In the last weeks there have been many news reports about flu outbreaks in the United States.
As a naturopathic doctor my first thought for prevention is taking actions that boost the immune system. Then your body can fight off the seasonal flu as part of the your normal immune response.
Everybody knows someone who doesn’t fall prey to the common cold or flu each year. These people are examples of the immune system working at its best.
Most of us are not so lucky and need extra support. So what are our options to help prevent getting the flu?
If you listen to the news and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the answer is the seasonal flu vaccine or the flu shot.
The seasonal flu vaccine is an option if you want to take it. I just want people to understand the flu shot is not a 100 percent guarantee that you will not get the flu.
The seasonal flu vaccination is a combination of three attenuated (inactivated) flu viruses that are given usually as an intramuscular shot (in the arm muscle).
Scientists use research to decide which flu strains will make up the upcoming year's seasonal flu vaccine. The flu virus is created usually about 10 months prior to the flu season.
Generally speaking, anyone 6 months old or older can receive a flu shot.
There is a small group of people that should not get a flu shot, including anyone with an allergic reaction to eggs or egg products, anyone who had a poor reaction to a previous flu shot or anyone ever diagnosed with Guillain-Barré Syndrome. Anyone who is sick or has a fever, is encouraged to get a shot on another date.
The CDC reports that the flu shot is 62 percent effective in preventing the most common flu virus. This means 38 percent of the people with took the seasonal flu vaccine with still get the flu.
I will not make a recommendation as to whether you should get the seasonal flu shot or not. Instead I will say that, regardless of whether or not you get the flu shot you still need to take preventative measures to stay well this season.
These measures include:
• Washing your hands frequently