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       Among the many festivities of Christmas and the New Year, there are many things that confirm winter is here in North Dakota; the freezing cold weather, the snow on the ground, ice on the roads, and countless advertisements and promotions for holiday shopping. But, one of the best signals of the changing seasons is the impossible-to-miss influenza vaccination campaign.

       “Get your flu shot for free here!” “It’s flu season; time to protect yourself and everyone else by getting your flu shot!” “Get a free t-shirt if you get your flu shot!” and even, “if you don’t get your flu shot, you’ll have to wear a mask!”

       Though we all hear these messages multiple times a day, one message we don’t hear enough is that influenza vaccines are not effective or even known to be safe. According to this CDC data, the 2018/2019 flu vaccine had an adjusted effectiveness rating of just 12 percent for those ages 50 and above, but the confidence interval was between negative 12 percent and positive 31 percent for ages 50 to 64 and a negative 29 to 41 in those over age 65. The negative confidence interval means the vaccine may actually make its recipient more susceptible to influenza infection. The 9 to 17-year group also had a confidence interval that dipped into the negative. The highest vaccine efficiency was seen in 6 months to 8-year-olds and was only 49%. Besides the fact that influenza vaccines are notoriously ineffective, they can even increase the spread of influenza itself (1, 2). To the majority of doctors, scientists, and laypeople, the term influenza is a series of symptoms that can be produced by a number of viruses (200 viruses, according to the Cochrane Library). But, to have actual influenza and not just one of the other 200 influenza-like viruses, you must be infected with the influenza virus. Very low percentages of influenza-like illnesses (ILI) are actually from the influenza virus. Being aware of these reports can ease the fear that the influenza vaccination campaign intends to spark in its customers.

       As for safety, “VAERS [our government’s Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System] received 29,747 reports [of flu vaccine injury] after Hib vaccines [between 1990 and 2013]; 5179 (17%) were serious, including 896 reports of deaths. The median age was 6 months (range 0-1022 months). Sudden infant death syndrome was the stated cause of death in 384 (51%) of 749 death reports with autopsy/death certificate records. The most common nondeath serious AE categories were neurologic (80; 37%), other noninfectious (46; 22%) (comprising mainly constitutional signs and symptoms); and gastrointestinal (39; 18%) conditions” (3). If this wasn’t bad enough, the Harvard Pilgrim Study reports that only 1% of adverse effects are ever even reported to VAERS, which means that the devastation of influenza vaccine injuries/deaths are likely to be FAR more than what is written above, especially as influenza vaccines are pushed harder and harder with each consecutive year. This is all in addition to the complete lack of truly inert, saline placebo safety studies done on influenza vaccines. Though there are many ways to demonstrate that influenza vaccines are not safe, let’s cut to the chase and identify some ways that we can safely and effectively protect ourselves from getting sick this winter, and/or promote a fast recovery if sickness occurs.

1. If you or a loved one is over 1 year old, try taking fermented honey garlic or making homemade elderberry syrup. My family does both.

2. Try taking cod liver oil to maintain/increase vitamin D status during the darker winter months. We take this one. Did you know that adequate vitamin D status can prevent influenza virus infections (4, 5)? 

3. Eat foods high in preformed vitamin A, such as beef liver and cod liver oil. Vitamin A is critical for immune system function. 

4. Eat whole foods vitamin C, such as acerola cherries/powder, sauerkraut, camu camu powder, and fresh fruits and vegetables.

5. Stay hydrated for optimal lymphatic drainage, especially with warm liquids during cold months. The lymphatic system is heavily involved in the immune system.

6. Get some sleep! This is more easily said than done; however, it does wonders. I battle insomnia, but recently I’ve been using a “happy light” which is used to help regulate circadian rhythm and lessen Seasonal Affective Disorder. Though my sleep isn’t perfect, it is much improved as I now wake up only once a night versus 2+.

7. Of course, take your probiotics! These can be purchased in capsules or powders, but the best sources for diversity of probiotics and therapeutic doses of them can be found in homemade fermented foods and raw dairy. We make sure to drink plenty of raw milk, grapefruit kombucha, milk kefir, and/or eat sauerkraut on a daily basis.

8. Avoid sugar as much as possible…be careful with all those pies and cookies! 🙂

9. Exercise! Did you know that exercise can improve immune competency across the lifespan?

       There are many ways to maintain health during the winter, but in my opinion, these are the very basics that will hopefully keep all of our bases covered. Especially as family get-togethers are coming quickly, we need to prepare ourselves for potential sickness! I don’t know about you, but I’ve been sick plenty of times immediately after meeting with loved ones for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Of course, if you choose to get an influenza vaccine, you can still use these methods to maintain a strong immune response. Let food be thy medicine and let medicine be thy food, as Hippocrates said. Have a gorgeous, safe, healthy day, friends!

Diane Stanislowski is a wife, mother, and researcher with the goal of restoring the practice of traditional holistic approaches to wellness and sharing evidence-based information with the public.

She lives in Grand Forks North Dakota with her husband and three children and receives raw milk and pastured meats from Bartlett Farms.


Diane Stanislowski

Author: Diane Stanislowski