At this time of the year, you can’t walk into a grocery store or pharmacy without seeing signs urging you to get a flu shot. But new findings show that flu vaccines are far less effective than experts once thought.
Flu vaccines are essentially a “cocktail” made up of all of the potential strains of the flu that are expected to hit that year. Up until now, most experts estimated the flu vaccine’s effectiveness at 70 to 90 percent, but new findings are showing that flu vaccines protect only about 59 percent of the population. Everyone else is operating under a false sense of protection.
Folks, this is something I’ve been saying for years—getting a flu shot is no guarantee you won’t get the flu. Plus the flu vaccine doesn’t even reduce the number of flu-related deaths, which is the biggest argument for the flu vaccine from health professionals. In fact, vaccination rates increased from 15–20 percent before 1980 to 65 percent in 2001, yet influenza-related deaths among those 65 and older remained about the same.
Plus, I have other concerns about the flu vaccine. In past years it’s been associated with hundreds of cases of neurological disorders such as Guillan-Barre syndrome. In addition, several studies have demonstrated that the flu vaccine actually weakens the immune system. Finally, vigorously held assertions to the contrary, giving healthy workers flu shots provides no economic benefits whatsoever when the costs of vaccination are compared to the costs of flu-related sick days and medical care.
Safe, Effective Alternatives to the Flu Vaccine
While I can’t make the decision for you of whether or not to get a flu shot, I can tell you that there are several natural ways to protect yourself from the flu:
- Make sure you’re getting enough vitamin D to fortify your immune system—which is especially critical in the winter when days are shorter. I’ve found that 2,000–5,000 IU of vitamin D daily works for most people. But your best bet is to have your blood level of vitamin D (25(OH)D) tested and take enough supplemental vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) to keep it in the optimal range of 50–80 ng/mL.
- Take at least 1,000 mg of vitamin C every day. It has both antiviral and antibacterial activity, and it boosts the immune system. At the first sign of a cold or flu, increase this to 4,000–5,000 mg a day.
- Echinacea is perhaps the most widely used herbal remedy in Europe for the flu and colds. The suggested dose is two capsules, two to four times daily during flu season.
- Good health begins in your gut, so be sure you’re taking a high-quality probiotic supplement. Look for a product that contains multiple strains of beneficial bacteria with a delivery system that keeps them alive and intact until they reach your intestinal tract.
- Drink plenty of fluids, get lots of sleep, eat right, exercise, and wash your hands frequently.
Now it’s your turn: What are your thoughts about the flu vaccine?