Although vaccines do provide some protection against illnesses like the flu, they remain controversial and those both within the medical profession and outside it continue to raise concerns about the current vaccine program, most for problems like those discussed below.
Some medical professionals are concerned that the flu vaccine can be linked to an alteration in T-cell function: t-cells are the cells which the body activates in the presence of pathogens to help eliminate them and restore the body to health. Alteration in the function of t-cells, therefore, can great effect overall immune system function.
Although thimerosal has been banned from other vaccines since 2004, it is still an additive in most flu vaccines, with the exception of the ones reserved for pregnant women and infants. This was banned to begin with due to lingering concerns over its link to autism.
The Vaccine and Pregnancy
Pregnant women are encouraged to get vaccinated, since contracting the flu while pregnant can lead to health problems for the baby. However, the vaccine is classified as a class C drug, defined as “an unknown risk for pregnancy”.
The influenza virus has the ability to mutate rapidly and often the manufacturers of the vaccine fail to adequately predict which strains of the flu will be prevalent. If the vaccine does not cover a certain strain, then it is still possible to contract the flu.
People who have had the flu shot can develop flu-like symptoms or even a mild form of the flu post-vaccination, especially if their immune system was weak to begin with.
Many health care professionals are worried about some of the ingredients in the vaccine itself: the most well-known ingredient in this is thimerosal, but other controversial ingredients include aluminum salts and the antibiotic neomycin.
Conflict of Interest
The Centers for Disease Control have a vaccine committee which decides on vaccine-related policies for the year. However, many of the members of this committee have a financial stake in immunizations, a fact which can call their judgments into question.
There is still some debate in the medical community about whether or not the flu vaccine is effective for young children; some studies have indicated that it may not be any more effective than a placebo.
There has been a link uncovered between having the flu vaccine and an increased risk for narcolepsy in both adults and children.
The Pneumonia Issue
Most people who die due to complication secondary to the flu actually contract fatal cases of pneumonia and die of that rather than the flu itself. However, if the vaccine does lower immunity, is could put people at greater risk if they already have a compromised immune system.
These are all things to consider before agreeing to be vaccinated for the flu. Good prevention, such as frequent hand-washing and keeping your immune system strong with healthy living, remain the best ways to ward off this infection.
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