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The Flu Shot Decision

Posted Oct 14 2008 7:10am
By Dr. Christine Gonzalez (PharmD, CHC)

With cold and flu season upon us, many people are faced with the inevitable question of whether to get their yearly flu shot. I know there has been a lot of press and subsequent controversy regarding the mercury and aluminum in vaccines and the possible association with autism and Alzheimer’s. I have certainly heard strong arguments from both sides of the camp. And just to be honest about where I stand…I am certified to give adult immunizations but choose not to, and have decided against yearly flu vaccination for myself. I believe each person should make their decision based on a short and long-term risk to benefit analysis. Getting the flu can be serious. According to statistics, the flu kills about 36,000 Americans every year and puts more children in the hospital than any other vaccine-preventable disease. So while it is certainly prudent for most young children, elderly, immunocompromised, and healthcare workers to get their flu shot, what about the average “healthy” adult?

The two most common forms of the flu vaccine given are Fluzone (injection) and FluMist (nasal spray). The main difference is the Fluzone shot is composed of an inactivated virus and contains the mercury-based preservative called thimerosal and the FluMist nasal spray is a live vaccine that does not contain thimerosal. These flu vaccines are reformulated yearly for the three most common flu strains. Basically, it is the experts’ best guess and certainly not a guarantee for protection against all the possible varieties of flu. In addition, the long term effects of injecting toxic chemicals into the body are now coming to the forefront and causing concern. With proper self-care and immune support, it is possible for a "healthy" adult to stay flu-free during the season. But ultimately, it is a personal decision that should not be taken lightly. The question we may want to start asking the manufacturers of these flu vaccines (and others) is: What non-toxic ingredients can be used to replace the MSG, mercury, formaldehyde, latex and other materials used to create these vaccines? There must be a way to 'green our vaccines'.

We will be posting a feature article later this week on about this very topic, so please check back for more information to help guide your flu shot decision...
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