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Should I Get the Flu Shot?

Should I Get the Flu Shot?

While we are all trying to enjoy the change of seasons and soak up the beauty of fall, one question persists among the masses.  Should I get the flu shot?

My team and I are constantly asked this question and while we can’t give a blanket statement for the general public, I wanted to take the opportunity in today’s blog to provide you with more information about the flu vaccine so you can make the best decision for you and your family with the help of your local medical doctor.

As a Functional Medicine physician I approach the flu, like all imbalances in the body, which is to say I don’t assume the human body is subject to illness when the proper diet and lifestyle precautions are taken.  When a patient is sick, some detective work is necessary to find out what missing pieces are interfering with the efficacy of their immune system.

My goal is to help every single one of you strengthen the integrity of your immune system so there is less risk of a virus affecting you, leaving you vulnerable to its aftermath of feeling sick and miserable.

See, when the immune system is compromised it has less ability to fight off the flu, or really any of the myriad viruses, bacteria or toxins we are perpetually faced with every minute of every day.

That is why my #1 priority is to help you support your immune system! In a previous year’s discussion of the flu, I provided information about the steps I wanted you to take to balance your system and achieve a robust immunity.

You can review my suggestions for preventing the flu and enjoying excellent immunity here: Prevent the Flu. Personally, I always start with food because it is the best medicine.

Functional Medicine is not a one-size-fits-all approach- it is patient-centered and honors each of our individual medical needs. Why does the pharmaceutical industry proclaim that everyone 6 months of age and older should get vaccinated? For starters, I take a look at how flu vaccines work.

The Vaccine:

Each year health officials inoculate this year’s virus into chickens.  Then, they take the created viral strains to use as the antigen-the agent which elicits an immune reaction in the human body so you create your own antibodies against the flu. Antibodies are the body’s way of fighting an illness.

It takes about two weeks after you are vaccinated for your body to create these antibodies. We assume scientists match the vaccine to the exact flu strain going around.  It’s an educated guess essentially and the efficacy of the vaccine lies in our ability to match the two correctly.

You can still get the flu if you have been vaccinated if the strain you caught doesn’t match that which was in your vaccine.  And you can still get the flu even if the strains were properly matched but your immune system was not intact!

This grey area is why a lot of controversy exists about whether or not the flu vaccine is effective.  To learn more about this, go to The CDC’s “Flu View” for weekly updated surveillances on the flu:

What’s In It?

  • Egg proteins: Including avian contaminant viruses
  • Formaldehyde: Known carcinogen
  • Thimerosal: Mercury-based preservative (only in multi-dose vials)
  • Other heavy metals such as aluminum: Known neurotoxin
  • Sugar: The essence of all inflammatory disease
  • Triton X100: A detergent
  • Other additives known to cause allergic reactions

The biggest controversy about the ingredients in the shot surrounds the use of the preservative thimerosal.  Thimerosal contains mercury.  Exposure to mercury leads to systemic health problems running the gamut from neurological dysfunction (memory loss, confusion, inability to concentrate) to depression, renal failure, skin troubles and gastrointestinal disturbances.

I have written extensively on how grave a matter mercury and heavy metal toxicity is and why it is so important to screen for proper detoxification from heavy metal toxicity.

Pregnant women and infants are often advised to opt for the single dose mercury-free vaccines as once mercury is in the body it can enter the fetus via the placenta.  Studies have also reported that children can become symptomatic from mercury toxicity from as little exposure as 10 mcg/kg/day.

Many vaccines contain up to 25 mcg of mercury per dose so this is one area where I will state how important it is to look for a mercury-free vaccines.  Here are some options to ask your doctor about:

Types of Vaccines Available:

  • Single-dose vaccines such as Fluzone: Contains a purified, inert virus that is incapable of causing infection and tends to be free of mercury.
  • Nasal spray such as FluMist: Contains a small amount of a weakened live virus which might make this form slightly more effective but also poses a higher risk for side effects and complications.  These are mercury-free.  Not for pregnant women or children 6-24 months.
  • Some pre-filled syringes such as Afluria are mercury-free.
  • Multi-dose vaccines tend to contain the most mercury.

If mercury is such a problem, then why are we even using it?  Mercury is part of the preservative necessary when using multi-dose vaccines. The single-dose vaccine doesn’t require the preservative which is why this vaccine is preferred. It is also the least cost-effective for manufacturers to produce so until this changes.  YOU, the consumer, need to advocate for yourself.

How Safe is the Flu Vaccine?

While the CDC reports that safety is always being monitored to ensure risk from the vaccine is negligible, certain serious complications have been reported:

  • Allergic reactions (anaphylactic)
  • Guillain-Barre Syndrome (can be fatal)
  • Neurological disorders

Always contact your local physician if you suspect any serious complications post injection.

While not everyone necessarily needs to get vaccinated, especially if you are generally healthy and follow my advice about boosting your immune system with a whole foods diet and an anti-inflammatory lifestyle, there are still some people that might want to consider it.

The CDC recommends the following people for receiving the flu vaccine: Health-care workers with direct patient contact, pregnant women, caregivers of children younger than 6 months, and children and adults under age 24.

Ideal Candidates for the Vaccine:

  • Asthmatics
  • Immuno-compromised patients
  • Heart disease patients
  • Diabetics
  • Morbidly obese

Why Do We Get Sick?

Why do we get the flu in the first place?  Why is the integrity of our immune system compromised? What changes can we make in order to prevent illness from taking hold rather than suffer its nasty consequences?

Why confuse ourselves about the pros and cons of a vaccine’s worth, safety, and availability when we have so much in our medicinal arsenal to fight the flu’s onset?

Preventing the flu depends on improving the quality of our lifestyles to include more pleasure and relaxation, increasing access to fresh, nutrient-dense food, and limiting sugary and industrial junk food in our lives.

Taking care of the way we eat, keeping fit, getting enough sleep and taking a few nutritional supplements including a multivitamin, fish oil, and vitamin D can prevent most from ever getting sick in the first place. In fact I have never had the flu even though, as a doctor, I am in contact with it on a regular basis.

The influenza virus can be very uncomfortable and cause a major disruption in our busy lives.  It is important to remember that most healthy people will suffer a mere 3-5 days.

While the fever/chills, sore throat, headache, and fatigue are definitely not fun, they usually come and go without much major harm caused to the body.

In fact, most deaths are only associated with the flu via contraction of pneumonia and its influence on existing medical conditions. The flu’s mortality rate itself is much less common-in fact, more people die each year from malnutrition than from the flu!

So do yourself a favor and pay attention to your vitamin D status, optimize your diet by focusing on antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, eat lean and clean protein and healthy anti-inflammatory fats from fish, nuts, and seeds, and healthy olive, grape seed, and coconut oils.

Stay well hydrated, practice common sense hygiene, and create time to rest and restore your energy.  And of course get outside and enjoy all that nature has to offer this season!

Wishing you and your loved ones a happy and healthy flu-season.

Please leave your thoughts by adding a comment below – but remember, we can’t offer personal medical advice online, so be sure to limit your comments to those about taking back our health!

To your good health,

Mark Hyman, MD

Mark Hyman MD is the Medical Director at Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Functional Medicine, the Founder of The UltraWellness Center, and a ten-time #1 New York Times Bestselling author.

Comments (119)

  • My 16 year old son was just informed he is required to have a flu shot in order to travel to Spain/Portugal next February on a school trip. I have already paid for the trip and my son wants to go. Based on your recommendations, I will ask his doctor for a mercury free option, but what else can I do to support his immune system? Since the shot is not optional, is having the shot now, in November better than waiting? thank you.

  • Thank you for taking the time to educate the public on the risks of receiving a flu-shot. I wrote down your alternatives to a healthy lifestyle as an excellent recipe to living flu-shot free!

  • In Canada all health care workers are being forced by the government to get the flu shot. If they refuse, they are forced to wear a very heavy mask with a sticker on it saying I’m wearing this because I care for the full 12 hour shift. I almost died from a flu shot and my daughter also has very bad reactions that have increasingly gotten worse each time she has one. She is an RN and for her to wear that mask for the full 12 hour shift is impossible. On top of which it is a privacy issue. The sticker is an invasion and display of her health choices. With all the toxins in the flu vaccine, it should be anyone’s personal choice of what goes in their body. I do not trust the vaccines and really wonder what the real reason is for them being constantly shoved down our throats as a good thing every single year. The push seems to be to frighten people into getting the shots and I have seen more people sicker after the vaccine than others who get the flu.

  • No mention the elderly do not benefit from the vaccine. And if they have diabetes should they still take it? I think this article confuses people?

  • I am so glad you posted this article. I suspected that the vaccination may not be for me and now I am sure of that. thanks, I’m also glad you are out there in the world.

