Sneezing, coughing, fever, aches and pains…
Worried about flu symptoms like these? As winter approaches, most of us are.
But this year, the flu seems even more alarming, thanks to increased health concerns about the H1N1 influenza strain, also known as the swine flu. Even though this strain doesn’t appear to be particularly threatening, it has the potential to mutate into a more dangerous form.
The main question my patients have been asking is whether they should get vaccinated against H1N1 or against the regular flu.
This is not a simple yes or no answer. The guiding principle of functional medicine is personalized care, not the one-size-fits-all belief that everyone should have the same treatment. This applies equally to vaccines. There is risk and benefit to every medical treatment or procedure.
That is why in today’s blog I want to review what you need to consider if you are thinking about vaccination, discuss some of the risks involved, and provide you with a comprehensive 7-step plan for preventing swine flu and staying healthy all winter long.
Should You Get Vaccinated?
The choice to get vaccinated is an individual one. Selective vaccination may be helpful for some groups of people–but not everyone. Here are the facts as I see them:
• The current strain of H1N1 is a generally mild strain of the flu. It sounds scarier, but, so far, fewer people have actually died from it than from the traditional flu. It may mutate but it hasn’t yet. Pushing widespread vaccination on low-risk populations exposes them to unnecessary risks.
• If the H1N1 mutates, the current vaccine may not be effective against it.
• The studies on the H1N1 vaccine have been limited in the rush to market.
• The 1976 swine flu vaccine was linked to a serious neurological disease called Guillain-Barré syndrome, which causes severe (but usually temporary) paralysis.
• The government has agreed to protect vaccine manufacturers from any lawsuits due to side effects of the vaccine, otherwise pharmaceutical companies would not make it.