As the cooler months approach, common colds and viruses typically start making their respiratory rounds. Getting sick is no fun and many of us will do anything to stay healthy through the fall and winter. Hit the gym, take a hike, go to yoga, sweat in a sauna, take supplements, get a flu shot, etc. While it’s difficult to know what works and what doesn’t, the flu shot has been growing in popularity to prevent the nasty flu. But, is it something you should get?
How Is a Flu Shot Created?
After some research, I found out that scientists formulate each year’s flu shot with proteins from inactive viruses. These viruses trigger your immune system to produce antibodies. The hope is that the inactive viruses selected will produce the antibodies needed to prevent the flu.
It’s a Little Bit of Guesswork
One of the limitations of the flu shot’s effectiveness is that it is guesswork. Several flu strains are floating around our environment and in doing so, they mutate to create new strains. Scientists have to try and guess the correct strains to formulate the vaccine. Based on the numbers provided in Lancet Infectious Diseases, the vaccine is effective about 60% of the time. This means that you can still get the flu, even if you get the vaccine.
Even though it’s guesswork, some doctors claim that even a flawed shot is worth having because if you get the flu, “The illness will be milder than it would have been without the vaccine.” (Dr. Kawsar Talaat, MD in vaccine researcher at Johns Hopkins University.) This claim is based on the idea that the antibodies you build will still be partially effective against flu strains not included in the shot.
True Health U’s Take
I’ve spoken to many clients and friends who have gotten the flu shot in previous years and even this year already. Some experienced bad side effects and won’t do it again. Another still got the flu even with the vaccine. But many others swear it protected them last year, never experienced side effects, and will likely get it again.
If you do decide to get the flu shot this year, know that it may help you or may make you feel yucky. It’s not full proof, so whether you get it or not, consider some of the other nutritional measures shown to boost your immune system as well. These are provided in your free Real Food Therapy Guide on Influenza (p. 59).