In part one of this series, we discussed research disputing the effectiveness of the flu vaccine. But we also raised the question “Is there really any harm in getting the flu shot?” After all, it might just work; and why not play those odds? Not so fast… it turns out that there are indeed risks to getting your seasonal flu shot.
What Are the Risks to Getting a Flu Shot?
Many seasonal flu vaccines contain a preservative called Thimerosal. But what you may not know is that this preservative contains mercury… in fact, it is 49 percent mercury by volume. Now, it’s well-known that mercury is bad news… it’s a neurotoxin, and particularly damaging to young brains (aka: kids, aka: one of the segments of the population that routinely gets the flu shot). What’s more, the mercury in a flu shot is injected directly into your body, which makes it especially harmful because that method bypasses your body’s entire natural “detoxification pathways.”
Besides killing brain cells, other complications that have been reported from receiving the mercury-laden vaccine include fever, vomiting and convulsions. This is not to be taken lightly, for sure; and one government took notice. Australia actually banned the flu shot for all children under the age of five after several children suffered adverse side effects, and one toddler even died.
There are, apparently, a few million doses of “thimerosal-free” vaccine; specifically reserved for pregnant women and infants. But not everyone knows the dangers of thimerosal, and even if you’re pregnant, nursing, or have an infant, you may not know to ask for such a dose. And unfortunately, many healthcare providers, practitioners and pharmacists have little knowledge about the dangers of thimerosal so it’s not likely that they would just offer up that option.
Aside from the threat of mercury, there are other risks associated with getting a flu shot. Any vaccine carries the chance of side effects such as fainting or having a seizure… something the pharmacist administering the shot may have no experience dealing with. Not only that, but if you suffer one of these effects after having left the clinic, pharmacy or drugstore (or in these days supermarket), it could be very dangerous – especially if you’re getting into a car, crossing a busy street, or caring for a young child.
What Are Some Ways You Can Prevent the Flu Without the Shot?
There are actually some really simple things you can do to help prevent the flu for yourself and your family.
Number one rule: wash those hands! Hand sanitizer is certainly an acceptable option as well, but if you can wash your hands with anti-bacterial soap and hot water (as hot as you can stand), then please do that. Aim for at least 20 seconds of washing, or the amount of time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” two times… in your head, of course. Singing out loud might make for an awkward public restroom experience!
Second, make sure you’re getting enough vitamin D. In fact, some experts agree that ensuring your vitamin D levels are at their peak is even more effective than getting a flu shot! Given that, it’s especially important that you take steps to avoid becoming deficient in vitamin D… particularly in the winter months when you’re exposure to sunlight is probably lacking. If you’re not sure if you’re deficient in the vitamin your doctor can perform an easy test to determine your levels. And if you can’t get enough sunshine, make sure you’re taking some vitamin D supplements.
A few other suggestions to ward off the flu include getting enough exercise, getting enough sleep (and good sleep), eating “clean” (avoiding bad fats, processed foods, sugar, etc.), and avoiding stress as much as you can. Now those things aren’t so easy in this day and age… but when you think about the risks of getting a flu vaccine, isn’t it worth a shot? (Just a little vaccine humor there!)
Well? What Do YOU Think?
Look, everyone is going to have his or her own opinion about whether or not to get the flu shot. Disagreements might even occur within your own household… as it does in highly respected Dr. Oz’s household. While Dr. Oz is in favor of the flu vaccine, and routinely gets it on his show, his wife and children have a differing view. And that’s fine. We just want you to know both sides of the story, so that you can form your own opinion and hopefully choose what’s best for you.
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