  • I haven’t had the flu in years and I haven’t had a flu shot in years. However, I take elderberry syrup every day in fall in winter. If you take elderberry syrup, you don’t need any flu shot.

    • That’s great! Elderberry seems to have limited, but promising science to back up those claims. I made some homemade elderberry syrup with honey, ginger, and clove! Very good for the flu season. Thanks for sharing!!

  • I will not get the flu shot ever! Thermisol? detergent? formaldehyde? aluminum? neurotoxins? Guillian-Barre, etc, etc…and I cringe at just the thought of these being injected into tiny babies.

    Why would anyone inject these foreign bodies into their body. I will take my chances with lots of
    whole foods, Vitamin C and D3.

    and people!
    start worrying about GMOs in our foods! Man is destroying this planet!

  • What do you say for healthcare worker allergic to the egg protein, the formaldehyde who has neve taken the flu vaccine and never had the flu? Typically, I have worn a mask.

    • I have been a nurse for 34 years. It wasn’t until I left the clinical areas that I got the flu! I do get the vaccine now. I have Rheumatoid Arthritis and take medication for that. That’s the only reason I get a flu shot. I think had I never had the flu before I would still be inclined not to take the vaccine. I believe in GOOD hand washing and a mask if that’s what makes you feel more protected. I also follow Dr. Hyman’s recommendations about supplements and food plan to help maintain an efficient immune system.

  • Thank you for this article, Mark. It gave me necessary answers about the mercury issue.

    I’ve not been taking the flu vaccine for a number of years now. I live in NYC and take the subway so I’m exposed to lots of people at close range. i find that just washing my hands a lot has made a major difference in not getting colds, etc. And of course, eating organic vegetables & meat. I do eat some fish on occasion, looking for the ones which have the lowest doses of mercury. I’d be interested in your thoughts on this since I’d like to eat more fish. I love Salmon, but it feels risky due to its size.
    There’s a place where I buy my canned tuna which seems to catch the youngest fish with the least mercury.They seem to have a decent organization and I’m willing to pay a bit more to have them ship it to me across country.. Perhaps you know them . 877-289-8862 A woman named Sue Anna & her husband run it,

    I didn’t realize that it’s the multiple dose flu vaccine that still has mercury in it. It makes me wonder whether all the pharmacies that promote the vaccine are the ones using multiple dose vaccines. As someone who needed to be treated for mercury and lead poisoning a couple years ago I’m very cautious about any exposure to these metals.

    Thank you for your work in putting out this newsletter. As a psychotherapist & nurse, interested in the impact of the body & nervous system on emotional health, I find them very useful for myself and my clients.
    Patricia Zorn, MSN, RN, SEP

  • Quite honestly, this was the most unbiased information I’ve ever read on the flu vaccine. You gave more actual facts then I’ve read or seen elsewhere. There is so much pressure to get the flu shot and people scurry like mice to get it, yet most people don’t know any of the pros and cons of it and our MD’s aren’t telling us, probably because they don’t really know themselves. Thanks for giving an intelligent, well-informed explanation of what it is and what it isn’t. Do you suppose we’ll ever evolve out of the ‘germ-theory’ approach to medicine? Anyway, your efforts are always much appreciated. Thanks.

  • I would not take the Flu shot if you gave me a million dollars tax free. There are so many better and safer things to do. I have been taking Vitamin D 3 for years and only had the flu twice. Once back in the black out back in the 60’s and once in 1991. I pay more for this product but it is so worth it. I have not had a cold in years either. I take supplements on a daily basis and while sometimes I feel a bit under the weather, you know aches and pains I just bone up a bit more, Drink Alkaline water, take my Vitamin /B and all the B vitamins and Cal/Mag and so much more. Anything that the CDC recomends or the government are things i steer far – far away from.

  • I read a lot of natural health publications and many that deal with vaccines. I’m shocked to see that you would recommend a flu vaccine for ANYONE. As you stated, they have been found to be ineffective and the risk involved with the toxic additives are enough to advise everyone to avoid them.
    It seems like instead of taking a hard stand, you are being politically correct so you don’t ruffle any feathers. I appreciate the whole truth, so I can make the best decisions for me and my family.

  • More people die each year from malnutrition than from the flu! Are we talking about North America or world wide?

  • Don’t you like how he says he can’t give a straight answer. If I refuse a vaccine I’m treated less than human at most medical doctors’ offices.

    • I have no affiliation whatsoever with Dr Hyman, just have common sense.

      quoted from the article “…while we can’t give a blanket statement for the general public..”

      He didn’t say he can’t give a straight answer.

      Do you really want medical advice specific to you from a blog post. He would have to see you as a patient before making a recommendation.

      If you fall into these categories, he might likely say yes.
      Ideal Candidates for the Vaccine:
      Immuno-compromised patients
      Heart disease patients
      Morbidly obese

  • Wash your hands!! And please do not forget to keep your unwashed hands away from your face – rubbing your eyes, rubbing your nose, putting your hands or fingers in your mouth, sharing food, utensils, or drinks can innoculate your mucous membranes with the flu virus, allowing it to enter your body..

    • Yes, most important- rubbing your mouth eyes or nose will put viruses and bacteria right into your body and get you sick so wash hands and get out of the habit of rubbing your eyes and mouth with your fingers or hands.

    • While washing your hands is good for not spreading germs, one must realize that is not the germ that is the cause. it is only if a host is susceptible. Everyone is exposed to germs…but not everyone gets ill.

    • Great comment Dr. Barin! I choose not to get the flu shot b/c I believe I have a strong immune system. You would laugh, though, if you saw me when people sneeze around me……… I cover my face up to my eyes hahaha ! Drives me CRAZY when people do not cover their mouth. So rude!

  • I understand most of this, except the recommendations about who is a good candidate for getting the vaccines. Maybe I’m wrong, but I think pharmaceuticals are tested on healthy participants, aren’t they? So how do we know that asthmatics, immunocompromised, and diabetics aren’t the same populations that would be most susceptible to the natural flu, and therefore also the ones who are most susceptible to the potential adverse reactions reported from getting flu vaccines? These exact 3 reactions/conditions are very often listed in VAERS, the governments vaccine adverse events database, of occurring after vaccinations.

    • Jenny,
      he IS saying that that population IS more susceptible to getting the flu, thus it is more recommended that they get the vaccine.
      I have asthma and I would rather get a vaccination then end up in the hospital with pneumonia from the flu! I eat just like he said, but I work at a community college and there are sick 18-27 yr old around me all of the time, not to mention co-workers who eat garbage and get sick all of the time.

      I get sick once every 2 or 3 years but I am not taking chances!! I have not had any reactions to any vaccine but I ask every single time what I am being given. My doctor’s office is very careful themselves and conscious of the vaccines they use.

      But EVERYONE needs to be their own advocate ALWAYS!!

      • If you only get sick once every 2 or 3 years, what are you contributing that too? Good eating habits or the vaccine? I’d take a chance and guess it’s your good eating habits and that you’re taking the vaccine for nothing and increasing risk for a potential disaster instead.

        • Vaccine use has ALWAYS been about weighing the risks and benefits. The uneducated and inexperienced should not tell people on that recommended flu vaccine list to skip the shot! You really do not have an understanding of the risks of getting the flu for that group. You with your lovely, normal immune system do not understand how terribly (and quickly) ill these folks get when they contract the flu. My family eats homemade whole foods, we wash our hands, and we still all get the flu shot, because my youngest has severe asthma. Educate yourself about your own risk factors, make good decisions for yourself and your family, and don’t try to persuade others with medical conditions different from your own to do what you do. Perhaps you could ask them about themselves, and listen instead of talking.

