Flu Shots – You do what you want!
One of my great friends (whose idea it was to start this blog in the first place) told me today that flu vaccination is mandatory at her workplace. They have a choice between the flu mist or a thimerosol-free flu shot and she wanted to know my opinion on both. I figured that many of you out there are in similar situations and could use some objective information when you’re faced with the same decision. If nothing else, you can just stall and be like Cartman on South Park, telling your boss who is requiring you to get the shot, “Whateva, I do what I want!”
- Vaccines work under the premise that small exposure to viruses, bacteria, or pieces of other infectious particles makes the immune system recognize these invaders as foreign and then provide immunity from them when and if you are exposed again.
- The flu vaccine is an interesting one because every year the flu virus mutates into a slightly different strain which is similar to but not quite the same as last year’s virus. This is why some people get the flu every single year, even after their bodies have experienced and (hopefully) become immune to last year’s virus. This is also why some people are vaccinated for the flu but still end up getting a bad case – the current year’s flu vaccine is not guaranteed to protect against the current flu virus due to the fact that it is mutating and may not be an exact match. As a side note, the ability of the flu virus to mutate quickly is the major reason that the swine flu is dominating the media – everyone is watching to see if the current strain will mutate into a more harmful version.
- Vaccines in general are a current source of political angst and hot debate because they contain ingredients that may be harmful, especially to growing children and people with weak immune systems. Ingredients commonly found in vaccines include MSG, sugar, aluminum, and mercury. Mercury (in the form of thimerosol) is used in vaccines as a preservative, but recently has been dropped from many formulas due to public outcry. A solid scientific link has not been established, but there is a lot of anecdotal evidence that correlates mercury in vaccines to the increase in autism in our children. One explanation that I found for this which I would agree with from a biochemical standpoint is that some children are more sensitive to the mercury in vaccines because they don’t have enough healthy bacteria in their body (which could be due to overuse of antibiotics, stress, or other factors). Healthy bacteria provides a barrier that detoxifies heavy metals, but if this barrier is absent then the mercury will be more likely to get into the brain and cause problems.
Flu shot vs. Nasal spray
- The flu shot has used to be the only way to vaccinate for flu until the recent invention of a flu vaccine nasal spray. While the vaccines may not be 100% effective, some studies show that they may be helpful in preventing flu. Of course, other studies show that they may do more harm than good but I’m not going to get into either side on this blog – the subject is just too huge.
- The benefits of the flu spray are that it does not contain heavy metals (at least from what I could find – it is instead preserved with MSG and sugar, so maybe don’t double up on fast food the day you get it) and it doesn’t require injection. Possible disadvantages are that it contains live flu virus (from what I found it contains 5 different strains of flu) which may be more likely to replicate in the warm, moist area that is your nose and actually give you the flu. There is also some question as to whether injecting live viruses right into your nose is a good idea for your brain since it is in such close proximity.
- The benefits of the flu shot are that it normally contains inactivated virus, so it is less likely to actually give you the flu and it is injected right into the bloodstream so it gives your body a better chance to filter and detoxify the preservatives found in it rather than spraying it up your nose where it may get stuck and replicate. The disadvantages are that it is more likely to contain heavy metals along with MSG and other questionable preservatives.
If you’re getting the vaccine
- Avoid sugar and drink plenty of water for the week prior to getting vaccinated so that your immune system is strong and ready to imprint on whatever form of vaccination you choose.
- Take a double dose of a good multivitamin and a normal dose of probiotics for at least 5 days prior to the vaccine to build up your levels of minerals and boost your ability to detoxify preservatives in the vaccine.
- The day before, the day of, and the day after vaccination take a large dose of vitamin C (at least 1,000 mg but whatever you can handle) and a dose of zinc (about 20 mg – you can get this in the form of zinc lozenges at most drugstores) to keep your immune system strong.
- Avoid aspartame and other artificial sweeteners for 1 day prior to getting vaccinated, as aspartame has been found to react negatively with vaccines and may damage nerves.
- If you decide to get the shot, add a heaping scoop of chlorella or some other kind of green drink to a smoothie that morning to help boost your ability to detoxify heavy metals.
- If you decide to get the nasal spray, wash out your nose with a neti pot the evening after the vaccine to make sure you don’t have any remnants left up there.
If you are refusing the vaccine
- This may not be an option for you depending on where you work, but most employers will make allowances for religious exemption (meaning it is against your beliefs to be vaccinated) and egg allergy (because the flu vaccine is grown in eggs).
- Be sure to live a healthy lifestyle that promotes natural immunity: sleep 7-9 hours per night, drink plenty of water, avoid white sugar, avoid processed foods, eat lots of produce, eat adequate amounts of protein for your personal needs, and exercise.
- Be sure you are getting enough of the key immune-supporting nutrients: vitamin C, zinc, and vitamin D (from sunlight, fatty foods, or supplements). Needs vary for each individual, so I would suggest working with a nutrition minded practitioner if you have questions.
- Eat cultured foods (yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, etc.) and/or take a probiotic supplement to boost your levels of healthy bacteria.
- Wash your hands frequently and avoid touching your eyes or nose during flu season.
- Regularly use a neti pot to keep your nasal passages clean and less likely to allow viruses to reproduce.