Experts say an annual flu shot is the best way to avoid the aches, fever, congestion and fatigue that flu brings – and to protect those who are at high risk for flu-related complications.
“Every year, people die from influenza,” said Cindy Weston, an assistant professor of nursing at Texas A&M University. “After sizable outbreaks, people will respond with large amounts of vaccinations, but they should be getting vaccinated every year to protect those most vulnerable, mainly children and the elderly.”
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends an annual flu shot for everyone older than 6 months of age. This includes pregnant women.
“The flu strain mutates every year,” she explained. “The flu shot you get this year is different from the one you got last year because it is made specifically for the prominent strains of the virus.”
If vaccination rates are low, a potentially deadly flu outbreak could occur, Weston said. Millions of people get the flu every year, leading to hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations and thousands of deaths, according to the CDC.
“Flu season typically lasts from fall to spring,” Weston said. “The outbreak may peak at various times during those seasons, but people should be vaccinated before they return home for the holidays to prevent an outbreak.”
After you get the shot, it takes two weeks for your body to develop antibodies against the virus, Weston pointed out.
In the meantime, good hygiene will help you stay healthy.
“Washing your hands properly, covering your cough, avoid hand contact with your face and eyes, and wiping down surfaces with disinfectant are all ways to help stop the spread of the flu,” Weston said.
The flu does not mutate every year as Dr. Weston states, it is constantly mutating as it moves through the population. The annual vaccine is at best, a guess as to which mutated strains might move through the population in the coming year. In fact, significant mutation can occur between the time of formulation, production, and distribution of each years’ vaccine.
This was quite evident last year when the vaccine was initially found to be only 23% effective. That number was reduced to 18% within a month. After that point the CDC admitted that the predominant flu strains had mutated and vaccine had limited value at best. However, they still urged the public to continue vaccination.
I’m not a fan of the flu vaccine. It bypasses the GALT (gut associated lymphatic tissue) that is our primary immune system. Injection stimulates the secondary immune system (cellular response) without the primary trigger that would occur naturally.
I do agree with the good hygiene tips although you should avoid the use of anti-bacterial soaps.
Bottom Line - Here are my tips to protect yourself from the seasonal flu:
- Take Echinacea daily. Just like the flu shot, it takes two weeks before your body has reached maximum immune protection. Continue the Echinacea through flu season.
- Add a little vitamin C daily. Use at least 100mg but vary the dosage.
- Make sure you get a good night’s sleep – every night. That’s when your immune system is most active.
- Dress warmly in cold weather. A drop in the body’s core temperature allows any viral infection to reproduce rapidly.
- Drink adequate clean water. A minimum of ½ gallon per day. Keeping the body hydrated helps keep your immune system operating at optimal levels.
Source: September 23, 2016 National Institutes of Health