      • Jana, I think you misunderstand me or I misconveyed my questions. I am saying, I don’t think (but I could be wrong)that vaccines are tested on unhealthy people who are already ill, with compromised chronic medical conditions. If that’s true, that means that it is not known that giving an already asthmatic, diabetic, or immune-system compromised person is a safe thing to do. And if it hasn’t been studied, how do we know that giving these people shots doesn’t make their situations worse, rather than better. I guess I’m asking about the scientific basis of these recommendations. The very nature of those conditions could mean they are the ones at greater risk of a vaccine reaction. For the same reasons those people are sick with those conditions, is it possible they are the ones who should NOT get a vaccine? If your lungs, or metabolic/insulin or immune system already isn’t strong enough to fight triggers or germs in the natural course of the day, why would we expect that putting that germ or known trigger directly into the blood or deliberately inhaling it with all the included byproducts would make a chronic illness better and not worse? It is already known that for children, delaying the beginning of the diptheria/pertussis/tetanus shot series by a few months would reduce the risk of asthma by about 50%, but doctors don’t advise people of that. Combine that with the fact that there are many of the same ingredients in a flu shot as in the d/p/t shot, so does it not follow that a flu shot could possibly exacerbate asthma problems, either by severity of an attack or by number of attacks? Is there any doctor out there telling people what, specifically, is causing their asthma before giving them a flu vaccine? Is there research out there that has specifically studied the asthmatic population and determined that getting the flu shot results in less asthma or pneumonia in them or whether it increases those incidences? I’d be interested in reading up on it as I know a lot of people with asthma.
        In research published last year on subjects deliberately exposed to the flu, only about half of them actually showed symptoms of suffering from the flu, but ALL of them showed an underlying immune response. This indicates it’s possible 1/2 our population is walking around with naturally developed immunity from already being exposed to any particular strain of flu and not even know about it, and those folks would be exposing themselves to the risks of a flu vaccine needlessly. Has anyone’s doctor said “let’s do a titer test just in case you’ve already been exposed to these strains?” As far at the other half goes, that do show sickness, what is different in them that they react with physical illness to the exposure? Just giving folks a vaccine without finding out if they’ve already had a certain strain does not appear to shed light on the issue, which obviously requires more study.

  • I am an ER and also a Functional Medicine physician. I have never taken a flu vaccination and have never had the flu. I rarely ever get a cold and if I do, I am usually sick for about 1-2 days then I’m back in action. I have a plant based diet, get rigorous daily exercise, supplement well and keep my vitamin D3 levels high. Getting any vaccination has to be a personal decision but people should at least have ALL the facts before they make a decision either way. Thank you Dr. Hyman for presenting the facts.

  • I am one of those people who got and still have pneumonia after the flu!! True I had been overdoing it & also stressed, but it has taken me by surprise. I know the problems of matching strains and the other toxins in the jab, but I am stongly considering the jab…

  • I worked in a pharmacy for 38 years, handling prescriptions and bottles for refill, coming in contact with all different illnesses and never had the flu or a flu shot. I think the least we can put into our bodies the better. I’m afraid down the road they will determine that the flu vaccine or other vaccinations are the cause of cancer and alzheimers disease.

  • I stared taking 10,000 units of vitamin D3 daily three years ago and I do not even get a cold or sore throat in the winter let alone any symptom of the flu. In fact my overall general heath has improved so much that it is amazing. All I have to say is that it takes about 90 days before you start seeing and feeling the improvement.

  • This article is very informative from Dr. Hyman; however if you want more detailed information about these flu vaccines, you must check on Dr. Mercola’s website. It is a true eye-opener, and not to be missed.

  • Dear Dr. Hyman
    thank you for being honest about health issues. It is very rare to find a doctor nowadays that is more concern with the
    peoples well being (health) because we are living with a goverment that is trying to depopulate us. Our foods and medicines are comtaminated witha purpose to create more sickness and incurable diseases that will provide the pharmacy and drug and doctors and hospitals with more money. I for one have started growing my own vegetables and herbs, I refuse to take the flu or any vaccine.I have diabetes and i am looking to better alternatives because I dont like insulin although I use it to try to maintain my sugar levels, I have started a vegetable and fruit kind of shake with the nutri bullet. So far I have noticed my eyes getting better. Well see what happens, but for now thank you very much and please dont change, G-d bless you

  • I have been a RN for 30+ yrs. I have never had the flu and have no medical problems except hypothyroid Hashimotos. The past few yrs I have followed Dr Hyman’s and other alternative practitioners advice on healthy diet, exercise and supplements and have not had any cold or virus in yrs. Last yr my hospital along with many more nation wide are making it mandatory for all employees with direct pt contact to get the flu shot or wear a mask for 4 months. I plan to wear a mask again, but it is not comfortable and I experienced alot of negative pressure from coworkers, management and even outside people. Many act as if you don’t care about patients safety if you don’t get the flu shot. Any comments on reponses to this attitude? Has anyone found any correlation between vaccines and autoimmune problems such as Hashimotos? I would love it if some alternative MD would start an organization of healthcare workers against mandatory flu shots

  • Dr. Hyman,

    Would you add teachers of young children in the category of Ideal Candidates for the Vaccine? I have a doctor that always likes for her teacher patients to get the flu vaccine. Thanks!

  • Thank-you. You have convinced me not to get the vaccine.

    In British Columbia, Canada, at risk populations are given access to the vaccine free. Clinics are set up by my employer and we are given pamphlets a couple of weeks in advance so we can decide and RSVP, as it were.

    I haven’t been getting the vaccine but every year I agonize over whether or not to do so.

    Once in a while I do get the flu and I whine about wishing to die, but even in the worst case, I’ve been on the mend within 7 days. Are there potentially dangerous side effects of “letting” myself get the flu? Sure, but mostly not ones that are my area of weakness, like pneumonia. The side effect of losing a few pounds seems to mostly be a positive side effect – and speaks to the reality that I am often out of balance before I get sick.

  • Thanks Dr. Hyman for the great information. I haven’t had a flu vaccination in years and don’t plan on getting one. My husband works at a hospital and even though he’s in finance, he’s required to get a vaccine or wear a mask whenever he goes into patient care areas (which he does as part of his job).

    I’m just trying to keep us healthy by eating well.

  • Hi there, I’m currently studying for my MPH and we’ve recently learned about vaccines. After doing a bit of research myself for a paper, I found similar information to what my teacher told: namely that Thimerosol has been removed from most, if not all vaccines. Is this not the case? Could you point me to some published research that is current as to the usage of Thimerosol in vaccines today? Thank you!

  • Great Input from everyone, and thank you Dr. Hyman for mentioning the adverse side effects.
    I for one, seem to have allergic reactions to anything “pharmaceutical”.
    I agree that we need to be our own advocates, and I will not be getting the flu shot.
    It’s easier to deal with the flu, than with the side effects that some of us experience, that are so dangerous.
    Everyone stay safe in this storm – we are preparing to evacuate the beach area here in Westport, Ct.

  • What a dilemma! I agree that we must be our own advocates. At the same time, there are populations in our country who, for numerous reasons, are not able to be their own advocates — children, the elderly, the infirm, mentally ill, etc. For those of us who represent these populations, we need to make tough decisions based upon the facts. And there are some really important statistics — like how many actually die from the flu.

    Most importantly, it serves us all to know the importance of preventing disease YEAR ROUND by eating well, sleeping well, caring for our bodies and minds in responsible ways, and being vigilant about avoiding as much stress as we can.

    We would do well to educate our young people in school about the dangers of poor nutrition — the earlier we do that, the more effective people will be as their own health advocates.

    As always, Mark, thank you for being a voice of reason.

    Gay N. Gooen, MSW, HC

  • Hello:

    I usually get the flu shot as I am high risk. I read your website regularly and am trying to follow the ideas. Thanks for all your work.

  • So, if my employer demands that I get a flu shot, or get fired I have a few options, but they are FEW. Unless we suffer anaphylaxis from egg allergy, we cannot get an exemption. The only exemption for health care workers in Indiana is for life threatening allergic reaction to some component, verified by testing and documentation. In my case, I have a mild reaction to eggs, but have a familial history of anaphylaxis to other food allergies and my mother had an 18 month bout of GB syndrome in the late 80s from getting a flu shot and a pneumonia shot the same day. (She was one of 1200 people in the nation that year. It was considered to be an isolated incident.) In any event, I’m not keen on the flu shot. What are the legal ramifications of mandatory vaccines in non-epidemic conditions? What recourse can I have except to leave healthcare? I have not been vaccinated in 20 years, have not contracted flu and use excellent handwashing and universal precautions when caring for all patients on a med/surg ward. Help!

  • Would a person receiving radiation therapy (but not chemotherapy) be seen as someone who is immune-compromised?

    Also, I don’t know what multidose delivery would mean. Aren’t all flu vaccine’s delivered as single dose containers?

    • HI Lori,

      Not all vaccine’s are single dose. A vaccine can be loaded with several doses of the virus to reach more people…this is why the mercury is used as a preservative. Typically in single dose vaccinations you dont see preservatives used!To locate a doctor near you who practices functional medicine like Dr. Hyman, go to and scroll down to where it says “locate a practitioner” and enter your location. Progress accordingly from there.

  • Thank you Dr. Hyman for this most informative information. My children’s schools provide flu shots or the nasal mist to all students annually but I have managed to avoid getting the flu by doing what you suggest: eating nutritious whole foods, exercising, taking nutritional supplements like multivitamins and omega 3s as well as others to boost my immune system. There’s other areas where my family can do better but we do our best. You confirm what I’ve been doing all along to help me and my family. It’s all about taking responsibility for my health and my family’s health and working on prevention. I’d rather food be thy medicine than chemicals that can kill me or give me nasty side effects. Live well!

