If you watched the news at all last week it was an onslaught of scares talking about the flu epidemic and how important it is to protect yourself and your family. The clear message was: do not pass go and immediately get a flu shot and don’t bother asking if there is another option.
With full disclosure, I am a skeptic with respect to flu shots so I had turned to some experts to write this particular blog.
After getting a flu shot 20 years ago when I worked at UCLA and having multiple aches and pains afterward, I opted to not get it again and have not had the flu.
The influenza vaccine contains 5 or 6 types of killed parts of a flu virus. Each year they pick several to put in the vaccine. How effective is it?
According to Tom Jeffrerson, MD, an epidemiologist with the prestigious Cochrane Collaboration, out of 99 healthy adults who receive an influenza vaccine, only 1 case of the influenza virus would be avoided saving someone having to take off half a day of work.
In addition, for those most at risk for influenza (under 2 years of age, and the elderly) the flu vaccine has very little if any effect.
He states that out of 100% of cases of flu-like symptoms only 5-7 % have influenza as a cause and the other 93-95 % are of unknown other viruses.
What can you do to avoid contacting the flu?
- Wash your hands frequently and try to avoid touching your face – many pick up viruses on doorknobs or by touching an object and then touching the face.
- Take your Vitamin D3 – one study showed that taking 2,000 IU of vitamin D per day for one year virtually eliminated self-reported incidences of colds and flu. Some researchers are now referring to vitamin D as “the antibiotic vitamin” since it boosts protection in the white blood cells of antimicrobial compounds that defend the body against germs. Have your vitamin D levels measured by your health care professional and consider a supplement of at least 2,000 IU of D3 per day.
- Exercise regularly – research shows that individuals who exercise regularly have 50% higher protection against viruses, thanks to natural killer cells their bodies generate. David Nieman from Appalachian State University research’s shows that walking moderately 30-40 minutes per day lowered colds and flus by 50%.
- Get your rest and eat as healthfully as possible – eating a balance of protein to strengthen the immune system is essential. High starchy/sugar foods can weaken immunity.
Getting a flu shot will not ensure you avoid getting the flu. Therefore, have a game plan is important to keeping healthy. Wash you hands frequently, take your Vitamin D3, exercise regularly and avoid sugary foods – more work than getting a shot but much higher statistics in avoiding the flu.