By Dr. Mercola
Barbara Loe Fisher is the cofounder and president of the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC). In this interview, we talk about influenza and pertussis vaccine failures, the business of vaccination and how you can stay healthy this flu season. On the upside, no vaccine exemptions in any state were lost this year, which makes it the third year in a row that we’ve been able to protect exemptions that allow you to follow your conscience or religious beliefs when it comes to vaccination.
Without doubt, the reason for this success is because so many of you have gotten involved, telling your legislators they must protect personal belief exemptions and the legal right to exercise vaccine freedom of choice. However, NVIC is predicting an onslaught of bills aimed at removing vaccine exemptions in 2019, so get ready to stand up for your rights!1
Annual Flu Vaccine Campaign Is Upon Us
This year, we timed Vaccine Awareness Week to coincide with the annual push for everyone to get a flu shot to make sure the subject is fresh in your mind. If you haven’t seen it already, you’ll soon be inundated with advertising and “friendly reminders” to get your annual flu shot.2
“What a lot of people don’t stop to think about in the midst of all this advertising is that vaccinologists developed vaccines. Vaccinology is the science of vaccines. Vaccinologists do not understand how vaccines cause immunity in the body. They don’t understand how an infection causes immunity in the body.
They’ve always had a problem with making vaccines that are effective and also safe, because they don’t understand the biological mechanisms for vaccine injury and death. This is especially true for influenza vaccine, because influenza virus mutates rapidly. It’s constantly changing.
There are different strains circulating every year. They have to guess which strains are going to be prevalent in any given year. The vaccine manufacturers then race to develop these annual seasonal flu vaccines.
But before we even talk about influenza vaccines, what a lot of people don’t know is that the majority of respiratory illness out there every year is not due to type A or type B influenza. It’s due to other types of respiratory viruses and bacterial infections that cause respiratory influenza-like illness,” Fisher says.
Eighty Percent of Suspected Flu Cases Are Not Caused by Flu Virus
The most common respiratory illness would be the common cold, which is a rhinovirus and is not caused by influenza virus. As noted by Fisher, about 80 percent of suspected influenza case specimens sent for lab confirmation during the flu season turn out to be other viruses and bacteria — not type A or B influenza.3
“That’s really important, because a lot of people think that when they get sick during the flu season, that they’ve got influenza,” she says, “but most of the time they don’t.”
So, if most respiratory illnesses that occur during flu season are not caused by influenza A or B, just how important is the influenza vaccine, which protects only against these two types, and only three to four selected strains at that?
In the last 14 flu seasons, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has produced evidence showing the seasonal flu vaccine is less than 50 percent effective against circulating strains, more than half of the time.4
In the 2017 season, the vaccine was only 36 percent effective at best.5 More specifically, the CDC estimated last year’s flu vaccine was 25 percent effective against the A(H3N2) virus; 67 percent effective against A(H1N1)pdm09 viruses and 42 percent effective against influenza B viruses. The majority of influenza last year was caused by the A(H3N2) virus, which was the least effective vaccine strain virus in the flu shot.
Quantifying Vaccine Effectiveness
Just how is influenza vaccine effectiveness quantified?6 As explained by Fisher, vaccine “efficacy” is determined through a clinical trial, in which two groups are compared. One group receives the vaccine and the other doesn’t. The two groups are then compared to see how often lab confirmed influenza actually occurred.
“Effectiveness,” on the other hand, is determined through real-world administration of the vaccine. After the fact, they assess how many vaccinated individuals ended up getting influenza anyway.
A third term to be aware of is “immunogenicity,” which is a measurement of antibody titers, the numbers of antibodies in the blood produced after an inflammatory response to vaccination. However, immunity is not just about antibody titers. It’s also about T cell-mediated immunity.
Historically, vaccinologists have relied upon antibody titers as a lab correlate for vaccine protection, even though the number of antibodies in the blood only measure one part of immunity — humoral immunity.7 Longer lasting natural immunity produced after recovery from infections involves both a cell-mediated and humoral immune response.
What You Need to Know About Your Immune System
Your immune system consists of two different branches — cell-mediated immunity (innate) and humoral immunity (adaptive). An infectious disease process involves a cell-mediated immune response to a pathogenic virus or bacteria, which activates your natural killer (NK) cells that send inflammatory mediators to the site of infection, where the white blood cells basically chew up and spit out the infected cells.
This process clears the virus and during recovery, your humoral immune system kicks in and starts generating antibodies to help prevent the same kind of disease process and symptoms from occurring again, should you be re-exposed to the same pathogenic virus or bacteria later on.
