Did you get it yet? You’ll probably be hearing a lot of people talking about the flu vaccine, if you haven’t heard it already. This year with all of the talk of the H1N1 flu and the annual push for vaccination for the seasonal flu, the marketing blitz is on. These are two different issues and we’ll separate them out. There are plenty of things you can do to increase your immune system’s effectiveness. And if you do happen to build your immune system (by getting the flu) there are ways we can help get you through the illness.
Let’s first start with the seasonal flu. The CDC has changed their recommendation for children. The new recommendation is that all children receive the flu vaccination. It’s interesting they don’t give any reason as to why they have changed their recommendation on the web site. I remember a few years back when there was a shortage of the vaccine and the CDC came out and said, well, this year you really don’t need the vaccine. It seems they are piggy backing on the press H1N1 is getting. Budgets sure do increase when there is an issue at hand.
What has changed with the seasonal flu? There may be a risk of getting the two different types at the same time, we don’t know. What we’d like to see is a lot less fear mongering by the media and the agencies charged with public health. The current recommendations can be found here for vaccination guidelines. I am not currently recommending the vaccine for our patients. If you have asthma or severe allergies and/ or haven’t been in for a while we do recommend that you touch base with us about what you can do to tune up your immune system.
Now onto the H1N1 pandemic. Current predictions are that the worldwide pandemic will be like the 1957 flu season. There have been 436 deaths in the US from the H1N1 flu. There are concerns from public health officials that since we are seeing a spike in the summer, the virus may change and become more virulent than it is and we maybe in for a rough fall/winter.
I’d like to add one reason we may be seeing this increase is that we don’t have immunity to this virus and people are currently building their immune systems! The other interesting aspect is that the population group hardest hit (ie. most deaths) is 25-49 year old category. This maybe refelctive to the overall vitality of this age group. We have seen over the years the overall health of the U.S. population decline. There are too many reasons to list here, but food quality, level of toxicity, and stress levels should be included here.
One of the more disurbing components of the discussion (if you can call it one) is the rush to immunize. While the vaccine is still under development, we are assured there will be plenty to go around. It hasn’t been tested on people and as Dr. Nigh mentioned in our podcast the development of the vaccine and potential consequences are large. We don’t recommend getting the first round of the shot as it’ll take awhile to see what kind of effect it has on the population. Additionally there was legislation passed that gives the manufacturers of the vaccines immunity form lawsuits if harm is done as a result of the vaccine.
All the while, no one (well very few) is talking about what one can do to increase their immune system function. The CDC website is laughable on this front: wash hands, don’t touch your eyes or mouth, avoid close contact with those showing sickness signs, there is no mention of increasing your immune system’s effectiveness. A few years ago, Drs. Paisley, Nigh and I were selected to write up simple recommendations to increase your immune systems response. The link to the paper can be found here.
What we didn’t include in that paper was information about Vitamin D, as this information really began to break after we wrote the position paper. We have several podcasts touching on Vitamin D and I encourage you to listen to them. At the very least you should know what your vitmain D status is, ideally your level should be between 50-80 ng/ml. The not so sexy recommendations of adequate hydration (half your body weight in ounces), rest/sleep, and managing your stress are pillars of good immune system health.
Check out our links, get educated, call us with any questions. It is time to tune up your immune system — are you ready?