The Flu Shot – Is It Really Safe?

Posted by on Sep 21, 2014 in Frugal For Everyone, Health | 46 comments

flu shot  frugalforeveryoneNow that Fall is here, Government and Health Agencies will once again be pushing everyone to line up for the flu shot. Before you join the queue, are you sure you know everything you need to know about the flu shot?


In November 2000 I received a flu shot – a day later I was deathly ill. I was completely bedridden, unable to walk without support. I didn’t have the strength to talk and was too tired to think. No one, including myself, expected me to live long enough to see Christmas. It wasn’t long after that I was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), a condition with which I still struggle fourteen years later. No one knows for sure what causes CFS, but one doctor thought toxic farm chemicals might have contributed. But is it possible the toxicity could actually have been caused by the flu shot? Or was that just a really big coincidence?


I am the first to say, “You are responsible for your own health”, but certainly failed to take responsibility when it came to the flu shot. Like so many others, I just followed along without asking questions. Could this be because we don’t really consider the flu shot as medical treatment? Or could the reason be because not getting the flu shot is on par with still smoking – a societal no, no? Why do we blindly accept that getting the flu shot is the thing to do without knowing all the facts?

We are constantly being told that the flu shot is safe, but is it? The following statement came from the Center of Disease Control:

  • If you ever had a life-threatening allergic reaction after a dose of flu vaccine, or have a severe allergy to any part of this vaccine, including (for example) an allergy to gelatin,  antibiotics, or eggs, you may be advised not to get vaccinated. Most, but not all, types of flu vaccine contain a small amount of egg protein.”

Obviously it’s not safe for everyone since life threatening reactions do occur. How many of these life-threatening reactions occur? How are they reported? How many are not reported? I know for a fact that my problems were never reported. My doctor wouldn’t have done so and I was too sick to care.

flu shot  frugalforeveryone

Problems with the flu shot as I see it:

Lack of transparency.

It is the law that all products now sold are clearly labeled, listing all ingredients. Why do we not receive the same information about the flu vaccine? The Ontario Ministry of Health suggests we ask our Health Care Provider for this information. The Public Health Agency of Canada advises us to consult “product monograph for complete listing of non-medicinal ingredients and excipients.” Why do we have to search for this information? Why isn’t it out in the open and readily available to everyone?

The different flu vaccines used in Canada are:

  1. GSK Fluviral – ID Biomedical Corporation
  2. Novartis Agriflu – Novartis Pharmaceuticals
  3. Novartis Fluad – Novartis Pharmaceuticals
  4. Sanofi Pasteur Vaxigrip – Sanofi Pasteur SA
  5. Sanofi Pasteur Fluzone – Sanofi Pasteur SA
  6. Sanofi Pasteur Intanza – Sanofi Pasteur SA
  7. AstraZeneca FluMist – AstraZeneca Canada

One of the flu vaccines is GSK Fluviral, Manufactured by ID Biomedical Corporation of Quebec and distributed by GlaxoSmithKline Inc. A 17 page PDF is available at:

The following was copied and pasted from the GSK Fluviral product monograph:

“The vaccine is formulated with phosphate buffered saline composed of: sodium chloride, potassium chloride, disodium hydrogen phosphate heptahydrate, potassium dihydrogen, phosphate and water for injection. Thimerosal (100g/mL) is added as a preservative. The vaccine also contains trace residual amounts of egg proteins, formaldehyde, sodium deoxycholate and sucrose. Antibiotics are not used in the manufacture of this vaccine.” (According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, Gentamicin, an antibiotic, is an ingredient in this product.)

We do hear that the vaccine contains an inactive virus and trace amounts of egg protein. But we never hear about the other ingredients, which makes me wonder why. So let’s take a look at just a few of the other ingredients in GSK Fluviral:

  • Sodium chloride – excessive intake has been linked to heart disease, diabetes, gastric cancer. How does any amount affect people who already have those conditions?
  • Potassium chlorideused to treat or prevent low potassium. When the flu shot is administered, does anyone ask if you have heart or kidney disease or high levels of potassium?
  • Thimerosal contains mercury which can cause damage to the nervous system.
  • Formaldehyde known to be a carcinogen.

No proper medical history is taken.

Drug interactions can be serious. Without a medical history how can it be determined that the flu vaccine won’t react with other drugs the person is taking? I have been on medicine to control high potassium for the past thirty years. How does potassium chloride affect this? Without a proper history it’s impossible to know.

How effective is the flu shot?

We are told that it is very effective, but statistics can be manipulated to support any theory or course of action. Not everyone in the medical community agrees that the flu shot is as effective as reported. Why do we not get both sides of the story so that we can decide for ourselves? effectiveness

What are the true statistics on the number of flu deaths?

