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Influenza Vaccine Industry Is in Full Swing

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Flu season is upon us again — the time of year when the steady message is “Have you gotten your flu shot yet?” Considering the many studies showing flu vaccines offer minimal protection against illness even when well-matched to circulating viral strains, the fact that vaccination continues to be touted as your first line of defense against influenza suggests this annual campaign is more about generating conformity for profit rather than actually improving and protecting public health.

Questionable Data Used to Support Annual Flu Vaccination Campaigns

Statistics reveal that in most years, flu shots are at best 50 to 60 percent effective at preventing lab confirmed type A or B influenza requiring medical care.1 In the decade between 2005 and 2015, the influenza vaccine was less than 50 percent effective more than half of the time.2

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.3

According to a 2014 meta-analysis,4 71 people have to be vaccinated in order for a single case of influenza to be avoided — a ratio that speaks to the ineffectiveness of this annual routine. Adding insult to injury, evidence5 (which was confirmed three years later6) suggests flu vaccination may double your risk of contracting pandemic influenza or a more serious bout of influenza.

Research7 published in 2011 also warned the seasonal flu vaccine appears to weaken children’s immune systems and increases their chances of getting sick from influenza viruses not included in the vaccine.

When blood samples from healthy, unvaccinated children and children who had received an annual flu shot were compared, the unvaccinated group had naturally built up more antibodies across a wider variety of influenza strains compared to the vaccinated group.8

Evidence also shows you can get vaccinated, show few or no symptoms and still shed and transmit influenza to other people.9,10 Flu vaccines are also associated with debilitating and potentially lifelong side effects such as Guillain-Barré syndrome and chronic shoulder injury related to vaccine administration.

2018/2019 Flu Season Brings Back Failed Nasal Spray Vaccine

Flu vaccines are by their nature a tricky business because influenza viruses are constantly evolving and public health officials have to guess at least six months before the flu season starts which type A and B influenza virus strains might end up being predominant so drug companies can manufacture the vaccines.

When the strains chosen do not match the strains actually causing most of the disease in any given flu season, the vaccine’s failure rate significantly increases. But it’s also important to realize that the majority of respiratory influenza-like illness that people experience during any given flu season is not type A or B influenza.11

When you get a sore throat, runny nose, headache, fatigue, low grade fever, body aches and cough, most of the time it is another type of viral or bacterial respiratory infection unrelated to influenza viruses.12

In fact, data13,14,15,16 shows other types of viruses are responsible for about 80 percent of all respiratory infections during any given flu season. 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.

All of that said, there are several different types of influenza vaccines to choose from in any given year. This year, the live attenuated nasal spray vaccine (FluMist), which the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices did not recommend during the 2016/2017 and 2017/2018 seasons due to its extreme ineffectiveness, is back and once again being recommended by the CDC.17

For the 2018/2019 season, FluMist is approved for nonpregnant individuals between the ages of 2 and 49. Exceptions18 include children taking aspirin- or salicylate-containing medications, those with suppressed immune function, children aged 2 to 4 who have asthma, those who have taken an antiviral drug in the previous 48 hours, and a few others.

High-Dose Flu Vaccine for Seniors — ‘Costs Outweigh Benefits’ Canadian Experts Say

You also have the injectable inactivated influenza vaccines, including a high-dose version for seniors over the age of 65, which contains four times the amount of antigen as the regular dose of the standard vaccine. In Canada, infectious disease experts have spoken out against the vaccine, saying it’s not effective enough to justify its high cost, which is about five times that of the regular flu vaccine.19

According to British Columbia’s provincial health officer Bonnie Henry, research suggests 200 seniors would have to be vaccinated with Fluzone High-Dose to prevent a single case of influenza, and 4,000 would have to be vaccinated to prevent one flu-related hospitalization.20

Due to its poor performance, British Columbia, Quebec, Alberta, New Brunswick and Newfoundland will not cover the cost of Fluzone High-Dose for seniors who would otherwise get free regular flu shots. The Globe and Mail reports:21

“The divergent policies are part of a continuing debate over the targeted flu shot that experts say has major implications for future influenza vaccination programs — and the amount of money it costs to deliver them …

Danuta Skowronski, epidemiology lead of influenza and emerging respiratory pathogens at the BC Centre for Disease Control, said the benefits don’t justify the price.

She also said the new flu shot has only been studied for a few seasons and that there are unanswered questions health policy officials should consider before they get locked into an expensive multiyear agreement.

For instance, emerging research suggests people who get repeat flu shots every year may actually experience reduced immunity in subsequent years. That could have implications for seniors who receive a high dose of the flu shot, she said.”