As long as your cell-mediated immune system is activated first and the humoral immune system is activated second, usually you will have long-lasting immunity against that pathogen.
Naturally acquired herd immunity comes into play when a very high percentage of individuals in a population have gone through this sequence of cell-mediated and humoral immune response to a viral or bacterial disease.
Vaccine-acquired “herd immunity” is a misnomer, however, because most vaccines provide an artificial immunity that leans heavily on stimulating an antibody response (humoral immunity), which is incomplete and more temporary than the longer lasting cell-mediated plus humoral immunity acquired after recovery from an infection.
Vaccine Science Is Still in Its Infancy
In fact, one of the major problems with vaccines is the fact that they disrupt the balance between your T-cells and the B-cells, which some researchers and clinicians believe radically increases your risk of cancer. Vaccinologists do not understand exactly how vaccines cause injury and death and also don’t have correlates for immunity to accurately evaluate how well they work.8
“The bottom line here is — going way back to smallpox vaccine — they haven’t really stopped to do the science. The science is still in its infancy. It’s like they’re guessing when they make these vaccines, because they don’t have correlates to immunity,” Fisher says.
“They do not understand how the vaccines act in the body, at the cellular, molecular level,” Fisher says. “Now, some of this science is starting to be done. But these vaccines are being used by millions of people around the world without basic science knowledge.
People think [the vaccines] have been thoroughly tested. But they have not … They’re simply producing more and more vaccines without really understanding what they’re doing. This has been my take after 36 years of looking at the issue.”
With Enough NK Cells, You Are Far Less Susceptible to Influenza
On a side note, albeit an important one considering our topic, researchers recently made a very interesting discovery: With enough NK cells in your system, you will not contract influenza.9,10 As reported by Live Science,11 a specific gene called KLRD1 “could serve as a proxy for a person’s levels of natural killer cells.”
KLRD1 is a receptor gene found on the surface of NK cells, and the level of KLRD1 found in a person’s blood prior to exposure to the influenza virus was able to predict whether that individual would contract the flu with 86 percent accuracy.
According to senior study author Purvesh Khatri, associate professor of medicine and biomedical data science at Stanford University School of Medicine,12 KLRD1 is “the first biomarker that shows susceptibility to influenza, across multiple strains.” As reported by Eurekalert:13
“[O]n the whole, those whose immune cells consisted of 10 to 13 percent natural killers [NK cells] did not succumb to the flu, whereas those whose natural killer cells fell short of 10 percent wound up ill.
It’s a fine line, Khatri said, but the distinction between the groups is quite clear: Everyone who had 10 percent or more natural killer cells stood strong against the infection and showed no symptoms. Khatri said his findings could help health professionals understand who’s at the highest risk for flu infection.”
There are a number of ways to boost your NK cells, but vaccines are not on that list. Exercise,14 is one example. Foods and supplements known to increase NK cells include colostrum, medicinal mushrooms, probiotics, Panax ginseng and melatonin. To learn more, see “How to Improve Your Immune Function by Boosting NK Cells.”
What Do We Know?
Getting back to influenza vaccines specifically, what we know is that:
You can have influenza and show few or no symptoms15
You can be vaccinated or unvaccinated and have asymptomatic influenza and shed the virus and transmit the disease16
About 80 percent of suspected influenza cases test negative for influenza in lab tests because most illness during the flu season is caused by microorganisms other than influenza A and B virus17
CDC estimates for annual influenza deaths are not accurate because reported deaths for other types of influenza-like illness (ILI), such as pneumonia, are included in statistics18
Between 2005 and 2015, the flu vaccine was less than 50 percent effective more than half of the time19
During the 2017 flu season, the overall adjusted vaccine effectiveness against influenza A and influenza B virus infection associated with medically attended acute respiratory illness was just 36 percent,20 meaning 64 percent of the time it offered no protection
Importantly, research has highlighted the link between influenza and severe sepsis — a progressive disease process initiated by an aggressive, dysfunctional immune response to an infection in the bloodstream (which is why it’s sometimes referred to as blood poisoning).
There Are No Reliable Data on Influenza Mortality — It’s All Guesswork
Taken together, what does this say for really getting a handle on how effective the vaccine is? Or how serious influenza is? The CDC still does not know how many people actually die from influenza each year. They know how many pediatric influenza-associated deaths occur because those are reportable by states, but no one is tracking deaths in adults over age 18.
