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Swine Flu Hype, Hysteria and The False Hope of a Flu Vaccine

By Dr. Zoltan P. Rona

Dr. Zoltan Rona Dr. Zoltan P. Rona practices Complementary Medicine in Toronto and is the medical editor of "The Encyclopedia of Natural Healing." He has also published several Canadian best-selling books including "Return to The Joy of Health". (More articles by Dr. Rona)

By the time this article is published, a vaccine against the swine flu (the new H1N1 flu) will be broadly available and the mainstream media will be pushing hard to encourage one and all to get their annual flu shots. With the World Health Organization declaring a swine flu pandemic (Phase 6 Pandemic), a swine flu vaccine (Baxter Pharmaceuticals) has been fast-tracked and was available to reap massive profits by July, 2009.

It should be noted that word "pandemic" merely refers to the fact that a new virus is spreading around the world but says nothing about its level of danger to one's health. Although this vaccine has been untested, no safety evaluations will be performed on it due to the "urgency" of this pandemic situation.

Influenza, commonly known as "the flu" is a respiratory infection caused by a variety of viruses. Unlike the common cold, a respiratory infection also caused by viruses, the flu, can cause fevers, headaches or extreme exhaustion. Body aches, especially in the muscles, joints and ligaments can be severe enough to force complete bed rest. Other flu symptoms are chills, a dry cough, body aches, stuffy nose and a sore throat. Secondary bacterial infections in young children, immune suppressed adults and the elderly can lead to pneumonias, septicemias and death. The flu, however, does not manifest itself equally in all people. In the majority of cases, symptoms are mild and a generally healthy individual usually recovers quickly.

First, let's put things into perspective. The swine flu pandemic to date has been said to have claimed 322 lives worldwide (with 116 in Mexico) since early April. The regular (unswine or non-swine) flu has purportedly claimed 13,000 people in the U.S. since January 2009. How is it, then, that there is such hysterical panic about this killer swine flu? Where are all the dead bodies?

It is estimated that at least 50 million people in North America get the flu each season (November to March). Children are two to three times more likely than adults to get sick with the flu. More than 100,000 people are hospitalized and at least 20,000 people die from the flu and its complications every year.

Many consider the flu as an inevitable fact of winter but this is not necessarily the case. Although our lifestyles may not always allow it, the best way to prevent this viral illness is to keep our health at its optimum. This can be done by getting enough rest, limiting stress and by eating a nutritious diet.

One way of maintaining good health is to ensure the body has an adequate supply of vitamins and minerals. Nutrient requirements vary from one individual to the next but any formula for the immune system should contain vitamin A, beta carotene (provitamin A), vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin B6 and zinc.

Rethink that annual flu shot. Aside from the fact that there have been a number of very good scientific studies proving that the flu shot is no better than placebo, vitamin D appears to be far more important. Vitamin D has strong antibiotic properties and some studies indicate that optimal blood levels will prevent the flu far better than those toxic flu shots.

Ever wonder why some people are more prone to colds and flus? One study indicates that the incidence of upper respiratory tract infections is inversely correlated with vitamin D blood levels. The lower the vitamin D blood level, the higher the likelihood of infection. This is also an observation I have made on numerous occasions with my private practice patients. Each year I see the infection rates rise in the winter as the vitamin D levels plummet and each summer, the exact opposite occurs.

Dr. John Cannell, the director of the Vitamin D Council, suggests high-dose vitamin D (50,000 IU) be consumed for 3 days at the first sign of a cold or the flu. If you have an infection, the truth is you need more vitamin D. That's a given. In other words, vitamin D acts as a natural antibiotic. It works against every type of microbe (viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites).

Vitamin D deficiency is common during the winter months, especially in countries far north of the equator. Vitamin D acts as an immune system modulator, preventing excessive production of inflammatory cytokines and increasing macrophage (a type of white cell) activity. Vitamin D also stimulates the production of potent anti-microbial peptides in other white blood cells and in epithelial cells lining the respiratory tract, protecting the lungs from infection.

According to Dr. John Cannell of the Vitamin D Council, what we all really need to do is increase our blood levels of vitamin D. Here is what he says:

"Influenza kills around 35,000 Americans every year and similar viruses cause additional mortality and untold morbidity. Most influenza deaths and many other respiratory infections, like the common cold, could be prevented if Americans, and their doctors, understood some simple facts:

