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Couple Build Eco Resort to Protect and Conserve Marine Life





Hidden deep within an archipelago of uninhabited islands in Indonesia lies a resort that combines private enterprise with conservation. Misool Eco Resort is a special kind of paradise, doubling as a luxurious beach getaway and a marine reserve that’s home to one of the most biodiverse places on the planet.

The featured documentary, “The Last Resort,” tells the story of how Andrew and Marit Miner succeeded in building an eco-diving resort designed to halt destructive fishing practices and protect and preserve marine life.

The resort is surrounded by a large “No Take Zone” that prohibits fishing and the collection and removal of marine life, including marine invertebrates such as sea cucumbers and tortoise shells and eggs. The desire to build an eco-diving resort began when the Miners first visited Batbitim island, located in southern Raja Ampat, Indonesia, on their third date.

The couple were captivated by the island’s natural beauty, but their admiration turned to horror when they discovered the remnants of an abandoned shark finning camp. The bodies of dead sharks, brutally killed for their fins, littered the beach’s shallow waters.

Disturbed by what they saw, the couple embarked on a mission to transform the area, once terrorized by shark finning and dynamite fishing — practices that destroy fragile reef systems and deplete local food supplies — into an eco-resort and center for marine conservation.

The resort is different from other so-called “eco-resorts,” as it’s not just “eco” in the sense of greenwashing, notes Andrew in the film. The concept of Misool Eco Resort is not just about generating profit, it’s about protecting the environment and the principles of conservation.

Misool Eco Resort Connects People With Nature

Andrew believes that humans are interconnected with nature, even at times when we often feel detached.

“It’s the environment around us that nurtures us. We’re completely linked to it. We sort of feel, as humans, that we’re more detached from the environment but it’s a fallacy, we’re not. The more you learn about the marine environment or the land environment, the more you realize that actually we’re completely linked to it.

For me it was never an option to just build a resort. For me, it had to be a result that protected and nourished and nurtured the environment, because I don’t see another way. That’s just the way to do it.”

In the film, Andrew discusses some of the great challenges in bringing his dream to fruition. Raising the money to build the resort was the hardest part, he says. The couple had no experience or education in conservation, architecture, construction or small island politics, and no money for what expanded into a much bigger project than anticipated. But they did have heart, energy and a lot of enthusiasm.

Eventually, the couple were able to find investors who shared their vision and passion for marine conservation, leading to the development of “a private island resort that would leverage pristine reefs as its central asset, and ultimately become the funding vehicle for the conservation work that urgently needed to be done.”1

Construction began in 2005 and lasted for about two and a half years before the resort opened its doors in 2008. Incredibly, not a single tree was cut down to build the resort. Misool Eco Resort was built entirely with reclaimed wood, using driftwood that had washed up on the island’s beaches. “We cleaned the beaches, and we had perfect wood,” said Thorben Niemann, a German carpenter who helped the Miners build the resort.

The couple slowly built up investment all the way through the building period, which meant they never had a reserve of money, and therefore couldn’t stock up on the things they needed. They had to build as the money came in. “It made for a difficult way to build and was very stressful,” says Andrew, adding that it meant sleeping underneath plastic tarps, subsisting on soggy rice and eggs, and occasionally breaking out in boils from malnutrition.

Another major challenge the couple faced was the island’s limited supply of fresh water. Batbitim island did not have a well or river, which meant they had to fetch water from a nearby island and transport it back to the build site. This was a tedious task that resulted in having little water for personal use for things like cooking and showering.

The Resort’s Most Important Feature Is Its ‘No Take Zone’

Since its opening, Misool Eco Resort has “welcomed a diverse array of visitors, from conservationists and nature nerds to weary city folk looking to get away from it all, snorkeling enthusiasts, devoted kayak and paddle boarders, celebrities in search of a hash tag-free oasis, parents looking to bring their kids to a gorgeous, safe series of beaches and lagoons, and scuba divers in search of the perfect reef,” according to its website.

