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100 years ago, a train carrying Spanish flu pulled into Calgary. Within weeks, Alberta was in crisis

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Exactly one century ago, the Spanish flu was sweeping through Alberta, and Edna Traunweiser felt she had to do something to help.

Her only brother was one of about 6,000 Albertans who had been killed on the front lines of the war. He died in spring 1918.

The 29-year-old Calgarian had some training as a nurse but had yet to graduate. Still, she registered to help ailing soldiers at Sarcee camp hospital, located north of the Elbow River in what’s now Signal Hill.

Within one week, she’d contracted the illness. Within two weeks, she had pneumonia, and was buried a day after the war’s end.

“It killed nearly as many Canadians as the First World War did,” said Janice Dickin, professor emeritus at the University of Calgary. “But when you start looking at histories of the country, they will go on and on and tell you about what happened in the war, but you get one line for the flu epidemic.”

While people in the prime of their lives were the main victims of both the war and the flu, the war primarily claimed young men. Women (mainly volunteer nurses and expectant mothers), Indigenous people, and members of the working class were hit hard by influenza.

4,000 Albertans died, 38,000 fell ill

Traunweiser’s grave is one of 384 in Calgary, and more than 4,000 across the province, each marking a victim of the Spanish influenza between 1918 and 1920.

Alberta had a population of just about 500,000 at the time. More than 38,000 fell ill — about 13 per cent of the population back then.

Those are just the recorded cases — some historians estimate the death toll may be even higher.

This photo, published in the Calgary Herald on Oct. 24, 1918, shows staff at the Canadian Bank of Commerce in Calgary wearing masks during the Spanish influenza epidemic. To try and slow the outbreak, the province ruled people must wear masks outside their homes. (Glenbow Archives)

As much as five per cent of the global population is estimated to have died from the flu, far more than the number of people who died in the war.

“[Traunweiser’s] death coming so soon after the loss of her brother is an almost insupportable grief to her parents,” read an article from the Calgary Herald, reproduced in the Grand Forks Sun in 1918. “The death … will come as a great shock to a large number of friends with whom Miss Traunweiser was very popular.”

Historian Harry Sanders visited Traunweiser’s grave in Calgary’s Union Cemetery on Armistice Day — now known as Remembrance Day — to pay his respects and see if anybody had placed a stone to remember her by.

“You go there, and you can read it’s the Traunweiser family plot, but nothing marks her grave,” he said.

Edna Traunweiser, who died after contracting the Spanish influenza while working as a volunteer nurse in November 1918, is buried here in her family plot in Calgary’s Union Cemetery. (Sarah Rieger/CBC)

The flu, which was a strain of H1N1, first appeared in Alberta a little more than a month before Traunweiser’s death.

Troops were being mobilized to join the Siberian Expeditionary Force.

Sick soldiers, returning from the front, encountered healthy ones who were boarding trains headed for Vancouver to depart for Russia.

Train travel enabled the illness to spread across crowded barracks and hospitals in a matter of days, wrote historian Mark Humphries, in a book on the impact of the First World War and the Spanish influenza on Canadians.

The name was a misnomer. Spain wasn’t participating in the war, so its press was freer to report details about the number of people impacted by the pandemic than countries that didn’t want to let their enemies know exactly how many of their soldiers and citizens were sick or dying, according to the American College of Physicians.

The first train carrying the virus pulled into Calgary at 4 a.m. on Oct. 2, 1918, and 12 soldiers were removed and quarantined at Sarcee camp, Humphries wrote. 

Two days later, the province’s health board met for the first time to declare a plan for the developing epidemic.

Women managed the crisis

“Both professional female nurses and volunteers now took the lead role in managing the crisis at the level of home and community,” wrote Humphries.

He quotes one nurse, who said, “It is dangerous — undoubtedly. So is overseas service; yet that did not hinder enlisting to any large extent. It would be better to have the flu than to carry through life the uneasy feeling that by your indifference you allowed some other woman to die.”

“Particularly at that time disease was women’s work, and it still is women’s work,” Dickin said. “None of that stuff is valued in this culture.”

Nurses and teachers working as volunteer nurses during the Spanish flu epidemic at an isolation hospital in Lloydminster in 1918. (Glenbow Archives)

Those struck by the illness were those impacted by the city’s rapid urbanization, living in “cramped, slum-like conditions,” wrote Sanders in a column about the epidemic.

Many were young mothers, some whose husbands had left for the war.

“If you know the dates of the flu epidemic, you could look in Calgary cemeteries and often you will find a woman and she is buried with a child,” said Dickin.

“You just have to assume what that would do to a population of losing young mothers.”

By January 1919, the city’s children’s shelter had filled with dozens of orphans, including six from one family.

First Nations were decimated

If Calgarians were hit hard, those living on reserves were hit harder.

Hobbema — now Maskwacis — was devastated. More than 12 per cent of the population died. 

