By Rosie Steele, Lead Patient Coordinator, Longevity Health Center

When it comes to making a decision for yourself and your family about whether you should get a flu vaccine (or any vaccine for that matter), the first step is asking the right questions.  At Longevity Health Center, we believe that an educated person is an empowered person.  Here are some basic questions and answers that might help you make this decision this year.  As always, our desire for our patients is complete health and vitality!

What is the flu? 

The flu (influenza or grippe) is an infectious virus.  Several types of flu viruses have been identified.  Usually the virus travels through the air over relatively short distances from coughs or sneezes.  A person can spread the virus both before and during the time that they are symptomatic.   Peak flu season in the United States is considered to be November – April.

What are the risks associated with getting the flu?

Symptoms can be mild to severe.  Most commonly, symptoms include fever, runny nose, sore throat, muscle pain, headache, coughing and fatigue.  Symptoms can last from two days to more than two weeks.  The cough may last longer.  Children may also experience nausea and vomiting.  Complications of the flu may include pneumonia, sinus infections and worsening of other, pre-existing health problems (such as asthma or heart failure).  It is difficult to know for sure, but it is generally estimated that there are three to five million cases of the flu around the world, resulting in 250,000 – 500,000 deaths annually (typically occurring in the very young, the very old, or those with other serious health problems).  Larger outbreaks of influenza are called pandemics and they are less frequent.  There were three pandemics in the 20th century, each resulting in over a million deaths.  The most recent pandemic was in 2009 (H1N1).

What is the flu shot?

The flu shot is a vaccination against influenza.  It typically covers three to four specific strains of the influenza virus.  Since the virus evolves rapidly, the vaccine is changed from year to year to include the strains of the flu that are predicted to spread in the coming season.   There is no guarantee that the flu shot will be effective against the strains of the virus that actually do spread in any given year.  The vaccine can be administered in a shot form (usually in the arm) or in a nasal mist.

What are the toxic ingredients that are included in the flu shot?

 There are multiple flu shots made by different manufacturers from year to year.  They all typically contain:

  • Thimerasal (a mercury compound used as a preservative to prevent contamination). Due to concerns about autism, some manufacturers have removed Thimerasal from children’s flu vaccines.
  • Aluminum Salts (adjuvant used to stimulate a response to the antigens)
  • Egg Proteins (used to culture the virus)
  • Formaldehyde (to kill inactivate other toxins during the manufacturing process)
  • Neomycin (an antibiotic to kill bacteria that contaminate during the manufacturing process.

Additional ingredients typically include MSG, sucrose and phosphate buffers, as well as multiple mineral and chemical compounds.

How effective is the flu shot?

 In 2014-2015, the vaccine was considered to be 18% effective (in other words, 82% of people who were vaccinated still had a flu that season).  Nasal Spray form of the vaccine has been found to be generally ineffective for the last three years.  The flu shot has been shown to be most effective in those who have not previously received the vaccine.

What are the risks or potential side effects associated with getting the flu shot?

 The most common side effects include soreness at the sight of the injection, mild fever and flu-like symptoms.  However, more serious vaccine injuries occur every year, including Guillian-Barre Syndrome, Auto-Immune Disease, and Encephalitis (brain inflammation), sometimes leading to death.

Can I decline the flu shot?

Despite the tremendous pressure put on the public by big-pharma funded media, as well as the CDC and health professionals, the flu shot is not mandatory.  Some employers (especially those in the heathcare industry) require employees to receive the flu vaccine each year.  However, exceptions may be allowed, particularly on the basis of medical or religious exemptions.  We encourage you to know your rights when it comes to vaccine choice, and to even consider joining in the ongoing efforts to keep vaccine choice in our state and country!

How is the flu treated medically?

Anti-Viral drugs such as Tamiflu are used to treat influenza.  Their benefits, in both otherwise healthy people, as well as people with other health problems, do not appear to be greater than their risks.   Since the flu is not bacterial, antibiotics have no effect on the virus.

How can I naturally and pro-actively protect myself against the flu?

Your immune system health is the most accurate predictor of whether or not you will get the flu.  The best way to prevent the flu is to strengthen your immune system!

Get your D3!

Studies are showing that maintaining adequate levels of vitamin D might be the single most important thing that a person can do to prevent the flu.  Vitamin D produces up to 300 different anti-microbial peptides in the body that work to kill bacteria, viruses and fungi.  A 2010 study showed that children taking just 1200 IUs of Vitamin D3 daily were 42% less likely to get the flu.

Work that gut!

About 80% of your immune system actually resides in your GI tract, so having a healthy gut means having an optimal immune system!  One study showed that children who took probiotic supplements twice a day for 6 months reduced antibiotic use by up to 84%!  In addition, limiting sugars and practicing good nutrition is vital to overall health.

How can I naturally treat the flu?

 You can naturally treat the flu using natural immune boosters such as:

  • Probiotics
  • Colostrum
  • Vitamin D3
  • Vitamin C
  • Elderberry
  • Echinacea
  • Astragalus
  • Adaptogenic Mushrooms (Beta Glucans)

Additional anti-mocrobial herbs include:

  • Pelargonium
  • Oil of Oregano
  • Garlic
  • Rosemary

Other home remedies include:

  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Bone Broth or Chicken Soup
  • Hot Herbal Teas
  • Elimination of Sugar and Carbs (get calories from protein and vegetables)

Additionally, make sure you get plenty of rest, practice good hygiene (hand washing!!),  and stay well hydrated.