Flu vaccines were first introduced in the 1980’s. The flu shot was initially only offered to those at high risk with an extremely compromised immune systems or a history of lung-related infections. Then, the makers of the flu vaccine realized that there was a HUGE profit to be made by expanding the target populations for the shot. It soon became the norm for physicians to recommend that all elderly patients and immunocompromised children receive the shot. Next, the vaccine makers began to target the everyday working population. After all, getting the flu is inconvenient, and wouldn’t it be great to avoid getting it if all possible? Then, employers began to mandate that their employees receive the flu vaccine. All this fuss and the few available studies that exist point to probably less than 10% of flu-like illnesses are “caused” by the influenza virus.
Some important questions:
How do they know what to put in the flu shot? Every year, federal health agency officials try to guess which three flu strains are most likely to be prevalent in North America the following year to determine which strains will be included in next year’s flu vaccine. If they guess right, the vaccine is thought to only be 70-80% effective in temporarily preventing the flu of the season in healthy persons less than 65 years old. However, sometimes health officials do not correctly predict which flu strains will be most prevalent (sounds like a weather prediction, right?!?) and the vaccine’s effectiveness is much lower for that year.
Are there reactions to the flu vaccine? The most common reactions are: fever, fatigue, painful joints and headache. The most serious reaction that has been associated with flu vaccine is Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS). GBS that results from a flu shot occurs most often within two to four weeks of vaccination. GBS is an immune mediated nerve disorder characterized by muscle weakness, unsteady gait, numbness, tingling, pain and sometimes paralysis of one or more limbs or the face. Recovery lasts several months and can include residual disability.
How do I avoid getting the flu? Proper nutrition, proper supplementation, getting adjusted, washing your hands, getting lost of rest, and minimizing your stress are the best ways to stay healthy this flu season. Even if you have had your flu shot, it is wise to follow these rules also as there is no guarantee that a flu shot will offer 100% protection against this year’s flu strains.
Is the flu potentially harmful to people with compromised immune systems or multiple health issues? Absolutely.
If someone who has regular contact with someone in this category contracts the flu and brings it home, can there be major health issues for the susceptible individual? Absolutely.
Do young, healthy people with no compromise to the functioning of their immune systems really need the flu shot? Therein lies the multi-million dollar question.
What are the long term consequences of being vaccinated on an annual basis for an illness that may not even pose a serious health risk for most people? No one knows! For some reason, officials do not want to conduct this study… hmmmm.
Where are the studies that show that the benefits far outweigh any long-term adverse impacts? I haven’t seen any yet.
These are some important questions you should consider when thinking about getting the flu vaccination. Whatever your decision, we encourage you to do your own research and not just go off what your doctor tells you. Inform yourself and make your own decision!
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