Lots of questions about the Flu Vaccine

The Healthy Skeptics blog for December 31, 2019

Lots of questions about the Flu Vaccine

Reply from Stephen Cherniske

I am strongly in favor of vaccines for diseases that are often fatal. I invite anyone who doubts the importance of these vaccines to go live in central Africa, Indonesia, New Guinea, rural China, India or Bangladesh to get their head straight.  Saying that, flu is rarely fatal in the US among people who have competent immune systems. So, echoing many of my colleagues, I would say that people with competent immune systems can pass on the flu vaccine. Who is at risk? The very young, the very old and anyone taking immunosuppressive drugs. EDITORIAL NOTE: New drug development technologies have created a raft of new immune-suppressing drugs. You can’t turn on the TV today without seeing ads for the treatment of plaque psoriasis with one of these new drugs, the names of which usually end in “mab” (eg infliximab (Remicade), adalimumab (Humira), ustekinumab (Stelara), golimumab (Simponi), secukinumab (Cosentyx) and ixekizumab (Taltz).  Drugs.com lists 52 drugs to treat this condition that has an autoimmune component. Conventional medicine’s answer? Suppress the immune system, and then warn users not to get sick. This is insane.  Hundreds of $ millions are spent on developing and advertising drugs with drastic and possibly fatal side effects to treat a condition that is never fatal and can usually be successfully treated with natural methods.

— End of rant –

How effective is this year’s flu vaccine?  If you’re over 65, that depends on TWO factors.

1. Your serum DHEA sulfate (DHEAS) level.  Yes, DHEA plays an important role in immunity, and levels decline after age 35, with the average 70 year-old producing only 10 to 15% what they were making in their 20’s. This can have catastrophic consequences, including loss of bone density, muscle mass, memory, cognition and increased risk for virtually all major causes of death. To download my e-book, The Case for DHEA, go to My2048.com.


A. J Leukoc Biol. 2006 Aug;80(2):376-82. High interleukin-10 production is associated with low antibody response to influenza vaccination in the elderly. Corsini E, Vismara L, et al.

B. Format: J Am Geriatr Soc. 1997 Jun;45(6):747-51.

The effect of DHEAS on influenza vaccination in aging adults.

Degelau J, Guay D, Hallgren H.

2. A combination of drug companies’ skill and luck in matching the three or four strains of flu that are circulating on the planet at any one time.  CDC does not have flu vaccine effectiveness estimates yet because it is still early in the season, and these estimates are based on studies comparing illness among vaccinated versus unvaccinated people. That data will be available in late February or March.

During past seasons when vaccines were a good match, effectiveness in the range of 40% to 60% has been observed. This means that people who get vaccinated may still get sick, but they are about half as likely to get sick as someone who was not vaccinated. Another important thing to remember is that vaccination may make illness less severe in people who get vaccinated and still get sick. Finally, it’s important to remember  that things can change very quickly with flu and we could still see significant antigenic drift; that is, circulation of flu viruses that have mutated beyond the effectiveness of the vaccines.

Bottom line Healthy Skeptics advice:

1. Eat a highly varied natural foods diet devoid of processed sugars, and rich in immune-building foods like garlic, onions and darkly colored fruits and vegetables.

2. Get adequate sleep. If you need an alarm clock to wake up, by definition, you did not get adequate sleep.

3.  Good immune-support supplements, with published evidence include: DHEA (for those over 30), medicinal mushrooms, Inositol hexaphosphate (IP-6), Echinacea, larch arabinogalactan, Astragalus, Panax quinquefolium (American ginseng) Eleutherococcus senticosus (Siberian ginseng), Andrographis paniculata, olive leaf extract, vitamin D, vitamins A and C, zinc, high lactoferrin whey protein, N-acetylcysteine, and Elderberry (Sambucus nigra).

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