It’s that time of year again…. deciding whether the flu shot is right for you.
This year, the flu shot will come in different varieties. Besides the adult version of your basic shot, there is also a nasal spray, intradermal shot, the higher dose shot for the elderly and the egg-free shot.
OK, so here are the details:
1. Four Strain Shot. For the first time, the flu shot will protect you from 4 strains of influenza. The original shot has always protected against 3 strains (which is still available). The newer vaccine offers better protection for what you might encounter this flu season. There are some side effects which may be soreness at the injection site, muscle aches and low grade fever. This vaccine is a little more expensive, but what’s your health worth?
2. Nasal Spray (FluMist). This vaccine covers all 4 strains of virus. It is squirted into nasal passages and used for small children, who obviously don’t like needles. Healthy adults can use this as well. This vaccine does contain ‘live’ viruses but they are weakened. It cannot cause flu illness, but may have more side effects which include runny nose, wheezing, headache, sore throat and muscle aches. We usually give adults and kids a homeopathic remedy to offset any side effects called “Thuja” which really helps.
3. Egg-free Vaccine. This is for all of you that could easily avoid the flu shot in the past by telling your practitioner that you were allergic to eggs. Now, the first egg-free flu vaccine is available called “Flublok”. The influenza viruses in this vaccine are cultured in caterpillar cells instead of chicken eggs. And, no, I don’t think you’re allergic to caterpillars!
4. High Dose Vaccines. This may sound cruel in giving our grandparents higher dose vaccines, but those over 65 need higher amounts of influenza vaccine to protect them from dangerous complications of the flu which include pneumonia and even death. This is because as we age, our immune systems get weaker and illnesses can be much more devastating.
5. Intradermal Vaccines. This is for those who don’t want the nasal spray and also are squeamish about shots. It contains a panel of micro needles rather than a single needle and does not go as deep in the muscle.
So who should get the flu vaccine? The high risk population includes people with asthma, diabetes, lung disease, heart disease, pregnant women, children under the age of 5 and those over the age of 65. Also those that are healthy but are likely to be exposed are health professionals, teachers, business people who travel, children in daycare, and all kids and teens in school.
Who should NOT get the flu vaccine? Those who have a severe illness especially with a fever, should wait to get the flu vaccine. Anyone who has had a severe reaction (Guillain-Barré Syndrome) to a prior vaccine should avoid the vaccine.
My advice is…consider the flu vaccine if you are at high risk. But if you decide not to get the vaccine, then at least do something.
Consider a homeopathic product called “Influenzium” that contains the same current strains as the flu vaccine. This is different than Oscillococcinum which is a homeopathic remedy used primarily to treat the flu. Homeopathy is an extreme dilution of the active substance (influenza virus) that would normally cause influenza if taken in higher doses.
Other ways to protect yourself is by using other supplements such as olive leaf extract or elderberry extract which have anti-viral properties. Lots of Vitamin C, fluids and rest really help. Of course please wash your hands and stay home when you’re sick.