Flu Vaccinations:

A Shot in The Dark?

When I was 8, one of my friend’s dad died suddenly, at the ripe old age of 35, of the flu. Not cancer, not a heart attack, not a car wreck — the flu.

One day he was sick in bed with fever, chills, and headache. The next day he saw the family doctor who prescribed an antibiotic (which is worthless for the flu). He had an anaphylactic reaction (severe allergic reaction) to the antibiotic and died that same day. Even at the tender age of 8, it just didn’t seem right for someone to die of such a “garden variety” illness. But he did, and people still do.

As old-fashioned a disease as “the flu” (influenza) is, 24.7 million people in the US contract the flu each year and over 100,000 of these cases require hospitalization. An average of 41,400 people die from complications of the flu in the US alone every year. Notice I said “complications.” People don’t die of the flu directly. They die of pneumonia or other “flu-related” diseases.1, 2 But don’t expect a flu shot to protect you. That’s because the effectiveness of the “flu shot” is in serious question.

Why The Flu Vaccine is a Bust

The flu is caused by over 200 different viruses and infective agents; colds are caused by over 700 viruses. Vaccinations against the flu protect against only THREE influenza A and B — that’s right — three of the 200 known A & B viruses, and A and B influenza viruses comprise only a small fraction of all causes of the flu.

Influenza vaccines are designed to protect against 3 Influenza viruses A & B (solid pink piece of the pie graph)

Influenza vaccines are designed to protect against 3 Influenza viruses A & B (solid pink piece of the pie graph). Graph courtesy of the British Medical Journal.

So, the flu vaccine protects from only a small percentage of the known causes of flu and flu vaccines may be effective as little as 39% (some studies show 0%) of the time in healthy adults.3 According to the FDA, “The shot doesn’t do as well at preventing flu in older adults and people with certain medical problems.” 4

Great. Flu vaccines only protect against a small number of viruses, are effective 39% or less of the time and work even less well in people who need it most, the elderly and immune-weakened folks. I’d say the flu vaccine is a real shot in the dark. Worse than ineffective or benign, the influenza vaccine is still preserved with thimerosol (mercury), a known neurotoxin. (Mercury-free vaccines exist but you won’t get it unless you specifically request it).

Of course, the flu isn’t the only malady we are more susceptible to in Winter months. Plain ol’ colds and sinus and respiratory infections also increase in the Winter, not because of cold temperatures directly but because viruses spread more easily in cold, dry air.

If the thought of getting sick, or possibly really sick, this Winter doesn’t inspire you, and if feel like I do —- totally underwhelmed by the effectiveness of the flu vaccine — what can you do?

Fortunately, Mother Nature has more immune-boosting strategies than modern medicine will EVER think of. Here are 4 simple, proven recommendations for keeping yourself “bullet proof” against not only the flu, but colds, sinus infections, pneumonia and all manner of Winter-time maladies.

How to Make Yourself Flu-Proof:  “Winterize” Your Immune System in Four Easy Steps

1.) Eat an Immune-Boosting Diet. The two major dietary causes of immune suppression are sugar intake and food allergies.

I.) Dietary sugar. Sugar suppresses the activity of white blood cells (neutrophils) — an important part of the immune system — for up to 5 hours.  Even fruit juice contains enough sugar to cause this immune-suppressing effect. Sugars which cause immune suppression include glucose, fructose, sucrose, honey, and orange juice.6,7,8 Although original studies showed an immune suppressing effect at 100 grams of sugar other studies have shown that even much lower intakes of dietary sugar have immune suppressing effects. 9,10. The USDA and the Center for Science in Public Interest (CSPI) agree that 40 grams of sugar is an acceptable daily limit.

Imagine a “healthy” (not!) day of eating that can actually keep immunity suppressed for the entire day.

Breakfast: glass of orange juice (1 cup has 21 grams of sugar), oatmeal with raisins (2 TBS. has 20 grams of sugar), 1 tsp. of sugar (4 grams of sugar) and lowfat milk (1 cup has 13 grams of sugar). That’s a whopping 58 grams of sugar just for breakfast! Expect a suppressed immune system for the next 5 hours.

Snack: Nonfat fruit-variety yogurt (1 cup has 47 grams of sugar) Immune suppression for up to 5 hours.

Lunch: Subway Chicken Teriyaki Sanwich (6 grams of sugar) with 2 oz. fat-free French dressing (12 grams sugar) and 1 oatmeal raisin cookie for desert (16 grams of sugar) [32 grams total].  Immune system still suppressed from breakfast and snack.

Dinner: green salad with 2 TBS. fat-free french dressing (6 grams), 1 serving Weight Watcher’s chicken enchiladas (33 grams) with 2 TBS fat-free yogurt topping (2 grams) [41 grams total] Immune suppression until bedtime.

Dessert: 1/2 cup Breyer’s no sugar added vanilla ice cream (only 4 grams), but it’s the “cherry” on the immune-suppression-day cake!

There you have it. “A day in the life” of someone who thinks they are eating fairly well, with more than enough sugar to cause all-day immune suppression. Notice that fruit juice and flavored yogurt are major offenders.

Avoiding sugar is the most important dietary step you can take to strengthen your immune system. Period.

