The flu: Vax, Facts and Counter Attacks
Updated: Jul 23, 2019
It's cold and flu season and influenza is on the rise this year, so naturally as a naturopath I get a lot of questions about whether or not to get a flu vaccine.
Who Should Get a Flu Shot?
It's cold and flu season and influenza is on the rise this year, so naturally as a naturopath I get a lot of questions about whether or not to get a flu vaccine. There is a lot of controversy about the effectiveness and risk of flu vaccination. Without getting deep into the quagmire I'll say this: The risk of getting hospitalized or worse due to influenza if you are a healthy person is exceedingly small. The year the Centers for Disease Control estimates the flu vaccine to be near 30% effective.
Children ages 0-4 have been hospitalized at a rate of about 150 per 100,000. The next most susceptible group is age 5-17 and they have hospitalization rates of less than 40 per 100,000 (source: CDC webpage)The risk of having a serious vaccination side effect is also considered rare.
At Risk Populations
I recommend vaccination for patients who are at great risk for serious problems with influenza and those who come into contact with those at risk (family, friends, care takers). The high risk group includes elderly patients, pregnant women, infants who are in poor health, immune suppressed individuals like those receiving chemotherapy or immune suppressant drugs and those with HIV / AIDS.
Those with obesity, uncontrolled diabetes, cardiovascular or lung disease like COPD, asthma, or recurrent respiratory infections, and smokers are also at higher risk for serious flu infections.
This is only a partial list of course but the point being that healthy individuals have very low risk of serious consequences from the flu. It's also my belief that the immunity gained from contracting the flu naturally will give the immune system a better chance of fighting new virulent strains of flu when they appear than a vaccination will.
If a deadly wave of epidemic flu should sweep the globe then the risk versus benefit of flu vaccination will shift my advice towards vaccination. It takes 2 weeks for the purported immunity of vaccination to kick in so keep that in mind if the news gets exceedingly grim.
Avoiding The Flu
In the meantime there are many ways to avoid contracting or spreading the flu. I advise: washing hands often and avoid sick people, stay at home when sick, avoid touching eyes / mouth / nose, use face masks, cover the mouth when coughing, and stop smoking and vaping (anything). Do daily saline rinsing, daily salt water gargle and use a humidifier in bedroom. Remember to stay hydrated. Coconut water is a wonderful source for replenishing electrolytes.
There are so many more options for prevention and treatment of the flu which any good naturopath in your area can tell you more about. Be well.