  • Hello Dr. Hyman,
    I am a 67 year young female, diabetics without medication and maintained A1c at 5.7 and below, who have not had a flu shot for over 20 years, and never had the flu. I keep healthy by eating right, healthy weight (5 ft /110 pounds of muscles) and exercise daily by either hiking, backpacking or at the gym near home. My husband on the otherhand did take the flu shot every year according to the suggestion of our family doctor, and most of the time ended up with the flu once or twice per year. I was sorry for him when he was sick but could not help feeling funny on the situation; I kided at him when he is sick for “the flu vaccine brough the virus into your body and making you sick”. Perhaps as you suggested, healthy life style is much better to ward off the flu than the vaccine!! Thank you for clarified what contained in the vaccine. For sure now I would never touch the vaccine.

  • I appreciate the information in this article. It would be nice if more physicians would encourage the importance of a healthy immune system and how to maintain it.

  • As a physician, I usually agree with and benefit from your holistic,”cause not symptoms” approach. In this case, however, I believe you are doing a disservice to the public health, despite your educating individual readers. This is especially true for healthcare workers, in whom every public health agency and individual facilities have been working tirelessly to increase vaccination rates!

    The principle you have completely ignored is that of “herd immunity”. This principle, often given as a rationale for childhood diseases (what is your advice on these immunizations?). This is a public health principle which says that if sufficient numbers of a population are immunized, it will protect the unimmunized members of “the herd”. This is why we try so hard to get the rates up in health care workers, in particular. I don’t believe hospitals and other institutions have used multi dose vials for years.

    You do not go far enough in your recommendation for high risk groups, where the risk to benefit ratio would certainly benefit the former. I have seen people die from influenza related complications, and I am sure you have as well.

    You cite the CDC, and in closing, they recommend that those at highest risk for inflenza complications, and pregnant women definitely get immunized. Again, I think you are doing a disservice by not being more emphatic about this point.

    • Great discussion as I have been researching the issue myself since finding out that flu shots are mandatory for all health care professionals in the county where I will be working. I have many problems with this. First, I would like to see the evidence that by getting the shot, it will reduce the incidence of patients getting one of the 20% of influenza viruses covered by this year’s “picks”. Second, I have checked with 2 locations (the hiring institution and my own health care provider). Neither is using mercury free shots (one was and they ran out). Third, I can refuse the injection, sort of. If I “decline”, then I have to wear a mask from Nov 1st until March 31st. They are saying that flu season lasts 1/2 the year. Finally, I had the flu shot once, in 1995 and had a strong reaction to it. I practice dietary excellence and have taken a supplement for 13 years that actually has a study published showing reduced cold and flu symptoms and less days missed from work in nurses.I rarely get the flu and if I do, will not be going to work. Dr. Rubin, I am curious to know if herd immunity applies to a vaccine that is only covering 20% of the viruses we can potentially get sick from? Jenny, I totally appreciate what you are saying and am very concerned. We know of a young woman in our community right now who has a 3 month old baby and she is intubated in the hospital with Guillan-Barre. I don’t know if this is because of the flu shot but I certainly hope all pregnant women are not being injected with mercury! I would prefer to eat my fruits and veggies and acquire natural immunity when I occasionally get the flu.

    • Ive got Chronic Lyme as do thousands of others who have no idea that their swollen joints are caused by an unseen tick bite. With that fight I would never subject myself to a vaccine. That’s on the advice of my LLMD. Holistic doctors are now the only doctors I would trust. The last time I saw the primary care doctor my insurance paid for their primary concern was “Did you get a flu shot’? and “When was your last Tetanus vaccine”..? Smells like drug pushing to me. Im done with that. I’ll take my vitamins, drink my juice and stay far away from vaccine pushers.

  • Never get a flu shot when you are sick since your immune system is already under challenge. College campuses across this country provide free flu shots for students and rarely do they inquire about the students current health. My nephew had the nasal flu spray a month ago and ended up with a bronchitis that nearly hospitalized him. He was already under the weather and the flu spray created a double whammy for his immune system. The elderly, who are most compliant about getting their flu shots also generally do not have strong immune systems and need to be especially diligent about building their immune system and being well before they receive it – then lots of rest, eating perfectly for the few days after. I convinced my mother at the age of 75 not to get anymore flu shots. She’s now 83 and outside of an occasional stomach flu (which the flu shots do not prevent) has rarely had even a cough during the flu season despite her advancing age. The remedy for influenza is not a flu shot but lots of rest, complete avoidance of sugar or alcohol and supplementation with immune stimulants and antibacterials. Lots of options – talk to someone in the supplement section of your local food coop.

  • Your article was unbiased, yes, but I was very disappointed you didn’t take a stand. Most of the ingredients in a vaccine are thoroughly detrimental to the human body and if someones health is already compromised, adding a potential catalyst for system failure is a deplorable idea. It seems to me you’re trying to be helpful on the one side and on the other, you’re trying to avoid contention with those that have a vested interest in vaccines. You’re trying to find the moral middle ground so to speak. I wish you would’ve taken the moral high ground instead.

    • To Rico…

      I agree with you that I think this is very unbiased and as a medical professional, a service to the community that is difficult to find. As a doctor, you can easily be sued for providing advice that hurts a patient. There are some circumstances where a flu shot is better than going without, though the opposite is certainly often the case that good health beats a vaccine. Being a doctor, he has more at stake if he makes a recommendation or a stance online vs in a one on one consultation where he knows the individual and has all their facts and data at hand. Decisions for your health need personal ownership and must be taken knowing there are risks. Likewise, if you are seeking medical help, it is best if that professional is thoroughly versed in your situation to give the best advice. Unfortunately general advice can be very dangerous in our world of law suits. I do not think it is about having the ‘higher moral ground’. Doctors have worked too hard to risk their entire career on general advice that could be misrepresented or abused. It is better to give facts and remain neutral so that individuals can take ownership of their lives and make the decisions right for them. He gives plenty of evidence to support vaccine free living when possible, recognizing there may be situations that make vaccination right for the patient. He then helps to guide towards the best possible options.

    • rico- you did not read carefully. He said there are vaccines that are single strain and mercury free and free of other chemicals. i have had those. you need to find a good dr to get those, walgreens is not going to ever have those. only an integrative md or biological md etc. you should appreciate dr hymans help, it was a good and thorough article with enough info for anyone to make a decisiion. he cant take a one way stand, someone will sue him, so he presents everything and you decide. everyone is different, we are all individuals

      • john rogers- thanks for the reply… I suppose my line of reasoning stems from how my conscience would feel if I had recommended something that could harm someone. Imagine a scenario where your friends and family ask you for advice on taking a vaccination. I’m sure you’d give your honest opinion based on experience and perhaps knowledge on the matter. Would you add the vaccines that contain mercury as a choice or option in your feedback to your family? I wouldn’t. I wouldn’t even consider it as a choice or option.

        The higher cost involved in making single dose vaccines make them scarce and/or unheard of. It’s sad that money can override safety concerns. I’m not surprised. Ideally, safety should override cost.

        • Our public health department has the single-dose flu shot. Just ask and the nurses will know if it is mercury-free or not.

  • I appreciated his straighforward information. Had I read it 15 years ago, I may have thought twice about getting the flu vaccination. I hope my story will help others give serious consideration before trusting their doctor to inject them with detrimental ingredients. Within two hours of my shot, I became very ill. I know that I was under a lot of stress but not sick in any way prior. Within a couple of weeks, my stats were nearly coma level. Long story short, I have had a rough battle since with Hashimotos Thyroiditis, neurological dysfunction and MS. It wasn’t until I cut out all junk food and switched to a nutrient dense diet, that my health has stabilized. BUT, I can not undo what that flu vaccination did 15 years ago. Not everyone, in fact few, will have the same reaction I did, but I agree with Dr. Hyman … the best prevention to the flu is to build a healthy immune system and that starts first with a good diet and learning how to positively deal with stress.

  • What about the pneumonia vaccine for at risk populations rather than a flu shot?

  • Brilliant article and so timely. I had already decided not to get the vaccine, but thank you so much Dr. Hyman. Now if only you’d publish something about the shingles vaccine. I can’t figure out what to do, and it’s hard to find reliable information on which to base a decision. I really don’t want shingles, and I’m a prime candidate for it (chicken pox as a kid, etc.). I wonder if there are specific things we can do within the arena of functional medicine to ward it off.