Pediatric (age birth to 18 years) deaths associated with influenza have averaged about 130 per year for the last five or six years.21 In order to estimate adult flu mortality, public health officials have to guess, and they do that by combining pneumonia, influenza, circulatory and respiratory mortality statistics, from which they come up with an estimate of 12,000 to over 54,000 influenza-associated deaths every year.22
However, as noted above, there’s no actual mortality data collected on influenza deaths in adults so influenza mortality statistics are “guestimates” and more than likely grossly inflated.23 Plus, the picture is further muddied by the fact that most suspected influenza cases test negative because most influenza-like illness is actually caused by organisms other than influenza A and B virus.
So, there’s really no accuracy involved when you read or hear media reports that tens of thousands of Americans die from influenza each year. This number is based on an awful lot of assumptions backed by little to no real evidence. It’s been a really effective fear tactic, however.
The Marketing of Fear
Up until the year 2000, the influenza vaccine was routinely recommended for people over 65 and/or anyone with lung-related disease. The market was less than 5 percent of the population in total. Then, the age at which you were advised to get an annual flu shot was lowered to 50.
By 2008, annual flu shots were recommended for all healthy children between 6 months and 18 years of age and, then, the CDC told all Americans to get an annual flu shot every single year throughout life.24
“Every single American over the age of 6 months through the year of death should now get an annual flu shot — with absolutely no scientific basis for that recommendation, other than fear,” Fisher says.
“We have, in 2017, a nearly $4 billion-a-year influenza vaccine market globally, predicted to reach over $11 billion by 2025. Certainly, if every single person in this country gets a flu shot every year, this is an unimaginable profit-making business for vaccine manufacturers.25
But there are risks associated with influenza vaccine. It is the most compensated vaccine in the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) … About one-third of the total awards [are for flu vaccine injuries]. It now has surpassed pertussis-containing vaccines, which was the leading vaccine. Now, influenza vaccine is No. 1 …26
And you’re going to see that number go up. We have over 152,000 reports in the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) that are associated with influenza vaccine, including several thousand deaths. And the government admits only 1 percent of all vaccine adverse events are ever reported.”27
While fear is used to promote the use of influenza vaccine, no one is talking about the fact that the vaccine can cause injury and death.28 The most common serious adverse events are brain inflammation, demyelination, Guillain-Barre syndrome and Bell’s palsy. The 2009 pandemic influenza vaccine was associated with narcolepsy, which is a very rare form of brain dysfunction.
The CDC recommends that pregnant women get a flu shot during every pregnancy in any trimester, but the vaccine was not tested or licensed for use in pregnant women.29 In 2017, there was a report published in the medical literature raising the question of an increased risk of miscarriage within 28 days of influenza vaccination.30
Part of the problem is that no studies have been done to determine who might be at high-risk for a vaccine reaction, just as there are few studies to determine immune correlates for influenza virus infections.31 As noted by Fisher, “people are being vaccinated in a vacuum of scientific knowledge.”
Flu Vaccine Ingredients Associated With Adverse Reactions
Aside from the actual vaccine proteins in the vaccine, which are supposed to stimulate an antibody response, the influenza vaccine also contains hazardous ingredients like the mercury preservative, thimerosal.32 Mercury is known to be neurotoxic to humans even at low levels.33
Thimerosal is not in single-dose vials of the injectable inactivated flu vaccine, but is still in multi-dose vials (the live nasal spray flu vaccine does not contain thimerosal). If you don’t want a mercury-containing flu vaccine, you need to look at the list of ingredients, which you can find on the manufacturer product information package insert.
“The [vaccine] is supposed to be [mercury-free] for infants and pregnant women,” Fisher says, estimating there are about 3 to 4 million single doses of mercury-free flu vaccines produced annually in the U.S.
“There’s also a live virus vaccine that is sprayed up the nose. That vaccine was discontinued for a time. The CDC did not recommend it in 2016 and 2017 because it was so ineffective. Well, guess what? They’ve now reapproved it and said, ‘Okay. You can use it this year.'”
There are now many different kinds of influenza vaccines, such as those containing three or four influenza virus strains, which are inactivated and injected, as well as the “live” virus vaccine sprayed up the nose that Fisher mentions; vaccines using chicken eggs or genetically engineered dog kidney or army worm cells; vaccines that contain squalene-type adjuvants, which have been associated with autoimmune disorders, and vaccines that are “high dose” and contain four times the amount of antigen as the standard vaccine.34
Again, if you make the choice to get a flu shot, be sure to ask the person administering the vaccine to let you see the manufacturer product information insert that comes with each vial of vaccine before you get vaccinated, so you know which type of flu vaccine you’re getting.