Humphries wrote that a Royal North-West Mounted Police (now RCMP) investigation at the time found Indian agents were placing First Nations families in quarantine, then refusing to feed them.

Within a few weeks, the government and officials, like Calgary’s medical health officer Cecil Mahood, were scrambling to come up with a solution, as makeshift hospitals filled with otherwise healthy people, many aged 20 to 40, who fell rapidly ill.

Public places like schools and theatres were closed in some cities and towns, and hours were restricted.

“Since the flu would inevitably spread, the major efforts of Mahood, his small health department and the many volunteers, were aimed at simple relief of the symptoms, keeping the sufferer comfortable until recovery or death, and to slowing down the spread of the flu as much as possible,” wrote Dickin in an article on the epidemic.

‘Horrifying’

“It’s horrifying to think of it. These are places that we know and here was a time when you might die, you might drop dead in public as some did,” said Sanders.

Calls for female nurses, female drivers to ferry the volunteers on their rounds, and female cooks for soup kitchens to supply quarantined and bedridden patients, were made almost daily in Calgary’s paper.

“Men seem to have largely escaped being persuaded, impressed, or shamed into volunteerism. There are several reasons for this, the obvious being that many men were overseas with the army … but another reason existed: the epidemic was seen as a chance for women to do their bit for the war and for civilization,” Dickin wrote.

Residents of a small Alberta town recall their deadly brush with 1918’s Spanish flu. 6:09

One volunteer nurse — who had no formal training other than a first aid certificate — described the fear as she left Calgary for Drumheller’s makeshift hospital.

“Word that I was going to Drumheller spread through the coach. People stood up to get a glimpse of me — but they kept their distance. Their fear of the disease was so great that they wouldn’t even pass by my seat to go to the washroom,” wrote Gertrude Charters in a 1966 issue of Maclean’s magazine, recounting her experience as a young woman in October 1918.

“When we arrived at the school we found 32 men on those low couches. Six men had died in the night … even as a man was dying, another was waiting to occupy his bed.”

Masks made mandatory

By the end of October, the province ruled everyone must wear face masks outside their home to stop the spread of the disease, loitering was banned and police were given the authority to quarantine people if deemed necessary.

“There’s a well-known photograph taken in Calgary on Nov. 11, 1918, Armistice Day, which was a joyous day in Calgary. And you can see that people are not wearing their masks and authorities … let them get away with it that day,” Sanders said.

Calgarians celebrate Armistice Day, Nov. 11, 1918, with a victory parade at city hall. Many in the crowd wore masks, as the Spanish influenza epidemic was sweeping through the city. However, police didn’t strongly enforce the rule that everyone must wear masks at public gatherings during the celebration. (Glenbow Archives)

Doctors worked to develop a vaccine, but the science was still in its infancy, and doctors focused on inoculating people against bacteria caused by the flu, instead of the viral H1N1 strain. It would be decades before the country would be able to sequence the vaccine and make it available free of charge to Canadians.

Ineffective as they were, the first doses also came too late — not being distributed until the epidemic was already beginning to peak.

In some cases, the attempt to distribute vaccines hurt more than helped.

“They were so clueless that they were trying to take some of the vaccines to the Inuit populations in the Northwest Territories,” said Dickin. “But the same police that were bringing in the vaccine were bringing in the disease.”

Schools and other public buildings reopened in December after the Christmas holiday, leading to another wave of the illness sweeping through in 1919. It resurfaced again in 1920.

‘A sad postscript’

In 1922, Dr. Mahood’s wife Ina died from influenza.

“It’s just kind of a sad postscript,” said Sanders.

The pandemic had a lasting impact on the country’s health care, as it was one of the factors that led to the creation of a federal department of health.

In the 1930s, researchers finally established the pandemic had been caused by a virus and not bacteria, leading to the introduction of the first seasonal flu vaccines, which were introduced in Alberta in 1943. An H1N1 vaccine wasn’t released until much later, in 2009. 

Men in Alberta wear masks, likely made of cheesecloth and twine, during the Spanish influenza epidemic. (Library and Archives Canada / PA-025025)

The last major H1N1 pandemic hit Canada in 2009, with more than 1,600 cases in Alberta and 71 deaths. Researchers don’t know when the next global pandemic will hit, but it’s a common refrain among scientists to say it’s a question of “not if, but when” another will hit.

Seasonal flu also continues to be a danger. According to the latest data available from Alberta Health Services, as of Dec. 20, 15 Albertans have died so far this flu season, 741 have been admitted to hospital with lab-confirmed influenza and there are 3,806 recorded cases in total.

By that time, 1,162,696 doses of influenza vaccine had been administered province-wide.

It’s a stark difference to a century ago.

“Here, at a time when there are people who won’t get their shots or won’t even get inoculations for their children, we’re talking about a time when the authorities … could arrest you for not wearing a mask in public,” said Sanders. 

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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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