An Investigation By Dr.
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manufacturer of FluMist, recently announced that it signed an
agreement that makes FluMist, the new intranasal influenza vaccine,
readily available to people as they shop at Wal-Mart, the worlds
biggest retailer." 
physician in charge of a bustling Integrative medical clinic,
questions about vaccines frequently arise. After reading about the
MedImmune-Walmart joint venture, I felt compelled to warn our
patients and our internet subscribers of the potentially serious
complications that may come from direct and passive exposure to this
new vaccine. I also wanted to give a "heads up" to everyone
regarding the onslaught of advertising that is about to besiege
Hundreds of TV
and print advertisements have been designed to persuade everyone
into taking the FluMist plunge. The campaign will be the "most
intense, direct-to-consumer marketing campaign ever waged for a
vaccine," costing an estimated $25 million over the next 2.5 months
. In addition, Wyeth, MedImmune's partner, plans a three-year,
$100 million campaign to encourage use of the nasal flu vaccine
arm of the blitz campaign will focus on the "inconveniences" that
your family, friends and co-workers will endure if you don't get the
flu shot and subsequently contract the flu. Print advertisements and
magazine articles apparently will use scare tactics—similar to those
that were used while promoting the smallpox vaccine—which warned of
the high possibility of a "bioterror attack using the flu virus."
goal seems to center around frightening—or inducing enough
guilt—that everyone would begin to demand the vaccine as soon as it
is available. And at nearly $70 a dose, this will be a financial
bonanza for MedImmune and Wyeth, who are expecting the vaccine to
become the blockbuster new drug that will push MedImmune's revenues
to more than $1billion/year. 
are many reasons for caution. FluMist contains live (attenuated)
influenza viruses that replicate in the nasopharynx of the vaccine
recipient. The most common side effects include "cough, runny
nose/nasal congestion, irritability, headaches, chills, muscle aches
and fever > 100° F." These symptoms are nearly identical to those
the flu vaccine is designed to prevent. 
A cause for
significant concern is the vaccine's most prevalent side effects:
"runny nose" and "nasal congestion." It has been documented that the
live viruses from the vaccine can be shed (and potentially spread
into the community) from recipient children for up to 21 days, 
and even longer from adults. Viral shedding also puts
breastfeeding infants at risk if the mother has been given FluMist.
In addition to
shedding via nasal secretions, the virus can be dispersed through
sneezing. What is the normal physiological response when an irritant
enters the nasal passages? A sneeze...sometimes a big
sneeze...sometimes several big sneezes. Therefore, the risk for
shedding—and spreading—live viruses throughout a school, church,
workplace, or store — especially one which is administering the
In the section
of the FlumMist package insert labeled "PRECAUTIONS," the
manufacturer states the following warning:
recipients should avoid close contact with immunocompromised
individuals for at least 21 days."
The warning is
specifically directed toward those living in the same household with
an immunocompromised person, but the on-going release of live
viruses throughout the community may be a significant risk to
everyone who has a weak, or weakened, immune system.
The number of
immunocompromised people in the United States is enormous:
It is estimated that at least 10%, or more than 28 million people
have eczema. 
More than 8.5 million people have cancer. 
There are reported to be 850,000 individuals with diagnosed and
undiagnosed HIV infection or AIDS  and
Based on 2001 data, there were 184,000 organ recipients 
An even more extensive list of at-risk people includes the untold
millions on drugs called corticosteroids. Prednisone®, Medrol®, and
a variety of similar medications are given to both adults and
children. These drugs are prescribed for dozens of conditions
including asthma; allergies; eczema; emphysema; Crohn's disease;
multiple sclerosis; herniated spinal discs; acute muscular pain
syndromes; and all types of rheumatoid and autoimmune diseases. As
much as 60% of the entire population could be considered to be
"chemically immunosuppressed." It is important to realize that
FluMist is CONTRAINDICATED for people who are immunocompromised.
People who receive FluMist and are living with an immunocompromised
person put their loved ones at risk.
market for FluMist is "healthy children and adults, ages 5 to 49
yrs." Some believe that by vaccinating these people, a type of "herd
immunity" will occur that will protect the very young and the
elderly who are excluded from getting this vaccine. However, it is
these very "at-risk" populations who may suffer the most from the
flu by being exposed to people who are given FluMist.
information presented at the May, 2003 National Influenza
Summit, approximately 85% of Americans between the ages of 20
and 50 go unvaccinated, and nearly 66% between the ages of 50 and 64
do not receive the flu vaccine. Have there been "raging epidemics"
across the country due to lack of flu vaccinations? It appears that
the massive campaign to vaccinate everyone this year appears may be
motivated, in part, by economics.
suspected to be the most likely cause for the flu this season were
negligibly different from the strains used in last year's flu
vaccine. Therefore, the influenza vaccine produced for the 2003-
2004 season is identical in composition to the one used last year.
This marks only the second time that the same strains have been used
during two consecutive flu seasons. Consider that antibodies
from other viral vaccines—such as MMR, polio and chickenpox
vaccines—last at least 3 years, and in some instances, up to 15
years. If the viruses used in the vaccine are the same as last year,
why is this year's vaccine even necessary?
An ever greater
concern about FluMist is the contents within the vaccine. Each 0.5ml
of the formula contains 10 6.5-7.5 particles of live, attenuated
influenza virus. That means that between 10 million and 100 million
viral particles will be forcefully injected into the nostrils when
administered. The viral strain was developed by serial passage
through "specific pathogen-free primary chick kidney cells" and then
grown in "specific pathogen-free eggs." That means that the culture
media was free of pathogens that were specifically tested for, but
not a culture that was necessarily "pathogen-free." The risk that
the vaccine may contain contaminant avian retroviruses still
remains. In addition, a stabilizing buffer containing potassium
phosphate, sucrose (table sugar) and nearly 0.5 mg of monosodium
glutamate (MSG) is added to each dose. 
One of the most
troubling concerns over the injection of this "chemical soup" is the
potential for the viruses to enter directly into the brain. At the
top of the nasal passages is a paper-thin bone called the cribriform
plate. The olfactory nerves pass through this bone and line the
nasal passages, carrying messenger molecules to the brain that are
identified as "smells" familiar to us. The olfactory tract has long
been recognized as a direct pathway to the brain. Intranasal
injection of certain viruses has resulted in a serious brain
infection called encephalitis, presumably by direct infection of the
olfactory neurons that carried the viruses to the brain. Time
will tell whether the live viruses in FluMist will become linked to
cases of encephalitis.
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