Friday, November 1, 2013

What You Need To Know About the Flu Vaccine

Reposted from Eat Genius

by Jamie Ann Montiel

The flu vaccine is given to millions of people every year although the number of people it is tested on in clinical trials is quite small in comparison. Take Novartis’s Fluvirin, for example. Since 1982, 29 clinical trials on Fluvirin have been conducted on a total of 2,768 adults. The subjects were monitored for 30 minutes after vaccination for immediate adverse reactions such as anaphylaxis and the subjects were asked to keep track of any symptoms they’ve experienced 72 hours post-vaccination day with a diary. Some of the immediate, typical, localized reactions were: pain, erythema, inflammation, swelling, edema and ecchymosis. Some of the delayed, systemic reactions were: headache, myalgia, fatigue, malaise, fever, arthralgia, sore throat, cough, wheezing, sweating, shivering, chills, rhinitis and nausea. However, side effects from the flu vaccine can occur weeks or even months later. Many adverse reactions to the flu vaccine have been reported by some of those vaccinated persons (outside of the clinical trials) over the years. They include but are not limited to: local injection site reactions (pain, redness, swelling, warmth, ecchymosis, induration), flushing/hot flashes, chills, fever, malaise, shivering, fatigue, asthenia, facial edema, hypersensitivity reactions such as anaphylaxis, vasculitis, syncope, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, local lymphadenopathy, thrombocytopenia, arthralgia, myalgia, myasthenia, headache, dizziness, neuralgia, paraesthesia, confusion, febrile convulsions, Guillain-BarrĂ© Syndrome, encephalopathy, myelitis, neuropathy (such as neuritis), paralysis (such as Bell’s Palsy), dyspnea, chest pain, cough, pharyngitis, rhinitis, Stevens-Johnson Syndrome, sweating, pruritus, urticaria and rash. This list is much longer than the list of reactions observed during the clinical trials which suggests that adverse reactions can occur well past the few days after vaccination. The flu vaccine is not given to children less than 4 years of age because they have a diminished response to the vaccine. The immunocompromised, those receiving immunosuppressive therapies and the elderly also have a reduced response to the vaccine, although this population is often encouraged to receive the flu shot. The vaccinated elderly develop less antibodies to the vaccine than younger subjects. It is not known whether the flu vaccine can cause harm to the fetus in pregnant women, whether it can be excreted through mothers’ milk and whether it affects reproductive capacity. The flu vaccine has never been proven safe or effective for pregnant women or nursing mothers but it is routinely given to this population. The flu vaccine also has never been evaluated for its carcinogenic or mutagenic potential and for the impairment of fertility.* In the flu shot, you are exposed to several (inactivated) strains at once, this would not happen in real life. By being injected with the flu vaccine, the viruses, although inactivated, bypass the body’s normal routes of exposure to the flu.  Viruses, like all living organisms, will try to survive at all costs. Flu viruses mutate so fast which is why every year, the flu shot contains new strains or subtypes of the flu. The more the vaccines are used, the more likely that the different viruses will mutate. So by vaccinating large numbers of people, we may be creating more virulent forms of the flu. Knowing all this, would you get the flu vaccine?
*The above information was gathered from the prescribing information of Novartis’s Fluvirin (2013-2014 formula). Information from GlaxoSmithKline’s Flulaval (2013-2014) is similar. Both vaccines contain 25 mcg of mercury. It is interesting to note that in Flulaval’s drug information, it states: “…there have been no controlled trials adequately demonstrating a decrease in influenza disease after vaccination with Flulaval.”
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