What You Need to Know About Flu Vaccines Made From Dog Kidney and Insect Cells

A relative newcomer in the vaccine lineup is the quadrivalent influenza vaccine called Flucelvax, which became available during the 2017/2018 season. Approved for individuals over the age of 4, this vaccine is unique in that it uses dog kidney (MDCK) cells for production.22

Traditionally, candidate vaccine strain influenza viruses, i.e., the viruses selected for inclusion in the vaccine, have been produced using fertilized chicken eggs. Flucelvax viruses are grown in cultured animal cells instead.23 (Another relatively new technology uses insect (army worm) cells to produce a recombinant quadrivalent influenza vaccine, Flublok, for individuals over 18 years old.24,25)

As the effectiveness of conventional flu shots continues to leave much to be desired, the new Flucelvax vaccine was touted as a new-and-improved version that would protect more people once flu season hit. In reality, a study26 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) revealed its benefit was quite modest.

While flu vaccines overall were only 24 percent effective in preventing flu-related hospitalizations in people aged 65 and older, the Flucelvax vaccine had an effectiveness rate of 26.5 percent in that population — hardly a major improvement.

It’s been known for some time that growing flu vaccines in eggs may lead to problematic mutations that make them less effective against circulating influenza viruses. Such was the case during the 2016 to 2017 flu season, when H3N2 viruses were prevalent.

Writing in PNAS,27 researchers noted, “Human vaccine strains grown in eggs often possess adaptive mutations that increase viral attachment to chicken cells.” They identified a mutation in the flu vaccine strain that produced antibodies that didn’t work well to neutralize the H3N2 viruses circulating that year.

But the hope that cell-based vaccines might solve this problem appears overly optimistic. Dr. John Treanor, a flu vaccine expert at the University of Rochester Medical Center, told STAT News in 2017,28 “There wasn’t convincing evidence that it [cell culture flu vaccine] was better, so why would anyone spend extra money to buy that?”

This was before the FDA data came in on the 2017 to 2018 season, which offered proof that the effectiveness was virtually identical to the conventional egg-based version.

Lack of Quality Vaccine Science and Transparency

In his 2013 article,29 “Influenza: Marketing Vaccine by Marketing Disease,” BMJ associate editor Peter Doshi, Ph.D., points out the lack of quality science underpinning the annual call for flu vaccination and the government’s lack of transparency. He noted that in its marketing of influenza vaccines, the CDC fails to uphold its pledge “to base all public health decisions on the highest quality scientific data, openly and objectively derived.” The Vaccine Reaction summarizes Doshi’s comments, in part:30

“Promotion of influenza vaccines is one of the most visible and aggressive public health policies today … Closer examination of influenza vaccine policies shows that although proponents employ the rhetoric of science, the studies underlying the policy are often of low quality, and do not substantiate officials’ claims.

The vaccine might be less beneficial and less safe than has been claimed, and the threat of influenza appears overstated … Mandatory vaccination policies have been enacted … forcing some people to take the vaccine under threat of losing their jobs.

The main assertion of the CDC that fuels the push for flu vaccinations each year is that influenza comes with a risk of serious complications which can cause death …

The only randomized trial of influenza vaccine in older people found no decrease in deaths. This means that influenza vaccines are approved for use in older people despite any clinical trials demonstrating a reduction in serious outcomes.

Even when the vaccine is closely matched to the type of influenza that’s prevalent … randomized, controlled trials of healthy adults found that vaccinating between 33 and 100 people resulted in one less case of influenza … For most people, and possibly most doctors, officials need only claim that vaccines save lives, and it is assumed there must be solid research behind it.”

Health Care Worker Flu Shot Mandates Are Based on Four Invalid Trials

A perfect example of what Doshi is talking about was published January 2017. This scientific analysis31,32 of four randomized controlled trials, which claim vaccinating health care workers against influenza offers significant protection for patients, were in fact overstated, and grossly so. According to the authors:

“In attributing patient benefit to increased health care worker influenza vaccine coverage, each cluster randomized controlled trial was found to violate the basic mathematical principle of dilution by reporting greater percentage reductions with less influenza-specific patient outcomes … and/or patient mortality reductions exceeding even favorably-derived predicted values by at least six- to 15fold.

If extrapolated to all long-term care facilities and hospital staff in the United States, the prior cluster randomized controlled trial-claimed number needed to vaccinate of 8 would implausibly mean >200,000 and >675,000 patient deaths, respectively, could be prevented annually by health care worker influenza vaccination, inconceivably exceeding total U.S. population mortality estimates due to seasonal influenza each year, or during the 1918 pandemic, respectively.

More realistic recalibration based on actual patient data instead shows that at least 6,000 to 32,000 hospital workers would need to be vaccinated before a single patient death could potentially be averted.”

