Flu shots: some swear by ‘em, others hate ‘em

The flu viruses are brewed in chicken embryos. But this year, one just didn’t want to grow. So, the flu shots were late.

The flu viruses are brewed in chicken embryos.

But this year, one just didn’t want to grow.

So, the flu shots were late.

The vaccines are never available before early October, said the Yukon medical health officer Bryce Larke on Thursday.

“And this year the vaccine is late because all the vaccine manufacturers had difficulty growing and producing one of the strains of influenza that’s in the vaccine.”

Larke was at the Whitehorse Health Centre stripping off his shirt and tie in preparation for his annual flu shot.

He’s been getting the shots since the 1970s. He swears by them.

“The vaccines are continually improving and becoming more effective,” he said.

“And they won’t make you sick.”

But Whitehorse naturopath Michael Mason-Wood disagrees.

“I don’t really believe in them,” he said.

“Most people who get flu shots still get the flu.”

Flu shots inject virus particles into the body, but not the whole virus, said Larke.

The viruses, after being harvested from the clear liquid around chicken embryos, are split, he said.

“And these virus particles prompt the body’s immune system to produce natural antibodies.”

Mason-Wood argues the shots weaken the natural immune systems for months afterwards.

“It drags your immune system down too much,” he said.

The flu shots contain three main strains of last year’s influenza viruses.

“Some years, these are a good match with the new strains,” said Larke.

“And some years they’re not so good.

“However, they’ve already isolated this year’s virus from people who’ve been ill and they’ve identified it as the same kind of virus that’s in the vaccine — so it’s a good match,” he added.

The vaccine is tailored each year to suit the most recent strains of influenza virus that caused trouble last year, said Larke.

“So the virus is always one step ahead of us, because it changes slightly each year.”

But, after a flu shot, if the immune system is busy fighting last year’s viruses it will be more susceptible to this year’s strains, said Mason-Wood.

“So, why drag your immune system down with a flu when you could boost it instead?”

Like most vaccines, the flu shot contains small amounts of mercury in a preservative and stabilizer called Thimersol.

“But its been proven again, again and again, not to contribute to any ill health in children,” said Larke.

Mercury is stored in the body, said Mason-Wood.

So with repeated immunizations, the amount of mercury will continue to rise, he said.

And scientists have discovered a huge link between mercury and Alzheimer’s, autism and multiple sclerosis, he said.

Vaccines are responsible for the increasing number of children and adults who suffer from immune system and neurological disorders, hyperactivity, learning disabilities, asthma, chronic fatigue syndrome, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and seizure disorders, states the US National Vaccine Information Centre website.

The centre is a nonprofit educational organization.

Although influenza has already been documented in many of the provinces, there are no known cases yet in the Yukon, said Larke.

Senior care facilities began immunizations this week, he said. (The flu-shot schedule is on page 33.)

Whitehorse immunizations will begin November 20th.

People opting for a homeopathic shot to boost their immune system can contact the Natural Terrain Naturopathic Clinic.