  • A good overview, but there are other ingredients in the flu and pneumonia vaccine not mentioned like: fetal monkey tissue that has been exposed to numerous procedures, viruses, chemicals and genetically modified materials. Efficacy of the flu shot is around 40% as compared to homeopathic flu/pneumonia vaccines 89% from the Pasteur Institute in France. The patient population that you suggest to get the flu shot in your blog is the very patient population who is at highest risk for vaccine injury due to genetic polymorphisms and suppressed immune function. Just a few years ago, The British government halted vaccine production because of serrasia contamination which would have either killed, caused irreversible heart valve damage and or given pneumonia to nursing home patients. The European Union last year booted out the super vaccine produced by an American military contractor who had a top physician from NIH Infectious Disease – outrageous conflict of interest – and during trials in Poland all of the homeless recipients died. It was later learned that politicians were going to get a different vaccine than the common population or peasants. I think it’s time to speak up and lay out the facts.
    It’s amazing how many MD’s still tout the party line and really don’t practice foundational biological medicine. The goal is to support the immune system and reduce toxicity – not increase toxicity and degrade detox pathways by altering immune function in the gut gestalt or microbiota with manipulated vaccines. I only offer safe and effective homeopathic vaccines for that reason along with specific protocols to establish a diverse microbial colonization which is proven to protect against invading pathogens. Let’s not forget some familiar lessons from the autistic community. Most autistic children who are fully vaccinated show no titers or antibody production, but suffer from chronic unremitting cell-mediated inflammation. Who is deficient in aluminum, formaldehyde, purified proteins, GMO’s, egg white and everything else loaded into the roulette injection?

  • I got Guillain- Barre Syndrome after getting the flu shot. I nearly died. I was completely paralized, could not breath on my own, or even swallow and spent 2 months in the hospital and then 6 weeks in a nursing home. After that a year of physical therapy. I will never be completely back to normal. I would much rather get the flu and be sick for a week than go thru that again. I will never get the shot again.

  • I’m a diabetic who used good nutrition to eliminate drugs and insulin. Even with diabetes, I believe I am healthier today due to the foods I now eat and with regular exercise. I do not believe in getting the flu shot. I have learned to become diligent at the first sign of cold or flu symptoms to ensure I take appropriate steps in my health care. I get plenty of rest (yes, I do miss out on some fun), gargle with hydrogen peroxide 3 times per day since I used to always get a sore throat and increased my intake of Vitamin C. So far, I was able to nip a cold in 3 days, even as a diabetic. Since getting this disease I have become very weary of pharmaceutical drugs and their side effects.

  • If you truly BELIEVE that a flu shot will prevent you from getting influenza, then you MAY want to get one.

    If you research the independent peer-reviewed published literature where neither the manufacturers or the federal government or the World health Organization or other pro-vaccine groups, nor any who work for or with these entities or directly or indirectly receive funding or financial support or grants from any of them, at the time the research studies were conducted on the issue of the safety and effectiveness of flu vaccination in preventing you from subsequently becoming ill from influenza or another influenza-related illness during the “flu” season, you should find that there is NO proof that flu vaccination prevents most all of those those inoculated from: a) contracting “influenza”, b) being hospitalized as a result of having an influenza-related illness or c) dying from having an influenza-related disease during the flu season.

    Many of the relevant review articles have T. Jefferson of the Cochrane group as an author, although the first large-scale US-retrospective multiple-year population correlation study, “Influenza Vaccine: Review of Effectiveness of the U.S. Immunization Program, and Policy Considerations”, was authored by Geier DA, King PG, Geier MR in the fall 2006 issue of the Journal of the American Physicians and Surgeons 2006 Fall; 11(3): 69-74 (available by searching in Google Scholar).

    Most recently, in addition to studies that confirmed that getting a flu vaccine in Canada for the 2008-2009 flu season made one more susceptible to getting the 2009-A-H1N1 influenza in the 2009-2010 flu season [Skowronski DM, De Serres G, Crowcroft NS, Janjua NZ, Boulianne N, et al. Association between the 2008–09 Seasonal Influenza Vaccine and Pandemic H1N1 Illness during Spring–Summer 2009: Four Observational Studies from Canada. PLoS Med 2010; 7(4): e1000258. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000258 and Skowronski Dm, Hamelin ME, De Serres G, Janjua NZ, Li N, et al. Prior Receipt of 2009-09 Trivalent Inactivated Influenza Vaccine Increases Pandemic H1N1 Severity In Ferrets: Randomized Double-blind Placebo-controlled Experiment. ICAAC 2012, 2012 Session V-400d, Sunday, 2012 Sep 9. San Francisco, California], a study has proven that vaccinating children with the current flu vaccines damages their immune systems’ ability to develop immunity to subsequent flu viruses when they are exposed to them [Bodewes R, Fraaij PL, Geelhoed-Mieras MM, van Baalen CA, Tiddens HA, van Rossum AM, van der Klis FR, Fouchier RA, Osterhaus AD, Rimmelzwaan GF. Annual vaccination against influenza virus hampers development of virus-specific CD8⁺ T cell immunity in children. J Virol. 2011 Nov; 85(22): 11995-12000. Epub 2011 Aug 31].

    Based on the preceding data, the answer of the independent science is that the current flu vaccines do NOT provide the promised protections and definitely do clearly DAMAGE the T-cell-mediated-immune system components of children.

    Thus, only those that have a true belief in flu vaccines should get one — the rest of the population, after confirming the validity of the independent studies alluded to or cited, probably should reject them as they would any of the snake-oil remedies pedaled by the pharmaceutical establishment that has been repeatedly found to be more interested in growing their revenue than in protecting the health of the American people especially since there is growing evidence that the federal regulatory agencies are more interested in assisting this industry and the healthcare providers who administer vaccines than in protecting the health of the American people.

  • I got the flu shot from Group Health on Thursday because I would have to wear a mask from the moment I enter the hospital till the time I leave work if I didn’t(our hospital’s policy for all health care workers during flu season). Group Health provides single dose flu shots without thimerosal, so I knew I wouldn’t get an injection of thimerosol. I am concerned that I am getting the other toxins that Dr. Hyman mentioned- formaldehyde, avian contaminent viruses, detertergent, and other carcinogenic components not named. I agree that Dr Hyman would be attacked by drug companies, the CDC, and health care providers for clearly encouraging people NOT to get the flu shot because of these poisons, but I am concerned. Is it possible for a flu shot to be made without all the bad stuff that’s in it? I would like to find out, and if so, join others in voicing this hope and dare I say expectation to the drug companies. It was done to some degree with thimerosal- how about with the rest of those nasty ingredients?

  • I appreciate the info by Dr. Hyman; however, having spent two Christmases in a row being unable to get up as a result of the flu about 15 years ago I swore that I would NEVER be without a flu shot again. I am quite willing to gamble with getting the flu shot and “maybe” suffer some minor side effects than spending days lying on the couch not being able to get myself some chicken soup. I personally never encountered any problems with flu shots and I have been getting them for years. Everyone has the right to make their own decision on the matter, of course. Have a great winter!

  • Thank you Dr Hyman for sharing this information with us. It is the best and most honest article about this topic I have read so far and 100% in agreement with my own points of view.
    I will certainly share it with a smany people I can as I know that everybody (I know) is having thoughts about whether to get the vaccine or not.
    I personally opt out, and protect myself and my loved ones by taking Immunocal, a bio-active whey protein which raises glutathione in the body and by doing so optimizes the Immune System. What better protection can I get if I combine it with healthy foods, habits, exercise and enough rest? ( for more info see ). It’s even listed in the Physician’s Desk Reference and teh pharmacists Red Book.

    Best regards

  • I’m so glad Dr. Hyman said: “a few nutritional supplements including a multivitamin, fish oil, and vitamin D can prevent most from ever getting sick in the first place.”

    It’s best to make D from sunlight, but north of Los Angeles or Atlanta the sun’s UVB rays are absorbed by the atmosphere – except between 11 am and 1 pm, and even then not at all between October and March!! When people run out of the D they made from sunlight, by about January or February, they are much more likely to get the flu!

    The only problem with taking D as a supplement is that people think they are taking enough D to make a difference. But the federal standard of 400 IU is not enough for most of us. I take 6000 a day, and even up to 15,000 IU a day is generally safe. Canadian doctors advise a nursing mother to take 6000 a day, since none spills over into the breastmilk until that level! Read more at:

  • I appreciated all the information. I am however left with one question. I am nearly 69 years of age and in good health.
    I have always declined the flu shot but this year I was diagnosed Diabetic II or “Old Age Diabetic” as it’s also called.
    My doctor tries very hard to convince me that I should get the flue shot, to protect me, especially now that I am a diabetic. Based on that fact should I now change my mind, give in and accept to be vaccinated with the flu shot, even though I prefer not to?
    Would love to hear someones opinion.