The researchers concluded that these four trials, which are the basis for policies of enforced vaccination of health care workers “attribute implausibly large reductions in patient risk to health care worker vaccination, casting serious doubts on their validity,” adding that “The impression that unvaccinated health care workers place their patients at great influenza peril is exaggerated.”

Independent Scientists Unable to Obtain Vaccine Trial Data

Europe also suffers from the same lack of transparency in vaccine research and public policy, as evidenced by Cochrane scientists’ failure to obtain the necessary vaccine trial data required to evaluate the quality of 11 clinical trials on the HPV vaccine held by the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

Detailed information about a study’s design, conduct and outcome can only be found in the trial’s clinical study report (CSR), which drug companies are required to submit when applying for a new drug license. Transparimed.org reports:33

“Since 2014, in theory, independent scientists can access these documents by filing a request with the European regulator. In practice, the Cochrane team reports:

‘After three years, we had obtained just 18 Clinical Study Reports (62 percent of the EMA’s 29 reports) … Unfortunately, the reports still lacked important sections, such as protocols and serious harms narratives … Only three reports included completed case report forms … One study report of 4,263 pages was released in 17 files across seven batches over 12 months.'”

What’s more, the Cochrane scientists discovered that the EMA itself does not always receive all of the scientific evidence, as some of the submitted CSRs were incomplete. The team’s attempts to obtain the CSRs directly from the drug companies were equally fruitless. According to Cochrane:

“Although GlaxoSmithKline published versions of its Clinical Study Reports on its trial register, the reports often lack serious adverse events narratives and case report forms, and the data on serious adverse events in the reports we downloaded was heavily redacted.”

Needless to say, without access to the CSRs, independent scientists such as the Cochrane group cannot assess the benefits and harms of the drugs or vaccines under review with any significant degree of accuracy or confidence.

“In our view, independent researchers ought to be able to obtain complete and unredacted Clinical Study Reports within a reasonable time frame without too many constraints or limitations,” Cochrane writes.

“[R]egulators should release complete and coherent Clinical Study Reports… Urgent changes are essential for open and transparent assessment of the harms and benefits of interventions.”

Professor Makes Bizarre Claim for Children’s ‘Vaccination Rights’

In related news, Arthur L. Caplan, Ph.D.,34 a New York University (NYU) professor and founding head of the Division of Medical Ethics at NYU School of Medicine, raised more than a few eyebrows by claiming that a child’s presumed right to be vaccinated supersedes the parents’ legal right to exercise informed consent to vaccination on behalf of minor children.

In plain English, Caplan believes minor children should be vaccinated according to government recommendations regardless of whether parents have made an informed decision to decline one or more vaccinations for their child. As reported by The Vaccine Reaction,35 Caplan “claims that vaccinating children represents a higher moral imperative than respecting the informed consent rights of parents.”

“‘I want to point out a moral stance that I don’t think has gotten enough attention, which is that every child has the right to be vaccinated,’ said Caplan. ‘We keep talking about parents’ right to say yes or no, to avoid mandates or requirements, or to do what they choose to do. Someone has to speak up and say, ‘Well, what about the kids? Don’t they have any rights?’

Caplan believes that if parents refuse to vaccinate their kids the government has the right to override the legal right of parents to make medical care decisions for their children. Caplan argues that the government has the duty to vaccinate the children without the consent of the parents and by force, if need be.”

In other words, what Caplan is saying is that parents should be prevented from making medical care decisions, especially vaccination decisions, on behalf of their minor children if those decisions do not conform with government policy. What kind of freedom is that? Coming from a self-appointed medical ethicist, this is scary, mind-boggling stuff. It’s barely one step away from all children being treated like property of the government.

Disturbingly enough, attempts to move this kind of public health policy and law forward are already underway, and parents everywhere need to join in the fight to retain their right to make medical decisions for their minor children. If government officials can vaccinate your child against your will, there’s no telling where it will end. As reported by The Vaccine Reaction:

“Legislation has been introduced in states like California that would seek to give government the right to make health care decisions for children, even against the wishes of their parents, if the state deems the decisions to be in the best interests of the children.

Such legislation would also allow government authorities to take legal physical custody of children in cases where parents refuse to comply with mandates forcing or coercing them to vaccinate their children.

The thrust of Caplan’s thought process is that, at least when it comes to vaccination of children, parents should be stripped of their informed consent rights. Apparently, Caplan takes the view that the informed health care decisions that parents make for their children are just not relevant if those decisions conflict with government policy.

But it is precisely this ‘long held legal right to make informed, voluntary decisions about pharmaceutical products and medical procedures that carry risks for their children,’ says Barbara Loe Fisher of the National Vaccine Information Center, that is ‘all that stands between parents and exploitation of their children by those in positions of power in society with a personal or professional vested interest in forcing every child to use pharmaceutical products that are not safe or effective for every child.'”

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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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