There is no question that the presence of flu season each year and the vaccine created as a result have become hotly debated issues in the media, by bloggers and perhaps most fiercely, by moms.
Since I have often fit into high risk category number one in the past few years (pregnant women), and have children that fit into high risk category number two (young children), this is an issue I have spent many hours researching. I’ve compiled some of the research I have come across in researching this topic. Please note that I am not a doctor, and none of this is to be considered medical advice. I’m simply sharing information I found while researching this topic for my own family.
Also please note that any discussion involving vaccines can potentially become heated. I welcome *charitable and civil* discussion in the comments below. Any direct attacks or name calling will be banned. At the end of the day, we are all striving to make the most healthy decisions for ourselves and our families.
When referring to the flu, I am including all of the following in the definition:
Influenza, often referred to as “flu,“ is an infectious respiratory disease caused by type A or type B influenza viruses, which are present in the mucus membranes and secretions of the nose, throat and lungs. There are other viruses and bacteria associated with “flu-like” symptoms and it is estimated that about 80 percent of all flu-like illness that occurs every year during the “flu season” is not type A or type B influenza. Only lab confirmation can detect whether flu-like symptoms, including serious complications like pneumonia, are caused by influenza viruses or other types of viral or bacterial organisms.
When referring to the flu vaccine I am including the following:
Two types of influenza vaccines are available in the U.S.: inactivated injectable influenza vaccine and live attenuated influenza vaccine, which is inhaled through the nose,Inactivated, injectable influenza vaccines packaged in multi-dose vials contain the mercury preservative thimerosal but inactivated influenza vaccines in single dose vials are thimerosal-free or contain trace amounts of the mercury preservative. The live attenuated nasal influenza vaccine does not contain thimerosal. (as of the date of my research on the topic)
There are 16 different influenza vaccine products licensed in the U.S. marketed by different pharmaceutical companies. Some of these vaccines contain only the 2009 pandemic H1N1 influenza A virus strain. However, most seasonal influenza vaccines in the U.S. contain two type A influenza viruses and one type B influenza virus that are selected every year by the World Health Organization (WHO) and U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) for inclusion in flu shots given during the current flu season.
What’s the Flu Vaccine?
The NVIC compiled a helpful list of links (from the FDA website) of the product inserts and specifics on the current flu vaccines:
Quadrivalent Vaccines – Nasal
- FluMist by MedImmune, LLC – Product Insert & Licensing Information, Category B
Quadrivalent Vaccines – Injected
- Fluarix Quadrivalent by GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals – Package Insert & Licensing Information, Category B
- Fluzone Quadrivalent by Sanofi Pasteur Inc. – Package Insert & Licensing Information, Category C
Trivalent Vaccines – Injected
- AFLURIA by CSL Limited (Afluria) – Package Insert & Licensing Information, Category B
- Agriflu by Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics, Inc. – Package Insert & Licensing Information, Category B
- FluLaval by ID Biomedical Corporation of Quebec – Package Insert & Licensing Information, Category B
- Fluarix by GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals – Package Insert & Licensing Information, Category B
- Flublok by Protein Sciences Corporation – Package Insert & Licensing Information, Category B
- Flucelvax by Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics, Inc. – Package Insert & Licensing Information, Category B
- Fluvirin by Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics Ltd. – Package Insert & Licensing Information, Category C
- Fluzone by Sanofi Pasteur, Inc.
- Package Insert – Fluzone & Licensing Information, Category C
- Package Insert – Fluzone High Dose & Licensing Information, Category C
- Package Insert – Fluzone Intradermal & Licensing Information, Category B
In short, the following ingredients can be found in some of the different flu vaccines (and even the CDC confirms many of these):
- Trace antibiotics
- Aluminum — a neurotoxin that has been linked to Alzheimer’s disease
- Triton X-100 — a detergent
- Phenol (carbolic acid)
- Ethylene glycol (antifreeze)
- Betapropiolactone – a disinfectant
- Nonoxynol – used to kill or stop growth of STDs
- Octoxinol 9 – a vaginal spermicide
- Sodium phosphate
Pros & Cons of the Flu Shot
Obviously, the upside of getting a flu vaccine should be immunity from the flu. Unfortunately, if the wrong strain is included in the vaccine, this won’t be accomplished. This article explains how this is not an exact science and how it is not possible to completely predict the strain or provide protection from it.