This question popped up a number of times during my research. Several claimed the stats were inflated with deaths from pneumonia being included with flu deaths. One of the questions asked was, “Do you know, or have personal knowledge of, anyone dying from the flu?”

This doesn’t mean people should stop getting the flu shot. What is does mean is that people have the right to know what’s being injected into their bodies. There needs to be more honest communication between those giving the flu shot and those receiving it.

What are your views on the flu shot? Do you think we’re told enough information to make an informed decision?

The following links have been added for anyone interested in learning more.

  4. An article well worth reading comes from Kelly Brogan MD                                                                                                                       

Please don’t forget to share.

Talk to you again next week,


Doctor with needle: Image courtesy of artemisphoto at

Woman sneezing: Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at





  1. I am skeptical of vaccines and my kids had flu shots when they were very young but I have dropped the yearly ritual since. You have revealed a lot about the vaccines in your informative post. Thanks!

  2. Lenie, great research! This is true. It is our right to know what they are injecting into our Body. My in laws say to get a flu shot but I have never had one and i have Been ok. Sorry to here about your unfortunate circumstance. Glad you are okay now! 😉

  3. I’ve never had a flu shot. I probably never will. I believe that if you eat correctly your body can and will heal itself.

  4. Leni — I have gotten a flu shot every year and, luckily, haven’t gotten the flu or become ill. Everything in life is a trade-off. We also know that many people who don’t receive the vaccine die every year. There are risks with every medication. My concern — and you don’t read much about this — is the source of the ingredients for drugs. Much of the raw ingredients are coming from China where there is little to no regulation of their factories. Supplies from China have found to be contaminated. So much more needs to be done to keep our medications safe for human use.

    • Hi Jeannette – I agree and this is where I believe we need to be better informed. I know many people get the flu shot without adverse effects, thank goodness, but I think the number who have adverse reactions is not accurately reported.If enough people start questioning the flu shot we may get answers, but it also may raise awareness that we aren’t just allowing anyone to inject anything without knowing exactly what is being injected.It’s a hope, anyway.

  5. Hi Lenie,

    This is a fantastic post and much needed!!! I had a Dr advise me about 12 years ago to not get the shot. He said one of the problems long term is that we’re dealing with a virus and as such all the shots will eventually do is cause the virus to adapt and get stronger.

    When it gets stronger, that means it could turn into a super bug and then nothing good will happen.

    I think the intention is good, but then a lot of intentions with very harmful consequences are good. I have never had the shot and I’ve not had the flu nor anyone in my family in over 13 years. That includes my 19 year old and 13 year old sons.

    Some of this is just common sense like wash your hands, don’t put your fingers in your mouth… etc.

    And if you get sick, then be smart and know when it’s time to go to the doctors office.

    I really appreciate that you are making this issue aware to us.

    ~ Don Purdum

  6. The Flu shot is beneficial for those with breathing difficulties and the elderly, but do we know of any future side effects?

  7. I have not had a flu shot for several years. Thankfully, I’ve been fine. But I also don’t go out a lot, and so rarely get sick. 🙂

    Sorry to hear you’ve had so many troubles, Lenie, with your health. 🙁

  8. Lenie, I used to get flu shots every year, because I am a dental assistant. The shots actually didn’t prevent getting flu. But last year, i didn’t get a shot. I was using hand sanitisers while travelling in the bus. Washed hands with soap frequently. Decided to have more fruits and vegetables. I was properly dressed to ward off the cold too. Even working with many people, who were having cold and cough, I haven’t had any problem last winter. But, my daughter and husband, who usually dare the Canadian winter, got sick more than one time.
    I am wondering why your doctor didn’t report your case though.

  9. I’ve never taken the flu shot and I don’t think I ever will. I don’t like what’s happened with those that were supposed to be really safe, in fact I try to stay away from medics of all kinds. Life is a risk itself anyway…

  10. Many years ago. My mother-in-law became deathly ill just following a flu shot. She was so ill it took her weeks to recover. I agree, not is all that it appears and bears being cautious when taking any kind of medication. ;/

    • I really believe there needs to be more honest communication.We get the complete rundown when we receive a new medication but when it comes to the flu shot we’re told nothing. That bothers me, a lot. Thanks for sharing Susan.

  11. I’m glad you did this post. I have always be skeptical of flu shots. My family and I have never gotten one and mainly because I don’t believe in putting the stuff in my body and we do not know what it is. I know a few people who got extremely sick after getting one. Now there are so many strands of the flu that they have to come up with different vaccines for the public to take.

  12. Wow, you’ve opened my eyes. I always get a flu shot because I can think of few things worse than getting the flu, but you have shown me something worse! Maybe it’s better to take my chances with the flu, than to potentially wind up with a long term illness like CFS. Thank you for sharing.