Natural Strategies Offer Powerful Health Benefits
Rather than using an historically ineffective strategy associated with significant complications and even deaths, why not use what has been shown to work, and costs next to nothing? Four effective strategies to support immune function and provide powerful health benefits — which are ideally done together — are:
- Optimizing your vitamin D. Measure your vitamin D level twice a year, in summer and winter, and make sure you’re within the ideal range of 60 to 80 ng/mL — especially as flu season approaches.
- Eliminate added sugars and processed foods from your diet. This is a major component, as these impair your immune function. Also avoid eating within three hours of bedtime, as late-night eating results in metabolic complications, one of which is the impairment of your immune system.
- Exercise regularly and move more on a daily basis.
- Get plenty of restorative sleep. Some of the healthiest people I know, when they travel, get stressed, or for whatever reason cannot sleep well for a few days, that’s when they get sick. It’s really one of the most profoundly important variables for your health.
Pertussis Vaccine Update
Another vaccine Fisher discusses in this update is the pertussis (whooping cough) vaccine. It too has an extraordinary failure rate, and that includes both the old whole-cell pertussis vaccine, aka diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus (DPT) vaccine used in the U.S. until the late 1990s, and the acellular pertussis vaccine (DTaP) that was licensed for babies in 1996 to replace it.
You may have heard reports stating that acellular pertussis vaccine is not as effective as whole-cell vaccine. But this is extremely deceptive because the whole-cell pertussis vaccine has been known to be ineffective for over three decades,35 and the CDC admitted in 2012 that “the US B. pertussis population has evolved in the time since vaccinations were introduced in the 1940s.”36
“The Bordetella pertussis bacteria started mutating after widespread use of whole-cell DPT vaccine in the late 1940s. That’s when the B. pertussis bacteria started to mutate.37 It accelerated with acellular vaccine because of the components they had in that vaccine, which was two-thirds less reactive than the whole-cell vaccine,” Fisher explains.
“Whole-cell DPT vaccine was the reason Congress passed the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act (NCVIA), because it was causing so many cases of brain inflammation that there were lawsuits all over the place. The manufacturers blackmailed Congress into giving them partial liability protection [in 1986].38
The Supreme Court gave them full liability protection [in 2011], but it was on the back of whole-cell DPT vaccine, which has hurt so many children. (And is still being used in countries around the world.)
Now there are calls by Dr. Paul Offit and others to bring back the whole-cell pertussis vaccine into the U.S. for infants, at least one or two doses;39 they say they should never have made the switch from whole-cell to acellular vaccine.40
I think it is absolutely unconscionable that they would even be discussing bringing whole-cell pertussis vaccine back, when that was the vaccine that caused so many problems and was the reason Congress gave [manufacturers] liability protection.
I am finishing a book on this subject, on the ‘Promise and Reality of the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986.’ I’ll be discussing whole-cell pertussis vaccine and pertussis [in that book] and how they are both failed vaccines.”
Recent research suggests the old whole-cell pertussis vaccine in DPT may provide longer lasting protection than the acellular vaccine in DTaP. While there was evidence published in 2014 that neither whole cell pertussis vaccines nor acellular pertussis vaccines block infection and transmission of the disease,41 it appears that those who have gotten whole cell DPT vaccine may clear the infection more rapidly than those who have gotten acellular DTaP vaccine.42
However, neither vaccine protects against current circulating B. pertussis strains that have evolved over the years to evade the vaccines.43 The highly reactive whole cell DPT vaccine is still a failed vaccine, both in terms of safety and ineffectiveness, and to bring it back would be an absolute travesty.
When it comes to vaccines, there’s a risk-benefit analysis that needs to be made, but rarely is it taken into account. Clearly, children die from complications of diseases such as whooping cough and measles each year, mostly in developing countries where many families live with poverty, poor sanitation, poor nutrition and little access to health care.
However, vaccines also have serious side effects and it is unknown how many children are having vaccine reactions that are ignored and lead to chronic poor health or even end in death.
The vaccine intervention program is not free of risk, yet sound benefit-risk analyses based on credible scientific evidence are largely nonexistent. As noted by Fisher, the risk-benefit analysis she and Harris Coulter, PhD, coauthors of the ground-breaking 1985 book “DPT: A Shot in the Dark,” conducted for whole cell pertussis vaccine argued against routine use of the reactive whole cell pertussis vaccine.
