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‘We’re guinea pigs’: Canada’s oversight process for implanted medical devices stuns suffering patients

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Millions of Canadians rely on surgically implanted medical devices in order to function — to do everything from walk without pain to pump blood through their veins. Yet many of those devices are approved for use in Canada with scant scientific evidence to show they are safe and effective, a new CBC/Radio-Canada/Toronto Star investigation has found.

An analysis of Health Canada data obtained through Access to Information also reveals that in the past 10 years, devices such as replacement hips, insulin pumps and pacemakers are suspected to have played a role in more than 14,000 reported injuries and 1,416 deaths.

Since Health Canada relies primarily on the companies that make the products to flag any safety issues, the agency itself acknowledges many cases likely go unreported.

Toronto-based surgeon Dr. David Urbach says patients — and even some doctors — may not realize the limitations of pre-market testing of medical devices in this country.

Testing high-risk devices that require surgery is more difficult than conducting drug trials, and often involves smaller groups and shorter time frames, he says. As a result, potential complications sometimes don’t reveal themselves until after a device hits the market.

Toronto-based surgeon Dr. David Urbach says implanted medical devices, such as replacement joints and bladder-support meshes, are somewhat ‘experimental’ even after Health Canada approves them. (Craig Chivers/CBC)

Essentially, devices are “somewhat experimental” even after they have been approved by Health Canada, Urbach says.

“Thinking of them as sort of like a large clinical trial, within which we’re all participants, is probably a very constructive way to think about how we use medical devices.”

But that’s not what 63-year-old Nonie Wideman signed up for.

A decade ago, she was busy caring for children and running her family farm just outside Fort St. John, B.C., when a persistent health problem became too uncomfortable to ignore.​

“I just wanted … to be able to lift something, or even cough, sneeze without wetting my pants,” said Wideman, who was diagnosed with stress urinary incontinence, a condition that affects thousands of Canadian women.

Wideman says she assumed medical devices undergo more rigorous testing before they are approved for surgery. (Craig Chivers/CBC)

Wideman’s doctor suggested a 15-minute surgical procedure to implant Ethicon’s Gynecare TVT Secur System — a plastic sling that would help support her bladder.

“The doctor said it was a new kind of mesh, smaller, and that it would change my life,” Wideman said.

She had the procedure in June 2008, and felt better for the next six months. Then she became chronically tired and felt intense pain in her pelvis.

“I walked like I had a stick stuck up my butt and a knife in my crotch.”

Investigating her own case

When she couldn’t convince her doctor the mesh was making her sick, she borrowed a microscope from the local elementary school to take a closer look at little blue fibres she kept finding in her underwear and urine.

“I couldn’t believe my eyes at first, but I looked it up, and this was blue polypropylene,” she said.

It was clear to Wideman that her mesh was breaking apart.

“I was just stunned,” she said.

Microscopic evidence from Wideman’s own investigation into her disintegrating bladder mesh device. (Nonie Wideman)

Wideman was far from the only woman hurting.

In October 2008, just a few months after Wideman’s surgery, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned surgeons about rare complications potentially linked to the use of meshes.

The FDA said nine different manufacturers had received more than 1,000 reports of serious reactions possibly associated with polypropylene, the plastic coating on the mesh.

Over the next three years, the FDA received another 2,800 adverse event reports. It strengthened its warning in 2011, telling doctors serious complications such as mesh erosion were “not rare.”

By comparison, Health Canada received 47 injury reports linked to the Gynecare TVT Secur System. The complications mentioned include erosion, painful intercourse and recurrent infections — all problems Wideman says she experienced. But Health Canada didn’t issue a warning to surgeons until 2010 — two years after the FDA sent out its first.

In 2012, Ethicon, a Johnson & Johnson subsidiary, announced it would stop selling its Gynecare TVT Secur System and three other mesh products for commercial reasons. The company stressed that the decision was “not related to safety or efficacy.”

In a statement, Ethicon said it conducted “numerous cadaver labs and animal studies” prior to the device being approved for sale by Health Canada.

The company said those studies, “coupled with the decade-long clinical history” of two similar devices already on the market, “demonstrated the safety and efficacy of TVT Secur.”

There is no transparency. You have to dig for every bit of evidence if you want to expose a problem.– Nonie   Wideman

In an email to CBC, Health Canada said “in many cases, applications for new medical device licences are based on an earlier generation of a similar device previously licensed.” Additional information about the new product becomes available after it is approved for the market and used “under ‘real life’ conditions.”

A 2017 study from Oxford University’s Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine used the FDA’s databases to research the approval process for 61 pelvic meshes, including the TVT Secur. It found there was no evidence any of the meshes underwent clinical trials on women prior to their approval.

