The flu vaccine relies on giving you a dead strain of the flu and depends on your body to build antibodies against that strain of flu. In principle, this should protect you against the flu. However, all too often individuals who receive the flu vaccine still end up getting sick with the flu anyway. Why? Are there more effective ways to bolster your immune system and protect you against flu and from getting a cold this winter?
This year’s flu season is going to be a rough one according to scientists. The Chicago Tribune says that researchers at the University of Chicago developed a new way to predict flu season “significantly earlier” this year by combining information about how the flu virus spreads with how much the virus has evolved compared to years past. And according to their analysis, you can expect a worse-than-average flu season this year.
“Our analysis for this year showed that the virus is already changing in a significant way,” researcher Mercedes Pascual said in a statement. “We predict an outbreak that is above average but moderate, not severe, because last year was such a bad season.”
In an article published in The New England Journal of Medicine, researchers at the National Institutes of Health said Americans should prepare for a severe flu season – even those who received the vaccination. “You really can’t definitively say [this] because things change with influenza, but all the stars are aligned for that to happen,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, to The Washington Times.
Scientists often look to the flu seasons in Australia as a predictor of our upcoming flu season in the northern hemisphere, USA Today reports. Confirmed cases in the U.S. are “very similar, if not identical, to the virus that was seen in Australia,” says Dr. Fauci. And Australia had a particularly rough flu season which doesn’t bode well for us here in the U.S. Australians recorded more than 200,000 infections and 745 deaths related to influenza. It was the country’s largest flu outbreak since 2009 when it recorded 59,000 cases and nearly 200 deaths. Immunization Coalition articles in the New York Times, CNN Health, and other media outlets point to an extraordinary and early influenza season in Australia for 2017-2018. This, they say, is a warning that the U.S. may likewise observe an earlier, more serious influenza season. The information behind these articles appears to warrant an abnormal state of concern.
The articles cite an Australia Department of Health influenza report that mentions:
- There are 2.5 times more flu cases in Australia than at this time last year.
- The increase may be caused in part by an earlier start to flu season.
- At least part of the uptick may come from the introduction of quicker testing.
- Cases of flu this year are less severe than in years past.
- The peak season week in 2017-2018 has seen “comparable or higher” levels to previous years.
Four states — Massachusetts, Georgia, Louisiana and Oklahoma — already have declared widespread infections, and at least 34 states have reported slightly lower levels of flu activity, according to reports by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But some scientists are particularly worried about Texas, Florida, and the Caribbean – which were affected by hurricanes this year – and California which has been affected by fires. Why? People who are displaced may not stick to their normal medical or health routines.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that everyone six months and older get a flu vaccine every year. According to the CDC, getting a flu vaccine protects you from getting sick, and it also protects the vulnerable people around you such as children, pregnant women, the elderly, and people with immune system problems. But is the flu vaccine enough?
How do I know if the flu vaccine will work this year?
According to the CDC, during the 2015-16 season, vaccine effectiveness was 47%, but for the 2014-15 season, effectiveness was just 19%. While the overall effectiveness of last season’s vaccine was 42%, it was only 34% effective against the H3N2 viruses that dominated the season.
What the CDC doesn’t tell you is that during the best years, the vaccine is only 43 to 73% effective. This season, they anticipate only 10% efficacy (effectiveness) from the flu vaccine.
“Banners are outside pharmacies urging: ‘Get Your Flu Shot Now.’ What’s not advertised, however, is just how lackluster the vaccine is. The most commonly used flu shots protect no more than 60% of people who receive them; some years, effectiveness plunges to as low as 10%. Given that a bad flu season can kill 50,000 people in the United States alone, ‘10% to 60% protection is better than nothing,’ says Michael Osterholm, an epidemiologist at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. ‘But it’s a terribly inadequate vaccine for a serious public health threat.’ Now, researchers are striving to understand why it fails so often—and how to make a markedly better one.” – Science Magazine
Creating Flu Vaccines – An Educated Guess
Creating flu vaccinations is a tricky business. Influenza viruses are constantly evolving. This means that at least six months before the flu season starts, public health officials have to guess which type A and B influenza virus strains will be predominantly in circulation so drug companies can manufacture the vaccines. When the chosen strains do not match the strains that are actually causing most of the disease, the vaccine’s failure rate is extremely high.