  13. Very insightful and educational post Lenie as usual. I have head these flu shots advertised but never felt the need to take them. My belief is the flu shot is actually accelerated flu so that you do not suffer from it later, as most people get the flu straight after the shot. I do not think I will take the shot.

  14. I got a flu shot for the first time in my life last year. And I didn’t get the flu. But then again I didn’t get the flu for 20 years before that and never had a shot. so who knows?

    • Getting the flu shot or not is a personal decision as it should be. I just think it needs to be treated more as any other medical treatment and that there needs to be more transparency. Those are my issues with the shot.

  15. Hi Lenie. Your post couldn’t be more timely! There is a certain lack of transparency surrounding the flu shot that raises skepticism each season. I’ve gotten the shot every year because I didn’t want to be vulnerable to the bug. It just so happened that last year, I delayed getting my shot and got sick more than ever despite my strong immune system. Therefore, I’ll be on top of that because it’s in my control to keep healthy during the winter months.

  16. Glad you survived, Lenie.

    Personally have once in my life had a flu shot. It was a few years ago because the Swedish government was so concerned about the flu that year they bought vaccines for the whole population. You received a letter telling you where to go to have one specifying a date and time. Got a bit of fever but nothing drastic.

    But I will not do it again. What are the chances of getting the flu? And if you do you can deal with it then. Have had really bad flu once in my life. If I get it again is not the end of the world:-)

  17. Good points in your blog. I do trust the flu shot Totally, I just do not trust the people who make it. Look at some of the medicines that have come out in the past that were “safe”. Take Vioxx, this drug was to relive pain, but the company doctored the findings of their tests to hind it was killing people. Companies that made drugs, are just that companies. They are more concerned with their profit, then your health.

  18. My husband takes the flu shot every year. I do not. I feel that you are putting poison in your body that your body does not know what to fight off. I would rather make my immune system stronger with natural remedies.

    • Hi Arleen – I find the different views very interesting. If we could only get the true facts, it would be different. I do believe the natural method is preferred. Thanks for sharing.

  19. Hi lenie,
    Thanks for the well researched information. Sorry to hear about your painful experience. Here in Pakistan we usually avoid medications and vaccines and use home remedies unless the condition is serious. I agree with you that before flu shot patient’s medical history (including allergies and medications)is very important so that any complications could be avoided. Vaccines and other medications react differently when taken with the combination of other medicines. The flu in itself woold not harm in most of the cases but its reaction could be fatal.

    • I wonder what would happen if the research was focused on treating patients who became seriously ill from the flu instead of injecting everyone. I think home remedies to prevent and/or treat colds and flu when they are just starting would be a safer way to go. But that’s my opinion.

  20. I have never had a flu shot and getting one is not on the horizon for me for the very reasons you site. That being the lack of information that I truly trust. Every year I get a cold but it lasts about 24 hours and then it moves on. As far as I am concerned that 1 day of inconvenience is a very small price to pay.

    • I agree Tim that there is a huge lack of information and that always makes me wonder why. If there is absolutely no problem, then why the secrecy? Anyway, thanks for the comment.

  21. The first time I got a flu shot was my freshman year in college when we were told to get one (free) or we wouldn’t be excused from classes if we got the flu. Those of us who got it had no or little flue symptoms. Those who didn’t, including my roommate, were quite ill. So I continue to get one, partly to avoid spreading the flu to people who can’t tolerate the shot. This includes my daughter, who has CFS.

    • Hi Beth, thanks for showing that while the flu shot may not harm many, it can also not be tolerated by others. The problem in most cases is that intolerance is recognized only after the shot and that’s what worries me. Thanks for sharing.

  22. You didn’t have to convince me, Lenie. One adverse reaction to traditional medication forced me into alternative therapies. Anyway, people always mention pain after those shots. I don’t see how they help. Your information is much appreciated. Keep sharing!

    • That one adverse reaction will do it, right? I don’t have 100% proof that the flu shot caused my problems, although I believe it did, but after that, there is no way I’ll get another one. Like you, I’ll take the alternative method anytime.

  23. Hello Lenie
    I am sad to know that you have suffered from flu shot.
    I never went for shot at all as many people around prefer to but my mother is in health department and she never allows us to go for this. Now I am happy to have my mother in hospital and came to know that this suggestion was for good.
    I have never took this matter seriously but now this post have opened my eyes not for flu shots but also from many other shots that all the time we get while visiting hospitals.
    Thanks for a great post.

    • Hi Andleeb – Interesting feedback I’m getting on this post. Many different views which is always good – I guess I just want people to question what is being injected and to be able to get the facts without having to look for them. We should be able to get this information before we get the shot and then decide if that’s what we want. Thanks for your comment.

  24. That really was a very bad reaction to say the least. We do make assumptions that the flu-shot will be safe. I’ve been having it for years without any adverse reaction as I have autoimmune problems, and getting the flu would be very bad for me. But the risks definitely need to be measured.

