Well…it’s “that time of year”
Nope.I don’t mean “the new year”
I’m talking about flu season.
Every year about this time the questions start to come in heavy and fast about getting a flu shot and the flu vaccine itself. I thought I would take a moment and address some of the most common questions you might have about flu season like:
- Is it Safe
- Does it even work?
- What else can I do to protect myself and my family from the flu
The interesting thing about the actual flu vaccine is this…
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention claim that the flu vaccine “usually”reduced the risk of flu from between 40% to 60%, but there are a couple of key points to consider when using their “math.”
The key to their initial statement is the fact that they base it on a very specific set of parameters. They note that the vaccine’s effectiveness averages around50% when “the vaccine viruses are like the ones spreading in the community.”
That’s kind of a problem because flu viruses mutate and change all the time. Not only that they go on to say:
“It’s not possible to say in advance exactly how well the flu vaccine will work this season. How well it works can vary by season, virus type/subtype, the kind of vaccine, and age and other host factors of the people being vaccinated.”
So the reality is, it’s kind of a crapshoot.
Believe it or not, flu vaccine manufacturers have to decide which types of flu virus to include in the vaccine many months before flu season in the United States even begins. (You might want to read that again).
Because they have to start manufacturing the flu vaccine ahead of time in order to have it on hand…they’re essentially guessing at what the next flu season will hold.
As a result, there are years when the estimated match is not good and the flu vaccine is not very effective. And even when the flu vaccine is a good match, a 50% effectiveness rate is ok, but not great.
For example, last year the CDC reported that influenza vaccine effectiveness for all vaccine types for all ages was 29%.
For people over the age of 65, it was 12%.
For those ages 50 to 64, it was 14%.
Yikes. You’re exactly right… last year’s numbers were NOT impressive at all.
Even more interesting?
A study published in2014 in Clinical Infectious Diseases discovered that vaccine protection was actually greatest for individuals who hadn’t been vaccinated for 5 years prior.
Things that make you go hmmmm.
Now, of course I recommend that you discuss all your options with your health care provider, and whether you get a flu shot or not is up to you. I can tell you that there are several other ways you can help keep your immune system strong and ready to fight against the flu or any number of other respiratory viruses you could be exposed to this winter.
I’ll discuss several in this article like, proper hygiene, healthy nutritional and lifestyle choices and even the right nutritional supplements to help keep you and your family healthy and happy this flu season.
One other thing about the flu vaccine.
If you do decide to get a flu shot make absolutely certain you request it be from a single dose vial, or pre-filled syringe. This eliminates the possibility that it contains a preservative that has the dreaded heavy metal, Mercury.
The preservative is called thimerosal.
And it’s really pretty nasty stuff.
TheFDA notes that thimerosal is “approximately 50% mercury by weight.”
Mercury is a known toxin to the brain and nervous system, as well as the immune system.By now you would think flu vaccine manufacturers would use a more benign preservative!
I find it funny that the CDC states thimerosal in vaccines does not cause harm except for minor reactions at the injection site and yet inJuly 1999, the Public Health Service agencies, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and vaccine manufacturers agreed that thimerosal should be reduced or eliminated in vaccines as a precautionary measure.”
The fact is that children who receive the multi-dose injectable administration of the flu vaccine are receiving the thimerosal.
You might be tempted to try one of the “live virus” vaccines like FluMist. It comes in the form of a nasal spray, and it’s back on shelves this year.
It was taken off the market for a while because of ineffectiveness. It doesn’t contain thimerosal but it’s a very limited option for “non-pregnant people, 2 through 49 years of age”
If you’re thinking there is a natural way to protect yourself and your family naturally from the flu and other sickness this winter… there is – keep reading!
Natural Flu Protection
Boost your immunity to the flu and other infectious agents this winter with the following tips:
- Avoid people who are sick
- Wash your hands (a lot!)
- Get good sleep
- Decrease simple sugar intake (to an average of less than 25 grams a day)
Now each those might seem like obvious things to do to avoid getting sick, except the part about sugar. Here’s what you should know – According to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition – sugar can suppress your immune system by preventing white blood cells from doing their jobs and engulfing viruses and bacteria in your body. So, cutting back on sugar during flu season is a good idea.