Therefore, whether the vaccine works or not depends primarily on the effectiveness of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the FDA to select the correct viral strain. Also, there is no good consensus on how long a flu shot lasts. Science Magazine continues, “They’re questioning what was once received wisdom: that the vaccine fails when manufacturers, working months ahead of flu season, incorrectly guess which strains will end up spreading. And they’re learning instead that the vaccine may falter even when the right strains were used to make it, perhaps because of how it is produced or quirks of individual immune systems. ‘It’s much more complicated than we thought,’ Osterholm says. ‘I know less about influenza today than I did 10 years ago.’”
Even when the vaccine is matched properly, the CDC estimates the flu vaccine’s effectiveness will only be between 40 and 60 percent – at best. This means public health officials believe you have a 60 percent or lower chance of not getting sick with influenza if you get a flu shot. But it could be as low as 40 percent. And that’s if they get everything right.
Even more troubling is the 97.4 percent failure rate of FluMist, the live virus nasal spray that ordinarily had been recommended for children in recent years. Its failure was so epic, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommended that FluMist be taken off the list of recommended flu vaccines for the 2016 to 2017 season – a recommendation CDC officials ended up heeding. There are numerous examples of the influenza vaccine not protecting people as promised.
The Flu Season is Here – and is Already Off to a Bad Start
It’s too early to speculate which viruses will become dominant in the United States over the course of the coming flu season, according to a study published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by Scott Hensley. Hensley added, “It’s starting to look like it will be H3 viruses… If H3N2 viruses dominate the U.S. flu season again this year, vaccine effectiveness will likely be moderate to low again,” said Hensley who is an associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania.
H3 viruses are influenza A viruses. “There are the A group of viruses and the B groups,” said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University. “The A groups are the ones that usually are responsible for large epidemics.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and Dr. Jeffery Taubenberger, the foremost authority on the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic, said the flu virus is unpredictable and rapidly mutating – another factor that makes inoculation difficult.
Commonly Held Wisdom May Not Be Sound Anymore
For many decades, researchers trusted the flu vaccine to provide solid protection if it was a good match to the circulating strains. This was primarily because studies from the 1940s through the 1960s routinely showed an efficacy of 70% to 90%. But those studies relied on an inaccurate and misleading methodology. Not having a simple way to detect the virus in the blood, researchers measured antibody levels and watched for a spike that occurs after infection. Things changed in the 1990s, however, when sensitive polymerase chain reaction tests enabled researchers to actually measure viral levels. Results showed that some people who did not have the big antibody spike after exposure—and would previously have been counted as a vaccine success—actually did show a jump in viral levels, signaling infection. Earlier assessments had exaggerated vaccine efficacy. What’s more, efficacy was sometimes low even when the vaccine and circulating strains appeared well matched. Something else was missing.
About the graph: This graph clearly shows vaccines are no longer working as effectively as they did in the past. However, this is partly because better measurements were developed in the 1990’s. These skewed results of the pre 90’s convinced an entire generation that the best way to fight the flu would be the flu vaccine.
Science Magazine states that evidence shows the more vaccinations you are exposed to, the more your immune system is weakened in its ability to respond to those vaccinations. Quoting Danuta Skowronski, an epidemiologist at the BC Centre for Disease Control in Vancouver, Canada, Science Magazine adds, “many influenza researchers are hesitant to discuss problems with the vaccine…this immunization program has been predicated on assumptions on top of assumptions. Unless we have these discussions, we’ll never have improved vaccine options. And I don’t think it’s anti-vaccine to want your vaccine program to be the best that it can be.”
More to Worry About Than Just The Flu
Many individuals are reporting injuries from flu shots and doctors are now recognizing injection site injuries as a legitimate concern when you receive your flu shot. In a 2011 report, “Adverse Effects of Vaccines: Evidence and Causality,” the Institute of Medicine acknowledged that shoulder injuries are one of the possible adverse effects of vaccine injections, stating it found “convincing evidence of a causal relationship between injection of vaccine … and deltoid bursitis, or frozen shoulder, characterized by shoulder pain and loss of motion.” Shoulder injury related to vaccine administration, also known as SIRVA, includes chronic pain, limited range of motion, nerve damage, frozen shoulder and rotator cuff tears, and are typically the result of the injection being administered too high on the arm.
