The raging debate over vaccinations seems to boil down to two factors: the risk/reward analysis and effectiveness. Do the purported benefits outweigh the risks, or do the dangers outweigh the rewards? Are vaccines effective or ineffective?
This hot-button issue has ignited vigorous debate between the allopathic medicine community and those who want freedom and transparency in their healthcare system. Yet the debate isn’t confined to just flu shots. While it’s true that natural health enthusiasts seem fairly united in their opposition to flu shots, they express different viewpoints on other types of vaccines like immunizations against childhood diseases.
The Case against Flu Shots
Live in the Now spoke with Kathy Gruver, Ph.D., natural health author, speaker and practitioner. Her opinion on the risk/reward ratio and effectiveness is typical of the consensus of natural health proponents.
What Problems Are Associated With Flu Shots?
“I am concerned about the long-term effects of flu shots. They contain preservatives and chemicals such as monosodium glutamate (MSG) and formaldehyde as well as heavy metals like mercury and aluminum. We are exposed to enough aluminum in our daily lives with cookware, some tap water, deodorant and smog. The long-term presence of aluminum in the body can lead to medical issues.
“I feel like I have natural ways of boosting my immune system that will either keep the flu away or will dramatically shorten its duration. Many illnesses can be fought off naturally through affirmations, visualization, stress-reducing techniques and keeping the body healthy. However, I think it has to be a personal choice, and I would never tell someone not to get the shot. Instead, I will tell them why I’m against it.”
Are Flu Shots Effective?
“I know many people who either contract the flu as a consequence of the shot or catch the flu despite having had the shot. It is not guaranteed to prevent the flu. The manufacturers pick three or four strains that they predict might be the common ones in the upcoming flu season, and they may or may not be the right ones. Even the Centers for the Disease Control and Prevention website says the effectiveness of the shot is hard to measure. In the years when they pick the wrong strains, the effectiveness is very little; and even in years when they pick the right strains, you can’t tell what it would have prevented.”
What About Childhood Vaccinations?
What about childhood vaccines like polio, smallpox and measles? The risk/reward ratio becomes more complex with these vaccines, as some of these diseases can cause a lifetime of disability or even death. The stakes seem higher. Below are three different opinions on the subject.
According to Harvard Health, a voice that presents the prevailing view of allopathic doctors, vaccinations are a “stupendous success story” in the fight against contagious disease. They contend illnesses like polio and smallpox that once ravaged populations have been controlled or virtually eradicated with the advent of vaccines.
But is this true? Shane Ellison, organic chemist and author of Over the Counter Natural Cures strongly disagrees with the allopathic viewpoint, and many in the natural health world share his opinion. He asserts that the dramatic decline in infectious diseases that used to plague the world was ushered in through improved sanitation, hygiene and nutrition rather than through immunizations
Ellison backs up his opinion with an array of interesting statistics, such as two that deal with whooping cough and measles. He states that in the U.S. between 1900 and 1935, the death rate from whooping cough, otherwise called pertussis, plummeted by 79 percent. But the pertussis vaccine was not launched until 1940. Further corroborating his case, he notes the Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccine became widely used in 1957. Yet between 1983 and 1990, cases of measles among vaccinated people rose 423 percent.
In addition to the two opposing viewpoints above, some members of the natural health community are torn on the issue. Gruver is one that would fall into this category, and undoubtedly, many would identify with her opinion as well. While she isn’t staunchly against these vaccines like Ellison, she has several reservations about them. One of her concerns is that childhood vaccines are started much too early. “They are given to children before their immune systems have developed enough to use the vaccine,” she explains.
Another of Gruver’s concerns is that they are sometimes administered in combinations that aren’t healthy. “So much of it comes down to money and manufacturing. Insurance companies won’t cover multiple visits for childhood vaccines, so they do them all at once. Since the vaccine is already formulated with multiple diseases, a reformulation would cost too much money. Unfortunately, so much of our health care isn’t about care but is about the bottom line — money,” she says.
What About Vaccinations When Traveling to Third World Countries?
Traveling to certain areas poses a risk of contracting malaria and other illnesses not seen in western countries. Should you be vaccinated before you go? Once again, the opinions of the experts differ. Ellison is adamantly against this, as he believes vaccines don’t work and natural alternatives are available. Conversely, Dr. Michael Wald, Director of Nutrition at Integrated Medicine of Mount Kisco in Westchester, New York, is a proponent of vaccines in these cases, although he opposes them for all other uses.
How to Build Immunity Naturally
Regardless of whether you are pro-vaccine or anti-vaccine, it is to your advantage to build your natural immunity. In Ellison’s book, he speaks of the wonders of our immune system and gives recommendations on how to improve it. He states that optimally functioning immunity can be attained through embracing immune boosters and avoiding immune busters. These are delineated below.
- Immune Booster #1: A nutritious diet is vital to being able to fight off disease and infections. This consists of fruits and vegetables along with seeds and nuts. It also includes whole eggs and grass-fed chicken and beef. Avoid food that comes out of a box or window.
- Immune Booster #2: As studies show garlic can fight infections, consume raw crushed garlic cloves every day.
- Immune Busters: Avoid the consumption of sugar, artificial flavors and a common food additive known as MSG.
Dr. Joseph Mercola, natural health proponent, is also opposed to the flu vaccine and provides several measures for building natural immunity. Some of his recommendations include exercising regularly, getting enough sleep and washing your hands frequently when you have an infection.
Since stress can make it harder for your immune system to fight disease, experts advise finding effective ways to reduce it. Exercise can help siphon it off, but other techniques can help as well.