Skip to main content

Beacon Senior News

The truth about the flu vaccine

Dec 05, 2016 09:53AM ● By Scott Rollins

The annual influenza vaccine, known as the flu shot, is labeled as virtually risk free, and patients are told that it prevents transmission and saves lives. But studies don’t substantiate these claims. It appears manufacturers have a vaccine that’s looking for a disease.

The 2014 Cochrane Database review, “Vaccines for Preventing Influenza in Healthy Adults,” found that “vaccination had a modest effect on time off work and had no effect on hospital admissions or complication rates.”

Authors made a specific note that studies funded by the vaccine industry were more likely to cast a positive light on the data, whereas publicly funded studies were not as supportive.

They conclude, “the review showed that reliable evidence on influenza vaccines is thin but there is evidence of widespread manipulation of conclusions and spurious notoriety of the studies.”

Surely there is better evidence to support the flu vaccine for the high-risk groups of people under age 2 and over age 65, right? Wrong. In 2006 and 2008, Cochrane reviews showed the flu vaccine was no more effective than placebo in children under age 2.

Another review from 2010 analyzed flu vaccine efficacy in the elderly and found “the available evidence is of poor quality and provides no guidance regarding the safety, efficacy or effectiveness of influenza vaccines for people aged 65 years or older.”

Overall, studies show that the vaccine has a modest effect on reducing your chance of catching influenza, and ultimately is not shown to lower your risk of dying from the flu, nor prevent you from transmitting the flu to someone else.

Alternative methods

Although the vaccine is not the invincible protection against the flu that many presume, there are several proven things you can do to limit the severity and duration of these infections, but you need to prepare ahead of time, as these treatments work best when started at the onset of infections.

Good studies show the benefits of naturally treating viral infections, including influenza, with supplements such as zinc, vitamin C, N-acetyl cysteine, thymic protein A, astragalus, andrographis, black elderberry and echinacea.

The vitamin-packed Myer’s cocktail is a potent treatment for halting cold and flu symptoms. This mixture of vitamins and minerals is given by intravenous infusion in about 30 minutes and many patients report almost immediate improvement.

Vitamin D is known to support immune function, and many studies confirm the association between low vitamin D levels and higher rates of influenza infections. Have your blood level of vitamin D checked. Supplement using vitamin D3 to get blood levels into the 80-100 ng/ml range—taking between 2,000 and 5,000 units per day is a reasonable estimate for most adults.

Don’t forget other simple yet critical immune system support, such as getting plenty of rest, eating a diet rich in colorful fruits and veggies, avoiding excess sugar and alcohol and enjoying immune-supporting drinks such as green tea.

Avoid influenza exposure by using good hand hygiene, taking note that ethyl alcohol gels work best for disinfecting hands. At the end of the day, our immune system works best when proper support is already in place.