Vaccinations in general are a very controversial and passionate issue, it seems to be a topic to avoid along with religion and politics since the opinions are so extreme. There are accusations being lodged against “Big Pharma” pushing vaccines that may or may not be needed, the possible side effects, and usefulness in general. In the age of misinformation and disinformation, people tend to be suspicious of what they hear, who the source of the information is, and what might be in it for them. I am not placing blame on either side, just stating the obvious.
The Flu Shot is part of the argument. Each year the strain of flu seems to get more and more vicious. The choice is yours. There are 116 million doses of the flu vaccine for this year, there is one with your name on it. I was on the fence about getting one until I researched this article.
To reduce your chances of catching the flu:
- Wash with soap and water and use an alcohol based hand sanitizer.
- Cough or sneeze into a tissue or the elbow.
- If you’re sick, stay home until you are fever-free for 24 hours without the use of medication.
- Don’t assume! When you have symptoms, talk to your doctor about getting tested and whether you should take anti-viral medication to treat the flu.
Yes, each year the flu seems to mutate and new strains attack. The current vaccine helps ease the severity and duration of flu symptoms even if it is not the perfect match for the virus. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention shared the influenza data for the 2017-2018 flu season. There were an estimated 80,000 deaths in the U.S. attributed to influenza or associated complications within the last year.
The most recent CDC report indicates that 183 children succumbed to influenza. Children are highly vulnerable to the disease and are constantly exposed in school and child care settings. A flu shot can supposedly significantly reduce the risk of dying. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that all children ages 6 months and older receive an injectable flu vaccine, as it is more effective than the nasal spray vaccine based on the last few year statistics.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conducts studies yearly to determine the vaccine’s protective ability. They have found the flu shot reduces the risk of flu illness by 40% to 60% during seasons when most circulating flu viruses are well-matched to the flu vaccine. If you hear there is a 40% chance of rain, do you leave home prepared?
Vaccines should not be administered to anyone with a severe allergic reaction to any vaccine element, including eggs, egg products, Thimerosal, or to a previous dose of any influenza vaccine. Make sure to let your healthcare provider or whoever will give you the flu shot knows this.
According to the CDC, “Flu is more likely to cause severe illness in pregnant women than in women of reproductive age who are not pregnant. Changes in the immune system, heart, and lungs during pregnancy make pregnant women (and women up to two weeks postpartum) more prone to severe illness from flu, including illness resulting in hospitalization. Flu also may be harmful for a pregnant woman’s developing baby. A common flu symptom is fever, which may be associated with neural tube defects and other adverse outcomes for a developing baby. Getting vaccinated can also help protect a baby after birth from flu. (Mom passes antibodies onto the developing baby during her pregnancy.)”
In the case of the elderly, the CDC recommends a high-dose vaccine as they are exceptionally vulnerable to illness, hospitalization and death related to the flu. Additionally, those with certain medical conditions such as diabetics, extremely obese, asthmatic, heart disease or illnesses that can suppress the immune system also increase a person’s risk of severe illness with the flu.
Yes, it is true that the vaccine may cause a low-grade fever and body aches which present flu-like symptoms, however, this is your body’s immune response to the vaccine. This is what builds immunity to the actual flu. These symptoms will typically only last one to two days, and there is no influenza virus in your system. There is a precaution against the use of the nasal spray flu vaccine for people with certain medical conditions.
Staying well and feeling better tips aka Truths Your Grandma Told You:
- Listen to your body and sleep
- Stay hydrated so that the nasal and throat passages are kept moist
- Research shows that flu germs survive and spread more easily in dry air conditions plus moist air eases nasal congestion, so humidify
- For headaches and sinus pain, use a warm compress to increase circulation in the area by causing blood vessels to dilate and relieve the associated stuffiness.
- Inhale steam to open up nasal passages (supervise the youngsters)
- Add a drop or two of eucalyptus or peppermint oil to the heated water and then inhale the vapor to loosening of mucus and phlegm, ease breathing and relieve congestion
- Yes, old fashioned gargling with salt water helps!
- Nasal rinsing can remove irritants, debris and particles to clear the passages and at the same time moisturizing and soothing irritated membranes.
- Honey is a natural immune booster with antimicrobial and antibacterial properties.
- Lemon has immune boosting properties and is an excellent source of vitamin C.
- Ginger is a natural anti-inflammatory and can help settle nausea and cold sweats.
- Garlic, especially crushed or chopped raw, is an antiseptic with antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
Once you make that decision to be on the cautious side of the needle, here are some helpful hints on where to go:
- If you have any health issues, you should go to your primary care physician who is familiar with your history
- Flu shots are available by appointment through The Monmouth County Health Department at 732-431-7456.
- Check with your local chain pharmacy as many have free or discounted flu shots… Walgreens, Rite Aid, CVS etc.
- Many of the individual towns are offering free or discounted flu shots, check with yours
- Certain Supermarket and Costco locations offer discounted shots
- Certain Target locations
- Urgent Care centers accept walk ins
Be well and feel wonderful!