It seems there are two safety issues with flu season: the flu itself and the safety of the vaccine. I set out to research if (a) the vaccine was effective and (b) if it was safe. Once finding this out, I also wanted to determine the risks of the vaccine in comparison to the risks of simply contracting the flu.
Ironically, while pregnant women, elderly, small children and medical workers are thought to be high risk candidates for contracting the virus (and are therefore encouraged to get it), the research is still out on the safety of the vaccine for these categories.
What are contraindications to the flu vaccine?
Among high risk factors listed by the CDC and the vaccine manufacturers are anyone who:
(1) is sick with a fever;
(2) has an egg allergy;
(3) has a mercury allergy;
(4) has a history of Guillain-Barre syndrome.
If immunosuppressed individuals receive the flu vaccine they may not get an adequate protective antibody response.
Is Flu Vaccine Recommended for Children?
One consideration with the mass use of flu vaccine in healthy children is the removal of natural antibodies to flu which are obtained from natural infection. The question of whether it is better for healthy children, who rarely suffer complications from flu, to get the flu and develop permanent immunity to that flu strain or it is better for children to get vaccinated every year to try to suppress all flu infection in early childhood is a question that has yet to be adequately answered by medical science.
Although in the past the flu vaccine has not been recommended for healthy children, today vaccination of children between the ages of 6 months and 18 years is strongly recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) of the CDC and New Jersey now requires influenza vaccine for daycare and kindergarten entry.
Is the flu Vaccine Safe During Pregnancy?
In years past, pregnancy was also a contraindication to flu vaccine but, today, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends flu vaccine for women more than 14 weeks pregnant.
Influenza vaccines are Category B or C drugs, which means that adequate and well-controlled studies on pregnant women have not been conducted and it is not known whether these vaccines can cause fetal harm when administered to a pregnant woman or if they can affect reproduction capacity.
The package inserts published by the flu vaccine manufacturers state that “Animal reproduction studies have not been conducted with influenza virus vaccine. It is also not known whether influenza virus vaccine can cause fetal harm when administered to a pregnant woman. Although animal reproductive studies have not been conducted, the prescribing health care provider should be aware of the recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. The ACIP states that if used during pregnancy, administration of influenza virus vaccine after 14 weeks of gestation may be preferable to avoid coincidental association of the vaccine with early pregnancy loss.”
Pregnant women should be aware that the flu vaccine contains Thimerosal, which is a mercury derivative. Mercury is toxic to the brain and has been found to be associated with brain damage and developmental delays in babies whose mothers were exposed to high levels of mercury during pregnancy.”
No testing has been done on the effects of these vaccines, alone or in combination, on the unborn children of pregnant women who receive them, though:
A recent study showed exposure flu viruses among women during pregnancy provoke a similar gene expression pattern in the fetus as that seen in autistic children.
Another important point to consider when weighing the risks and benefits of the flu vaccine(s) is their effectiveness. There are no controlled studies that demonstrate any decrease in cases of the flu among those who have gotten the vaccine. The insert in the FLUVAL vaccine for the 2009-2010 formula specifically states:
FLULAVAL is an influenza virus vaccine indicated for active immunization of adults 18 years of age and older against influenza disease caused by influenza virus subtypes A and type B contained in the vaccine. This indication is based on immune response elicited by FLULAVAL, and there have been no controlled trials demonstrating a decrease in influenza disease after vaccination with FLULAVAL.
I highly encourage everyone to do their own research on this or any health topic. If you are interested in further reading, here are some of the resources I found helpful:
National Vaccine Information Center page on Influenza
More detail on the flu vaccine
Discussion (106 Comments)
Hi Katie, I was so happy to come across this post. This really helped give me some peace of mind of my decision.
I’m curious, How do you feel about vaccinations in general? Do you vaccinate your children? Do you do a normal schedule (if at all)? Do you live in a state where you can pick and choose which vaccinations you want to do? If you did, would there be vaccinations you would be comfortable doing?
What resources did you use to help make your decision?
I would love to see Katie’s answers to these questions too.
Never had a flu vaccine, wondering if we should. My husband is elderly.
The flu has been known to affect the elderly more harshly, sometimes causing death. I encourage my parents to be immunized each year. I’ve always gotten the shot, but over the course of six months I’ve been scrutinizing everything going in or onto my body. I’ll have to put some more thought into this. Thanks for an informative article.
