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  • Writer's pictureDr. Bow Tie

October 5th: Let's Actually Talk About Flu Prevention (And Answer Some Questions About Ingredients)

I know I just posted on Saturday. And I am infuriated by the damned publicity stunt performed by a man about whom I tried to be compassionate. BUT, this is more time-sensitive.

GET YOUR FLU SHOT! I got mine! It's that time again. Now, more than ever, it is important for everyone to get the flu shot. The last thing you want is to get sick with the flu and be vulnerable to COVID-19. Both can be deadly, but at least the flu is sort of predictable. Emphasis on sort of, because I know the biggest criticism is that the flu shot doesn't often cover the right strains. But year after year, it is shown to reduce severity and duration of influenza infection. I got mine, I advise you to get yours. There are flu shots available at every primary care provider, and at several pharmacies, most with little or no co-pay. If you don't know where one is readily available, I would start there.

1. You cannot get the flu from the flu shot. You may get a short-lived inflammatory reaction while your immune system creates antibodies against the dead influenza virus in the vaccine. 2. The flu kills people. Every year. Not the flu-like illness that lays you out for a day or two and then you bounce back. The actual influenza infection can result in respiratory failure and death. Not always, but why take the chance? 3. If you do get sick after a flu shot, you were probably infected with something already and going to experience those symptoms either way. It’s that time of year. Lots of research has been done on this. 4. The influenza virus mutates frequently, so it’s impossible to vaccinate against every strain. But even if you get a strain that isn’t specifically covered by the vaccine, the shot makes it so your sickness is less severe and shorter in duration. 5. Don’t just do it for yourself. Do it for the elderly, the very young, and the immunocompromised around you, because they’re more susceptible. 6. You cannot get the flu from the flu shot. 7. Please ask questions. If you’re hesitant, I want to hear your concerns and address them. Please ask me or your doctor questions.

A response to a video about vaccine ingredients: 1. Concentration and amount are absolutely important and DO make a difference. Water in a large enough concentration can kill you. Vitamin like A, D, and E are essential for human life, but take too much in the wrong way or in the wrong timing and you can have some terrible effects. All the ingredients he talks about in that video are in such small quantities (and get broken down in such a way) that they won’t cause harm.

2. The flu vaccine is an intramuscular injection, not an intravenous injection. This actually does make a difference. Intravenous injection directly into your veins is designed to get things in fast and avoid issues with absorption and your body’s filtration processes – that’s why it’s used for certain fluids and medications (and IV drugs, but that’s another conversation). Intramuscular injection is designed to slowly release into the bloodstream, so that your body can take the time to break down the non-active ingredients and form the antibodies it needs to in a controlled way. Again - injecting plain water intravenously into your bloodstream can be disastrous. But when combined with the right ingredients, or ingested properly, water is essential.

3. Thimerosal has been vastly researched, even more so after people raised concerns. The video’s claims that ethylmercury and methylmercury are equally deadly are not correct – the chemistry of that one change in the compound makes a vast difference, and the body clears ethylmercury much more easily (especially with the controlled release of the vaccine as described above). Yes, it’s used as a preservative to make sure that the vaccine stays effective in storage each season, but it is safe in this form and amount. The claim of mercury poisoning from teeth fillings is also well-studied and the amount is safe in humans older than six (and that’s why we don’t put fillings in kids younger than that, because they’re not developed enough to safely handle it). If you’re really concerned, you can get a thimerosal free version in some places.

4. Formaldehyde is made in your body every day. It is pretty much everywhere, and there is not nearly enough in one injection a year to put you at any risk of cancer.

5. The aminoglycoside antibiotic is again not in any concentration strong enough to cause the side effects he mentions. I’ve seen the ototoxicity and nephrotoxicity (ear and kidney damage) that occurs with these specific antibiotics and you’d have to take quite a bit more than what’s in the flu shot.

6. Triton X-100 is a surfactant which is used to inactivate the flu vaccine – it’s what kills the virus but in such a way that your body can form the proper antibodies. It’s also been studied to make sure that the minute concentrations are safe in humans.

Finally, I'll admit that it upsets me when people like the guy in the video perpetuate the conspiracy theory that doctors keep people sick for profit. I watch some people go through the worst times of their lives and I put everything I have into keeping them alive and getting them better. I've spent a decade (and will spend the next several) studying and learning disease processes (not how to cause them, but how to treat and, when possible, cure them). I'm part of a flawed system, I admit. But the flu shot is prevention. There's soulless people in every field, but too many of us care too much for there to be profit in keeping people sick.

And because I need to say it: He has the audacity, bordering on malice, to put so many people in danger by exposing them as he’s still actively shedding the virus. Now all of those people have to quarantine, along with the people who got it at the superspreader events he created, all for his own ego and image. Hopefully none of them end up hospitalized. His actions in the aftermath of his own preventable infection deserve nothing but criticism and he deserves to be voted out of office. I tried to be compassionate. I tried, and he failed.

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