So, a friend of mine came across this and shared it with me. I blurted out a quick response to her on face book in regards to it, and then thought there might be room for more. So here it goes. This is about the flu vaccination, however, most of the information is applicable across the range of preventable diseases.

This particular article reinforces the dangers of .com and .net websites as sources of information. Anyone can set up a .com or .net website, put some great photos/ headlines, nice font and voila! Professional website constructed.
There are a few exceptions to this – for example: Mayo Clinic is a .com website. Otherwise people, steer towards .gov, .edu, .org or .med websites for reputable information.
My first concern, other than the .com part, is the studies that it cites as references for its case.
A few of them were unable to be followed and subsequently analysed. Whether in print or in a discussion, I am only interested in verifiable sources of information. I have not intensely critically evaluated each of these sources, merely highlighted a point of concern or two from each one. The information I discuss is aimed at an Australian audience although some sources are from overseas.

These are the studies cited in this opinion piece:

Inflammatory Response After Influenza Vaccination in Men With and Without Carotid Artery Disease did not point out any increased mortality or morbidity or differentiate between sensitivity of vaccinated and unvaccinated men with and without cardiovascular disease. The population used was only 43 men, which is not a large enough population to extrapolate workable data from.

VRM: 5 Reasons Not To Get The Flu Shot
is a reference back to a Vaccination Resistance Movement, so is immediately not a credible source as it has a bias.
As is this one Is Your Child High-Risk for an Adverse Vaccine Reaction?

The website it links to is a .com website and again is against vaccinations anyway.
And this one Natural Alternatives to the Flu Shot Prove Just as Effective

Again is a .com website and cites no studies or sources for its information. It is an opinion piece only, and opinions are like noses, everyone has one.

1. The flu shot actually makes you sick to begin with
Response: In Australia only inactivated influenza vaccines are in use. This means that there is no active component to the virus. It inoculates the body by causing a physical response without causing an illness. There may be a 24 hour response of muscle aches, headache or other mild symptoms. This is the first response of your body to the vaccine and is not the ‘flu.

2. Flu vaccines contain other dangerous ingredients such as mercury
The Centre for Disease Control:

The long and the short of it is that the mercury that everyone is scared of is not in vaccines. There is a different form of mercury that is used in some vaccines called Thimerosal. It is not retained by the body, has a short half-life and repeated studies have found none of the dangers that people are concerned about.

3. The flu shot can cause Alzheimer’s disease
This theory is based on mercury and aluminum supposedly being present in vaccines. Since they are not present, the theory is null and void.

4. The very people pushing flu vaccinations are making billions of dollars each year
Well, I ‘push’ influenza vaccines and I am certainly not rolling in cash. Certainly, it is always smart to see who gets paid what by whom, in relation to anything. However, the government heavily subsidizes the price of each vaccine, so I am sure the Australian government is not about to throw money away if the cost of the vaccines does not offset the cost of public health with the complications of influenza and other preventable diseases

5. Lack of real evidence that young children even benefit from flu shots
Firstly, what a lot of people think of as the ‘flu’ is actually a cold. It’s another respiratory tract virus strain, though much less lethal than influenza.
Influenza vaccines normally contain antigens of three strains of virus – two influenza A subtypes and one influenza B subtype. The recommended strains to be used in the vaccine can change from year to year, in anticipation of which virus strains will predominate in each season.

Influenza vaccine provides protection against laboratory-confirmed influenza, which has been shown to be approximately 60–85% in healthy children <6 years of age and 60% in adults. The level of protection is lower in the elderly, in immunocompromised people, and when there is mismatch between the vaccine and circulating influenza virus strains.

6. Makes you more susceptible to pneumonia and other contagious diseases
Actually, you are more susceptible to developing pneumonia if you actually have a current illness such as influenza. Read more about the many different types of pneumonia here:
Having a vaccination does not make you more susceptible to getting a contagious disease, since it is bolstering the immune system, it is triggering your body's defenses and it is preventing you from developing a contagious disease itself – the influenza virus.

7. Vascular disorders
Mayo Clinic:
And this one:
Seasonal influenza represents a major preventable threat to the health of persons with CVD. Clinical trials and observational studies have demonstrated that vaccination against influenza is associated with significantly reduced risk of cardiovascular death and nonfatal events. Vaccination is currently recommended for persons with diabetes, a condition common to patients with CVD.33 On the basis of this evidence, the AHA and ACC recommend inactivated influenza vaccination as a component of secondary prevention for persons with coronary disease and other atherosclerotic vascular conditions (Class I, Level B). This level of recommendation is based on the judgment that influenza vaccination should be administered to all persons with CVD (unless they have a contraindication to receiving the vaccine) and on evidence from a single randomized clinical trial and several nonrandomized population cohort studies.
Currently, below-target vaccination rates and disparities in vaccination coverage across different ethnic groups represent missed opportunities to maximize the preventive benefits of influenza vaccination. Providers who care for patients with CVD can increase influenza vaccination coverage among their patients by stocking the vaccine and promoting annual vaccination immunization with strong recommendations and standing orders.

8. Children under the age of 1 are at risk
Children under 1 years of age are highly vulnerable to a neurotoxic breach of the delicate nerve center surrounding the brain and central nervous system. The first round of the flu vaccine is administered at age 6 months. A child under the age of 1 lacks sufficient protection to guard against premature damage to the blood barrier in the brain.

9. Increased risk of narcolepsy
Narcolepsy is a condition that has a strong genetic linkage, being almost uniquely seen in persons who have the (HLA) DQB1*0602 genotype. Of the cases of narcolepsy tested so far in Finland (n=29), diagnosed during 2009-2010, all have that genotype. The National Institute for Health and Welfare of Finland considers it probable that the Pandemrix vaccine was a contributing factor to this observed increase, and has called for further investigation of other co-factors that may be associated with the increased risk. They consider it most likely that the vaccine increased the risk of narcolepsy in a joint effect in those genetically disposed with some other, still unknown, genetic and/or environmental factors. The final report from the Finnish National Narcolepsy Task Force is expected by 31 August 2011.

10. Weakens immunological responses
In short, that is the exact opposite to what vaccines do. Current studies do not support the hypothesis that multiple vaccines overwhelm, weaken, or “use up” the immune system. On the contrary, young infants have an enormous capacity to respond to multiple vaccines, as well as to the many other challenges present in the environment. By providing protection against a number of bacterial and viral pathogens, vaccines prevent the “weakening” of the immune system and consequent secondary bacterial infections occasionally caused by natural infection.
Addressing Parents’ Concerns: Do Multiple Vaccines Overwhelm or Weaken the Infant’s Immune System?
Paul A. Offit, MD, Jessica Quarles, Michael A. Gerber, MD, Charles J. Hackett, PhD, Edgar K. Marcuse, MD, Tobias R. Kollman, MD, Bruce G. Gellin, MD, Sarah Landry

Further reading and interesting links
World Health Organisation FAQ sheet
Immunise Asutralia Program

Lastly I ask you, how many of you who are against the influenza vaccine, would hesitate about getting a Tetanus shot after stepping on a rusty nail?

I guess all I ask of you, Dear Reader is that you use your right to enquire, your need to question and your common sense. Get your information from an appropraite professional or reputable source, not from a propaganda based website, who believe in conspiracy theories.