I too am interested in your stance on routine vaccines. I just started spacing out my children’s vaccines. The information out there is so overwhelming! Thank you for a thoughtful and resource filled post!
Thank you so much for this post! I have been learning a lot about vaccines in the last year. My daughter is 3 and fully vaccinated up to this point, but I’m really questioning doing the same from here on out. What I’ve been learning makes me think we were blessed for her NOT to have any bad reactions. And what I’ve learned about the flu shot very recently, is that it is 50/50 as to whether it will help or not. I’m not sure that I’m willing to take a chance on something as reliable as the results of the flip of a coin. I just needed to see the info to help me solidify what I already decided. Now to get my docs on board…..or find new ones….
What information have you found. And is that something that is in favor or more against getting it? My son is 3. Only had a shot twice. Since he was last born and this past January. They say it’s time for another. I am really against it.
Hello!! Thank you for the info!! I’d like to know what your stance is on routine vaccines for children and adults? I trust your judgement and know you take the time to research and thoroughly study important topics such as this so would really like to hear your advice!!!
I was never vaccinated. I also am very curious what your viewpoint is on vaccines in general, but it’s such a contraversial subject I can understand how posting on it could cause too much unnecessary scrutiny. If you ever decide to do an email to interested folks on what you decided and resources you used to decide, please include my email on that list! 😉
I’m pretty sure she has a podcast episode on vaccination!
I would be interested in her response too!!
I am also curious on your views and research on childhood vaccines. My son, who is now 2, was vaccinated up until his 2 month well child check up when he developed seizures as a result of one of the combination vaccines he was given. We haven’t vaccinated since but now are feeling the pressure again to vaccinate. Would you consider posting on this issue?
I’m a mom of 4 and currently expecting my 5th.
My 3rd son was injured by his vaccines he received at 8 months old. He struggles daily still, he is 8 and diagnosed with Autism. I didn’t vaccinate my 4th after his 6 month vaccines- because he began wheezing within a couple weeks and was diagnosed with asthma shortly after. (No one has asthma in my family) I will not be vaccinating my 5th child. I do not trust the pharmaceutical companies nor do I trust the typical pediatrician. Who told me for 6 years that maybe my son just had a photographic memory, was more of a “loner” type and maybe Adderall at age 4 -would help with his hyperactivity. Even though I’d been telling him for years the vaccines changed him.
Too many parents know this is truth. And unless you have a child who has been injured your opinion is invalid. The so-called herd immunity is BS. If you are protected, then you are protected. And my unvaccinated child is not a danger to your vaccinated child. In fact your child will more likely be the one to still contract the diseases you think you are protected from.
I know so many kids- vaccinated that still got whooping cough. My brother had the measles when we were little- guess what he was a little sick and got over it in a few days. Now he has lifelong immunity.
It’s a HUGE money maker.
If you question it and it doesn’t feel right – don’t do it. There have been people questioning vaccines since the 1800’s! This debate isn’t new- but the crap that they are injecting us with is. And it’s a real problem.
Go to http://vaxtruth.org/
Thank you for writing a well-cited article addressing both sides of the vaccine debate. As one who is immuno-suppressed, and cannot get the flu vaccine (and actually got whooping cough from a non-immunized little girl I baby sat for), I thank you for taking the time to give the pros and cons. It’s a very sensitive, personal decision.
I appreciate your comment. It is such a complex issue. Unfortunately, it is no longer a personal decision in California. This makes me even more suspicious than I was before about the safety of vaccines and the ethics of the vaccine manufacturers.
is Myastenia gravis a immune suppressed disease
In the case of pertussis, the vaccinated are more prone to catching and spreading it. Please read this article and see what you think. I also have an article by the cdc from 2000 documenting the fact that they knew there was a problem with the vaccine. But instead of remedying the situation they chose to ramp up vaccination. My little one caught pertussis from a fully vaccinated little girl. He’s fine and will NEVER catch it or spread it again. Not the case for my daughter who was vaccinated and catches it every time she comes in contact with it. This ineffective vaccine has put everyone at risk. https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/22/2/15-0325_article
The article does not say that exactly. It was referring to a study done in 2000 in Israel using . It says that immunization (whole cell) does not last through adulthood and possibly not beyond adolescence. The CDC now suggests that adults around infants should be vaccinated against whooping cough again. It also uses the word may when it says that vaccinated people may be reservoirs for the disease and vaccinated children who contract whooping cough have a lesser case of it without the 3 markers. The study does not say that once a vaccinated child has whooping cough that they will have again. What it does say is that more study is needed. Vaccinated children may serve as transmitters of the disease, the caveat being may. The CDC publication on pertussis in August 2015 clarifies much of this. We now use DTap which is not whole cell and requires 5 doses. It renders 80-90% effectiveness. Children get a lesser case if vaccinated. Thing to remember is where we were and where we are now. The CDC says”Before pertussis vaccines became widely available in the 1940s, about 200,000 children got sick with it each year in the United States and about 9,000 died as a result of the infection. Now we see about 10,000 to 40,000 cases reported each year and unfortunately up to 20 deaths.” 200,000 to 20 in less than 75 years is improvement.
