Health & Wellness

Flu Vaccine Update

John L. Pfenninger, MD

Influenza is a serious illness which can result in death for people of any age. It also causes significant days of just plain feeling bad, leading to lost work and school time. The most effective way to prevent true influenza is by getting your flu shot every year. There are very few changes to last year’s recommendations regarding the vaccine.
Last year, for the first time, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommended all persons age six months and older obtain the vaccine. They are once again encouraging this.

You may have noticed that pharmacies and drug stores have signs offering the flu shots and they usually start very early. The CDC recommends that the vaccine be given as soon as it is available. This allows time for protective antibodies to develop which takes about two weeks. They also recommend that the vaccine be given throughout the entire flu season until the end of March. Early vaccination before mid November not only protects against influenza but also reduces heart attack rates by 21%. Receiving the vaccine after mid November reduces the heart attack rates by 12% compared to those who do not receive the vaccine at all. I find this fascinating and there is good medical evidence to support the findings.

Each year, the CDC plays a guessing game as to which viruses will cause the flu. They have to predict a year in advance which viruses they think will be present to give the manufacturers time to prepare the vaccine. This year’s flu vaccine will be identical to last year’s and provide protection against three separate viruses including H1N1 (swine flu). Even though the viruses will be the same, the CDC has emphasized that everyone should obtain the flu vaccine this year whether or not they got it last year. Apparently, protective levels can decline over the course of a year.

For children age six months through eight years (if it is the first time that they have received the flu vaccine), two doses of the flu vaccine are recommended with a minimum of four weeks between them. If children received only one dose of the vaccine last year, since the vaccines are the same, it is recommended that they only receive one dose this year.

There is now an inactivated type of vaccine (versus the usual “attenuated” vaccine that is usually given). It is recommended that this be used for individuals who report an egg allergy including hives. These individuals should receive their vaccines from a physician who can observe them for at least 30 minutes rather than getting the vaccine at a nonmedical facility. Skin testing is no longer necessary for people with egg allergy. Those who have experienced more significant reactions to eggs, such as respiratory distress or recurrent vomiting, should be referred to an allergist.

Two groups have been especially targeted by the CDC to receive the flu vaccine. They include health care providers and pregnant women. There is special emphasis that all health care personnel be vaccinated annually to protect their patients. Only half of pregnant women in the United States were vaccinated in the last two flu seasons. Pregnant women and children younger than six months of age are at higher risk of severe illness. Vaccination during pregnancy has been shown to decrease the risk for illness in the mother as well as the risk of influenza and influenza hospitalizations in their infants during the first six months of life.

A high-dose influenza vaccine has become available for adults 65 years of age and older, but the CDC does not necessarily recommend this vaccine over the standard one. For those who have a phobia for needles, there is also an intranasal vaccine that remains an option for healthy people between 2 and 49 years of age.

Remember, influenza (the flu) is a specific contagious respiratory illness caused by specific flu viruses. Although we all have the tendency to call every viral illness “the flu”, the flu vaccine will only prevent influenza. Symptoms of the true flu include fever and chills, cough, sore throat, runny nose, headaches and especially muscle and body aches. In the last 30 years, flu-related deaths in the United States have averaged 36,000 per year. This is a shame, when influenza and resulting deaths are so preventable.

As always, consult your personal physician before making any health care decisions.

John L. Pfenninger, MD. President and Director, The Medical Procedures Center, PC, Midland Michigan. Clinical Professor of Family Medicine, Michigan State College of Human Medicine.

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9 years ago

ssuloreiy great post and great zingers to the fascist who wrote in and commented. I enjoyed reading and felt it was incredibly well put. Thanks for contributing. I cannot wait for autism causes to be understood. CANNOT wait. I am sure you feel the same.

9 years ago

My child does not sfuefr any sort of constipation or irregularity, Fact. My child was never exposed to thimerasol, through specific and conscious efforts. Fact. I have no gall bladder, and am not autistic. Fact. Chemical poisoning may well cause problems with brain and nerve functioning. However, my child does have any chemical poisoning that would cause such effects, nor does he display the symptoms of such poisoning. Be sure to ask a proper physician about what those symptoms are, because just because a child is autistic doesn’t mean they don’t have other issues that other, non-autistic children might have. Lead poisoning and other chemical poisoning is a very serious condition that must be addressed immediately. Now ask yourself this: are you, perhaps, a Thimerasol Fascist? Because you just hit my Peeve List with your comment.