  • Since I started working at the public health department, I learned about the flu shot and now get one every year. My whole life, I used to get sick every Thanksgiving or Christmas, sometimes both, with the flu. Not a cold–a full-on flu. Most people get colds and think that’s the flu when it is not. Now, I don’t get the flu every year, even though my coworkers that don’t get the shot do get sick. I liked the flumist the best but can no longer get it because of my autoimmune disease. So, I am now a supporter of the flu shot/mist.

  • The information by Dr Hyman is very pointed and if natural immunity is taken care of, the flu shot with so many uncertainities, is definitely not required. And what about those like me who are travelling to various distant places including India? The virus strains in these places, in all probablity, would be different and shots taken at one place would not provide any worthwhile protection at other places.
    Moreover, our immune system has to work for producing the antibodies for the particular virus.I am sure multiple infections real or false (through vaccines) put a strain on the immune system. What would happen if their is an over-load? My personal experience in this matter leads me to the conclusion that it can cause many gross and subtle problems like neuropathy and involunteer musclular spasms.
    Hence better to have a good hygiene in matters of living-which encompasses food, sleep, exercise and thoughts.
    This applies universally and where these are compromised or there are other limitations, one has to act differently..
    Dr. Hyman’s approach and drive to heal the humanity from the avoidable miseries caused by treating the conditons is an act of bravery and very commendable. Ashok Yog ( 70 Year old retired person)

  • Thank you Dr. H for all your help and advice, I’ve gotten the flu shot for many years and have been toying with the idea whether to or not this year, but will opt out this time as I’ve been working really hard at getting “healthy” again.
    Have dropped approx 55 pnds, removed just about all GMO’s from my diet and am off all those pharmaceutical meds I was on….so let’s see how this season goes, I feel like I’ll be my own experiment and am looking forward to tracking my health week to week. Thank you for all you do!

  • I appreciate the unbiased opinion and completely agree with every thing Dr. Hyman is saying about each individual being responsible about their own health. The only thing is when it comes to the flu, it’s not just about you. It is about all the other people out there who don’t have a strong immune system who may be even doing their best to take care of themselves. I have been a nurse in both an emergency room and an intensive care unit where I have seen children less than six months of age stop breathing from complications from the flu and held the hand of elderly that die from the pneumonia that the influenza virus ultimately caused. I will never say the flu vaccine comes risk free but it is the very minor risks that we take in order to protect our grandparents and the very young both for their lives and the health care dollars spent to take care of them. The year after many people received the H1N1 vaccine was when the fewest people died due to influenza and I did not personally have to see anyone die this preventable death…it was a great year. Yes, choose wisely the vaccine you and your family have but take into consideration that the flu is not just about you! Thank you.

  • The only time I got the flu was when I had the flu shot. That was 20 yrs ago and I haven’t had the flu since. I will not ever get another flu since the vaccine is last years flu.

    • Dr Hyman, like many alternative medical professionals, have to be careful how they phrase things for the public eye. I admire him standing up at all & telling the TRUTH what is IN the vaccines and alerting the ignorant folks who may just blindly follow the mainstream or get scared by doctors or desensitized by all the SIGNS everywhere to get your flu shot today, before they RUN OUT! Anyway, I never have nor never will get one…I’ve heard too many horror stories !!!
      IF you really want to up your chances of NOT catching it, in addition to all the great things DR HYMAN mentions, I highly suggest taking liquid zeolites DAILY, as they not only remove toxins & heavy metals BUT also have been proven to stop Viral Assembly…so check out “Pure Body” for its Anti-Viral properties and detox benefits to immunity, at:

  • I eat healthy, drink plenty of fluids, sleep eight hours a night and i still get sick every year! However, my husband, who is not the healthiest eater, rarely gets sick. I do get the flu shot almost every year to reduce the severity for when I do get sick. I don’t force my kids to get flu shots though. I keep them hydrated and make sure they get a lot of sleep when they’re sick and keep them home so they don’ t get anyone else sick.

  • I’m 52 and have never had a flu shot and…surprise…NEVER had the flu. Once when I was 6 my entire family was ill at the same time but I did not get it. I attribute it to general good health/diet/exercise and conscious (but not fanatical) hand washing and cleaning things like phones and keyboards regularly. Getting enough sleep is the biggest factor to keeping my immune system humming given that the rare occasions I do get a head cold it’s always after a few nights of lousy sleep.

  • Many thanks for this informative blog on whether one should get a ‘flu shot or not. I don’t get ‘flu shots. I’d rather suffer the symptoms and stay in bed than get a shot, which may or may not work.

    • I’m with you, Gwendolyn. I have never taken a flu shot. About fifteen years ago I used to get so sick with the flu, I thought I was going to die. After three such episodes, I started to take better care of myself. I ate better foods, exercised and being a night owl, tried to get more sleep. I have not been sick in over 10 years.

  • Ashok-Actually, our population is Negatively affected by not being exposed to enough infections. While this sounds paradoxical, another public-health principle called the hygiene hypothesis, accepted by many experts, Says that because we are not being exposed to as many infections as our predecessors It is sent our immune systems in a different direction, responsible for the great increase in allergies and the more severe allergies the we see today. When I was a kid we Never saw severe peanut allergies, and today in many places you cannot bring peanut butter into the school cafeteria. This is difficult to explain in brief and I would urge you to do an Internet search on the hygiene hypothesis.

    I would be most interested to know If you have been immunized for Diseases with higher incidence in India, such as hepatitis A or Meningitis. These are not specific to one strain, and I would be interested to know why you did or did not get these vaccines for diseases that can have severe consequences.

  • Hey I had a baby 2 days ago. I was thinking not to get the shot for him ( i didn’t get it for myself) but with a 2 year old ( who isnt getting the shot at home) and a husband who works with adolescents am i putting my new born at risk??? Thanks! always love the blogs!

  • If a person supposedly can not get the flu from the vaccine as is purported at my place of employment, a hospital. Then why does it it matter if your are sick at the time of injection…..hmmm

  • From Wikipedia on 1918 Flu Epidemic: ( )
    “The pandemic lasted from January 1918 to December 1920,[3] spreading even to the Arctic and remote Pacific islands. Between 20 and 50 million died, making it one of the deadliest natural disasters in human history.[1][4][5][6][7] Using the higher estimate of 50 million people, 3% of the world’s population (which was 1.86 billion at the time[8]) died of the disease. Some 500 million, or 27%, were infected.[1]

    Tissue samples from frozen victims were used to reproduce the virus for study. This research concluded, among other things, that the virus kills through a cytokine storm (overreaction of the body’s immune system), which perhaps explains its unusually severe nature and the concentrated age profile of its victims. The strong immune system reactions of young adults ravaged the body, whereas the weaker immune systems of children and middle-aged adults resulted in fewer deaths.[9]”

    Read that last sentence carefully – sometimes a healthy immune system is the enemy. Clever little flu buggers used the immune system to as a weapon against the body.

  • While a flu vaccine may be good for some, it is NOT good for ALL! I have seen 5 people injuried by the flu vaccine, 2 of which died…one was my own mother. She had no other health problems and took no medications but took 1 flu shot and it was downhill from there. Now as healthcare workers, we are being mandated by our employer to “take the flu shot or else”. Amazing, by law I can CHOOSE to have an abortion (not that I am supportive of that), as a patient I can CHOOSE to not take a medication or procedure but as an employee I am FORCED to take a vaccine that I am convicted by conscience that it is not good for me…well, I can still CHOOSE, I will be unemployeed but I can still CHOOSE! Watch the dvd “The Greater Good”…EXCELLENT!!!

  • My step granddaughter came by with her parents one Sunday afternoon. She had a rash on her torso. On Monday morn, her parents took her to the pediatrician’s office. The pediatrician had no diagnosis for the rash, and insisted since she was 15 months old, to give her the MMR shot series. Her parents and I discussed this possibility and I told them Do Not allow the pediatrician to give this sick child shots. The pediatrician insisted that the child get her shots. Parents requested at the least could she only et part of the series, and the pediatrician said it would be more dangerous as the stabilizer in the shots would be a double dose, and if that doesn’t sound crazy enough, the pediatrician convinced them that she would also need a flu shot that day. So for the next week, her appetite was down, and in the last month she has stopped talking. Her only spoken word is no. Too bad she didn’t tell that to the pediatrician.

  • Please note that the Flumist vaccine (the attenuated live virus vaccine) report the first active ingredient as MSG. MSG in this form is manufactured beet sugar and is related to migraines, headaches and even seizures. How could a vaccine be suggested or even highly encouraged by public health when this is a know ingredient. See for yourself by reading Flumist ingredients. BEWARE!

