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A horrible immunization adverse event?
2 weeks ago, Shane Morgan went from being able to speak, walk, and breathe on his own to being hospitalized on a ventilator in the ICU- and his family is blaming the flu shot.
36 hours after receiving his flu shot, Morgan complained of loss of feeling in his legs. His doctors began treating him for Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS), a rare spectrum of disorders in which a person’s immune system attacks and damages their nerve cells.
But did his flu shot really cause Guillain-Barre? And can it happen to you or your loved ones?
The flu itself is actually associated with GBS in susceptible individuals, as are many other types of infections. The flu is worse at triggering GBS than any risk associated with the vaccine itself. Statistically you are much safer receiving the shot than going without it. Overall, multiple studies show that for every 1 MILLION flu shots given, there might be 1 or 2 extra cases of GBS. This is substantially less than the overall health risk posed by naturally occurring influenza. Watch the full video or read the transcript below for more information!
GBS is most often reversible, and should NOT change your feelings about getting the flu shot. Vaccines are not perfect, and in the rare occasion that an adverse event happens, it should be reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System. This system allows tracking of events and detection of changes in the background level of vaccine-associated adverse side effects (although determining causation can be difficult and require more studies and information).
Check out the original video here on Facebook, and share this with your friends and family that may be on the fence about the flu shot. Let us know your experiences and comments!
Don’t have time to watch? Check out the free audio podcast version here on iTunes and Soundcloud.
Hey everybody, it’s Dr. Z. Check it out, a lot of people have messaged me about this story coming out of Las Vegas about a guy who got a flu vaccination, a couple days later, came down with Guillain-Barre Syndrome. Let’s talk about, should you be scared about this? What’s the connection with flu vaccination? What is Guillain-Barre? And what should you do to keep yourself and your loved ones safe?
Alright, so it turns out Guillain-Barre Syndrome, named after the chumps who discovered it, is actually a series of different entities, and they share something in common, which is autoimmune. In other words, our immune system attacks our own peripheral nerve cells, and it’s felt to be due to something called molecular mimicry. So the immune system is exposed to something that kinda looks like something in nerve cells, and the immune system mounts a response to the infectious agent, but there’s a cross reactivity with these components of nerves. So the nerves end up getting inflamed and damaged temporarily.
Now that manifests itself as, kind of, in most cases ascending paralysis, meaning from the feet or the arms upwards, you start to lose function of muscle. There’s some sensory abnormalities that can vary, from pain to a little tingling, to something more severe, or nothing at all. But the main finding is that you can’t move, and when it reaches your respiratory muscles, as it does in the high percentage of cases, you cannot breathe. Facial muscles, you can’t swallow. Sometimes it affects eyes and other facial muscles, so this is a serious, serious series of conditions. Again, in some cases, can be rarely fatal.
Most people recover, some people have lasting damage and effects and disability. When I was a medical student, I took care of a severe case of Guillain-Barre that was triggered by an infection, called Campylobacter jejuni. That’s a bacterial infection that can often cause GI illness and diarrhea. Sometimes it’s caught from puppies. And it turns out that’s the most correlated infectious agent that leads to the cross reactivity that causes Guillain-Barre, and this patient in the hospital was very, very sick, was ventilated, getting tube feeds. It took a couple of months before he began to recover. So again, nothing to brush off or blow off.
Now the question is, why are people talking about flu vaccination and Guillain-Barre? Well it turns out back in 1976, there was a swine flu outbreak, and they used a vaccination for it, and what they noticed is a rise in the incidence of Guillain-Barre Syndrome in individuals who were vaccinated. It was a small rise, but it was statistically significant. They said oh, that’s interesting. I wonder if there’s some cross reactivity between the immune response to the vaccine, and again, these peripheral nerve cells.
Now what’s interesting is influenza itself, the flu itself is associated with the onset of Guillain-Barre in susceptible individuals, as are many other types of infections. So the flu is actually worse at triggering Guillain-Barre than anything we’ve ever seen associated with the vaccine. So over the years, contrary to what anti vaccine activists seem to keep saying, this has actually been studied again, and again, and again. And there’s something called the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, you can see that online. It’s run by the government. Anyone can report vaccine adverse events. The idea being that we can catch years or seasons of vaccines where maybe there’s more reactions, and it turns out after being studied through several big trials, the association is something like this, in a population of a million people who get flu shot, there may be one to two extra cases of Guillain-Barre reported.
Again, we don’t know that the flu vaccine is causing it, but that’s what we saw in the data. Now really put this in perspective, one in a million increased risks. Now if you get the flu itself, the dangers of getting flu including causing Guillain-Barre are worse than the very small danger of getting the vaccination. So most authorities, myself included, in fact all authorities in the know would say get your flu vaccination, because it is, again, gonna protect you. Statistically, you’re gonna be much safer getting the flu shot than not getting it.
And so this fear of this very severe condition, but in most case reversible condition, Guillain-Barre Syndrome is overblown. So when you hear stories like the gentleman in Las Vegas who had a flu shot and two days started developing Guillain-Barre. First of all, you can’t be sure that it was the flu shot. He could’ve actually had early influenza. It turns out when they actually studied it, about 30% of the cases of people who were infected with campylobacter, the biggest trigger for Guillain-Barre that we know of, never had any symptoms. So for all we know, this is a correlation and not causality, and in any event, if he had gotten regular flu and is of a type that is susceptible to Guillain-Barre, he could’ve gotten Guillain-Barre from the influenza infection in the first place.
So the bottom line is, should you change your feelings about flu shot because of these stories of Guillain-Barre? Should you be terrified? Should you let the fear drive you? The answer is no.
I got my flu vacs, both of my kids, my wife, we get them every single year, because we know how to understand the risks and the benefit of this vaccine. Are vaccines perfect, no. Is the flu shot perfect, no. Are there adverse events, yes. Should they be reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, yes. Should you get your shot? 100% because it’s not just about you. It’s about protecting those who are weaker, unable to get the shot, the very young, the very old, people with autoimmune disease.
So I hope that helps. I would love it if you supported us by hitting the share button, sharing this with people you care about, people on the fence about vaccines. If you feel like you wanna support the show further and be involved in more uncensored discussions about how we can spread the word about science and reason and health 3.0, join us as a supporter. The link will be in the little clicky thing. I love you guys, stay safe this year, and we out.