What is the Flu Vaccine?
Influenza is a viral infection that is caused by the flu virus. It is spread from person to person via the secretions of the nose, throat and lungs. This infection causes symptoms such as a fever, sore throat, cough, headache muscle aches fatigue and weakness. Flu usually only lasts a few days, but if left untreated can result in pneumonia and more severe respiratory disorders. Many Americans (approximately 226,000) are hospitalized yearly because of influenza.
One of the most effective ways to prevent flu is with an influenza vaccination. The best time to get a flu vaccine is every fall between October and November so that you are immunized against strains that have developed since the previous year. Influenza tends to occur from November through May, but during January and February, most episodes of influenza are reported.
The influenza vaccine is readily available at drug stores, your local health practitioner as well as on-site flu clinics. There are differences between a conventional flu vaccine (which uses the crude live form of the virus) and a natural flu vaccine (which does not use the crude live form of the virus).
Types of Flu Vaccines
There are two types of flu vaccines – inactivated flu vaccine and a live flu vaccine. The inactivated flu vaccine contains the killed flu virus and is injected into the muscles. This virus produces antibodies to the influenza virus and when it enters the body of a vaccinated person, the antibodies kills the virus, thus preventing the infection. The live or weakened flu vaccine is administered in the form of a nasal spray. Each vaccine consists of three viruses and these include one A (H3N2) virus, one A (H1N1) virus, and one B virus.
Flu viruses change every year and the vaccine can only protect against the strains of the virus that match the virus. For this reason, an annual vaccination is recommended. The vaccine takes two weeks for the vaccination to be fully effective.
Who should get the Flu Vaccine?
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and prevention (CDC) recommends vaccination for the following groups of people and these include:
- Everyone over the age of 50 years
- All children aged 6 to 23 months of age
- Babies aged 6 months and older who suffer from chronic heart or lung conditions including asthma
- Adults and babies aged 6 months older whose immune system is compromised by AIDS, cancer and chronic disorders such as respiratory diseases like asthma, emphysema and COPD and diabetes or heart disease
- Women who are pregnant during the influenza season
- Nursing home residents and employees
- People who work in medical facilities, care-givers of children 6 to 23 months of age or have close contact with people in any of the above high-risk groups
Who should not be vaccinated?
Certain groups of people should receive the flu vaccine until they have consulted their health practitioner and these include:
- People who have allergies to chicken eggs
- People who have had a history of severe reactions to the vaccine in the past
- Children under the age of 6 months old should not be vaccinated
- People who have a severe illness with a fever should not be vaccinated until their symptoms subside
- People who have developed Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS), a rare nerve disease within six weeks of their previous vaccination
What are the side effects of the Flu Vaccine?
The likelihood of the flu vaccine causing serious side effects is not very common, however unpleasant side effects may occur and these *include soreness, redness or swelling where the injection was given, fever, muscle aches and feeling unwell. Furthermore, although unlikely, severe allergic reactions have been known to occur – usually shortly after the shot is administered. For this reason, women who are pregnant, the elderly and small children and babies should look to a natural alternative as an option to the conventional flu vaccine.
Homeopathic remedies have been formulated to act as a natural flu vaccine and support the immune system without toxic side effects. The natural version of the flu vaccination consists of the homeopathic version of the crude virus – so no live virus is used! Carefully selected ingredients such as Influenzinum, Bacillinum, Gelsemium and Nux vomica provide seasonal protection against the current flu viruses improves recovery time from symptoms and boosts the body’s immune system.
Herbs such as Hypoxis Rooperi, Agathosma Betulina (buchu), Mentha Piperita, Solidago Virgaurea (Goldenrod) and Viscum Album safely helps to maintain systemic balance and immune system health and have also proven to be beneficial in relieving the common symptoms of influenza such as coughs, sneezing, congestion and fever.
There are many ways that you can reduce your chances of developing
colds and flu and these include:
- Practice good hygiene habits such as washing your hands thoroughly before eating, preparing food, handling pets and being outside
- Eat a healthy well balanced diet containing fresh fruit, vegetables, lean meat and fish
- Drink plenty of water – at least eight glasses per day flush to flush toxins from the body and keep it hydrated
- Exercise regularly to benefit your overall health
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze
- Avoid sharing personal items such as eating and drinking utensils with someone who has the flu
- Increase your intake of vitamin C supplements and also add foods such as oranges, broccoli and tomatoes that are rich in vitamin C to your diet
- Ensure that you have a good night’s rest with about 7 to 8 hours sleep and practice healthy sleep routines throughout the year
- Manage your stress effectively by going for a brisk walk, playing a sport, listening to soothing music, meditating or practicing deep breathing exercises
- Stop smoking and cut back on excessive alcohol consumption