One of the most important aspects of the resort is its “No Take Zone.” Andrew worked with the local community in the early stages of development to negotiate a no-fishing zone around the island. After witnessing firsthand the damage caused by shark finning, the Miners understood the No Take Zone would be key in bringing their vision to life.

The No Take Zone initially negotiated by Andrew stretched 425 square kilometers, or 164 square miles, around the island and several nearby islands.

However, Andrew realized the No Take Zone needed to be extended after he went diving in a group of islands called the Daram Islands, about 25 miles east of Batbitim, and discovered several large shark finning camps and witnessed fisherman mutilating live turtles for shark bait. He also found unexploded bombs on the island, indicating that fisherman had been practicing dynamite or blast fishing.

Dynamite Fishing

Dynamite fishing is incredibly destructive as it involves the use of explosives to kill or stun fish. This method destroys the fish and shatters all of the coral in the area, leaving behind a lifeless dead zone. According to Reef Resilience Network:2

“Because blast fishing is limited to shallower parts of the reef, these vulnerable zones can be reduced to rubble by repeated blasts, making recovery difficult or impossible and destroying large sections of reef.”

No one likes dynamite fishing, says Andrew, adding that blasting an entire area may permanently destroy its productivity, eliminating future harvests for local islanders. According to The New York Times:3

“Dynamite fishing destroys both the food chain and the corals where the fish nest and grow. Blast fishing kills the entire food chain, including plankton, fish both large and small, and the juveniles that do not grow old enough to spawn. Without healthy corals, the ecosystem and the fish that live within it begin to die off.”

Dynamite fishing is so destructive that global fish supplies could be significantly decimated in the coming decades, scientists warn. The practice is so prevalent in the Philippines that the average daily catch has declined from 45 pounds in 1970 to 4.5 pounds in the year 2000, according to a report by the Philippine national statistics board.

Shark Finning

Sadly, more than 100 million sharks are killed each year worldwide for their fins,4 which are sold for shark fin soup, a delicacy that costs up to a $100 per bowl and is considered a symbol of wealth and status in cities such as Tokyo. The fins are the only part of the shark that has commercial value. As a result, hundreds of shark bodies are discarded around shark finning camps. According to the Smithsonian Institution:

“Many fishermen prefer to practice shark finning instead of bringing whole sharks to the market because the fins are far more valuable than the rest of the body, sometimes selling for as much as $500 a pound ($1,100 a kilogram).

Instead, fishermen choose to keep just the shark fins — only 1 to 5 percent of a shark’s weight — and throw the rest of the shark away rather than have the less valuable parts take up space on the boat.

The finned sharks are often thrown back into the ocean alive, where they do not die peacefully: Unable to swim properly and bleeding profusely, they suffocate or die of blood loss.”

Aside from being incredibly cruel and inhumane, shark finning puts sharks at risk for extinction due to their slow growth and low reproduction rates, which makes it difficult for sharks to replenish their populations as quickly as they are being diminished. Scientists estimate that shark populations have decreased by 60 to 70 percent due to shark fishing by humans.

Misool Eco Resort Extends Its No Take Zone to an Area Twice the Size of Singapore

Intent on eliminating shark finning camps and dynamite fishing occurring on nearby islands, the Miners worked closely with native islanders and community leaders to extend the No Take Zone, creating a protected area 1,220 square kilometers, or 471 square miles, in size, equivalent to an area twice the size of Singapore.

The extension of the No Take Zone was endorsed by the Bupati of Raja Ampat and ratified by the area’s community leaders. The Walton Family Foundation and Wild Aid donated $200,000 to fund the first year’s startup costs and operation of the Daram patrol, according to the film.

In order to protect the No Take Zone, Misool Eco Resort employs local islanders to patrol the area and look for fisherman invading the zone. The resort works closely with the local community’s traditional system to deal with violators.