Wideman says she’s upset that she and many other women were left in the dark about how devices in Canada are approved and the lack of evidence available.

She says doctors “blindly trusted” that the mesh was tested thoroughly and that clinical studies proved it was a “gold standard of treatment.”

“They didn’t understand that we’re guinea pigs,” she said.

Problems likely underreported

The problem with Health Canada’s approach is when things do go wrong, only a fraction of cases are ever reported to the federal regulator, says Madris Tomes, a former analyst for the FDA who took a look at the data obtained by CBC.

Tomes was hired by the U.S. regulator in 2010 to create a new monitoring system for its medical device reports, known as the MAUDE database. She found there was a critical underreporting problem — as few as 14 per cent of adverse events were being flagged to the FDA.

Between 2008 and the first 9 1/2 months of 2018, a yearly average of just under 11,000 reports of technical problems and patient complications associated with medical products were submitted to Health Canada.

“These numbers, if I were to compare them with what the FDA has, seem very, very low,” Tomes said.

In Canada, only manufacturers and importers of medical devices are legally required to report possible safety issues and complaints to the government. Unlike in the U.S., any reporting by hospitals and health clinics is voluntary.

“If the manufacturer is the only one that’s going to be reporting, then you have only their viewpoint of what happened,” Tomes said.

And when a problem isn’t reported, she says, it means countries like Canada and the U.S. are missing crucial warnings that something might be wrong — and patients could be at risk.

“Maybe this [problem] happened 15 times, but if it had happened 1,500 times, maybe we’d stop blaming the user. And start looking more at that device.”

‘I was in pain’

Gloria McSherry knows all about the blame game.

In 2007, the woman from Creemore, Ont., woke up from hip replacement surgery with one leg longer than the other.

The pain persisted long after the procedure.

“I felt like I’d been hit by a truck,” she said.

McSherry says when she told her doctor about it, he said she was just taking a long time to recover from a difficult surgery. When she came back months later, still in pain, her doctor suggested she was probably depressed, she says.

“I said, ‘No, I’m not depressed. I’m in pain,'” she said. “I think the system failed me by not listening to me.”

Hip replacement surgery in 2007 left Gloria McSherry with one leg longer than the other — and in brutal pain. (Craig Chivers/CBC)

McSherry’s new hip was a product called the Durom Cup. Its manufacturer, Zimmer, issued a warning to U.S. surgeons in 2008, a year after McSherry’s surgery. The doctors were told to “stop implanting” the Durom Cup until they received additional training and also that the FDA had temporarily suspended the sale of the product.

But McSherry didn’t find out until 2009, when her case was referred to a specialist in Boston. Court documents later revealed that Zimmer knew it had sold exactly 4,941 devices in Canada, but kept no records of patients’ names or contact information and had no way of informing them about the recall.

In 2016, Zimmer settled three Canadian class action lawsuits involving hundreds of victims, including McSherry, who had to have a second hip surgery.

In a statement sent to the the Washington-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, Zimmer Biomet says the safety of its patients has always been its top priority and that it “adheres to strict regulatory standards.”

CBC’s analysis of Health Canada’s database shows that, in the past decade, 15 per cent of industry reports were submitted after the 10- or 30-day deadline for reporting. In at least 21 cases involving a death, manufacturers notified Health Canada more than a year after learning about the fatality.

Bioethicist Bryn Williams-Jones of the University of Montreal says it’s the government’s responsibility to monitor the safety of medical devices used to treat Canadians.

“At the end of the day, we’re in a commercial environment, and companies’ bottom line is to generate revenue and boost sales,” he said. “In a context like that, of course there’s going to be pressure to not do this level of evaluation and of course pressure to hide information.”

In a statement, MEDEC, the organization that represents Canada’s medical technology industry, said its products have a “strong track record of safety when you consider the millions of medical devices implanted in Canadians and the devices Canadians use every day.”

Health Canada’s plan

Health Canada acknowledges underreporting is a problem. The agency is amending regulations to make it mandatory for hospitals to report suspected problems with medical devices. It says the new rules could be in effect as early as next year.

“Mandatory reporting by Canadian hospitals is expected to increase the volume of incident reports, which would address, in part, issues with underreporting,” spokesperson Eric Morrissette said in an email.

But Nonie Wideman says that’s not enough. Last year, she petitioned the House of Commons to make clinical trial data for medical devices publicly available.

“There is no transparency. You have to dig for every bit of evidence if you want to expose a problem.”

The federal government denied her request, assuring her that “Canada’s medical devices regulatory system is one of the most rigorous in the world.”

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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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