Now that I'm pregnant, I fit into two categories for which the US Government would recommend I receive a flu vaccine this season. (The second is that I'm a healthcare worker.)
Am I going to? NO WAY. (At my work, this requires me to fill out a "Declination of Vaccination" form stating that I "understand the risks." Boy, do I. Just read on.) I've never gotten a flu shot before, even before I had much looked into the topic, based on my own reasoning that I'm young and healthy and have never had the flu, but presume that I could fight it off if necessary. I remember when flu shots were first being publicized, they were recommended only for the elderly and the immunocompromised (in whom, perhaps, the risk of the flu was actually greater than neurotoxicity from the vaccine's ingredients--but read further down for the evidence on that)...then, for $ome in$ane rea$on (I can't imagine what it wa$) they added PREGNANT WOMEN AND CHILDREN to the list. And healthcare workers. And now it's just about everybody--despite evidence that they don't work. The study in the first link found that the vaccine only resulted in a SIX PERCENT decline of cases in the flu in vaccinated individuals! And yet! You're exposing yourself (and, if you're pregnant, your baby) to a shot of mercury--which is known to be incredibly harmful--for essentially no benefit at all.
The National Resources Defense Council has this to say about mercurcy:
Once in the human body, mercury acts as a neurotoxin, interfering with the brain and nervous system.
Exposure to mercury can be particularly hazardous for pregnant women and small children. During the first several years of life, a child's brain is still developing and rapidly absorbing nutrients. Prenatal and infant mercury exposure can cause mental retardation, cerebral palsy, deafness and blindness. Even in low doses, mercury may affect a child's development, delaying walking and talking, shortening attention span and causing learning disabilities.
In adults, mercury poisoning can adversely affect fertility and blood pressure regulation and can cause memory loss, tremors, vision loss and numbness of the fingers and toes. A growing body of evidence suggests that exposure to mercury may also lead to heart disease. [emphasis mine]
But what if you got the flu?!
Well, if you're between the ages of 0 and 49 (which all children and the vast majority of pregnant women are), "estimated rates of influenza-associated pulmonary and circulatory deaths/100,000 persons were 0.4--0.6."
LESS THAN ONE PERSON IN 100,000--AND THOSE ARE OF THE PEOPLE WHO ACTUALLY GET THE FLU!
What about older people? They account for over 90% of mortality cases, so maybe they should get the shot?
Nope, sorry: "The evidence is too weak to show any mortality benefits."
HUGE TOXICITY ISSUES ASIDE (and really, how can you put those aside?), I also grew up with the anecdotal evidence from my father that "the absolute SICKEST HE EVER WAS" was following a flu shot. Doctors would claim that's just not possible, but it seems a lot of people say the same thing. So the virus is dead--maybe it was the formaldehyde, or the mecury (a high enough concentration to be considered a hazardous waste), that he had a reaction to? If I were interested in exposing our future child to that kind of toxicity, I'd do it the old-fashioned way and eat a few cans of tuna! At least I'd be getting a little protein instead of just ingesting two of the most dangerous substances to developing embryos: heavy metals and viruses. I consider this one of the first favors I'll do our unborn baby.
Natural Family Living has an awesome post up about why she and her family don't get flu shots. Thanks also to her for the following video: