My favorite commercial appears to be an old one from 2011, for a chain called CVS Pharmacy. They have been replaying it this year for the upcoming flu pandemic (sense sarcasm here). The commercial is essentially branding the chain to be "your" CVS Pharmacy by having nice looking average people put their name above the CVS logo. There are 3 videos and two of them are "Sarah's" and "Bonnie's" CVS. "Bonnie's" CVS video is really the one that caught my eye. [Interestingly, there are no internet versions of this video to show you - all have been removed.....by whom?]
Essentially, Bonnie is on one of those Segway machines scooting around the store grabbing various items off the shelf. The very FIRST thing she grabs off the shelf.......Vitamin D, then a few more items, finally stopping off at the Pharmacists counter to ask for a flu shot. WHAT!?!?! Wait a second. She just grabbed a fresh bottle of Vitamin D...why does she need a flu shot. To me, the people that made the commercial didn't do their research. This is what I call and INCONGRUENT MESSAGE. Why would she need Vitamin D AND a flu shot? Just doesn't add up.
Let me explain. And for the intent of full disclosure (for all the lawyers reading this), I DO NOT GET A FLU SHOT....EVER! And I am in contact with patients all day long...some of them sick even. I don't get sick with the flu (where is that piece of wood?).
What really needs to happen is a review of the literature to see what is said there. So here goes:
"Randomized trial of vitamin D supplementation to prevent seasonal influenza A in schoolchildren. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, May 2010, No. 5, pp. 1255-60" In this study they found:
- “In this randomized clinical trial, daily supplementation with 1200 IU vitamin D3 in school children between December and March showed a significant preventive effect against influenza A.”
- “Vitamin D may soften the clinical symptoms and signs of influenza by reducing cytokine secretion.”
- Taking vitamin D3 supplements for 1 y in a dose up to 2000 IU per day in schoolchildren has been shown to be safe. It takes 3 months to reach a steady state of vitamin D concentrations by supplementation. [start once the fall season starts]
- “In conclusion, our study suggests that vitamin D3 supplementation during the winter season may reduce the incidence of influenza A.”
Then there is the EFFECTIVENESS of the flu shot itself, called Influenza Vaccine Effectiveness Among Children 6 to 59 Months of Age During 2 Influenza Seasons, Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, October 2008;162(10):943-951 (article can be found here), which states:
"significant influenza VE [Vaccine Effectiveness] could not be demonstrated for any season, age, or setting after adjusting for county, sex, insurance, chronic conditions recommended for influenza vaccination, and timing of influenza vaccination (VE estimates ranged from 7%-52% across settings and seasons for fully vaccinated 6- to 59-month-olds."
"Influenza vaccines are efficacious in preventing cases of influenza in children older than two years of age, but little evidence is available for children younger than two years of age. There was a difference between vaccine efficacy and effectiveness, partly due to differing datasets, settings and viral circulation patterns. No safety comparisons could be carried out, emphasising the need for standardisation of methods and presentation of vaccine safety data in future studies. In specific cases, influenza vaccines were associated with serious harms such as narcolepsy and febrile convulsions. It was surprising to find only one study of inactivated vaccine in children under two years, given current recommendations to vaccinate healthy children from six months of age in the USA, Canada, parts of Europe and Australia. If immunisation in children is to be recommended as a public health policy, large-scale studies assessing important outcomes, and directly comparing vaccine types are urgently required. The degree of scrutiny needed to identify all global cases of potential harms is beyond the resources of this review. This review includes trials funded by industry. An earlier systematic review of 274 influenza vaccine studies published up to 2007 found industry-funded studies were published in more prestigious journals and cited more than other studies independently from methodological quality and size. Studies funded from public sources were significantly less likely to report conclusions favourable to the vaccines. The review showed that reliable evidence on influenza vaccines is thin but there is evidence of widespread manipulation of conclusions and spurious notoriety of the studies. The content and conclusions of this review should be interpreted in the light of this finding."
And then there are the ingredients of the flu shot itself (see the list from the CDC website for yourself, or this one). While the jury is still out on Thimerosal (a Heavy Metal Compound - Mercury), the flu shot still contains it. And if you have ever had the pleasure of working in a cadaver lab (as I have - boy do your clothes STINK for weeks), embalming fluid contains Formaldehyde, which the flu vaccine also contains. And just in case you start forgetting, (insert joke here), it also contains an Aluminum compound. Three really good compounds for you to inject (yearly perhaps) directly into your system. I think not. Why you ask?
Oxidative stress and the production of Free Radical damage. And what could cause Free Radicals to Originate? Here's the list:
- Heavy Metals
- Environmental Toxins
- UV Radiation
- X-Ray Radiation
- Low Magnesium (Mg)
- Immune System Activation
I have only presented a few articles on the subject. But my opinion is this. For healthy children, and adults, the flu shot is unnecessary and perhaps in the long run, dangerous. You can do better. Take your Vitamin D (in a good dosage), drink plenty of water, eat correctly (staying away from sugar which decreases your immune function) and you should be A-Okay. Does that mean you won't catch a cold? Nope! But my experience has been that I have yet to be laid out like the commercials have sick people portrayed. And I am exposed to many people, some sick, on a daily basis. Now where is that piece of wood again?......
As always, the truth is out there, you just have to know where to find it....
Dr. Garreth MacDonald