II.) Food allergies. Food allergies weaken the immune system. White blood cells and other aspects of immunity get “distracted” taking care of internal annoyances (allergens) instead of protecting against outside “bugs” like the flu virus. Check out the symptoms of food allergy to see if this might be a problem for you. Check Food Allergy Symptoms Here

2.) Practice simple home and hygiene techniques.

I.) Wash your hands frequently. Flu and cold viruses can survive on surfaces, including hands, for hours. Every time you touch a doorknob or anything touched by another, you can pick up a virus. And don’t rub your eyes or face, thereby transmitting the virus to yourself from unwashed hands.

II.) Cover your mouth and nose — preferably with a tissue — when you sneeze or cough. Remember, flu and cold viruses are transmitted primarily through airborne droplets.

III.) Take the day off! If you’re suffering from a cold, do co-workers and friends a favor and quarantine yourself at home until you’re no longer sneezing and hacking. Of course, if you’ve got a bona fide case of the flu, you WILL be taking the day off. Flu symptoms are almost always severe enough to cause prostration.

IV.) Keep your house humid. Indoor fountains (even the little table-top varieties), humidifiers and live plants all help keep indoor Winter air moist. Viruses spread more slowly in higher humidity because airborne water droplets “grab” the viruses and pull them out of circulation. In dry air, viruses are left to float around from one sneezing, coughing host to another.5

3.) Strengthen your immune system with supplements.

I.) Take an optimal potency vitamin/mineral supplement every day. If you only take one supplement to strengthen your immune system, it should be a good multiple formula. Studies have shown that seniors who take a multiple have stronger immune systems and are less likely to get a respiratory tract infection or the flu.11,12,13 A deficiency of any single vitamin, mineral or trace mineral can lead to weakened immunity. 12-23 Improved nutritional status by supplementation can also improve the body’s response to vaccinations. 24

Notice I said optimal potency, not “minimal.” Studies have also shown that a one-per-day formula does virtually nothing to improve immunity. That’s because you can’t fit enough nutrients into one tablet or capsule to do anything but prevent severe deficiency diseases (like just enough vitamin C to prevent scurvy but not enough to strengthen the immune system). In the nutritional industry, we call that “pixie dust.” An optimal-potency multi vitamin will require at least 6 caps per day (in divided doses). My Maxi Multi recommendation is 9 caps per day, which also includes a full dose of calcium and magnesium (which take up a lot of space in a capsule).

Here are the nutrients of particular immune-enhancing importance, and they should all be found in a good multiple nutrient formula.

  • vitamin C – people with daily intakes of 500-1,000mg per day are less likely to catch colds, respiratory tract infections and pneumonia. Vitamin C also shortens the duration and severity of these infections.25-29,45
  • vitamin E – 200IU or more per day reduces the rate of common colds and upper respiratory tract infections 30,31 and increases resistance to influenza in seniors.18, 32-35,44
  • beta carotene – seniors with a high plasma beta-carotene concentration have a lower occurrence of acute respiratory infections.36
  • vitamin A – needed to maintain normal “barrier” function of skin and mucous membranes, thereby preventing entry of viruses. Normal levels improve immunity and disease resistance.14,23,29,37-38
  • vitamin D – Improves immunity and may enhance response to vaccinations.14,23,37,39
  • zinc – normal zinc status lowers the risk of pneumonia by nearly 50% 40 and decreases the incidence, duration and severity of upper respiratory infections and pneumonia.18,38,41,45 Improved zinc status also enhances the body’s response to vaccinations.11,29
  • selenium – Decreases the risk of respiratory tract infections. Improved selenium status also enhances the body’s response to vaccinations.11,18,35,42-43

If you are not getting these target doses in your multiple vitamin, then add them separately OR switch to a better multiple vitamin/mineral formula. You can take a lot of “separate stuff” to achieve immune-boosting “target doses” of nutrients, but why would you want to work that hard?

SHAMELESS PITCH HERE: my own Maxi Multi’s contain target doses of all these immune-boosting nutrients. Check to see how your multiple stacks up: Optimal Doses of Vitamins and Minerals for Good Health (scroll to the vitamin and mineral charts toward the bottom of the page)

II.) Supplement with additional immune-boosting herbs. For additional protection, add an immune-enhancing formula throughout the colder months (recommended November through April). There are literally hundreds of herbs that can be used to strengthen the immune system. Some work better — and some work MUCH better — than others.

I’ve put together my own formula of the most “tried and true” (and proven) immune enhancing herbs including Echinacea, astragalus, medicinal mushrooms (Maitake, Shiitake, Reishi), Ligustrum, Goldenseal and Garlic. Learn more about my Immune Support formula here:

I Guarantee You Won’t Get The Flu This Winter

I’m so confident that Immune Support formula, when used in combination with an optimal potency multiple like Maxi Multi, will help you avoid the flu that I offer a “guaranteed no flu this Winter” money-back guarantee. How confident is that?! Did your local doctor promise if you got a flu shot you wouldn’t get the flu or your money back? (Hahahaha….) See my “No Flu for You” Guarantee here

And for Goodness sakes, don’t wait until you feel fever and chills coming on to start taking supplements or eating better (although even late in the game, studies show you can shorten the severity and duration of a winter infection). Prevention is surer and safer than cure, and looks to me to be surer and safer than the flu vaccine, too!

In Health,

Dr. Myatt


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