    • Hi A.K. You are absolutely right about the risks needing to be measured, but to be able to do that, we need to have honest and complete information and that is what’s missing.

  25. As someone who falls under the category “should receive a flu shot every year” I am more than a little paranoid about having someone inject a live virus (although inactive) into my body. This blog post did nothing to help that paranoia. I’m going to find a blog post that says “just do what the government tells you.” Thanks for putting this info. out there Lenie.

    • Hello Kire – sorry, I didn’t mean to feed your paranoia – I just really believe we should stop following like sheep and find out about the vaccine. I don’t take a new drug, even though it’s prescribed by my doctor, without a lengthy discussion about what it can do and all the possible side effects are. Why should the flu shot be different?

  26. I work in an ER. I can’t tell you the stats but they’re certainly been made available to us and iust last year our union fought to make it so union members didn’t have to have the flu shot. Compelling evidence was presented showing that not having a flu shot or wearing a mask put patients at risk and flu shots did not cause sickness. The union lost.

    For myself I’ve had the flu shot voluntarily for years. And I also know one of the nurses could give the number of people who died of flu or flu-related competitions to anyone who asked. It’s one of the largest killers, particularly for the elderly or people with weakened immune systems.

    If most people have the flu shot and you choose not to you’ll probably be fine because you’ll get the benefit of all the people who have. That doesn’t mean it’s a good decision. Just my opinion.

    • Hi Pat – You say the stats and evidence have been made available to you. But that’s my point – why isn’t this made available to everyone? Why did your union try to have the flu shot stopped? There must have been a few members who didn’t want the shot to get them to protest it. I’m not saying don’t get the shot – I’m just saying become better informed.

  27. Wow, Lenie. I feel bad that you went through such an ordeal from receiving the flu shot. I believe I am asked about allergies every year when I receive my flu shot. I have been receiving the flu shot for many years because my 1st child had a congenital illness and catching the flu could have killed him. As a result, our whole immediate family was advised to receive the shot. I never had an adverse reaction to the shot but last year I received a vaccination for pneumonia as advised by my physician and that shot did make me sick for several days.

    • Hi Michele – I know there are many thousands of people who don’t have an adverse reaction to the flu shot and for whom the flu shot is effective. I also know others who did get sick. I think this is why taking a proper history is so important and that is missing when you get the shot.

  28. Hi Lenie,

    I’ve had a few flu shots over the years (I don’t get them every year, usually when a new grandbaby arrives just to be a bit more vigilant about their health). What you’ve pointed out — what’s in a flu shot — is something I’ve never known and I can’t remember ever asking.

    You are so right: there IS a lack of transparency and we shouldn’t have to go off on a quest to find out what type of vaccine we’re receiving nor what is in it.

    Thanks for pointing out how the ingredients can contribute to or exacerbate existing conditions. This is indeed a necessary call for action!

    • Hi Vernessa – I do believe that people need to be better informed about what’s being injected and a little more honesty about the possible side effects. I guess one of my big problems is that is seems we are intentionally left in the dark and that’s the part I have a problem with.

  29. Hi Lenie; Once again you have delivered a thoughtful comprehensive post. I agree with you that there needs to be more transparency in the area of flu shots as well as with all inoculationss. I had a conversation with my primary care physician who is aware of all my medical history. but I’m going to share something that may help your argument. she told me to contact my oncologist and make sure that there isn’t some reason associated with my cll that i shouldn’t get the flu shot. I checked and he said no go ahead and get one. as for flu deaths I know of or have known several people who died of pneumonia that started as cases of the flu. A lot of people have reactions like yours after years of having an underlying condition that just needed the right catalyst to come to the surface. my aunt worked in a portable photo booth for a couple of years. one day out of the blue she goes into a stationary store and has a violent reaction. she is told it was caused by a build up of the chemicals she worked with in the photo booth that finally came to the surface. i am so glad that you are generally healthy and dealing with it. thanks for the post. Take care my friend, Max

    • Hi Max – thanks for the information – you certainly put a lot of thought into your comment. I really want to point out that failing to have a history done at the time of the flu shot is no doubt the main reason why people do have serious reactions. Possibly we need to get away from the ‘get in line’ clinics and have our doctor’s take charge.

  30. Lenie, this is such good information! You are right, so little is asked and even less provided in terms of real information regarding flu shots!I am not prone to flu…thankfully. But twice I got the flu shot and did get ill each time. I didn’t do the research, just refused to get the shot and have done well without them. But you’ve given me a lot to ponder as flu season approaches. There may have been something underlying all this time!

    • Jacquie, I really do wonder how many people actually do get sick or even just a bad case ‘of ‘not feeling well’. I think it happens a lot more than we hear. I do believe it’s very important for people to do their homework and start asking questions.

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