Here in New Zealand we are enjoying spring and looking forward to summer. However, most of our customers reside in the Northern Hemisphere so they instead have winter to 'look forward' to along with potential exposure to the 'bugs' that seem to come along at this time of year... particularly the flu' virus.
If you haven't already, you will soon be subjected to some quite aggressive marketing of a new flu nasal spray vaccine called FluMist. The manufacturers MedImmune/Wyeth have earmarked $25M for direct to consumer advertising and another $75M for marketing to Doctors. They will have a highly convincing sales pitch. What you have to consider is if it really is worth taking.
Here are a few key points to bear in mind about this nasal vaccine:
It is not approved for children under 5 years of age because it increases the risk of asthma attacks.
It is only effective in about 50% of the people who take it.
It is not approved for adults over 50 years of age as trials have not shown it to be either effective or safe for that age group.
Typical side effects are sore throat, coughing, runny nose and nasal congestion. Bit like flu itself!
BUT... this is the biggest point to bear in mind! It should only be taken by HEALTHY people who do not have compromised immune systems. This is somewhat ironic given that these are the very group of people who are the least susceptible to the flu. It is those people who have sub standard immune systems that are most at risk and these people should not take this product.
Most people do not know the state of their immune system so I guess that a lot of people will get sick after taking this vaccine...
What about the traditional flu shots?
It's not my place to suggest if you should have one of these or not. Like the nasal vaccine this is an issue between you and your health professional. I personally would not have one because I think the 'risk/reward' ratio is too heavily 'stacked' in favor of the risk side.
I have to admit however that the risks are somewhat controversial with much of the evidence anecdotal. Nonetheless there is a lot of smoke and very likely some fire under it. The biggest risk in my opinion comes from the additives (or contaminants) within the vaccine. The most controversial one being thimerosal a derivative from mercury which is included in vaccines as a preservative.
You are possibly aware that there is a very strong scientific line of thinking that puts the increasing incidence of Autism down to this substance which is injected via vaccines into babies. Not only is the finger being pointed at thimerosal as being the villain in the case of Autism but it is being suggested that it is a contributing factor in the increasing prevalence of Alzheimers.
One of the worlds leading immunogeneticists and biologists Hugh Fudenberg MD suggests that if an individual has had five consecutive flu shots that their chance of getting Alzheimers disease is ten times greater than if they had only had a maximum of two shots. (DrFudenberg is considered a world authority on the matter with over 850 papers published in peer reviewed journals.)
DrFudenberg claims that this is due to the mercury and aluminum in flu shots. These toxins build up in the brain causing cognitive dysfunction. Maybe this is why the incidence of Alzheimers is expected to quadruple.
Of course not everyone agrees with his and other experts findings. In fact a group of Toronto MD's disagreed to such an extent that they went to nursing homes and asked people with Alzheimer's if they remember getting a flu injection? Most could not remember getting one. If this was not such a serious subject this would be funny given that many patients cannot even remember their own spouse's name! Anyway, this 'research' was reported by the media as being 'proof' that the flu shots were safe. The media neglected to mention that the 'research' was tagged with a disclaimer which said "Because of the self reported nature of the risk factor questionnaire we cannot exclude the possibility of recall bias."
So, should you get a flu shot?
I'm not advising one way or the other... I'm just stating my personal views on the matter and presenting a few facts for you to consider.
There are alternative steps that you can take however to avoid becoming a flu victim. Of course as with all measures they are not 'guaranteed' but if you adopt them your chances of coming down with the flu are considerably lessened and in the event that you do succumb to it your recovery will certainly be much quicker and the impact less severe.
The key in avoiding the flu and many other ailments which I am sure you already know is building a strong immune system. The importance of a strong immune system goes way beyond protection from flu and virus's. What is not appreciated is that without a healthy immune system other body systems will not function correctly. A case in point is the digestive system. A healthy digestive system depends on a healthy immune system which is why nutrients for the immune system are even more important than vitamins, minerals, fats, proteins and carbohydrates.
Wishing you a flu free winter...
Until the next issue.
In good health,