Flu Shots: Are They Right For You And Your Family?
By Dr M Hallee ND.
September marks the start of school for some children. It may also be the one month of the school year where there are more colds and flus brought home than homework, especially with the ongoing teacher strike in public schools.
It is no surprise that I start seeing patients ask about flu vaccines for themselves and children by the end of the month. In order to make the best decision for you and your family, there are a few things to keep in mind:
- Are you wanting to vaccinate you or your family in fear that you might get sick? If you have made it through past seasons and not become very ill, nor do you or anyone you are in close contact have a weakened immune system, you likely safe if you want to spare yourself the joy of getting an injection. If, however, you or those around you have a weak immune system, you may need to consider the flu shot.
- Are you wanting to get the flu vaccine because you or a close family member always is sick and/or they have worse symptoms than others? You may want to consider the flu vaccine, but, more importantly, you should seek advice as to why you or your family is apt to get sicker than others. If there is an illness, it should be addressed. If there is no known cause, but the immune system is weak, there are plenty of natural treatments that can help prevent frequent colds and flus. Children, in particular, tend to respond very well to natural treatments. If you are looking for simple ideas to use at home, supplementing with vitamins is a good place to start, such as vitamin A, C and D.
- Are you considering the flu vaccine for a child who is less than two years old? A Cochran review showed that there was absolutely no benefit to children under 2 years of age, so it is not recommended to vaccinate your young children. Remember that the flu vaccine often produces flu-like symptoms after the injection, so be prepared to deal with sick older children, if they have recently been vaccinated.
Receiving the flu vaccine will not guarantee that you will be flu-free all season. The vaccine is made from a prediction of which type of virus will affect people, then a weakened version of that virus is injected. If you decide that it is something that will help you, it is a fairly quick procedure and side effects are usually minimal, such as mild flu-like symptoms that occur after the injection.
If, however, you do not feel comfortable with the idea of flu shots for any reason, there are other options for treatment. As usual, practising healthy hygiene and lifestyle habits are some of the strongest medication. Remember to wash your hands before eating or touching your face; eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables to make your body better able to fight off germs; and get a proper sleep at night to allow your body to have “repair” time.
For further information, see a health care provider for more tips on how to keep you and your family healthy or, if you have a specific question, use the comments box below or email Today Media to have it answered.