  • Interesting comments all– I know a pharmacist working for one of the large chain pharmacies that promote flu shots. He weighs about 200 lbs, and takes 6000 units of Vitamin D3 daily from September to March, then 4000 units a day from April to August. This maintains his Vitamin D blood level at 60 to 70 ng/ml. After doing this for 3 years, with constant exposure to various illnesses from his patients, he has been sick once (after a lady with strep coughed in his face). No flu shot during that period, and no flu.
    –US Chain pharmacies, such as Walgreens and CVS, carry thimerosal-free flu shots, but unless you are pregnant, you would need to ask for that type of flu shot.
    –If you get a flu shot in the US and experience any adverse reaction from hives to Guillan-Barre, there is a national insurance program that will pay your medical expenses, thru VAERS —

  • I am looking for work. One agency has a contract with a hospital and here in Houston one is demanded that they have flu shot. I have informed the agency that I will not take a flu shot. I have experienced a severe reaction to it. Her response is: You just don’t want to work. She is a RN and I told her that I did not need her permission or the hospital’s permission to live. Guess what? No job.

  • As i write this i am suffering with a bad case of the flu. For 30 years i have chosen not to get a flu shot. Ilet my friends talk me into it this year. In the past i have seldom been sick with the flu and if i did get sick it was very mild. This is the worst case of flu i have ever had! Coincidence? I don’t think so. Never again!

  • SO grateful I found this article! As a US citizen I play insurance company roulette — my current plan has cut back enormously on what it covers this year, so to my shock flu shots are not covered out of plan! I go to an integrative physician out of network, so my only recourse was to go to a pharmacy and pay over $30 for the shot.

    I am going to visit friends in Ontario this weekend, so googled “can an American get a flu shot in Canada?” Somehow it got me to this website, which told me just why I do not need one! I take a multivitamin, 3 grams of krill oil and 10,000 IU of Vitamin D3 daily, along with other supplements my physician recommends. It sounds like I am pretty well protected already, and I can avoid all of the toxins listed. Thank you so much for the straight talk!

  • Doctor Hyman,

    Thank you for taking the valuable time to submit this post. It was very enlightening. It seems that you sincerely care about your patients; rather than saying “Here is the quick fix”, you offer a view that communicates “First-things first. Let’s start from the ground up, evaluate your current diet, and then we can worry about the medications later”. Thank you for disclosing the ingredients in the vaccine as well. This post, unlike publications from other sources, has helped equip me with the information needed to start searching with the purpose of educating myself and others on various topics. Thank you again and God bless you in your practice.


  • Just a note about this season and the flu. I am 74 years of age. Never had the flu in my life that I know of. I took the shots during my tour of duty in the military, but never after that. That means from age 22 to 74 I never have had a flu shot. However, this year, my wife contacted the Virus B strain. After 3 days I got the bug also. It was not a happy time. I had fever 6 days of around 100 or 101. Sneezing, coughing, and generally weak. Now after 3 weeks I still have a lingering cough to some extent. Perhaps I got this bug because I was not in the best of health at the moment. I am not over weight, I am generally in good health with no serious problems. I have thyroid (hypo) and that is the only medication I take. I used to go to the gym 3 or 4 days per week but haven’t done that now in about a year or so. Also, have tried to take multi-vitimans, etc., regularly. I am still considering NOT taking the flu vaccine, but major on getting myself into the best health status I can, by diet, supplements and mental attitude about life issues. I trust I won’t get this again. I was wondering if anyone knows if having the Flu Virus B means you become immune to it or does that even have any bearing on future flu bug disease.

  • i got the flu shot once when i was in high school it made me sicker after that i never got it again
    i have gotten the flu but very mild. my immune system does better with out it. don’t get the flu shot
    it will make you sicker. most strains it doesn’t even cover. just have lot of vitamins. wash your hands
    and if somebody else has it stay away from them. until their over it.

  • i have an immune disorder (ITP) and work in an alternative high school in a low-income area. for five years i have received the flu vaccine although before this i refused them. although i juice, take herbs/vitamins, watch what i eat, exercise as much as i can, and get the flu vaccine, i still get sick. truthfully, i would rather not rely on any vaccine or traditional medicine. i just prefer being on my feet instead of being bedridden….

  • I’m 57. I took the flu shot over the course of the years from when they first started giving it. Every year I took the shot, I got the flu within 3 days and it lasted more than weeks. It would usually go into months. Then I’d have bronchitis, Sinusitis, and a cold or two along the road to recovery. Subsequently I would stay sick most of the year. I kept complaining to the nurses and doctors that the flu shot was giving me the flu. Of course they gave the usual answers : ” You can’t get the flu from the shot. Some people are allergic to the egg they use to culture the vaccine. You are getting a different strain of the flue than the one the vaccine was made to combat. And the worst one : It’s all in your head. ” So, I decided to take the matter into my own hands. I did a little scientific study of my own. I took the flu shot for three more years in a row with the typical outcome. Sick with the flu within three or four days of the injection. Sick most of the year. The fourth year I did not take the flu shot (albeit I did take the phenomenon shot). No flue in the fourth year and no flu every subsequent year since I started this little experiment. That is ; I haven’t had the flu or even a cold since I stopped taking the flu shot and that has been more than 10 years ago.
    I have ulcerative colitis. known to cause immune deficiencies and other immune complications. So, I’m starting out with a questionable immune system balance. It could be that just that little more effort created by the shot to cause the immune system to work overtime overwhelms it . At least that’s my theory. Leaving me more susceptible to the flu , colds etc . The only other answer I can come up with is that I’ve become more stealthy at avoiding contact with the flu. Staying away from children and elderly with known contagion ( and people of all ages showing signs of infection). Lots of hand-washing and sanitizing things.
    Another complication : I smoke. I say “complication” but I also suspect that despite the other adverse effects of smoking that it keeps my airways dry offering less of a surface for virus to thrive on. I know that last statement send health organizations and workers into ballistic mode but I’m just reporting my findings from my own personal findings and theorizing. The health industry is always quick to say ” … you know your own body best” but when you make a statement like the above they think you crazy or at best delusional. So, I went to a reputable psychiatrist to make sure that wasn’t the case. No delusions and no depression. Just the normal anxiety of living and working in the modern world in this thing we call society. (A topic for another day: I find the further away I get from “Society” the healthier I am).
    I mention the smoking because it means the air I breath inside a tightly enclosed environment ( I super insulate); is not always what would be considered clean, healthy, fresh air. What effect(s) that might have on my immune system (good or bad), i don’t know. I mean I know what I’m told ……. “it’s unequivocally bad”. Brought to you by the same people that claim the flu shot is unequivocally ‘good’. Despite the air cleaners I have in every room the house still smells like a burnt out forest. So, there is that. I am a heavy smoker.
    I have quit smoking many times over the years. The shortest for about 3 months the longest for 5 years. A related observation : I’ve always gotten a cold or flue after quiting smoking too ; which leads me too the notion of ‘stress’. From my understanding ; stress; can have a very deleterious effect on the immune system as well. Stress can lower your immune system and make you more susceptible to disease.I have often said that I’d prefer withdrawing from heroin addiction than quiting smoking. I’m not here to argue the benefits of smoking on your health. That would be ridiculous. There are many other aspects of smoking that are obvious health hazards. The trade off is not worth the risk for most people. Again; I’m merely reporting the findings of my own personal experience and I relate them to you here for the purpose of making this one point.
    Everyone is different. Different things effect different people differently and I think most doctors would agree with that otherwise there would be one pill (one treatment) for everything.
    I bring this up because I think there are certain segments of the population that should not under any circumstances take the flu shot. Remember the flu shot is only temporary and it does not cover every possible strain of the flu. Meaning you always have a 50/ 50 chance (or either getting or not getting the flu). I would suggest that if you find that you are getting the flu after taking the flu shot that you start looking at alternatives despite what the health community insists on. Being sick all the time (from the cure) is no way to live. Despite the health communities seemingly brainwashed mantra ” the flu shot will not hurt” you : Make up your own mind. Bottom line ; they don’t know any more than you do and in fact you have to know more intuitively about your own body/ mind than anyone else including an ‘expert’. As Plato put it : “Above all Know Thyself”. I would agree with the health community that ‘everyone’ taking the flu shot is good ……good for the community at large. Chances are there are more people that it will help than hurt therefore it may limit the spread of the flu during an outbreak out break of the flu. But, look at this year for example. The flue had spread across the entire country in the matter of a couple of weeks before the health community even had a chance to immunize most folks. There is also a good chance they were inoculating people for a different strain than the one that was spreading across the country like peanut butter on fresh bread.
    I was also listening to a radio show this week with this guy quoting stats that show doctors and the medical industry kill more people than all the diseases combined ( or something like that; it was a phenomenal statistic). Yet another reason for me to question the wisdom or lack thereof of the medical community when it comes to your health. You know they call it “practicing” medicine : It’s not like its a sure bet. Sometimes the only game in town another thought that makes me leery ; because sometimes we put our full faith and trust in a science that is, for the most part, still in it’s infancy. Is it a science or an art ; I forget. I know ; most of the time it’s all we have and we hope for the best ( and die anyway). “They” make money either way.
    Being an old radical Hippy from the 60’s I say : “Question Everything; Never follow leaders; Be careful who you trust” etc…. And be very weary of institutionalized anything including and especially the medical institutions. They tend to have a by the book , by the number, by the pocket book head count mentality and do not cotton to individuals with minds of their own who tend to question the system. Just follow the doctors orders and everything will be fine. Like Hell !
    This has been a public health message from Nadadoctor.

