Flu season is upon us. The “health care industry,” which includes the government and its agents, like the CDC and New York Times, not to mention the pharmaceutical and insurance industries, want to make sure the public, otherwise known as the “sheeple,” are well informed and well protected against this horrendous but self-limiting disease that mutates every year. The influenza virus, in fact, mutates so fast that the vaccine is often unavailable until flu season is almost over.
On October 9, 2018 the Savannah Morning News reported that a health insurer focusing on Medicare, Clover Health, polled residents in its Savannah market to determine who planned to get the flu vaccine this year. Only 70 percent of elderly plan to get it, but this is higher than the national average of 63%. The article also said last year’s vaccine was only 40% effective, and that last year’s flu season was the deadliest in decades, accounting for 80,000 deaths. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) expects this year’s strain to be milder.
Well, digging a little deeper into the flu story uncovers a few other pertinent facts. First, the CDC reported last year’s vaccine was only 17% effective, and while the reported deaths are high (56,000), the CDC admits it does not specifically track deaths directly attributed to flu. In fact, many deaths ascribed to flu were not proven cases, and/or were more directly caused by pneumonia or circulatory problems.
Digging even deeper reveals the flu vaccine industry is a $1.6 billion enterprise, only a small portion of the vast and growing vaccine industry. Sources vary, but the vaccine market is reputed to have brought from $24 to $32 billion in profits to pharmaceutical companies in 2014. That number is growing, due to “significant expansion of current product offerings” and expected to reach $61 billion in profits by 2020.
Concurrent with the push for flu vaccines, there is a rising chorus of voices claiming an “epidemic” of measles in Europe, blamed on a decline in vaccinations there in recent years. Deaths have been reported, sort of, although evidence of this is sketchy. In its September 22, 2018 issue, the New York Times reported “anti-vaxxers” in Italy are protesting mandated childhood vaccines. In Italy, the vaccine issue has become politicized, and the NYT makes no secret of its contempt for the “anti-vaxxers” who it implies are also anti-science. It dismisses the common notion that vaccines can cause autism and doesn’t mention the other risks associated with vaccines.
In fact, vaccines carry some very real risks, but in the US vaccines are the only products protected from liability. In 1986, producers of the DPT (Diptheria, Pertussis, Tetanus) vaccine were being sued for cases of brain injury and death associated with the vaccine. They threatened to withdraw the DPT, the MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella) and oral polio vaccines from the market unless the lawsuits were withdrawn. They claimed vaccines were “unavoidably unsafe,” so the federal government established the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) to protect manufacturers from lawsuits claiming injuries from their vaccines. Thus, every mandated vaccine carries a 75-cent surcharge to fund the federal program that protects the pharmaceutical industry. The United States gives more vaccines than any country in the world. It recommends twice as many vaccines as other developed countries for babies less than one-year old. It also has the highest infant mortality rate. Of the states, Mississippi requires the most vaccines for young children and also has the highest infant mortality rate. As expected, the US is the largest revenue contributor to vaccine manufacturers. While the federal health officials may recommend vaccines, various state health officials mandate them.
While autism is the most cited risk associated with vaccines, it’s hard to prove causality, partly because autism is such a vaguely defined disorder. More specific risks are anaphylactic shock, fainting, dystonia, or seizure. Vaccines can also cause encephalitis, encephalopathy, or interstitial lung disease. A reversible paralysis called Guillain-Barre Syndrome, which can be severe and fatal if it affects respiration, has been attributed to the HPV (Human Papillomavirus) vaccine, Gardasil, as well as to the flu and other vaccines.
A recent book by a practicing physician, Thomas Cowan, Vaccines, Autoimmunity, and the Changing Nature of Childhood Illness (2018) explains the body’s two branches of the immune response. The body’s first line of defense against infection is the cell-mediated response, he says. In this stage, white blood and other cells destroy the pathogen. The second line of defense, the humoral response, is the adaptive adjustment that employs antibodies to fight future episodes of exposure. He says vaccines distort this response, because they rely on the second, more transient, stage in the body’s defense cascade. The resultant confusion in the body’s infection-fighting apparatus leads to dysfunction in the immune system and can increase the risk of allergies, autoimmune diseases, and even cancer. He says that in the United States, people receive up to 70 vaccines before they are 18 years old.
I have not read Dr. Cowan’s book, but his theory makes sense. When the body is exposed to so many potential threats, it becomes difficult to distinguish between friend and foe.
At one time influenza was indeed a deadly threat, but its virulence has decreased over time. In 1918, the so-called Spanish flu (which was said to come from China) was supposedly the deadliest in history, with 500 million people affected. Twenty to fifty million people died, with more dying in one year than in the four years of the Black Death (bubonic plague) of 1347-1352. It killed ten times more people than World War I, with half of US soldiers in Europe falling to flu rather than the enemy.
Because the flu virus mutates so fast, it is possible to get the flu repeatedly. However, recovery from a disease like the measles confers lifelong immunity, which may not be true for vaccine-induced immunity. Also, it is possible that a vaccinated person can still carry the disease virus and be contagious to others.
To avoid the flu this year, and every year, the safest methods involve common sense. With or without the vaccine, health ultimately depends on high resistance, which includes good nutrition, rest, exercise, fresh air, and avoiding crowded, unhealthy places like hospitals, doctor’s offices, and shopping centers.