  • Vitamin D is not a vitamin, but a steroid hormone precursor, which has profound effects on innate immunity.
  • The amount of vitamin D in most food and nearly all multivitamins is literally inconsequential.
  • The correct daily dose of vitamin D for adults is approximately 5,000 IU/day, not the 200-600 IU recommended by the Institute of Medicine, the National Institutes of Medicine and the FDA.
  • The only blood test to determine vitamin D adequacy is a 25-hydroxy-vitamin D, not the 1,25-di-hydroxy-vitamin D test many physicians now order.
  • Healthy vitamin D blood levels are between 70-90 ng/ml, levels obtained by fewer than 5% of Americans.
  • Medicare's new proposed rule change, which forbids Medicare carriers for paying for virtually all vitamin D blood tests will kill tens of thousands of Americans yearly.
  • The mechanism of action of vitamin D in infection dramatically increasing the body's production of broad-spectrum natural antibiotics (anti-microbial peptides or AMP) suggests pharmaceutical doses of vitamin D (1,000 IU per pound of body weight per day for several days) will effectively treat not only influenza and the common cold, but help treat a host of other seasonal infections, including meningitis, septicemia, and pneumonia, in both children and adults.
  • In 1997, when the Food and Nutrition Board (FNB) set the current guidelines for vitamin D intake, they forgot to correct for the widespread sun avoidance that began in the late 1980's when the AMA's Council of Scientific Affairs warned against sun-exposure, and recommended that all Americans should make every effort to never let a photon of sunlight strike their skin. The failure of the 1997 FNB to compensate for sun-avoidance, has led to millions of deaths around the world."
immunization Do not get the flu shot. Proponents of the flu vaccine boast a 70% effectiveness rate but clinical experience proves otherwise. For example, in British Columbia in 2000, it was reported that of 32 individuals in a nursing home who received a flu shot, 30 had contracted the flu. Nursing homes throughout B.C. were reporting a much higher death rate from the flu in 2000 than what would be expected despite a 100% vaccination rate.

A 1993 Dutch article on a home for the elderly reported that 50% of the vaccinated population caught the flu compared to 48% of the unvaccinated group. The excuses used for such failures were that the wrong virus was predicted for use in the flu vaccine. The truth is that if the flu shot prevents the flu, it's purely on a placebo basis.

In both the 1992-93 and the 1994-95 flu season, the isolated influenza samples for the predominant virus were not similar to that found in the flu vaccine. The actual composition of the flu vaccine is based on an educated guess made by a consensus of about 30 public-health experts. These "experts" meet annually with the FDA in the USA to predict which specific strains of influenza will invade the country in the coming year. If this sounds unscientific to you, it's because it is. At best, keeping in mind factors such as mistakes in production, transport and storage, the flu vaccine effectiveness rate is only about 20%. Placebo shots are at least 30% effective.

The flu vaccine, consumed faithfully by the public without question each year, has a disturbing history of potential toxicity. The vaccine contains formaldehyde, a known cancer-causing agent. It also contains the preservative, thimerosal, a derivative of mercury, a known neurotoxin linked to brain damage and autoimmune diseases. Aluminum is yet another flu vaccine ingredient. When mercury is not in the vaccine, it is replaced by equivalent amounts of aluminum, which can eventually be deposited in the brain. Mercury and aluminum are two toxic heavy metals that have been associated with an increased incidence of Alzheimer's disease and, possibly, other neuro-degenerative illnesses.

In 1976, 565 cases of Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS) paralysis as well as other neurological problems and many unexplained deaths among recently vaccinated elderly were reported. This paralytic disease occurred as a direct result of the first swine flu scare vaccine. With only a 10% or less reporting of adverse vaccine reactions by doctors in both the USA and Canada, the true flu vaccine damage figures are grossly underestimated. Claims totaling $1.3 billion were filed by victims of the flu vaccine. The vaccine was also found responsible for 25 deaths.

Vaccine manufacturers counter this concern by saying that today's vaccines do not carry the same risk of Guillan-Barre Syndrome. This may be true but many cases of GBS as well as other neurological problems are still occurring after flu vaccines. Additionally, product inserts still state that individuals who have a history of GBS have a much greater likelihood of subsequently developing GBS after the flu shot.

sun vitamin D Other side effects reported with the flu vaccine are fever, general malaise, myalgia (muscle pain), hives, allergic asthma, systemic anaphylaxis, encephalitis, optic neuritis, brachial plexus neuropathy, polyneuritis, ataxia, respiratory tract infections, gastrointestinal problems, eye problems, allergic thrombocytopenia (low platelet count), abnormal blood pressure and other circulatory abnormalities. Those with a severe allergy to eggs are advised against the flu shot because of its chicken egg content.

I have always been an advocate of freedom of choice in health care. In other words, no one should be able to force any treatment on you without your informed consent. For example, if you are an adult with Type 2 diabetes, you can refuse insulin and other drugs and treat yourself with diet and nutritional supplements. It's really your choice and no one is legally allowed to force you to do otherwise.

For more credible information on the flu and other vaccines, the best web site to consult is www.nvic.org.

REFERENCES

  • Aloia JF, Li-Ng M. Re: epidemic influenza and vitamin D. Epidemiol Infect. 2007 Oct;135(7):1095-6
  • Deluca HF, Cantorna MT. Vitamin D: its role and uses in immunology. FASEB J 2001;15:2579?85
  • World Health Organization. Epidemic and Pandemic Alert and Response: Influenza A (H1N1), Situation Update and Maps. June 15, 2009 (Update 49).
  • Centers for Disease Control. Novel H1N1 Flu Situation Update (June 12, 2009).
  • Fisher, BL. The Vaccine Reaction. Flu Vaccine: Missing the Mark. Spring 2005.
  • CDC. Novel H1N1 Flu (Swine Flu) and You. June 16, 2009.

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