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Flu & You: Know Your Options

Posted: 12/3/2008 10:38:48 PM | with 1 comments

These days you can't turn around without being reminded that the "flu" season is just around the corner and it is time for every American - but especially infants, kindergarteners through high school graduates and anyone over 50 - to get a shot of influenza vaccine. But there are lots of new questions about whether the influenza vaccine is ineffective in children and whether it is also ineffective in the elderly at the same time there are growing doubts about whether many doctors and health officials have told the public the truth and nothing but the truth about the risks associated with infectious disease and the risks associated with vaccination.

Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) has produced several investigative reports on vaccination during the past several years and a recent CBN report on influenza vaccine examined the validity of the annual influenza mortality figure that the CDC routinely uses (36,000 deaths per year in the U.S. from influenza). The report also presented several perspectives about getting a flu shot versus using a more natural approach to staying well in the flu season. (See VIDEO of report as well as VIDEO outtakes not included in the broadast story featuring Vitamin D Council Executive Director John Cannell, M.D. on pandemic influenza, Heather Maurer on how she made an educated flu shot decision for her child; Virginia Health Commissioner Karen Remley, M.D. on why public health officials like flu shots; and my comments on "cradle-to-grave" vaccine policies and development of a "supervaccine.")

Joseph Mercola, M.D., a champion of the holistic health and wellness lifestyle and strong advocate for the informed consent ethic in medicine, frequently offers alternative perspectives about infectious disease and vaccination. See Dr. Mercola's past newsletters discussing flu vaccination and other vaccination topics at www.mercola.com and view a speech I gave at the Natural Living Conference sponsored by Holistic Moms Network on his website.

In the coming months, the push for Americans to get flu shots will increase but how many will understand the government-acknowledged risks and precautions for inactivated, injected influenza vaccine or the live virus nasal influenza vaccine which are more fully outlined in the manufacturer's product inserts available on the web and at pharmacies and in doctor's offices?

How many Americans know there are practical steps to take during the flu season that will not only help protect against all infections, including actual influenza as well as other "flu-like illnesses" that can often be mistaken for influenza? (Only about 20 percent of all "flu-like" illness is actually influenza and only three strains of the many strains of type A and type B influenza that may be circulating during the year are actually included in the influenza vaccine).

To prevent and treat influenza or flu-like respiratory illness that does not involve fever over 103 F., pneumonia or serious complications which may require medical intervention, the National Vaccine Information Center offers the following non- toxic suggestions:

1. Wash your hands frequently.
2. Avoid close contact with those who are sick.
3. If you are sick, avoid close contact with those who are well.
4. Cover your mouth if you cough or sneeze.
5. Drink plenty of fluids, especially water.
6. Get adequate sleep.
7. Eat a healthy diet rich in vitamins and minerals, especially foods containing vitamin C (such as citrus fruits) and vitamin D (such as cod liver oil) and spend a few minutes a day in sunlight to help your body make and store vitamin D.
8. Exercise regularly when you are well.
9. Lower stress.
10. Consider including holistic alternatives in your wellness or healing plan, such as chiropractic adjustments, homeopathic and naturopathic remedies, acupuncture and other health care options.

Whatever you do this flu season - whether or not you choose to vaccinate - become vaccine educated and know your options.

Knowledge is power and an informed, empowered consumer is one who can stand up for the right to freely exercise informed preventive health options.

See www.NVIC.org and www.StandUpBeCounted.org for more information. Please email PaulNVIC@gmail.com if you would like to volunteer to work in your state to help NVIC educate Americans about vaccination or have special expertise you would like to share. NVIC is also looking for volunteers in the Northern Virginia and greater Washington, D.C. area to assist our staff with many exciting and challenging projects.

"The federal government finds of that 36,000, about 1,000 people die directly from the flu virus. Blame for the remaining 35,000 deaths goes to diseases like pneumonia that may follow the flu. However there's no clear scientific connection between the flu and these more serious afflictions. That means most of the time the shot would have little impact in actually preventing death. Barbara Loe Fisher heads of the non-governmental National Vaccine Information Center. She says the repeated references to 36,000 seems to be an attempt to scare people into getting the shot. Fisher suggests the public is smart enough to decide independently. A free market would be better, she believes. "If we allow vaccines to be subject to the test of the marketplace, then the public will use those vaccines they consider to be safe, effective, and necessary," Fisher says......Dr. John Cannell, Executive Director of the Vitamin D Council, suggests the reason we even have a flu season is because our vitamin D levels drop. That takes place naturally as we get less and less sun with the approach of winter. Cannell explains that less sun means we produce less vitamin D in our skin. "Pretty much any disease, any infectious disease, that is more common in winter is a target of vitamin D," Cannell says. He says that's true even of some serious non-seasonal, prolonged diseases such as tuberculosis. Early in the 19th century, TB sanitariums where people would get sun were one of the few ways to recover from "consumption," as it was known. So Cannell suggests babies get a 1,000 units a day and those two and older get 2,000 units. Many adults and some children need to take more than that. For kids, that can come as a single daily drop of liquid D. Cannell says a recent discovery explains vitamin D's role in the flu season. The vitamin triggers your body to produce its own antibiotics against flu as well as colds." - Gailon Totheroh, CBN News Service (November 4, 2008) VIDEOS at http://www.cbn.com/CBNnews/475564.aspx and http: //www.cbn.com/cbnnews/479085.aspx

"Led by Dr. Peter Szilagyi, researchers at University of Rochester studied 414 children aged 5 and younger, who came down with the flu during the 2003-2004 or 2004-2005 flu seasons. These children were compared with over 5,000 controls who did not have influenza during the same seasons. Turns out that flu shots seemed not to make much difference: Kids who got immunized did not get the flu at lower rates than unvaccinated kids. In fact, the immunized youngsters were just as likely to be hospitalized or to visit the doctor as kids who never received the vaccine.......Targeting the correct strain is a always a bit of a guessing game, however; researchers make their best scientifically based prediction as to which flu virus will be making the rounds in a coming season, but they often have to make these predictions up to nine months ahead of time, in order to keep up with the lengthy vaccine manufacturing process. "In some circumstances, it is like forecasting the weather," says Dr. Geoffrey Weinberg, professor of pediatrics at University of Rochester. "Sometimes we are right on, and sometimes we are off." - Alice Park, Time Magazine (October 6 2008) http://www.time.com/time/health/artic le/0,8599,1847794,00.html

"The influenza vaccine, which has been strongly recommended for people over 65 for more than four decades, is losing its reputation as an effective way to ward off the virus in the elderly. A growing number of immunologists and epidemiologists say the vaccine probably does not work very well for people over 70, the group that accounts for three-fourths of all flu deaths. The latest blow was a study in The Lancet last month that called into question much of the statistical evidence for the vaccine's effectiveness. The authors said previous studies had measured the wrong thing: not any actual protection against the flu virus but a fundamental difference between the kinds of people who get vaccines and those who do not. This contention is far from universally accepted. And even skeptics say that until more effective measures are found, older people should continue to be vaccinated, because some protection against the flu is better than none. Still, the Lancet article has reignited a longstanding debate over claims that the vaccine prevents thousands of hospitalizations and deaths in older people. "The whole notion of who needs the vaccine and why is changing before our eyes," said Peter Doshi, a doctoral candidate at M.I.T. who published a paper on the historical impact of influenza in May in The American Journal of Public Health ." - Brenda Goodman, New York Times (September 2, 2008) http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/02/health/02flu. html

Posted: 12/3/2008 10:38:48 PM | with 1 comments


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