Flu Shots: Are They Just a Shot in The Dark?

Trainers and fitness enthusiasts alike should understand the flu shot well since it affects such a large degree of the population and literally has an effect on all of us.

During the fall and winter in the US approximately 120 million Americans will line up to get a flu shot.  The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has been making an effort to market this idea since 2010.  Unfortunately current facts are based on sketchy research that is almost a decade old.

The efforts of the CDC are in good faith and geared at helping curb the elderly and others from untimely deaths.  In spite of the attempts the literature shows the actual number of deaths from the actual flu virus is basically unchanged by the use of the flu shot.

In a normal situation our body comes into contact with pathogens (Virus, bacterium, fungus, viroid, etc.) and these are fought off with our white blood cells (WBCs).

Immunization works by helping to train WBCs to learn a specific pathogen and act quickly to both recognize and destroy it.  This is done by the combined efforts of specialized cells in our bodies, some of the most common are called; macrophages, B-cells, T-cells that recognize antigens quicker, which causes other cells to be activated to make antibodies.

Viruses come in several forms and can be as simple as a few proteins long, or they can also look like a ball with small mushrooms sticking out of it, or it can look like a worm with very rough edges.

The viruses can enter our bodies in several ways, but the most common is the airborne versions of the pathogen.  Other ways are body fluids, injection, blood to blood transfusion or just simple physical contact.

According to The Lancet Infectious Diseases, the only way to truly protect the population from flu viruses is by inhaling a “live”, modified version of the virus (not currently approved by the FDA for some ages).

The benefit of live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV) has been proven for those 2 and under, but older children’s studies are still being produced, but will come from studies outside of the US. This is due to the idea that it is considered unethical to not immunize someone in the US just to see if they get sick.

In 2009 the FDA opted to allow a “high powered” dose to overcome the inability of the elderly to fight the non-responsiveness to the common flu vaccine.  This is necessary since your ability to respond to the flu shot diminishes as you age past 50.

Add to this whole dilemma that there are currently around 250 strains of the virus and a “medical guess” is how the 3 most likely types that will affect the US each year.

Once you have been immunized your body will go to work actively producing a blockade to prevent any of those three viruses from manifesting to any degree in your body.  It also weakens your ability to fight off any of the over 200+ other viruses.

All things considered, your success with the influenza vaccine is estimated about 55% effective on a year when the actual choices of the 3 strains are accurate.  Not taking the flu virus leaves you approximately 4-5% likely to be infected by the flu and only 1% if you do take the flu shot.

According to the CDC, side effects from the flu shot are usually; runny nose, sore throat, cough, soreness/redness from injection site, headaches, fever, nausea and muscle aches.

Other side effects are associated with how immunizations can tie up your natural immune system and leave you likely to develop other hypersensitivities to wheat, pollen, milk, etc.

The issue with proving any relationship associated with a developmental allergy is very complex, but keep the possibility in mind if something odd starts occurring to you or someone you know.

The CDC warns that no one should receive the flu shot if they are under the age of 6 months, individuals with severe/life-threatening allergies to flu vaccine or any ingredient in the shot.  Speak to your physician if you are allergic to eggs or have the Guillain-Barre’ Syndrome.

The flu shot is also not recommended to anyone who is currently not feeling well.  This is due to the immunosuppression that follows after the actual immunization, likely complicating any current illness.

The obvious thing to help prevent the flu is still based on common sense.  Get adequate rest, eat vegetables and non-processed foods and then minimalize contact with other sick people.  Washing your hands and face is also very important in preventing all types of sickness.  Finally, stay hydrated with approximately ½ gallon of water per day.  Beer, coffee and hard liquor are not a replacement for water.

Don’t take this article as an anti-immunization stance.  Immunization has worked successfully to stop many deadly diseases such as Polio, Small Pox, HPV, etc.

Although some scientists are concerned with any  side effects  that have happened with these immunizations, the downside of the injection is less far less deadly than the millions who have actually died from the actual viruses.

While you may be healthy and debating the use of the flu shot, certain individuals who have underlying conditions make immunizations more necessary since their risk of getting sick far outweighs the risk of possible side effects.

Educate yourself on what is being mass marketed and make an informed decision on what you believe is right for you and your family.

About the Author
DrDavidRyanDr. David Ryan has an extensive background in both coaching and playing professional sports, and has been the team physician for several highly ranked teams. Dr. Ryan now serves as the current Co-Chairman of the Arnold Sports Festival (www.arnoldclassic.com) and is a former Medical Director of this internationally acclaimed event.

Dr. Ryans numerous articles have been published in International Medical Journals, Muscle & Fitness Magazine as well as on the popular BodyBuilding.com website. Visit Dr. Ryans home page on here: www.drdavidryan.com and his YouTube page here.