph.D., professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Colorado Boulder, said:

“Most of the fungi we are seeing in the home appears to be coming from outside … They enter the home on our clothing, or through open windows or … doors. Therefore, the best predictor of what types of fungi are in your home is where your home is located.” 17

The most intriguing aspect of the findings may have been the fact the microbial makeup of dust was strongly influenced by factors such as the sex of the occupants and the presence of pets. Fierer commented, “There are some kinds of bacteria that are more common on women’s bodies than on men’s, and we can see the impact of that on the bacteria found in house dust.”18

He added, “Bringing a dog or cat into your home really has a significant effect on the bacteria you find. …”19 While such high amounts of bacterial and fungal microbes may seem like a potential health danger, if you are in good health your immune system renders many of them harmless. The real danger indoors comes from chemicals and other pollutants that have been identified in household dust.

Dust in College Dorms Flagged as Potential Health Concern

Research published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology20 indicates dust in college dorms has the potential to damage human health. After collecting 95 dust samples from dormitory common areas and student rooms at two U.S. colleges, researchers detected 47 chemical flame retardants, many of which are believed to cause cancer and disrupt hormones.

Two flame retardants classified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as polybrominated diphenyl ethers, or PBDEs,21 were detected in the dorm dust at record levels:

  • Decabromodiphenyl ether, or DecaBDE: a flame retardant largely phased out in 2013, which the EPA has tagged as a “possible carcinogen” given its proven ability to cause cancer in lab animals
  • Pentabromodiphenyl ether, or PentaBDE: a chemical the EPA banned from manufacture in 2005, mainly because it is a known endocrine disruptor

The researchers noted the primary chemical within DecaBDE was found to be a shocking nine times higher than anything previously recorded. In addition, concentrations of PentaBDE were four times higher than levels found in any other environment.

Researchers suspect college dorms contain a higher level of flame retardants because they are small, somewhat-confined spaces containing a lot of electronics and, very often, old furniture and beddi ng, including pillows, some of which may contain flame retardants that have long since been banned.

The EPA says certain PBDEs, which are used as flame retardants in applications such as automobiles, plastics, textiles and wire insulation, have been shown to be “persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic to both humans and the environment.”22

Because PBDEs are not chemically bound to fabrics, foam, plastics or the other products in which they are used, they are more susceptible to leaching. Over time, as they leach, these chemical-laden particles from electronics and furniture settle into room dust.

Flame Retardants Are Believed to Damage Human Health

Of the four particular flame retardants found in 100 percent of the dust samples studied, three are suspected carcinogens. A chemical known as TCIPP or tris (1-chloro-2-propyl) phosphate was found in dorms at levels twice the median quantities found in other indoor environments.

While the effects of TCIPP require further study, chemicals similar in structure have been shown to have toxic effects on animal brain cells and are thought to decrease sperm counts and thyroid levels in humans.23 About the fourth chemical, named TPHP (triphenyl phosphate), the Environmental Working Group (EWG) states, “[T]here is growing evidence the chemical could affect hormones, metabolism, reproduction and development.”24

In a 2013 study,25 rats were exposed to the flame-retardant mixture Firemaster 550®, which is used in foam-based products and contains up to 20 percent TPHP. After discovering components of the chemical accumulated in tissues of rats — both before and after birth, resulting in obesity and early puberty for female rats — researchers now suspect TPHP may be a human endocrine disruptor.

Tips on Protecting Yourself From Flame Retardants

Lead dorm dust study author Robin Dodson, research scientist at the Massachusetts-based Silent Spring Institute, and Miriam Diamond, Ph.D., a professor in the department of earth sciences at the University of Toronto, offer the following advice on how to protect yourself from flame retardants:26

Avoid using older furniture in college dorm rooms, because the foam padding and other materials likely contain flame retardants

Inform your college student about the risks associated with flame retardants and encourage them to vacuum and wipe down surfaces on a regular basis to remove toxic dust

Ensure dorm rooms are well ventilated to avoid a buildup of leached chemicals

Wash your hands after touching cellphones, keyboards, laptops and tablets, most of which contain flame retardants

When replacing furniture and household items, choose products filled with cotton and wool, or even polyester, because they tend to be safer than chemical-treated foam

Look for items labeled as “flame-retardant free”

Be advised polyurethane foam products manufactured prior to 2005 — including foam used in mattresses, pillows and upholstered furniture — likely contain PBDEs. If you can, replace these items or, at a minimum, ensure the foam is in good repair and remains well-covered.

Because older carpet padding is another major source of PBDEs, take precautions when removing it. Before tearing out older carpeting, you’ll want to isolate your work area from the rest of your house to avoid spreading PBDEs around. For best results when cleaning up carpet and pad debris, use a vacuum with a HEPA filter.

Cleaning and Personal Care Products Also Damage Indoor Air Quality

While doing your best to minimize leaching flame retardants, keep in mind the cleaning supplies you use also may be a source of toxins that affect indoor air quality. Unless you choose your cleaning products carefully, you may end up dousing your living space with even more toxic chemicals, many of which are not clearly identified on product labels.

Be advised so-called eco-friendly and green cleaners may still contain unsafe chemicals. Fortunately, concerns about the safety of cleaning and personal care products is growing nationwide. Increasingly more, government leaders and concerned citizens are pressuring manufacturers to disclose all ingredients used, as well as any toxic trace contaminants added during the manufacturing process.

One such chemical known as 1,4-dioxane, a probable carcinogen, has shown up in water supplies in Long Island, New York.27 Although 1,4-dioxane is primarily used as a solvent in manufacturing, it often ends up in cleaning and personal care products as a byproduct and has been detected in groundwater and drinking water.

During the manufacturing process for products like cosmetics, deodorant, shampoo and toothpaste, 1,4-dioxane develops through ethoxylation, a process that increases foaming and makes products less abrasive.28 According to the Citizens Campaign for the Environment (CCE), about 46 percent of personal care products — including body lotions, cosmetics, deodorants, detergents, dishwashing soaps and shampoos — contain 1,4-dioxane.29

“Once down the drain, the chemical is highly mobile in soil and does not easily break down, leading to contamination of groundwater-fed water sources,” asserts Harry Somma, the Long Island program coordinator for CCE.30

Unfortunately, because it is a manufacturing byproduct, 1,4-dioxane is not listed on ingredient labels, says the CCE, making it difficult for consumers to make informed and safe buying decisions about countless products they use daily.31

Act Now to Reduce Your Toxic Load and Get More Sunshine

While the amount of potentially toxic chemicals in your living environment may seem overwhelming, focus on the activities and areas over which you have some influence. Start by reading the labels on household cleaning products and stop buying the ones suspected to interfere with human health.

Better yet, as presented in the video above, choose natural alternatives or make your own nontoxic cleaning products. Wipe down surfaces regularly with soap and water and vacuum at least weekly using a HEPA filter to remove toxic dust.

When you are ready to replace bedding and furniture, get educated by reading customer reviews and manufacturer specifications. Choose organic, naturally flame-retardant materials and avoid items doused in toxic chemicals.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, since sunshine has been shown to kill germs, I encourage you to spend more time outdoors. Also draw back your shades and open your windows for 10 to 15 minutes each day to improve indoor air quality and help “sanitize” your dust. Soaking up healthy amounts of sunshine is not only a great way to avoid the bacteria lurking in household dust, but it also gives you an opportunity to increase your vitamin D level naturally.


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Sweet! Here are 7 reasons to eat sweet potatoes





(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





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





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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