Antibiotics Before Flu Vaccination Alters Immune Response

September 30, 2019 | Dr. Linda J. Dobberstein, DC, Board Certified in Clinical Nutrition

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 Antibiotics Before Flu Vaccination Alters Immune Response
As summer fades away, flu vaccination promotions are about to flood the market again. Scientists went on a quest to determine vaccination effectiveness adjacent to antibiotic use. The recent study opens up questions and concerns on the combination of antibiotic use and flu vaccinations on health. A trail of damage and inflammation is readily seen after this combination.

In the first part of the study, healthy adults (age 18-45) were given five days of very powerful, broad-spectrum antibiotics which consisted of neomycin, vancomycin and metronidazole. The seasonal influenza vaccination was given on day four while on the antibiotics. Tissue samples of various types were collected at regular intervals for up to one year after the vaccination.

Initial results showed a “profound disruption” of the gut microbiome with a 10,000-fold reduction of beneficial gut bacteria occurred which was “long-lasting”. The initial immune system antibody responses to the influenza vaccination “were not significantly affected.”

As the study progressed, a second trial of the antibiotics and flu vaccination were given to individuals who had low pre-existing antibody levels to the flu. This is similar to someone who has a weakened, fatigued immune system, like the elderly. In this group, the ability to respond to the H1N1 flu vaccine and create a healthy immune response was compromised. The response to the vaccine was ineffective.

In both parts of the study, antibiotic treatment caused serious reduction in quantity and diversity of beneficial bacteria or dysbiosis which caused further effects within the gut, immune system and bloodstream. High levels of inflammatory activity and decreased immunoglobulins occurred in the immune system.

A 1,000-fold reduction in secondary bile acids occurred which was the result of the antibiotic induced dysbiosis. Secondary bile acids help with digestion, gut, gallbladder, and liver health. (See the article How Healthy Is Your Gallbladder for more information on secondary bile acids).

The blood metabolome which is a compilation of amino acids, vitamins, enzymes, fatty acids, sugars, toxins, etc. was changed compared to non-treated individuals. Tryptophan metabolism which relies on healthy gut bacteria was interrupted too. The gut dysbiosis itself led to an impaired immune response and high levels of inflammation fromthe vaccine.

Millions of individuals take antibiotics each year and get the flu shot. Little thought is given to the underlying gut health of the individual. Gut flora numbers and diversity are also compromised with age, other medications, stress, and a lack of variety in the diet. Some individuals “tolerate” vaccinations while others not only develop the flu in response to the vaccine, but experience autoimmune disorders or other complications from the vaccine and adjuvants used. The challenge to your body’s health is much more than just the act of taking a round of antibiotics for a few days and getting the flu shot.

I often wonder about the volunteers in studies like this one as to how they are doing today with their health. It is likely they have developed some long-term challenges with that one-two knock down punch of antibiotics and vaccinations. It takes months or even years for gut health to be restored after antibiotics. If you have a history of antibiotic use, a litany of digestive complaints, and chronic inflammation, and face the yearly push to get the flu vaccine, one question to ask yourself should be – “How healthy is my gut?”

Consider nutritional support to aid your immune system and gut. Favorite supplements include Daily Protector Eye & Immune, Super Immune Booster, Super Dophilus, Activator Plus, GI & Muscle Helper, and Vitamin C

Here are some additional articles for your perusal.

Healthy Poop: What is Your Digestive Tract Telling You?

The Narrow Scope of Flu Vaccine Usefulness

Viruses, Vaccinations, and Depression 

Are Vaccinations Causing Early Alzheimer’s? 

The Z-Pak Antibiotic Can Kill Adults

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