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'Flu jab (Influenza) 

The vaccine:  Various, including Fluarix Tetra, manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline


The claim: "Flu is an unpredictable virus that can cause mild or unpleasant illness in most people. It can cause severe illness and even death among vulnerable groups...These people are advised to have a flu jab each year." - NHS [1}


Why is it offered to students?  It isn't offered to all students, however, it is made available free on the NHS to people with long-term health conditions such as asthma and diabetes [1]. People without these conditions can also acquire the 'flu jab for a small fee.


The facts:  The first thing to be aware of regarding the 'flu vaccine is that it is notoriously ineffective [2] [3] [4], with the 2015 UK programme showing just 3% effectiveness [2]. Further, 'flu is not a serious disease for most, and the NHS confirms for otherwise healthy people, it has usually cleared up within a week [1]. 


Risks of the vaccine: 


Reported serious complications of influenza vaccines include: brain inflammation, convulsions, Bell’s palsy, limb paralysis, neuropathy, shock,  wheezing/asthma and other breathing problems, and Guillain Barre Syndrome. [5]


The US MedAlerts search engine shows that, as of September 30, 2015, there have been more than 104,465 reports of reactions, hospitalisations, injuries and deaths following influenza vaccinations made to the federal Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS), including 1,115 related deaths, 9,037 hospitalisations, and 2,003 related disabilities. [5]


Vaccine ingredients:


Each dose of Fluarix is grown on a chicken embryo and contains:


Formaldehyde

Octoxynol-10 (Triton X-100), 

α-tocopheryl hydrogen succinate 

Polysorbate 80 (Tween 80)

Hydrocortisone

Gentamicin sulfate

Ovalbumin

Sodium deoxycholate

Sucrose

Phosphate buffer


Can I reduce my risk of getting 'flu without getting the vaccine?


Yes. You can strengthen your immune system against the 'flu by prioritising a healthy diet full of friendly-bacteria promoting foods. As 80% of your immune system is in your gut [6], having a healthy digestive system is key to optimised immunity. Cut down on sugars, grains and processed foods, and instead eat a diet based on real, whole foods rich in protein and good fats, as well as including probiotics [8] in your diet to feed friendly bacteria. 


Also, ensure you get enough Vitamin D, which, studies suggest, is more effective at preventing the 'flu than the 'flu vaccine [7].


STRIVE opinion - is it worth getting this vaccine?


We would not recommend it. 'Flu is very rarely a serious illness, so certainly for the average healthy young person, we would not consider this vaccine necessary. However, we would also advise that those considered at higher risk from the 'flu (such as those with respiratory illness) exercise considerable caution too, as the unpredictable and often minimal protection offered by the 'flu vaccine may not be worth risking the potentially serious side effects - especially when studies show other measures, such as vitamin D supplementation, offer more reliable protection. As with all vaccines, we recommend you do as much research as possible, read the package insert (linked below), and talk to your healthcare professional before reaching a decision. 


CLICK HERE FOR FULL 21-PAGE FLUARIX PACKAGE INSERT (What's a package insert?)


References:


1. http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/pages/who-should-have-flu-vaccine.aspx

2. http://www.channel4.com/news/flu-influenza-vaccine-ineffective-health-winter-deaths

3. https://healthimpactnews.com/2015/most-americans-refusing-ineffective-flu-vaccine-this-year/

4. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/news/11393560/Flu-jab-given-to-millions-is-useless.html

5. http://www.nvic.org/Vaccines-and-Diseases/Influenza.aspx

6. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/01/06/flu-attack.aspx

7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20219962

8. http://www.prevention.com/health/health-concerns/more-proof-probiotics-boost-immunity


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