Flu Season Myths vs Facts – Is the Flu Shot Helpful or Harmful?
Starting around this time of year, two of the most common questions I get are:
#1– “Dr. Jessica, do I need a flu shot even if I don’t have any flulike symptoms … just in case?”
#2 – “I hear some people say the flu shot is harmful and others say it’s helpful. What do you think?”
When health and wellness questions pop up, I would love to be able to give a simple answer. On the other hand, as a holistic doctor I understand my patients need (and want) to know the reasons why their body gets suppressed enough to actually ‘catch’ the flu in the first place.
It’s not just a yes-or-no answer. In this post, I’m going to provide you with some facts on the flu and wellness, so you can determine whether it’s the best route to take for you and your family…or not.
Why the Flu Has Become So Dangerous Recently
The flu has been around a lot longer than you or me. People in their 30s (like me), 40s, 50s and older can certainly remember ‘catching the flu.’
Kids, and even adults, may have stayed home from school and work, but after some weakness, chills, fatigue, chicken soup and lots of fluids for two or three days, the process was done. No big deal.
The problem now is that in roughly the last 10 years, we have seen strains of influenza and other viruses become downright deadly.
This time of year, my patients ask if they are susceptible to developing the swine flu, avian flu, or whatever the newest and latest dangerous flu strain is. Of course, these days there’s a lot of talk and concern over COVID-19. Many of these strains are very serious and are harder to treat than the good old colds and flus you got this time of year as a child.
On top of that, news media and Big Pharma are going to paint the most dismal picture possible. You’re told that if you get the ‘harmless’ flu shot it will keep you from getting sick, and this seems reasonable enough. So off you go with your family to get inoculated.
I’m not saying this is a bad idea. I am saying that first you should understand what causes you to be at a higher risk for getting sick during flu season. After all, if you lower your risks, you may not need a flu shot.
3 Major Causes for Getting Sick During Flu Season
According to the Centers for Disease Control in the United States (CDC), the 2018/19 flu season was the longest in 10 years. It got rolling in October and November, grew until it peaked in February, and didn’t drop to normal non-flu season levels until the middle of April. Whew! I was asked by many parents, “What makes us so vulnerable to influenza this time of every year?”
Basically, you’re looking at 3 major causes.
#1 – Spending More Time Indoors Weakens Your Immunity
In the spring and summer, most people get out and about. This is when I enjoy as much time outdoors with my girls as I possibly can because when you expose your body to the fresh air, sun, AND nature, this boosts your immune system.
People also tend to either consciously (or accidentally) eat a healthier diet in the spring and summer months, as opposed to during the winter holidays. Just think about the last few winter parties you attended, and you know exactly what I’m talking about!
Spending more time inside and being bombarded by the toxic elements of electromagnetic radiation (see my previous post here) while eating a less than healthy diet dramatically and negatively affect your immune system. This is because your natural immunity to disease and illness is highly impacted by your digestive tract, your sinuses and your skin. When exposed to more of those positive influences I mentioned in the spring and summer, you can keep the flu at bay.
When you don’t go outdoors as much to expose your body to sunlight, you lower the amount of vitamin D in your body; this is another way your immune system gets compromised.
#2 – Stress, Travel and Overindulgence
Holiday stress, travel and unhealthy eating habits wreak havoc on your resistance to the flu. This trifecta can single-handedly make an otherwise healthy individual a perfect candidate for flus and colds. While vacations and travel plans during the winter holidays are supposed to be relaxing and fun, they often crank up your stress levels.
The overindulgence in unhealthy food and alcohol during holiday celebrations is enough to wreck your immune system all by itself.
Being cooped up for long periods of time with strangers on planes, trains and automobiles also increases the chance that you will catch the flu from one of your fellow travelers.
#3 – Your Body Naturally Requires More Rest and Relaxation
You are a product of nature. Look at nature during the fall and winter months. What’s it doing?
It’s slowing down.
This time of year is when plants lose their leaves and animals hibernate or significantly shut down their activities. Unfortunately, our schedules in this hectic 21st century don’t allow us to slow down our lives.
For many people, the winter months are busier because of the previously mentioned travel plans and holiday celebrations. This means at a time in your life every year where you naturally need more rest, less stress, smarter eating habits and less activity, those are the last things happening.
Five Disturbing Things Nobody Has Told You about the Flu Shot
Now that you know some things you can avoid in preventing the flu, let’s look at five reasons why you may NOT want to get a shot.
#1 – The Flu Shot Is Not Always Effective at Preventing the Flu
I mentioned the Centers for Disease Control earlier. Here’s a little something you need to know about flu shots, which is a direct quote from the CDC.
“During years when the flu vaccine is not well matched to circulating viruses, it’s possible that no benefit from flu vaccination may be observed. However, even during years when the vaccine match is very good, the benefits of vaccination will vary across the population, depending on characteristics of the person being vaccinated and even, potentially, which vaccine was used.
The CDC itself admits the shot may be ineffective for many people due to the ever-changing nature of the viruses, and that even if you are vaccinated you may still succumb to the flu.”
This is taken from a CDC report titled “Vaccine Effectiveness – How Well Does the Flu Vaccine Work?”
Just like any other medicine, whether it works or not depends on your unique body and internal processes, if the vaccine has been updated to protect against recent flu strain developments, and other factors.
#2 – The Flu Shot Sometimes Offers Negative Side-Effects
Like I just said, every person is different. You may be able to take a flu shot each year and avoid getting sick, with no negative side-effects, while your best friend isn’t so lucky. Possible side-effects from taking a flu shot include the very symptoms you are trying to avoid! I’m really not making this up – taking a flu shot can actually make you feel like you have the flu. This includes vomiting and wheezing in children, fatigue and mental flog, in some cases neurological disorders, paralysis and even anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis is a severe and potentially life-threatening allergic reaction that can occur only seconds, or minutes, after getting your flu shot.