If it’s someone from the local community who’s fishing, the resort patrol makes a report and hands it over the island’s traditional leader, who deals with the fisherman through their own traditional village sanctions.

It wasn’t difficult to convince the island’s older generation to support the No Take Zone, says Andrew, adding that they understand that if you close off an area for fishing for a certain period of time, there are more fish when you reopen it. The locals say fishing used to be good, but has declined over time.

One of the locals who helps patrol the No Take Zone says fisherman used to ask him why he was stopping them from fishing there, but after two years of patrolling, they see that the harvest in Batbitim has greatly improved. “We aren’t anti-fishing; we’re protecting the resource for local fisherman and the community,” says Andrew.

The No Take Zone also prevents outsiders from coming in and stealing the native islanders’ harvest. If it weren’t for Misool Eco Resort, there may not be a future harvest, said one of the locals in the film.

Raja Ampat Is the Epicenter of Earth’s Marine Biodiversity

The film also features Mark Erdmann, Ph.D., a senior adviser to Conservation International’s Indonesian Marine Program,5 who helps manage six marine parks. Over the last decade, scientists have shown that Raja Ampat is the epicenter of marine biodiversity for the planet, and is home to more species of coral, fish, crustaceans and snail than anywhere else in the world.

Thanks to the area’s conservation efforts, fish populations have bounced back and are thriving, especially the sharks, as it’s now illegal to fish for sharks in Raja Ampat.

The bay of Missol Eco Resort, once home to a shark finning camp, is now a breeding group for blacktip sharks and home to over 30 juveniles. Remarkably, two dozen new species of fish have been discovered here in the last five years. It’s essentially a species factory, says Erdmann, adding that over time it will disperse outward.

Raja Ampat’s network of seven marine protected areas, which together protect 1.2 million hectares (close to 3 million acres) of the most biodiverse reefs on the planet, are the first such network in Indonesia, and the largest network of marine protected areas in Southeast Asia. According to Erdmann:

“Another reason Raja Ampat is really important is that it has a very low human population density overall, still relatively intact reefs, and the community here actually own these reefs, which is a unique situation on the planet that allows us to do some very interesting things conservation-wise.

We’re working with these communities to set these reefs aside, much like Misool Eco Resort has done, and in doing that you are actually creating a model that could potentially be applied to the rest of the planet, where people typically look at the ocean as a commons, where you can do whatever you want.

If we can get it right here where people actually own the reefs, that theoretically could inform the way we manage the oceans in the rest of the world.”

Tourism Helps Fund Eco Conservation Efforts

Marine tourism in Raja Ampat has been growing at a rate of 30 to 45 percent in the past five years, notes the film. As a marine protected area, tourists are charged a fee to enter. In 2010, this generated $230,000 for conservation and community programs, the latter of which is another major focus on Misool Eco Resort.

In the film, Andrew makes it clear that he’s aware he has never been anything more than a guest on Batbitim island, which is why he allocates resort and tourism profits to support community-led projects, such as job training and new employment opportunities designed to help former shark finners and illegal fisherman transition into fruitful careers centered on conservation.

Batbitim island has five teachers, three of which are funded by Misool Eco Resort. The resort also launched a floating library that visits three nearby schools and supplies local children with books on conservation.

Misool Eco Resort has an orchard on the island where it grows some of its own food, including bananas and papayas, and raises chickens. It also has wastewater gardens that naturally filter waste.

The resort buys all of its fish from local fisherman who sell their catch from small canoes. The resort avoids buying reef fish (due to the species’ threatened status) and instead buys only blue water fish such as tuna and mackerel.

Balancing the demands of investors and conservation is no easy task, says Andrew. Some of the investors disagree with the amount of money spent on patrolling the resort’s No Take Zone, as they think it should go toward the business side of things.

“It’s a nightmare sometimes,” says Andrew, adding that unless you live and work here, you have no idea how difficult it is to preserve and protect the No Take Zone. “We constantly have to convince people it’s worth putting money into.”


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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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