Vitamin D Flu Risk Reduction Because of the Herd Effect Appears A Better Strategy Than Flu Vaccines
Which is better? Flu vaccines or supplemental Vitamin D Flu reduction? Here's what the professional researchers are saying.
Influenza & Influenza Like Illness
Over 200 viruses cause influenza and influenza-like illness, which produce the same symptoms (fever, headache, aches and pains, cough and runny noses).
Without laboratory tests, doctors cannot tell the two illnesses apart. Both last for days and rarely lead to death or serious illness.
At best, vaccines might be effective against only influenza A and B, which represent about 10% of all circulating viruses.
Each year, the World Health Organization recommends which viral strains should be included in vaccinations for the forthcoming season.
But … Are Flu Vaccines Effective?
Studies are conducted every year evaluating the effectiveness of flu vaccines and every few years the Cochrane Collaboration reviews the studies of the past few years and publishes their results on the effectiveness of flu vaccines.
Every Cochrane Collaboration review shows that flu vaccines are relatively ineffective.
Despite these findings, vaccine manufacturers and government committees continue to recommend flu vaccines for the entire population.
The July 2010 Cochrane Database Review of 50 studies of flu vaccine use in healthy adults showed once again that these vaccines are not effective for those adults (Jefferson 2010). This confirms a previous review from 2007. That review looked at 274 studies. Both these reviews revealed that flu vaccine had no effect on complications such as pneumonia or on hospital admissions. And flu vaccine reduced the symptoms of illness by only a modest one percent.
The authors of these reviews make an interesting observation. Industry-funded studies were more likely to be cited by other articles and the media. And publicly-funded studies were much less likely to show results favorable to vaccines. Don't forget that if a vaccine manufacturer study does not show the results that the industry wants, they will discard the study.
The authors also note widespread misrepresentation of the conclusions that were reached in these reviews. They berate official government articles that misquote their findings to justify actions previously taken to recommend flu vaccines.
Articles from the Centers for Disease Control that quote the Cochrane reviews misrepresent the efficacy of the flu vaccine to serve an agenda that promotes the use of these vaccines. Their conclusion: "The CDC authors clearly do not weight interpretation by quality of the evidence, but quote anything that supports their theory."
The final conclusion of these authors is that their results should discourage the use of flu vaccine in healthy adults as a routine health measure.
Analysis by Age Group
Previous reviews of other age groups have shown similar ineffectiveness of the flu vaccine. The vaccine is ineffective in babies and in the elderly. The Cochrane review of flu vaccines in children less than two years of age showed the vaccine had no protective effect compared to placebo (Jefferson 2008). Similarly in the elderly, who are more susceptible to complications of the flu, studies were unable to show effectiveness (Rivetti 2006).
Adverse Effects of Flu Vaccine
Finally, the flu vaccine itself causes notable adverse effects. For example the swine flu vaccine campaign of 1976 was halted because of a significant incidence of paralysis as a direct effect of the vaccine. This was an H1N1 vaccine similar to the swine flu H1N1 vaccine that is included in this year's flu shots. And the new H1N1 vaccine is showing similar problems.
Alternatives to Flu Vaccines
There are much more effective ways to prevent the flu.
Specifically the use of supplemental Vitamin D is growing in popularity as a way to prevent flu during the flu season
Current medical research has identified a correlation between seasonal Vitamin D levels and influenza.
The more sun, the less illness. The less sun, the more flu.
Research has also shown that vitamin D prevents respiratory infections in adults and children. Lots of flu remedies provide flu relief, but Vitamin D actually prevents flu. It is especially effective at preventing respiratory illness making it a perfect flu medicine. Here's how to use vitamin D safely and effectively.
Herd Benefit of Vitamin D
A very well written and exhaustive epidemiological study of vitamin D and the flu published (October 2010) from Norway, suggests vitamin D may be the major controlling factor in influenza epidemics and even most pandemics.
They used data from all over the world, from the last 110 years, to show that influenza death rates go up as vitamin D producing UV light goes down.
Furthermore the differences were staggering, with influenza death rates 20 to 600 times higher during months when vitamin D cannot be made in the skin. While some of this is a direct "antibiotic" effect of vitamin D, some of it is likely due to vitamin D causing innate "herd immunity." The total vitamin D "effect size" hinted at in this Norwegian paper is staggering.
The vitamin D "herd immunity" effect means that if you're the only one in your family on vitamin D, then your risk of getting the flu is lower but you still have a reasonable chance of getting the virus.
If everyone in your family takes vitamin D, but no one else at your child's school does, then your risk of being exposed and getting sick is even lower.
If everyone in your town (herd) takes it then your risk is even lower, if everyone in the country, even lower, etc.
This is due to the "herd immunity" effect that is well established for influenza antibodies and I hypothesize is true for vitamin D as well.
Juzeniene A, Ma LW, Kwitniewski M, Polev GA, Lagunova Z, Dahlback A, Moan J. The seasonality of pandemic and non-pandemic influenzas: the roles of solar radiation and vitamin D. Int J Infect Dis. 2010 Oct 28.
To protect yourself during the flu season I recommend 5,000 IU/day for adults and approximately 1000 IU/25 pounds/day for children.
The best Vitamin D supplement to take is Vitamin D3. I recommend Vitamin D3 capsules for adults and Vitamin D3 drops for children from Primal Force.
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