It’s considered one of the top things you can do to protect your health this winter: get your flu shot. But is the flu shot safe? What are the potential side effects? The flu vaccine wasn’t even used in humans until the early 1940s and has only been in widespread use for part of that time — hardly enough time to know the long-term effects of the flu shot or the cumulative effects over a lifetime. Plenty of adverse reactions in the short term have already been identified:
- injection site reactions
- muscle aches and pains
- severe shoulder pain and paralysis
- low platelet count and abnormal bleeding
- inflammation of the spinal cord, optic nerve, or blood vessels
- Stevens-Johnson syndrome (a deadly rash)
- Bell’s palsy (palsy of the face)
- numbness and tingling
- lymph node enlargement
- chest pain
- dizziness and fainting
…and other adverse effects to the flu vaccine. Believe it or not, some serious and even deadly flu shot side effects have been identified.
Scary Flu Shot Side Effects: Seizures
Febrile seizures are a known side effect of the flu shot. This risk is highest in babies and young children, and increases when multiple vaccines (such as MMR, pneumococcus, and DTaP) are administered at the same time as the flu shot. Febrile seizures are seizures related to a fever, and they usually occur within 24 hours of receiving the flu shot. Symptoms include anything from small twitches or jerks, to whole-body spasms and loss of consciousness. While the CDC puts the rate of febrile seizures after a flu shot at 1 in 2000 vaccinated children, in 2010, Australia suspended the use of the flu vaccine because so many children had seizures within 12 hours of receiving the flu vaccine. In fact, more Australian children ended up in the hospital because of flu vaccine side effects than were hospitalized for influenza itself!
Allergic Reaction to the Flu Vaccine
It is also possible to have an allergic reaction to the flu shot. Those who have known allergies to eggs, gelatin, latex, or antibiotics are more likely to suffer an allergic reaction to the flu vaccine, but anyone can develop such a reaction. Other flu shot ingredients such as mercury, MSG, and formaldehyde can trigger both mild and severe allergic reactions. Severe anaphylactic allergic reactions are often life-threatening, and include symptoms such as difficulty breathing, rapid heart rate, hives, dizziness, and loss of consciousness. These reactions can occur minutes to hours after receiving the vaccination. Milder allergic reactions, while not immediately life-threatening, can leave you feeling ill for weeks, months, or even years.
The Flu Shot Can Paralyze or Kill You
Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) is a debilitating side effect of the flu shot. Though considered rare, GBS has been the top vaccine injury receiving compensation by the vaccine court for several years. This disorder causes nerve damage, muscle weakness, and paralysis. Your body begins to quite literally attack itself. While these symptoms often subside after a few weeks, in other cases GBS can cause permanent damage, disability, and even death. Those over age 50 are at the highest risk of contracting Guillain-Barré syndrome.
Can the Flu Vaccine Give You the Flu?
How many times have you heard someone sniffle, “I think I have the flu! And I just got my flu shot!” Unfortunately, flu-like symptoms are one of the most frequent side effects of the flu shot. You got the flu shot to avoid exactly this: congestion, headache, fever, nausea, aches and pains… yet here you are, suffering exactly those symptoms. The doctor told you the influenza virus was inactivated (dead), so why did it make you sick? What’s going on?
The answer is simple. When you inject anything foreign into your bloodstream, there is a chance that your body will react. Flu shots contain toxic chemicals such as:
- Triton X-100
- thimerosal (mercury)
- phosphates and sulfates
Your body knows these chemicals don’t belong; it attacks them and tries to rid you of them, leaving you tired, achy, and downright miserable. Consider the fact that you will need to repeat the flu shot every single year. Over a lifetime, all these toxins accumulate in your system and may lead to health problems down the road.
There are several other reasons you may contract the flu after receiving a flu shot. While the flu shot contains only the dead viruses, the nasal spray flu vaccine actually contains live, weakened influenza viruses. While the CDC claims that no one can contract the flu from these weakened viruses, many disagree and believe this can lead to the flu or flu-like symptoms. The CDC does admit that the live virus flu vaccine can shed, transmitting the virus to others. They even recommend that those who are immunosuppressed avoid contact with recently vaccinated individuals for this reason!
What’s more, the flu vaccine only protects against certain viral strains of influenza — those that are most anticipated to be in circulation over the winter. Plus, your body needs a couple of weeks to build up immunity from the flu shot. So if you still come down with the flu, it may be that you were exposed too soon after vaccination, or you were exposed to a strain of flu virus that wasn’t covered by your vaccination. Some people, especially those who are in poor health, cannot build up enough antibodies to acquire immunity to the flu, and in these people the vaccination will be ineffective.
Is There Anything Natural That Can Prevent the Flu?
Yes! Whether or not you choose to get a flu shot — and you always have a choice — there are plenty of natural ways to cut your risk of getting the flu. Reduce your exposure by avoiding those who are sick, washing your hands frequently, and refraining from touching your face. Boost your immune system with all natural supplements so that your body will have the nutrients and compounds it needs to fight invading germs. Exercise, get enough sleep, don’t smoke, and eat your fruits and veggies. Make sure to drink enough water and cut back on alcohol, which suppresses the immune system. Sugar and grains can drag down the immune system too, so reduce or avoid these altogether.
Check back next week for detailed information on what you can do to avoid the flu.