Should I get the Flu Shot??

This time of year, one question persists.  Should I get the flu shot?

We are consistently asked this question and while we can’t give a blanket statement for the general public, we wanted to take the time to provide you with more information about the flu vaccine so that with the help of your health care provider that you can make the best decision for you and your family.

The goal at our office is to strengthen your immune system so there is less risk of a virus affecting you, leaving you feeling sick and miserable. When a patient is sick, some detective work is necessary to find out what missing pieces are interfering with their immune system. When your immune system is compromised it has less ability to fight off the flu, or really any other virus, bacteria or toxin we are continually faced with every minute of every day. This is not a one-size-fits-all approach- it is patient-centered and looks at medical needs individually.

The Vaccine:

Each year health officials inoculate this year’s virus into chickens.  Then, they take the created viral strains to use as the antigen-the agent which elicits an immune reaction in the human body so you create your own antibodies against the flu. Antibodies are the body’s way of fighting an illness.

It takes about two weeks after you are vaccinated for your body to create these antibodies (during which it is easy to pick up a different illness because your immune system is busy working on those antibodies). We then hope that the scientists matched the vaccine to the exact flu strain going around. It’s an educated guess and the efficacy of the vaccine lies in our ability to match the two correctly.

**You can still get the flu if you have been vaccinated if the strain you caught does not match the one you were given.  And you can still get the flu even if the strains were properly matched, but your immune system was compromised!

This grey area is why a lot of controversy exists about whether or not the flu vaccine is effective.  To learn more about this, go to The CDC’s “Flu View” for weekly updated on the flu.

What’s In It?

  • Egg proteins: Including avian contaminant viruses
  • Formaldehyde: Known carcinogen
  • Thimerosal: Mercury-based preservative (only in multi-dose vials)
  • Other heavy metals such as aluminum: Known neurotoxin
  • Sugar: The essence of all inflammatory disease
  • Residual antibiotics
  • Other additives known to cause allergic reactions

Link to CDC ingredient list

The biggest controversy about the ingredients is the use of the preservative thimerosal.  Thimerosal contains mercury.  Exposure to mercury leads to systemic health problems running the gamut from neurological dysfunction (memory loss, confusion, inability to concentrate) to depression, renal failure, skin troubles and gastrointestinal disturbances.

Pregnant women and infants are often advised to opt for the single dose mercury-free vaccines as once mercury is in the body it can enter the fetus via the placenta.  Studies have also reported that children can become symptomatic from mercury toxicity from as little exposure as 10 mcg/kg/day.

Many vaccines contain up to 25 mcg of mercury per dose so this is one area where we will state how important it is to look for a mercury-free vaccines.  Here are some options to ask your health care provider about:

Types of Vaccines Available:

1) Single-dose vaccines such as Fluzone: Contains a purified, inert virus that is incapable of causing infection and tends to be free of mercury.

2) Nasal spray such as FluMist: Contains a small amount of a weakened live virus which might make this form slightly more effective but also poses a higher risk for side effects and complications.  These are mercury-free.  Not for pregnant women or children 6-24 months.

3) Some pre-filled syringes such as Afuria are mercury-free.

4) Multi-dose vaccines tend to contain the most mercury.

Mercury is part of the preservative necessary when using multi-dose vaccines. The single-dose vaccine doesn’t require the preservative, which is why this vaccine is preferred. It is also the least cost-effective for manufacturers to produce so until this changes. YOU, the consumer, need to advocate for yourself.

***Here is the CDC’s info on mercury amounts in each brand of vaccine.***

How Safe is the Flu Vaccine?

The CDC reports that safety is always being monitored to ensure risk from the vaccine is minor.

Always contact your local physician if you suspect any serious complications post injection.

While not everyone necessarily needs to get vaccinated, especially if you are generally healthy and follow advice about boosting your immune system with a whole foods diet and an anti-inflammatory lifestyle, there are still some people that might want to consider it. Also, the CDC still recommends that “all persons aged 6 months and older are recommended for annual vaccination, with rare exception.” (CDC, 2015)

Ideal Candidates for the Vaccine:

  • Asthmatics
  • Immuno-compromised patients
  • Heart disease patients
  • Diabetics
  • Morbidly obese

Why Do We Get Sick?

Why do we get the flu in the first place?  Why is the integrity of our immune system compromised? What changes can we make in order to prevent illness from taking hold rather than suffer its nasty consequences?

Preventing the flu depends on improving the quality of our lifestyles to include more rest and relaxation, increasing access to fresh, nutrient-dense food, and limiting sugary and processed junk food in our lives.

Taking care of the way we eat, staying active, getting enough sleep and taking a few nutritional supplements including a multivitamin, a probiotic, and vitamin D can prevent most from ever getting sick in the first place.

The influenza virus can be very uncomfortable and cause a major disruption in our busy lives. Typically, the discomfort can last 3-5 days and while the fever/chills, sore throat, headache, and fatigue are definitely not fun, they usually come and go without major harm caused to the body.

Do yourself a favor and pay attention to your vitamin D status, optimize your diet by focusing on antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, eat lean and clean protein and healthy anti-inflammatory fats from fish, nuts, and seeds, and healthy olive, grape seed, and coconut oils.

Stay well hydrated, practice common sense hygiene, and create time to rest and restore your energy.  And of course get outside and enjoy all that nature has to offer this season!

Contact us to schedule an appointment if you are needing your vitamin D levels checked or would like recommendations on quality supplements! 574-330-0464

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