I often get asked my opinion on the flu shot. Although you’d think I would give a very biased opinion against getting it, that’s not usually my answer.
We all know how awful it is to get the flu, body aches, fever, runny nose, can’t get out of bed… We also know that there are very vulnerable sectors our population who are at higher risk of serious health implications if they do get the flu, including our infants, elderly and immune compromised individuals. These people have several factors to consider, but even so, I don’t usually give my opinion. I’d rather have people understand how the flu vaccine works and make a decision they feel 100% comfortable with. This is a much more empowering process and I find the outcome to be much better this way.
In order to make a decision, we must understand how the flu shot is made. Every year, a new vaccine is created based data collected on the influenza viruses that are circulating around the world that year. Scientists choose strains of the virus they find to be the most likely to spread and create a vaccine based on this information. The difficulty in this process is that these laboratories must make a forecast of the viruses that will be circulating, and they aren’t always accurate. The World Health Organization makes recommendations on virus strains to use in the vaccine, but ultimately, each country chooses which strains they include in their vaccine.
It is also important to consider the fact that it takes a least 6 months to produce enough of the vaccine for flu season. So the actual manufacturing of the vaccine must begin in January in order for the vaccine to be ready in the fall. If we take a look at the calendar, it means in order to make enough flu vaccine for this year’s shot, the formula was created based on information gathered last year.
Knowing this then, if you decide to get the flu shot or not, you know there’s no guarantee on how effective it’s going to be. For the past couple of years, actually, it hasn’t been very effective at all in Canada.
So what do I support whole heartedly? The immune system, of course! Strengthening the immune system is essential in flu prevention regardless of whether you get the flu shot or not. Do I offer tools for this? Yes, I do offer an “immune boosting” version of the flu shot that is made from medicinal herbs to help strengthen your immune system so you can fight off the flu regardless of the strain.
What other tools do I use to strengthen the immune system?
– Fruits and vegetables, adequate sleep and good hygiene.
– Vitamin D
– Vitamin C
– Elderberry syrup, especially tasty for kids! (This one’s really fun and easy to make at home)
So, if you decide to get the flu shot this year or not, your best protection will still be your immune system.
* Naturopathic immune boosting “flu shots” are taken by mouth and have no known side effects. Cost is 30$ and is covered by extended health benefits under Naturopath.