Flu shots are indeed a hot topic this year, and everyone's offering their own opinions about the flu vaccine and immunity including the media, government, physicians and pharmaceutical companies.
On a daily basis, we hear conflicting reports, recommendations and so-called “facts” about flu vaccines. It's hard to know what to believe and who to trust, never mind try to make the best decision about flu vaccines.
Quite frankly, I'm a bit sick of hearing about it. It's the FLU for heaven's sake, not the bubonic plague! Here's a bit of common sense to help you streamline the hubbub.
Let's start with a visual about the flu vaccine and immunity
Natural immunity is like an invisible super-hero shield that surrounds our bodies repelling the bad guys/germs and keeping us strong.
Each time we get a cold or flu our shield grows thicker and stronger protecting us from bigger and more evil villains including bacteria, viruses, and auto-immune conditions. Meanwhile, a flu vaccine only protects us against a few potential strains of flu.
This gives our immunity no additional defense against invaders, and leaving us over-confident and open for attack with big gaping holes in our super-shield.
Now have a look at the statistics…
Out of the 6.8 billion people in the world, 99.9952% of people have NOT contracted swine flu.
FluCount.org reports 329,976 cases of swine flu around the globe and 3,644 related deaths.
In the U.S., 58,882 cases have been tested and reported with 598 related deaths. That means, less than 1% of swine flu victim have died.
Consider too that today, many cases of swine flu aren't being tested or reported, so the number of cases in the U.S. and world-wide is probably higher than these statistics show, which means resulting death rates are even smaller.
Compare this to the reports from the Center for Disease Control that estimate that 36,000 Americans have died each year from various forms of the flu virus, and keep in mind that most people hospitalized for flu are over the age of 85.
Let's be honest…the flu sucks
Body aches, vomiting, phlegm, fatigue, fever, and more. Yes, the flu can be miserable and in rare cases, deadly (this applies to “regular” strains of flu as well as swine flu.)
But for the vast majority of people – including children – catching the flu today is a lot like it always has been.
It would be more fun to be at school and more profitable to be at work than staying home sick. It's down-right unpleasant and inconvenient, but after it runs its course for a few days, the flu's gone for another year.
If it doesn't kill you it will make you stronger
Catching and successfully fighting off colds and flu is an important strengthening exercise for the immune system. According to statistics, there are probably going to be more cases of swine and other flu than usual this year. Yet nearly every one infected will emerge just fine – and have a healthy dose of immunity acquired naturally through antibodies formed during illness.
The risks and benefits of the flu shots are not clear
The vaccine has potential side effects ranging from general discomfort and fever to auto-immune conditions such as Guillain-Barre syndrome, and the vaccine you and your children receive may contain thimersol, a preservative linked to autism.
To top it off, many people who are vaccinated still come down with the flu.
Who should really consider a flu shot?
Immune-compromised, elderly, and high-risk individuals that do not respond to preventative health measures.
Those unwilling, uninterested, or just too busy to taking responsibility for their health and wellness. This means using preventative care, so be honest with yourself. Will you do what you need to do to be healthy (eat well, exercise, rest)? Will you listen to your body when you're run-down, feeling “off” or have been exposed to others who are sickly, and then take appropriate actions such as resting or loading up on immune boosting herbs and supplements? If not, then perhaps the flu shot is for you.
Eating a healthy diet, drinking plenty of fluids, getting plenty of sleep and practicing good hygiene may be the most sensible, safe strategy for preventing the flu.
As adults and parents, it's up YOU to make choices about flu vaccines for yourself and your family. Take a moment to step back from the chaos, take into account your health and lifestyle, and then make up your own mind.
Are you concerned about the flu vaccine and immunity?
Share your thoughts in the comments.