January 11, 2013 by Kimberly Beauchamp, ND
In the midst of the current flu epidemic, people are turning to their doctors, friends, websites, and even Facebook for advice on what to do.
Here’s the lowdown.
- This year’s flu shot is about 62% effective, so about 4 out of 10 people who are vaccinated could still contract it.
- It takes about 2 weeks for your immune system to mount a response to the vaccine. That means that if you’re vaccinated today, you won’t be protected until 2 weeks from now.
- People at highest risk for complications from the flu include children under 5 years old, adults over 50 years old, pregnant women, and people with chronic health conditions such as asthma, heart disease, and diabetes.
Every year, researchers make a “best guess” about what strains should be included in that year’s flu shot. Sometimes they get it right; sometimes it’s not even close.
And just because it’s given at every corner drug store doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s 100% safe. One of the most serious complications of flu vaccinations is a neurological condition called Guillain-Barrè syndrome. But it’s important to note that having the flu is also a risk factor for Guillain-Barrè syndrome.
Some studies have found insufficient evidence to support the widespread administration of flu vaccines among healthy people.
“Vaccination had a modest effect on time off work and had no effect on hospital admissions or complication rates,” reported a review published by the Cochrane Collaboration in 2010.
Multi-dose vials used for most flu shots contain thimerosal (mercury) as a preservative. Thimerosal has been at the center of the controversy over the safety of vaccinations for many years.
The FluMist (available for children and adults up to 49 years old) doesn’t contain thimerosal, but it may not be right for everyone, including people with a history of wheezing.
So, do you run out and get the shot or not? That’s a decision that everyone has to make for him or herself. As with any vaccination, it’s important to weigh the risks and benefits carefully. But if you’re trying to avoid getting the flu that your neighbor just sneezed onto you, the flu shot isn’t going to do the trick.
- Wash, wash, and wash some more. Frequent hand washing cuts down on flu transmission dramatically.
- Cover your cough. If you’re sick, do everyone else a favor and cough into the crook of your arm to help prevent the spread of the flu.
- Keep Black Elderberry Syrup on hand. It’s been shown to be as effective as Tamiflu against certain flu strains. With no side effects, it’s a no-brainer.
Read more about how to prevent and treat the flu naturally.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this blog is for educational and/or informational purposes only, and is not intended to diagnose, treat, or prevent any condition. If you have any concerns about your own health or that of a family member, you should always consult with a healthcare professional.