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Should You Get the Flu Shot?

By Natasha Turner, ND

Itís flu season again, and in light of the recent SARS outbreak, health departments, government agencies, school boards, as well as corporations are pushing everyone to take the flu shot this year. Before you opt for the flu shot, be sure you are making an informed decision by considering some of the pros and cons associated with flu vaccination.

What is the Flu?
Symptoms of influenza include fever, chills, muscle aches, headache and/or cough. In most cases, the illness lasts three to seven days, but some people have more severe cases or complications that require hospitalization. About 20,000 people in the U.S. die each year as a result of the flu or flu complications. Most of those who die are elderly, young children or people with compromised immune systems.

The flu is different from a cold:




Fever 100 to 104 F Usually none
Muscle ache Yes No
Joint pain Yes No
Feel tired Yes Possible
Headache Yes Possible
Cough Yes Yes
Stuffy nose No Yes
Loss of appetite Yes No
Diarrhea or vomiting No No

Pros of the Flu Shot

Flu shots can decrease the risk of upper respiratory illness by 25%.

Flu shots can reduce work absenteeism due to illness by 36%.

Flu shots can reduce doctor visits for upper respiratory illness by 44%.

In addition to helping elderly people avoid an unpleasant and possibly dangerous illness, a flu shot can provide some protection against hospitalization for heart disease and stroke.

Immunizing high-risk people prevents many potential deaths from influenza. Immunization of those who care for high-risk people decreases the potential of spreading the flu from otherwise healthy people to those who are at higher risk of complications.

Cons of the Flu Shot

The influenza vaccine should not be recommended for all people. This is because influenza infection is generally not serious, and it would be enormously expensive and logistically difficult to vaccinate everyone each year. However, certain groups of people who are at increased risk of complications should be vaccinated to prevent death and/or hospitalization. This group includes all people over age 65, all people who live or work in homes for the elderly or chronically ill, all individuals with chronic cardiac or respiratory illnesses (such as asthma) and all individuals with chronic medical disorders. 


Even if you get the flu shot you may still get the flu. The viruses that cause influenza change rapidly and flu vaccines are developed each year to protect people from the strains expected to be most prevalent. Studies of healthy young adults have shown flu vaccine to be 70 to 90% effective. In the elderly and those with certain long-term medical conditions, the flu shot is often less effective in preventing illness. However, in the elderly, flu vaccine is very effective in reducing hospitalization and death from flu-related causes.

The flu vaccine contains mercury from thimerosal, a preservative added to prevent bacterial contamination. Mercury is toxic to the brain, nerve cells, arterial linings and has been linked to an increase in the risk of Alzheimerís disease, dementia, memory loss, depression, anxiety, ADD, heart disease, hypertension and birth defects.

According to the world's leading immunogeneticist, Dr. Hugh Fudenberg, if an individual has had five consecutive flu shots, his or her chances of getting Alzheimer's disease is 10 times higher than if they had one, two or no shots. This is seemingly related to the gradual accumulation of mercury in the brain which has been found to cause cognitive dysfunction.

All viruses in the vaccine are dead, so it is not possible to get the flu from the vaccine, however, soreness at the injection site or aches and low-grade fever may be present for several days.

Elderly individuals who receive the flu shot are more likely to be diagnosed with dementia or stroke.

As with any drug or vaccine, there is a possibility that allergic reactions, more serious reactions or even death may occur after receiving the injection.

Who Should Not Have the Flu Shot?
The following groups should not get the flu vaccine or should do so only after consultation with their primary care providers:

  • People with an allergy to chickens or egg protein
  • People with a fever or illness that is more than "just a cold"
  • Anyone who has exhibited a moderate to severe reaction after a previous influenza shot
  • Pregnant women or women attempting to conceive. The flu shot contains a mercury preservative. Mercury has been linked to an increased incidence of birth defects.
  • Anyone who has ever been paralyzed due to Guillain-Barre syndrome

It is proven that individuals who exercise, take vitamin C, manage stress, live a healthy lifestyle and subsequently have a healthy immune system have a decreased susceptibility to colds and the flu. As an alternative to the flu shot, work on preventing the flu by strengthening your immune system. See our safe and effective tips for prevention of the flu and optimizing your immunity.


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