The above is a frequently asked question in my office these days. Followed often by “Do you get the flu shot”? My answer to both of these is no, based on the current research.

Here is the background:

The shots are widely reported in the press as very safe.

Dr Oz gave Piers Morgan an influenza shot on air to demonstrate the ease and safety of the procedure… Piers Morgan promptly became sick! I have seen countless patients become sick just after getting the flu shot. One died.

All a coincidence?  Maybe. Maybe not. It is tough to get to the objective facts about the shots.

The CDC reports the shots as proven to be safe and effective. How do they know? They and other government agencies most of the time seem to only quote data which has been informally gathered by their non-researcher-type staffers it seems.

When the independent Cochrane Library looked at the medically published data, they found the following:

It seems 15 of the 35 studies from which our taxpayer-funded Center of Disease Control (CDC) quotes the benefits are totally funded and performed by the very companies which market the vaccines. Those studies, the Cochrane Group reports, had much more favorable outcomes.

I cannot find one independent double-blind study that has ever been done on the flu shot! Amazing when we remember it is a recommendation by the CDC that practically 100% of the CDC should get the shot.

The independent Cochrane Center researchers looked at the published researched data. They concluded that 100 people would have to be inoculated to avoid 1 case of simple flu! No reduction in hospitalizations, deaths, or other complications from getting the flu was found to be reduced by getting the flu shot. Feel free to review their research online. After clicking on this link, scroll down to the plain language summary.

An interesting Forbes magazine article by Bruce Japsen reports that national pharmaceutical chains had a much better than expected increase in January 2013 sales (year to year from January 2012). Why is that a pertinent fact? Japsen’s article states a large part of that increase in sales was from the revenue from sale of inoculations.

Given the above, what can I suggest as an alternative to the flu shot?

My suggestion is to take zinc 50mgm/day during the flu season. This simple choice is shown to reduce the frequency and duration of flu symptoms. It is what I do.

It is best to take the 50mgm of Zinc as a single solitary nutrient. Taking the zinc blended together with other nutrients in a pill reduces the absorbability. Taking the zinc at the same time as other supplements or with food is fine.

Any side effects?

About the only thing I have seen is a very rare flare up of acne in someone already prone to acne. If this occurs, stop the zinc of course.

Is zinc picolinate better than zinc sulfate?

One study indicated it was perhaps better absorbed. I have seen zinc sulfate work equally well. Do read the label. Use the zinc source with the least fillers. The cheaper brands often have more fillers for some reason.

Click here for an independent study on the effectiveness of zinc

Why do I not see more media reports about zinc if it is so good?

Several reasons….

  1. Zinc is extraordinarily inexpensive. Zinc can not be patented. Therefore there is not enough profit created by the sale of zinc to warrant a marketing program.
  2. Corollary to reason #1: Were a marketing program launched and was successful, not only would the publicly traded company running the pharmacy not cover their costs but the success of the zinc would actually reduce their income on other more profitable products such as the flu shots, cough syrup, cold relief tablets, etc.
  3. Also, remember, getting a couple of mild to moderate flu episodes per year is not all bad. It allows our immune system to ‘flex its muscle’. Being required to gear up occasionally to produce enough immunity to overwhelm a new virus can keep our immune system in shape.

The main point of this artical is to let you know the actual current status of research into flu shots and the under-reported success of a natural alternative which has worked well for years. This allows you to make a perhaps more informed decision about whether to get the flu shot or not.