Rather than being injected into the muscle, the vaccine is injected into the bursa or joint space and, since vaccines are designed to provoke an immune response, the immune system ends up attacking the bursa sac which leads to these adverse effects.
Why is this becoming a common problem? This is directly related to more people receiving their vaccinations in non-clinical setting, like pharmacies and grocery stores. Many will simply pull down the top of their shirt, exposing only the upper part of their deltoid, thereby increasing their risk of getting the injection in the wrong area.
What Can We Expect From 2017/2018 Flu Vaccine?
In the article, 2017 to 2018 Flu Vaccine Update, Dr. Mercola provides a review of flu vaccinations.
Before reviewing influenza vaccines, it is important to remember that the majority of respiratory influenza-like illness that people experience during any given flu season is NOT type A or B influenza.6 When you get a sore throat, runny nose, headache, fatigue, low-grade fever, body aches and cough, most of the time it is another type of viral or bacterial respiratory infection unrelated to influenza viruses.7 There are several different types of influenza vaccines. This year, the available vaccine lineup includes:
Trivalent flu vaccines, which target two influenza A strains and one influenza B strain:
- A/Michigan/45/2015 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus
- A/Hong Kong/4801/2014 (H3N2)-like virus
- B/Brisbane/60/2008-like (B/Victoria lineage) virus
Quadrivalent flu vaccines, which contain the same three strains as the trivalent, plus a second influenza B strain: B/Phuket/3073/2013-like (B/Yamagata lineage) virus. Two different types of quadrivalent vaccines are licensed:
- An inactivated version (Afluria quadrivalent)
- A recombinant version (Flublok quadrivalent)
There are also a range of delivery methods and formulations:
- A high-dose version for seniors over the age of 65, containing four times the amount of antigen as the regular dose of the standard vaccine
- An adjuvanted vaccine (Fluad) for seniors over 65, first available during the 2016 to 2017 season. It contains an adjuvant called MF59, described as an oil-in-water emulsion of squalene oil, added to hyper-stimulate a strong inflammatory response to try to strengthen artificial vaccine acquired immunity
- An intradermal flu vaccine for adults between 18 and 64
- A jet injector (needle-free) vaccine approved for adults between 18 and 64
Since it was licensed in 2003, a live attenuated flu vaccine in the form of a nasal spray has been available but, for the second year in a row, the CDC is recommending the nasal spray version not be used by anyone because of its history of ineffectiveness.
New for the 2017 to 2018 season is a quadrivalent influenza vaccine (Flucelvax) for individuals over 4 years old that uses dog kidney cells (MDCK) for production.10 Traditionally, candidate vaccine strain influenza viruses, i.e., the viruses selected for inclusion in the vaccine, have been produced using fertilized chicken eggs.
The cell-based influenza vaccine viruses are grown in cultured animal cells instead of chicken eggs.11 Another relatively new technology uses insect cells to produce a recombinant quadrivalent influenza vaccine, Flublok, for individuals over 18 years old.
Are There More Solutions to Bolster Your Immune System that Are More Effective than The Flu Vaccine?
Many people don’t realize there are more natural approaches to combat the flu that are often more effective than relying on scientists at the World Health Organization to guess which strain we will be dealing with this year.
Why not bolster your immune system against all infections and viruses instead of just a single strain? How? Immunity IV Therapy and Cold Treatments at Denali protect your immune system and help you become virtually immune to viruses and common illnesses like the cold and flu. Plus, Denali’s nasal reset is highly effective at breaking up sinus congestion for those who already have a cold.
What is an Immunity IV Therapy?
Immunity IV Therapy infuses highly concentrated vitamins and minerals directly into your blood stream. Unlike taking pills orally, IV Immunity Therapy bypasses your digestive tract and therefore enables your body to immediately and completely absorb the key nutrients it needs to fight off infection and recover quickly.
According to Denali founder, Dr. Brett J. Earl, “If taken prior to getting sick, it will dramatically bolster your immune system. Many Denali patients say this is the key factor that keeps them healthy throughout the winter months.” He continued, “Immunity IV Therapy also helps individuals who are already sick to recover more quickly. Many patients say they recover three to four times as fast.”
In addition, Denali has recently added a Sinus Reset that dramatically lessens the symptoms of a cold including nasal congestion, runny nose, and even sinus headache.