According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the 2017-2018 flu season was the deadliest flu season in the U.S. in four decades, hospitalizing 900,000 and killing 80,000, including 180 children. According to CNN,1 " … [F]lu-related deaths have ranged from a low of about 12,000 during the 2011-2012 season to a high of about 56,000 during the 2012-2013."
While that sounds ominous, it's worth remembering that what they're counting as "flu deaths" are not just deaths directly caused by the influenza virus, but also secondary infections such as pneumonia and other respiratory diseases, as well as sepsis.2
As you'd expect, these mortality statistics are now being used to frighten people into getting an annual flu shot. U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams goes even further, saying that getting vaccinated is a "social responsibility," as it "protects others around you, including family, friends, co-workers and neighbors."3
But is that actually true? Not according to recent research, it isn't. In fact, research published earlier this year suggests repeated annual flu vaccinations could actually make you a greater health threat to your community. Influenza vaccination does not appear to lower the risk of disease transmission at all.
Flu Vaccine Allows Transmission of Disease, Study Shows
According to a study4 published in the journal PNAS January 18, 2018, people who receive the seasonal flu shot and then contract influenza excrete infectious influenza viruses through their breath. What's more, those vaccinated two seasons in a row have a greater viral load of shedding influenza A viruses.
They also note that other studies suggest annual flu vaccination leads to reduced protection against influenza, which means each vaccination is likely to make you progressively more prone to getting sick. According to the authors:
"In adjusted models, we observed 6.3 times more aerosol shedding among cases with vaccination in the current and previous season compared with having no vaccination in those two seasons … The association of vaccination and shedding was significant for influenza A but not for influenza B infections …
Finding infectious virus in 39 percent of fine-aerosol samples collected during 30 minutes of normal tidal breathing in a large community-based study of confirmed influenza infection clearly establishes that a significant fraction of influenza cases routinely shed infectious virus … into aerosol particles small enough to remain suspended in air and present a risk for airborne transmission …
The association of current and prior year vaccination with increased shedding of influenza A might lead one to speculate that certain types of prior immunity promote lung inflammation, airway closure and aerosol generation …
If confirmed, this observation, together with recent literature suggesting reduced protection with annual vaccination, would have implications for influenza vaccination recommendations and policies."
Last Year's Flu Vaccine Was Only 36 Percent Effective
If you think you cannot get type A or B influenza if you've been vaccinated, think again. Your chances of getting influenza after vaccination are still greater than 50/50 in any given year. According to CDC data,7 the 2017-2018 seasonal influenza vaccine's effectiveness against "influenza A and influenza B virus infection associated with medically attended acute respiratory illness" was just 36 percent.
Ironically, CDC officials continue to recommend influenza vaccination "because the vaccine can still prevent some infections with currently circulating influenza viruses."8 Dr. William Schaffner, medical director for the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, told CNN, "The vaccine is not perfect, but give the vaccine credit for softening the blow."
Now, if merely softening the blow, lowering your chances of contracting influenza by a measly 36 percent is good enough, why isn't vitamin D a viable alternative when evidence demonstrates it actually prevents far more cases of acute respiratory infections?