My son is vaccine injured from Dtap. He had seizures so uncontrollable he was placed in medically induced coma . He is nine years old still in diapers with seizures sometimes 13 a day. No vaccine is safe for everyone Mitiocondrial disorders as Well as many other issues need to be considered before vaccination. It is irresponsible of a Dr to vaccinate without some prior genetic and immune function testing . I would gladly trade my chances with measles for brain damage any day.
As an immunocomprimised individual, are you aware of the dangers of recently immunized people shedding the virus? It is actually a larger threat than non vaccinated people.
Hi Jen. I am immune suppresses also but my rheumatologist is pushing the flu vaccine. Interesting.
What is your stance on routine vaccinations in general? My husband and I are debating whether or not to allow our child to get any vaccines – I never got them, and I find them unnecessary (my mom fought the school district hard to keep me vaccine free), but he is strongly for them. What do you suggest?
im curious about this to my first daughter had all her shots
up to 18 months and is not almost 4 my second daughter i researched more but was still clueless and she has had shots up to 6 months shes almost 2 now im 5 months pregnant with our third daughter and dont want to vaccinate but feel there is so much information and i just get lost
I’m wondering his as well.
While I believe the flu vaccine and the chicken pox vaccine are unnecessary (for a variety of reasons). I would suggest getting vaccines for potentially deadly diseases of which only one strain occurs such as measles (which, if contracted as an adult can lead to infertility and contracted as a child could lead to death), tetanus (although you only need this once every ten years, it is a truly awful disease to contract. If it doesn’t end up being lethal there can be permanent muscular damage and it can even break bones where the muscle is stronger). It’s best to research the disease as well as the vaccine and keep in mind that certain chemicals can stabilize others making them more safe (sodium and chlorine for example). In the case of chicken pox or the flu which is almost never fatal with our medical knowledge, and have such a variety of strains as the make their vaccines rather a crap shoot and kind of a waste of money, I’m usually opposed. In the cases of potentially lethal, often extremely painful diseases such as measles, whooping cough and tetanus, I would have to be for them.
measles, whooping cough and tetanus can be devastating or even fatal if not treated properly with or without a vaccine. Even a flu if not treated properly can become deadly but that does not automatically mean that a vaccine will give you immunity. For example, Tetanus is a spore that lives in infected animals and the ONLY way you can get it is if you come in contact with the animal’s bodily fluids and when you do get infected, all you need is hydrogen peroxide poured on the wound and it kills the spore. Whooping Cough can be effectively treated with Vitamin C.
Please find a reputable source to back up these claims. If it were just this easy to eradicate it wouldn’t still exist. Anyone considering the above comment please go do your own research on the differences between spores, ENDOSPORES (what she’s talking about above) and vegetative forms of bacteria such as tetanus, c diff, anthrax, etc.
As Wellness Mama has demonstrated in this article and always, education is your real best friend in making such a personal decision as choosing whether or not to vaccinate. If you find yourself thinking “yeah I think I could protect myself from tetanus endospores using only over the counter hydrogen peroxide” based on what you’ve read, that’s your choice. But please don’t blindly take my or hers or anyone’s word for it – research!
I’m glad I came across this. I have a few pieces I would like to add.
1. Vaccinations do not prevent an immune response, the create one which is why a symptom can often be a fever. Vaccinations use weakened or dead viruses to allow your immune system to see and respond to the virus, thus developing the anti-bodies, without the danger of a full strength virus causing dangerous symptoms such as extreme fevers, nerve damage, dehydration, siezures, or death.