“When we did the analysis [on whole-cell pertussis vaccine] using the methods scientists use, we came to the conclusion that you actually had more cases of brain injury and death WITH the whole-cell pertussis vaccine than you did if pertussis was endemic in the society. I haven’t done it for acellular vaccine, because it is two-thirds less reactive.
But the point is that when you don’t have the science to define and develop pathological profiles to separate out what is vaccine-induced and what is not — when you don’t understand who is vulnerable to brain inflammation and immune system dysfunction after vaccination — you are really going forward in a vacuum of knowledge, especially when it’s shown that the vaccines aren’t effective at blocking infection and transmission …
It’s very hard to do these analyses when you have a vacuum of scientific knowledge. However, we’ve gone from one dose or two doses of smallpox vaccine in the early 20th century to 69 doses of 16 vaccines given between the day of birth and age 18.
And we now have more chronically ill and disabled children in this country than we have ever had. I’m not saying it’s all due to vaccines. But what manipulates atypically the immune system more frequently than any other medical intervention? Vaccination.
Granted we have processed foods … GMOs … pesticide exposures … environmental pollution … toxic exposures that are in addition to these vaccines, but vaccines atypically manipulate the immune system.
They don’t understand everything that the vaccines do. They have not tested the ingredients separately and they do not test them well enough in combinations. Some children are getting nine to 10 vaccines on one day. How does the body sort all that out?”
Vaccine Manufacturers Have No Incentive to Make Safer Vaccines
As mentioned earlier, the U.S. Supreme Court has given manufacturers of CDC recommended vaccines for children full liability protection, so when you or your child suffers a serious injury after vaccination, the manufacturer is not held responsible.
The CDC recommends that pregnant women get a flu shot during every pregnancy, but the influenza vaccine was not tested or licensed for use in pregnant women before the CDC recommended all pregnant women get vaccinated during any trimester.44 In 2017, there was a report about the risk of miscarriage within 28 days of vaccination.45
The 21st Century Cures Act of 2016 expanded vaccine liability protection, giving liability protection to manufacturers making and selling vaccines for pregnant women. This protection shields the companies from liability should anything happen to either the mother as a result of vaccination during pregnancy or when her developing infant dies in the womb or is born alive damaged.46
In addition to vaccines recommended by the CDC for children, vaccines designated by federal health officials as “bioterrorism” vaccines also have liability protection under the Bioshield legislation passed by Congress post-9/11.47 This liability protection extends to all pandemic influenza vaccines as well.48
What this means is that vaccine manufacturers have absolutely no reason to address the safety or the effectiveness of vaccines, because they have no economic incentive to make safer, more effective vaccines.
Fisher’s new book will delve into this at much greater depth, and this book and documents related to the history of the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 will be offered free of charge posted on NVIC’s website — something made possible in part by your donations, which I, each year during Vaccine Awareness Week, match dollar for dollar.
Informed Consent Is a Crucial Human Rights Principle
Even though I wouldn’t personally vaccinate myself or my family, my position, which NVIC shares, is that you need to evaluate the circumstances for yourself and really focus on safety and, then, based on your individual situation, choose the best option.
This is because, ultimately, you are responsible for the health of yourself and your family, especially your children. But, it has to be an informed, responsible decision. You can’t just blindly trust a vaccine industry that is motivated by profit and protected from liability to provide you with the whole truth and nothing but the truth. As noted by Fisher:
“With the informed consent principle, you have the right as a consumer to have full information about the benefits and risks of any pharmaceutical product and be able to make a free and voluntary decision.
It’s a principle that has been defined as a human right with regard to medical interventions that can cause injury and death. Vaccination is one of those interventions. The informed consent principle is worth standing up for. I’m proud to be associated with Mercola.com, because you have stood firm on that concept.”
I urge you to help us spread these important messages by making a donation to NVIC. As in previous years, I will match all donations made this week. The NVIC has been very successful so far, in its educational approach. As Fisher noted earlier, there hasn’t been a successful attempt at removing vaccine exemptions in the U.S. in any state since 2015. We need to stand strong and keep that going.
“This fight is going to go on for a long time,” Fisher says. “But part of the problem is the censorship and trying to silence, marginalize and shun people who ask questions about the vaccine science, which really has huge gaps in it.
It’s important for people to be brave and to talk about when they have a reaction to a vaccine — to get on social media and talk about it. That connects everybody and the whole world.
I call it ‘witnessing in the public square.’ It’s part of what we do at NVIC. I think it’s important for people to not be afraid to stand up and talk about this, no matter how much pressure they get. Only through shining a light on the truth will we be able to stay free.”