#3 – Your Flu Shot Is Full of Mercury, Aluminum and Other Possibly Harmful Preservatives and Metals
You may have noticed that the person giving you a flu shot uses a big gun-like tool with a needle attached to the end. This contains several doses of the flu vaccine; he simply changes the needle out for each new patient to make it safe.
When the flu vaccine is stored in large quantities like this, mercury, aluminum and other heavy metal preservatives must be added to keep that flu vaccine lasting for a long period of time.
I am willing to bet your doctor never told you that she was shooting potentially harmful heavy metals into your children when she was administering a flu shot. Yeah, scary.
This can mean severe problems for pregnant women, children, the elderly and other people who have an impaired or weak immune system. Yet currently, it’s recommended that all pregnant women receive the shot despite its obvious toxic preservatives – this just doesn’t make sense to me!
The same doctor that insists on giving a pregnant woman a flu shot may also tell her to stop eating large fish because of the possible heavy metal content. Huh?!
What do I think about this issue? I’ll tell you plainly and simply: I would not get this vaccine if I were pregnant, nursing, or trying to get pregnant. NO WAY.
#4 – Steer Clear If You Are Allergic to Eggs
There are at least four vaccines which are cultured in chicken eggs or chicken embryos. Those are the vaccines for rabies, yellow fever, MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) and the flu.
If you or your child has an allergy to eggs, this can become a serious problem.
The funny thing is, there is an egg-free flu vaccine option. Unfortunately, most doctors and health professionals don’t mention this choice. Checking back with our friends at the CDC, we find that the egg-free flu vaccine has only been approved for people between the ages of 18 and 49.
#5 – The Flu Shot Could Have These Toxins and Poisons
- Formaldehyde (seriously)
- Thimersol (this is the infamous mercury-containing preservative that sparked the vaccine/autism debate. You can ask for a thimersol-free or preservative-free shot, but you must know about it to do so. Even then it’s still likely to contain trace amounts of harmful mercury and/or aluminum.)
- Aluminum (another heavy-metal preservative that is the cause for great concern in pregnant women, children and babies)
- Polysorbate 80
- Monosodium glutamate (a common allergen and toxic substance to your brain and nervous system)
- Chicken cell embryos (I mentioned above)
Are There Smart Flu Shot Options?
Earlier I talked about the three major reasons you’re more likely to catch the flu between November and April. If you limit your stress, eat smart, don’t overindulge, give yourself more relaxation and downtime, and spend more time outdoors in the sunlight, you lower the odds that the flu will be a problem.
And despite what the media and pharmaceutical companies tell you, our bodies are still highly intelligent and capable of overcoming the flu. You absolutely can arm and empower your immune system to do its job and protect you during the flu season.
Here are some ways to protect yourself and your family against the flu, using common sense and simple nutrition practices.
- Get Enough Vitamin D
Smart nutrition practices are necessary if you’re going to avoid the flu. This time of year, I do recommend supplementation for most people, at least with vitamin D. Check with your doctor about the right dosage for you.
- Don’t Stop Juicing
Fresh juices with at least 80% vegetable content will always deliver a wealth of immune-supportive nutrients such as vitamins A, C, and K. Make sure you include carrots and leafy greens.
- Get a Handle on Stress – Especially During the Holidays
Did you know stress is related to five of the top six causes of death? It’s true! Aside from being responsible for 75% to 90% of all emergency room and doctor’s office visits, stress is linked to heart disease, respiratory problems, cancer, accidents and suicide.
Stress is also super good at beating up your immune system. Get a handle on stress and you get a handle on the flu virus.
- Make a Plan For Before That Holiday Get–Together
I hate to be a Scrooge, but if you plan ahead to eat a small, nutritious meal with some healthy fat and cultured food before a big holiday feast, you’ll be less likely to overeat and regret it the next day. Everything in balance, and this definitely includes alcohol.
- Take Care of Your Gut and Your Gut Will Take Care of You
This applies throughout the year, yet especially during flu season. The seasonal stress, holiday parties and lots of yummy but not so healthy food can trash your digestive system.
A full 80% of your immune system resides in your gut. This means catering to that sensitive but important microbiome is essential to skipping the flu.
Once again, I recommend supplementation, this time with a quality probiotic/prebiotic. You should also be eating plenty of raw, cultured foods that include home-made, dairy-free yogurt and kombucha, kefir and cultured vegetables. Some warm, homemade beef or chicken broth is not only welcome during the cold winter months, but it also nourishes and heals your gut.
Staying healthy means making hard decisions sometimes, and deciding whether to opt for a flu shot isn’t an easy choice.
Here’s the wrap-up: Can the flu shot keep influenza at bay? It certainly can. However, I always believe it’s smarter to take natural, proven steps to preventing illness rather than injecting chemicals into your body. I’m not saying that I’m making this decision for you; I’m simply saying that you have to always outweigh the risks versus the benefits.
I would love to hear what you have to say on this sometimes confusing and controversial issue in the comments below! And if you know the upcoming holiday season will be stressful for you, click here for my easy 60 Second Stress Buster Technique – my secret weapon to avoid stress and anxiety.
Wishing you well,
Hi! I'm Dr. Jessica
I’m Dr. Jessica Payne, Medical Intuitive, Doctor of Natural Medicine, and your go-to guide for living your life naturally…More
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