2. Thimerosal is a related to Mercury, but it is not elemental Mercury. What this means is that the Mercury in it is safely bonded to other elements like Carbon or Hydrogen and this makes it behave differently in the body than pure Mercury. It’s like how Sodium and Chlorine are both deadly on their own (one even explodes and creates a deadly acid when exposed to water) but Sodium-Chloride (Sodium and Chlorine mixed together) are safe and healthy because it’s (no joke) table salt. Like salt that you eat every day. The same with the Mercury molecule found in Thimerosal. In chemistry purity, amount, and length of exposure are what make something dangerous.
3. I checked all your sources and couldn’t find anything about the genetic expression of autism symptoms and flu, could you please cite that?
Your thoughts on measles are a bit…..over the top. I had measles and mumps as a child. It was a right of passage to get them….seems like everyone did…..and you were off school a few days, home on the couch watching tv and then back at school. My immune system is stronger for it and I never got them again. It’s not that lethal. You sound so scared of them. My generation survived them just fine. The newer generation of mothers seem to blindly trust in their pediatricians and buy what the Big Pharma reps are selling their docs. I see a movement that are finally awakening and it’s good to see.
I mean, at least 922 children and young adults have died in Madagascar due to a recent measles outbreak.. I think it also has to do with the fact that getting the measles when you’re 8,9,10 is way different than an infant with no immune system whatsoever catching it. I’m glad your experience was harmless, but the fact you didn’t die doesn’t really trump out the nearly thousand who did up until a couple of months ago. I don’t think it’s fair to make these claims without research, especially the moment you discredit the people who don’t agree with you by basically calling them “blind” to what the reality supposedly is
“90% of Malagasy people live on less than $2 a day. Just 11% of the rural population has access to an improved latrine; 34% to clean water, according to UNICEF. No wonder diarrhea is one of the top killers of children, along with pneumonia and malaria. Malnutrition rates are the fourth highest in the world.
Forgotten diseases take a heavy toll: schistosomiasis, filariasis, leprosy, even plague, the Black Death of the Middle Ages, which returns like clockwork every fall—last year in the most fearsome outbreak ever.” https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/02/prescription-madagascar-s-broken-health-system-data-and-focus-details
Measles and Vitamin A: (World Health Organization info)
Severe complications from measles can be avoided through supportive care that ensures good nutrition, adequate fluid intake and treatment of dehydration with WHO-recommended oral rehydration solution. This solution replaces fluids and other essential elements that are lost through diarrhoea or vomiting. Antibiotics should be prescribed to treat eye and ear infections, and pneumonia.
All children diagnosed with measles should receive two doses of vitamin A supplements, given 24 hours apart. This treatment restores low vitamin A levels during measles that occur even in well-nourished children and can help prevent eye damage and blindness. Vitamin A supplements have been shown to reduce the number of deaths from measles by 50%.”
from: World Health Organization: https://www.who.int/en/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/measles
Extended vaccination schedule coupled with homeopathic drops. I take my kids to a integrative pediatrician M.D. who does an extended version of vaccinations so they are not getting five, six, and seven types of vaccines at one time which is not good for their immune system. Also, she gives homeopathic drops at the time of the vaccine to decrease risk of side effects. In addition, she does not even offer Gardasil because of the high risk of neurological side effects that can be permanent. She does not encourage the flu shot either and has a anti-flu regimen for her patients to follow involving elderberry syrup and vitamin D. Fortunately, my kids got the chickenpox on their own which was better for us as I did not want to add another vaccination to my kid’s bodies. So it’s not an all or nothing approach.
I’m curious – what “homeopathic drops” do you use? I love your take on the all or nothing approach!
Thimerosal in Swine Flu Vaccines is Safe? Who are we kidding??
There will be MOST DEFINITELY be thimerosal in many if not most H1N1 vaccines. Directly from the CDC: “The 2009 H1N1 influenza vaccines that FDA is licensing (approving) will be manufactured in several formulations. Some will come in multi-dose vials and will contain thimerosal as a preservative. Multi-dose vials of seasonal influenza vaccine also contain thimerosal to prevent potential contamination after the vial is opened. Some 2009 H1N1 influenza vaccines will be available in single-dose units, which will not require the use of thimerosal as a preservative. In addition, the live-attenuated version of the vaccine, which is administered intranasally (through the nose), is produced in single-units and will not contain thimerosal.” https://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/vaccination/vaccine_safety_qa.htm