JIM of Wv
9 years ago

I 72 and never had a Flu shot, The VA doctor told me not to get it as I am healthy, take vit;Daily Mutiu, plus 1000mg of gurlic, 1/2 aps each day, I am on no med’s and glad to say all yearly phy are a OK. No blood pressure touble, not heart troubles, or sugar problem. I feel my body is pure as can be the way it is, but I do get sick with colds. I take a three pack from doctor and deconjest pill. 4 to 5 days later back running, But my wife wants me to get the FLU shot.
what to do?

I’ll think about this one
jim do what you feel is right

9 years ago

I am so glad to see your remark.

9 years ago

BTW, I really think they are just reposting what the CDC has sent out. If they did not do this then someone else would say they were not warned about the Flu Season, Sometimes you cannot win for losing. This posting is probably more of an “insurance” type of posting than anything. More of a CYA! And there are people that do believe in taking the vaccine no matter what they are told!

9 years ago

My doctor advised me to NOT take the flu shot. He said is was nothing but drug company hype. There was too much vaccine made last year at the last minute because of the demand and they are pushing the SAME vaccine because they made too much. On one hand the companies say the vaccine will only has a 6 month shelf life and then on the other hand they are passing out vaccine that was manufactured last year. I did take the vaccine last year but will not take it this year. If it is the same, then my body should have the same immunity from the dose I got last year! I would rather stay indoors or wear a mask! LOL

9 years ago
Reply to  Cynthia

That’s right. Did I just make a mistake joining Amac? My mom used to get the flu shot; every year she’d get sick anyway. The Pharmaceutical companies are pushing their pills, their flu shots, their immunizations, and even their “morning after pills.” And industries are pushing their fluoride. Anyone who is not a salesman is “ill-informed.” One of my friends had an intelligent and healthy son headed for a promising future until about three years ago when he was immunized in order to attend a private school; now he’s about eighteen, and she has been caring for him 24/7. Of course the experts say it had nothing to do with the immunizations. What a disappointment that Amac is on the same page as the AARP on this one.

Joe Melton
9 years ago

@hrdcore, I agree that many things are unknown by the public concerning vaccinations and resulting cancer, but as one who lived before the polio vaccinations, I went to school with a girl that had polio and I would not wish that on anyone. She was a lucky one and survived, many were not.

9 years ago

I too am disappointed that AMAC would recommend the flu vaccine. I ran from AARP and this was just one of the reasons. We breathe and eat and drink enough of that crap without injecting it directly into your body. Ever notice the chem trails in the sky? Ever wonder why they put poison in our drinking water ( flouride) and in most toothpaste? What about the milk? We have been poisoned for years and years but it has intensified in the 2000’s. I have never taken their flu shot and never will as long as I have a choice. One person asked me why would they do that? The answer is that Gov does not want healthy informed people – too hard to control you. They want you dumbed down and sick enough to be dependent on the Gov. It’s a matter of control. Your body was designed to fight off this kind of stuff so do the research and give your body what it needs to do the job. Shame on you AMAC!

9 years ago

DON’T GET FLU SHOTS! They are ineffective and dangerous. Get vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol).

Helen T. - Calif.
9 years ago

Joining in with everyone here who is leery of, or just plain never take the flu shot.
This family is past their 70’s and has NEVer had a flu shot! We don’t care to have that junk floating around in our system.
The whole clan (11 grandkids) do not receive vaccines. We are responsible about keeping healthy. We have taken various supplements for well over 40 years!
It is the immune system you want to continually boost. Along with the old reliables (C, echinacea, etc.) the latest supplement we like for the immune system is `MycoPhyto Complex,’ made by Advanced Bionutritionals. I cannot vouch for other brands. It isn’t cheap, but being sick is no fun.
Beside taking a capsule daily, if we feel something suspicious coming on, we take 4 capsules about every 3 hours, for first 9 hours or so, then 2 capsules rest of the day. And into the next day. Have been amazed! You can play around with your own dose, but recommend to `hit it hard!’

We read – hard copy newsletters – Doctors Julian Whitaker, W.C. Douglas, David Williams, Jay Rowen, Bruce West, Jonathan Wright, and others. To get started in self-care, recommend the book `Prescription For Nutritional Healing,’ by Balch. Healthy stores often display a copy.

By now you’ve guessed for years we’ve taken charge of our health care! We will use (infrequent) traditional medicine for a short time when necessary, and will research until we find the nutritional product that gives the same results as drugs.
We’ve been extremely successful, and thank and bless all those who make available the information and products we need.
Please be alerted to whenever the FDA is pushing something annoying regarding supplements, like currently. Too much to go into.
Here’s to your health!
Also hope AMAC takes the Conservative approach to self-health care, and not the Liberal AARP way . . . Signed, A Former Long Islander; as AMAC has a Bohemia, Long Island, NY location.