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  • Since I recently came down with the flu in later March 2013 (regardless of having a flu shot) I did some checking on the CDC website for their preliminary report on the effeciency of this year’s flu shot for those 60’s and up.

    The early results are not impressive whatsoever… 9% effecient in seniors. Of course those early results can swing both ways as more figures come in. Regardless, the CDC is confused with this percentage in seniors and compares the 2009 flu shot in seniors which convinces them to rule out weaker immune systems in seniors as a reason for this year’s low effectiveness.

    I would follow Dr. Hyman’s advice on keeping the immune system at healthy levels. And most importantly seniors, do not fall into a false sense of complacency because you have a flu shot. Nine percent (so far) is no prize and as I experienced, flu season is not over til its over.
    It’s a Yogi thing!

  • Ideal candidates for the vaccine are also:
    – those older than 65 years;
    – those who suffer from lungs, liver, kidney, or drepanocytosis diseases.
    – those who have had their spleen removed.
    – those who take corticosteroids

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  • Thanks Dr Hyman. I am currently 13 weeks pregnant and have been asked in my visits to my Doctor and Obstetrician if i have had the flu shot and will i take it, both times refusing it due to my disbelief that it actually works. It can be daunting and intimidating when you are cornered into taking something you don’t agree with or believe in especially by a professional medical practitioner.

    I’ve grown up in a family that always pursued a natural way to cure flu’s and cold – vitamin c, echinacea, horseradish, and garlic! More garlic than you can poke a stick at! I was educated to look at my overall health when i got sick, and more often than not its when i’m a little emotionally stressed and haven’t been choosing a great diet. Once i was armed with a few reasons why, i took time out, rested, ate only fresh fruit and veggies, had this god awful herbal medicine (combination of the above herbs with some cayenne, st johns wort and capsicum) and most times i was better in less than a week.

    Being pregnant i’m even more cautious as to what goes into my body, and a vaccine that supposedly stops the flu, with a lack of INDEPENDENT research doesn’t seem like a wise choice me. Thanks for your article and offering some great leads to research that can help me feel more confident in my position. Hopefully i will be able to find a doctor who is in agreeance with functional medicine and not against it

    • Hi Annalisa,
      Thank you for your interest In Dr. Hyman’s work. Unfortunately he cannot provide you personalized medical advice in this forum. In order to provide you the proper care you need we hope you will seek the attention of a local qualified Functional Med practitioner soon. To locate a doctor near you who practices functional medicine like Dr. Hyman, go to and scroll down to where it says “locate a practitioner” and enter your location. Progress accordingly from there.
      Wishing you the best of health,
      Dr. Hyman Staff

  • I live in a retirement hotel where everyone is encouraged to get this year’s seasonal flu shot. I seem to be the only resident who does not plan to do so. I am also an anomaly because I am not on any prescriptions. I take supplements, walk at least 1 1/2 mile every day, practice simple yoga postures and am very careful with my diet. I have not had a flu shot for at least 20 years, nor have I had the flu. I had a mild head cold last year while most of the residents here took to their beds for several days and came out coughing and dragging around for several more. I recovered quickly, and since I have a dog, never missed a day walking.

    My reasons for skipping flu shots is that I consider the risk of taking even minute amounts of merry and other dangerous substances into my body is simply not worth it. At 91, my doctor tells me my health is excellent. I hope to keep it that way. No flu vaccine for me!

  • I am 53, formerly very active and healthy. At age 51 I had my first flu shot because my MD recommended it, and said the risk of side effects was very low. A year later I had my second flu shot. Two weeks later at night I had abrupt onset of intense burning pain starting at the top of my back, through my shoulder and elbow into my hand, into my index finger. This initial episode also included intense muscle fibrillation in my pectoral muscle. The arm and shoulder pain lasted about three weeks, and a prescription of oral steroids helped knock it out. I also quickly developed weakness and could not lift my right arm up over my head, this lasted for 1.5 years. I had to use my left arm to lift my right arm up several times a day, to prevent “frozen shoulder”.

    My eventual diagnosis months later (after being misdiagnosed) was brachial neuritis (also known as Parsonage Turner syndrome, neuralgic amyotrophy, or brachial plexopathy), and one of the etiologies is vaccination or immunization. Few people know about, as it is uncommon, but many people have had this adverse reaction from the flu vaccine, including myself. Google it. The internet is chock flu of case studies, peer reviewed reports, and articles from medical journals. There is a national vaccine injury reporting board: and a national compensation fund set up between the pharmaceutical companies and the government for people injured by vaccines, including the flu vaccine. This fund was set up to prevent lawsuits.

    Serious injuries from the flu vaccine do occur, it happened to me: a 52 year old active, young-looking and healthy woman who regularly swam a mile, hiked and walked, did yoga, ate well, drank red wine moderately, took multivitamins, fish oil and vitamin D, and got plenty of sleep.

    I had the classic “winged scapula” since the muscle that holds the shoulder blade in place (the serratus anterior) was denervated by the attack on my brachial plexus, from the flu vaccine. I lost about 75% of my right triceps muscle and could barely lift a glass for many weeks. Every day tasks like getting dressed and styling my hair were extremely difficult. I could not hold a pen to sign my name with my weak right hand and arm. My shoulder blade stuck out uncomfortably, I could feel it protruding when I leaned back in a chair or laid in bed.

    Currently, 20 months later my scapula is finally almost back to normal although daily, I can noticeably feel this area as weak. I have recovered much of my triceps muscle tone but my right arm (dominant) continues significantly weaker than my left. I have a still somewhat weak shoulder, a numb, stiff and weak right hand/fingers/thumb. Some studies say the recovery time for the affected nerve(s) to heal (which is very slow – about 1mm per day) is often complete by 2-3 years, but for people over 50 can take up to 5 years. Additional, some people with brachial neuritis/PTS never fully recover and have permanent weakness/deficits.

    All this from a flu shot. A cautionary tale.

    I think I had the flu once in my life. Yes, it was bad for about 5 days but I would gladly take the flu over what happened to me. There is absolutely no reason to be vaccinating the entire population for the flu.

  • Hi, I would NEVER have the flu Jab again, I am quite fit for 56 swimming, walk regularly have always exercised, about 8 years ago I was diagnosed with MS at the time I had vertigo and also going through menopause everything was all at once, I couldn’t believe it but then I just kept going, walking and built back up to my same fitness as before and now I am most likely to be fitter than someone much younger than me! (I do know there can be different levels of ms) Last year I have the flu Jab BIG mistake, got a rash on my legs arms and neck felt run down and someone I know at the Gym had also had the jab and she had already had a bad chest and this was then made much much worse!

    I am sure some people that have it are fine but not for me, Ill carry on taking my vitamins and go with the flow


  • Have never gotten the flu shot but am harassed each year by coworkers saying I should get it. And yet one of those coworkers (who never exercises, eats poorly, and gets sick several times a year) got the flu anyway. We work very close to each other and I work on her computer often. I was definitely exposed. I had one day where I worried I was getting sick from feeling a bit too tired, but that was it. Just an example of how a healthy lifestyle works better than a flu shot. And I’m not even that healthy. Eat well usually, lots of vegetables, but only exercise once or twice a week in winter. Trying to take a walk every day now that I have a week off, but otherwise, it’s difficult. So a few small changes can make a big difference – oh, and not taking every drug known to man each time you get sick is probably good too.

  • Maybe we should make the distinction, in case it is unclear, between “Immuno-compromised patients” who the blog recommends for the vaccine and autoimmune patients, who certainly have a misfiring immune system but I guessing might be harmed by vaccines

    After all, vaccines by design provoke the immune system. Wouldn’t stirring up the immune system increase the intensity of autoimmune responses?

  • Never had the flu shot. Got the flu shot in 2013. Within 3 months developed alopecia areata. The shot may work OK for some but for others it’s a time bomb.

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