The Flu

“Should I get a flu shot?”  “The flu is really bad this year”

“I am afraid of getting sick- what should I do?”

People are initiating conversations like this with me a lot these days. The media has done an excellent job of making us think our only protection from serious illness is a vaccination. I wondered out loud to my physician father “What would our country look like if we put as much effort and media coverage into the prevention of gun-inflicted injuries and death as we do into the flu?” He chuckled, as he raised his eyebrows. He worked for 35+ years at Johns Hopkins Hospital, which sees more than its fair share of gunshot wounds. Quietly, without saying much, I know he has “seen it all.” And he doesn’t seem fazed by this year’s flu any more so than any other threat to our national health. The wisdom of our elder healthcare providers is certainly one to call upon as, with each passing year, the press would like to have us think that this year’s flu is the worst to date. I would argue that it is not, but that we now have an industry that stands to profit from the fear. 

So how do we sort through the fear tactics and back door marketing of a pharmaceutical industry product to discern what our real threat is and whether we would benefit from the flu shot? Surely, there are people who will be well served to receive an immunization. Are you one of them? Unfortunately, I cannot answer that question. It is a very individualized decision making process. What I can say is that if you live with or work with someone who is immune compromised, it may be in your best interest, and more particularly theirs, for you to receive the flu shot. If you have a history of a compromised respiratory system, the flu shot may be right for you. If you are a type 1 diabetic or have an autoimmune disease, I do not recommend the flu shot.

The best advice I have is for you to consult with your healthcare provider, a naturopathic doctor is a very good, neutral source of information for making this decision. Furthermore, an ND will help you design a plan to support your health should you choose not to receive the flu shot, and also to know how to handle the illness should you or a family member become ill.

For some interesting reading on the flu, check out these articles:
http://focusonline.ca/?q=node/447

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130516215453.htm

http://www.bmj.com/content/331/7529/1412