9 years ago

I was just about ready to rejoin AMAC when I noticed you article on the flu vaccine. I chose to leave AARP for this very reason ……big government! How can they tell us what to put in our body, especially when it has been proven dangerous. The question right now is …AMAC for individual freedom…..??

Mike Hyneman
9 years ago

AMAC thanks for posting the information. I’m on the fence as to getting a shot this year. I do at least 6 trade shows this time of year and probably talk to 30,000 people. Last year I got something but none of the docs seemed to know what it was. I though walking pneumonia but it wasn’t. I’m a one man show so even if I get sick I have to show up. Just turned 50 and joined right up as fast as I could. AMAC needs to put the info out there it’s their responsibility. It’s ours to research the info and decide on our own. Talk to your friends and family and choose.

Just my three cents.


9 years ago

Like others, I am disappointed to see this push for the flu vaccine just after I have joined. My husband and I had the vaccine once years ago and had the sickest winter ever! I have since read that vaccines contain ingredients which shut down the immune system for at least two weeks. We advocate taking vitamins. Do not polute your body with drugs and pharmaceuticals. We baby boomers need to take control of our health.

Richard Hutchinson
9 years ago

My advice is to not take any shot or anything else that big pharma has to peddle…
At 83, I just churn up 2-3 garlic cloves in a glass of grapefruit juice and drink it down
with 2-3 Echinacea Caps and no flu,no sniffles, no sore throat, no coughing !!!
Once a day is fine but 2-3 times a day if you get caught with the symptoms …

Russ Wiles
9 years ago

I too have recently joined AMAC and was flabbergasted to read this AARP like, nanny state, government knows better than you how to take care of your body propaganda. It continues to amaze me that intelligent, educated people who pride themselves in being critical thinkers turn into meek sheeple when the govt. assures them that turning their bodies into toxic waste dumps is good for them. Flu shots are indeed dangerous and often useless as above testimonies confirm. Dr.Joseph Mercola is a good resource as is Dr. Russell Blaylock, Dr. Mayer Eisenstein and Dr. William Campbell Douglas III. Oh, and I would love to see the documented proof that flu shots reduces heart attack rates. Getting tested for Vitamin D3 levels (50 to 70ng/ml) and getting in that range is a better way to boost one’s immune system and and avoid the flu. Wall Street/Big Govt is merely one example of crony capitalism. There are many examples of the incestuous relationships that our beloved government has with corporations. Govt/Big Pharma is another example which is causing tremendous harm to the citizens of this country.

9 years ago

After many years of taking the flu vaccine, my husband and I are no longer getting our annual flu shots because they are forcing us to take the H1N1 vaccine which is included in the seasonal flu vaccine. We do not want this H1N1 vaccine because we know of at least one person who died from it because it attacked his immune system. Even if it is okay, we choose not to have it. Moreover, we are not so sure the seasonal flu shot is that good for our health in any case.

Rod, R.N.
9 years ago

I am really quite surprised to see this blatant advocacy for flu shots. They don’t work and in many cases do more harm than good. There are very detailed studies showing flu shots don’t work, but I haven’t the time to educate you. I have been a nurse for 17 years and have only taken a flu shot once. That’s the only year I got the flu. A couple years ago I was working in a nursing home which had a flu epidemic. Nearly all the staff had taken flu shots and Tamiflu. I refused, and was one of the few staff members who got sick. Incidentally, almost all the residents of the nursing home were given a flu shot, yet many had the flu.

If AMAC persists in advocating such nonsense, I will have to reconsider my membership.

9 years ago

I am 66 years old and counting, quality vitamin B; with K1 and K2, vitamin C, vitamin D. Had a flu shot 30 years ago and it was God that pulled me through that ordeal. Please referrer to the past (AMA) white papers on the many products they waiver on as well as the (FDA) and the way they are, alone as how they got started, odd isn’t it that the (FDA) never finds much use for anything naturally God made?

Thanks for letting us speak,


Diane (RN)
9 years ago

Where did you get the info on vaccines? From the drug manufacturers that make billions on vaccine sales. Bottom line is the vaccines do NOT work and there is a lot of scientific evidence to prove that fact. The vaccines can also cause serious side effects which are never explained to you prior to getting the vaccine. You need to do more research. Or perhaps your financial sponsors are the ones that gave you this misleading info.

Judy J
9 years ago

I was very disappointed that the first thing I read after joining was the government information about flu shots. I have never had a flu shot or the flu. I focus on keeping my immune system healthy. I would suggest that you urge your membership (now including me) to do the research and make their own choices based on the information they find. From reading the many comments I read, it would appear that you have many intelligent and independent members. We may expect that eventually flu shots will be mandated for the good of our national health.

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