According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the flu shot is recommended for people who are at high risk for having serious flu complications or people who live with or care for those at high risk for complications. These include people over 65 years old, people living or working in nursing homes, and the elderly and young children with serious health conditions, especially respiratory conditions.
The flu vaccine is developed based on the best estimates of which virus strains will be present in a given year. When these estimates are correct, the CDC says the vaccine is effective in 70 to 90% of healthy people less than 65 years old. The vaccine prevents hospitalization and pneumonia for 30 to 70% of elderly people living outside chronic-care facilities and people with chronic medical conditions. For the elderly in nursing homes, the shot can be 50 to 60% effective in preventing hospitalization or pneumonia and 80% effective in preventing death from the flu.
These results sound pretty good, but there are some problems with the flu shot. These numbers only apply when the vaccine matches the particular virus that is present. When the vaccine and virus don’t match, the vaccine doesn’t afford much protection at all. This was the case with last year’s flu vaccine.
There is a risk of allergic reaction to the vaccine, and severe reactions are greater risk for people who have had a reaction to the flu shot before or are allergic to eggs.
Mercury (thimerosol) is also used as a preservative in the flu vaccine, so people who get the shot also get a dose of mercury. The CDC says there is no convincing evidence that the low doses of thimerosol in vaccines cause harm. However, there was enough concern that in July 1999, the Public Health Service,AmericanAcademyof Pediatrics and vaccine manufacturers began work to reduce or eliminate thimerosol in vaccines.
Because of these factors, the flu shot may not be needed or the best idea for many people. So how do you stay healthy through flu season?
1. Get regular sleep and exercise.
2. Limit dairy, junk foods, and sugar that cause mucus production and depress immunity.
3. Stop smoking. Breathe.
4. Maintain proper elimination to reduce toxin buildup.
5. Eat more warm, cooked food.
6. Take a high quality probiotic.
7. Do daily shower hydrotherapy.
8. Resolve old grief and let go of old attachments.
9. Get preventative with regular acupuncture and/or Naturopathic treatment to improve your natural immunity.
© Kimberly Hindman, 2005