The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggest you get your flu shot as soon as the 2011-2012 vaccine is available. However, in the same document the CDC reports flu shot side effects similar to the flu – fever and body aches – and rare, but serious, side effects. Moreover, multi-dose units of the flu vaccine contain the preservative thimerosal, which contains mercury. These facts have created doubt in the mind of some Utah residents whether the flu shot is the best flu preventing option available.
Utah resident, Autumn Armstrong, states “I got my flu shot last year, but contracted the flu in both November and May. Plus there’s always the concern of mercury harming me.”
Surprisingly, a flu shot may not even provide protection against the intended virus. This is because flu vaccines are created based on speculation by scientists regarding which flu strains will be most active in each season – a difficult guessing game at best. Second, the vaccine may not evoke enough stimulation to produce sufficient antibodies to prevent the flu. In fact, the CDC reported a dismal flu vaccine effectiveness of 44% for the 2007-2008 flu season.
According to the CDC, deaths associated with the flu range from 3,000 to 49,000 annually – though most of these deaths are not directly caused by the flu, instead the result of subsequent infections that may follow the flu.
Practical measures to help prevent the flu include washing your hands frequently, avoiding touching your nose, eyes or mouth and limiting contact with sick people as much as possible. In addition, two natural remedies supported by scientific research may also protect against the flu.
Vitamin D is gaining popularity as a natural flu preventative. It has important immune functions including triggering antibody production against infectious microbes. A report published in the October 2007 edition of Epidemiology and Infection found vitamin D intake prevented the flu. Researchers discovered that less than 8% of participants administered 800 or 2,000 IU of vitamin D daily experienced cold or flu symptoms over a three-year period – a 92% effectiveness. Amazingly, only 1 of 104 subjects who received the 2,000 IU dosage experienced flu or cold symptoms.
Another common flu shot alternative is the homeopathic remedy influenzinum. A 2004 double-blind study submitted to the University of Johannesburg compared the effectiveness of the flu shot and influenzinum and determined that influenzinum was equally as effective in preventing the flu. These results are very promising since homeopathic remedies have no side effects or contraindications and can be given to individuals of all ages.