But there’s even more you can do with simple nutritional supplementation!
Supplements for Flu Protection
There are a number of nutritional supplements that help boost immunity and strengthen your immune system, here are several very good choices:
An antioxidant that also boosts immunity. A study found that only 25 percent of older people injected with the flu virus experienced flu symptoms after taking NAC for six months, versus 79 percent who took a placebo. A preventative dose is 500 to 600 mg twice daily on an empty stomach.
Good research demonstrates that vitamin D reduces the risk of acute respiratory tract infections including the flu and common cold. 
This nutrient acts like a hormone in the body and increases your antiviral white blood cells, controlling inflammation, and increasing levels of two microbe-killing compounds, known as cathelicidins and defensins.
Have your doctor check your blood level of D. It should be at least 50 ng/mL.
For most adults, I recommend 5,000 IU of vitamin D daily with a meal for adults. For children and infants, a typical dose is 2,000 IU daily.
The friendly flora in your gut is important in maintaining a healthy immune system.This is because most of your immune system activity originates in the gutlymphoid tissue. Take a probiotic that has effectiveness confirmed with human studies.
All of these are very good for helping your immune system combat the flu and other infections that might come your way, but… what if you already HAVE the flu?
Here’s what I recommend:
It might sound “old fashioned” but Elderberry has been used for decades to treat the flu. Not only that… it’s the most well studied natural treatment for people who have the flu.
A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial involving 60 Norwegian men and women between 18 and 54 years old found that 15 mL of standardized elderberry syrup four times per day for five days (starting within 48 hours of their influenza-like symptoms) relieved symptoms four days earlier on average.
None of the patients reported any adverse events during the study.
Elderberry also helps with coughing that accompanies the flu.
With IV nutrients during the flu you can do two things at once. Boost immunity and get much needed hydration.
The most potent is intravenous vitamin C which has anti-viral effects.
I have helped many patients stay out of the hospital with the flu by administering to them intravenous vitamin C.
With the flu it is critical to stay well hydrated. Drinking lots of water, teas such as ginger and cinnamon, and electrolyte drinks is highly recommended.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this article today, and I hope you have some new information to help you face the flu season ahead, all while keeping yourself and your family healthy!
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2 “Seasonal Influenza VaccineEffectiveness, 2018-2019”. Cdc.Gov, Last modified 2019.https://www.cdc.gov/flu/vaccines-work/2018-2019.html.
3 McLean, Huong Q., Mark G. Thompson, MariaE. Sundaram, Jennifer K. Meece, David L. McClure, Thomas C. Friedrich, andEdward A. Belongia. “Impact Of Repeated Vaccination On VaccineEffectiveness Against Influenza A(H3N2) And B During 8 Seasons”. ClinicalInfectious Diseases 59, no. 10 (2014): 1375-1385.doi:10.1093/cid/ciu680.
4 “Thimerosal In Flu Vaccine |CDC”. Cdc.Gov, Last modified 2019. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/prevent/thimerosal.htm.
5 “Thimerosal And Vaccines”. U.S.Food And Drug Administration, Last modified 2019.https://www.fda.gov/vaccines-blood-biologics/safety-availability-biologics/thimerosal-and-vaccines.
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7 De Flora S,Grassi C, Carati L, “Attenuation of influenza-like symptomatology andimprovement of cell-mediated immunity with long-term N-acetylcysteinetreatment,” Eur Respir J. 1997 Jul;10(7):1535-41
8 Martineau, Adrian R, David A Jolliffe, Richard L Hooper, LaurenGreenberg, John F Aloia, Peter Bergman, and Gal Dubnov-Raz et al. “VitaminD Supplementation To Prevent Acute Respiratory Tract Infections: SystematicReview And Meta-Analysis Of Individual Participant Data”. BMJ,2017, i6583. doi:10.1136/bmj.i6583.
9 Zakay-Rones, Z, E Thom, T Wollan, and J Wadstein. “Randomized StudyOf The Efficacy And Safety Of Oral Elderberry Extract In The Treatment OfInfluenza A And B Virus Infections”. Journal Of InternationalMedical Research 32, no. 2 (2004): 132-140.doi:10.1177/147323000403200205.