Flu Shots: How Well do They Really Work?

does the flu vaccine really work?Someone would have to be living under a very big rock not to notice the enormous hype that flu vaccines receive every flu season.  From department stores, to virtually every drug store chain, to walk-in health centers across the country, everyone seems to be not only offering a flu shot but also touting how essential it is that everybody get one.

The U.S. government recommends that Americans receive a flu shot every year.  Still, some wonder how effective flu shots really are and if they even work.  The Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) at the University of Minnesota has published a new report containing a review of more than 12,000 publications and documents along with interviews of more than 100 experts in the field of flu vaccinations.

Understanding the Facts about the Flu Vaccine

The findings from that review may be surprising, as CIDRAP’s report states that flu vaccines offer less protection against seasonal flu than has been previously reported.  While government health agencies and other organizations often cite the effectiveness of a flu vaccine as being in the 70-90 percent range in healthy adults, CIDRAP reported that the flu vaccine had only a 59 percent protection rate in healthy adults.  The report also stated a lack of evidence that flu vaccines protect children aged 2 to 17 as well as inconsistent evidence that adults over 65 are protected by flu vaccines.

Flu Shot or Not? Alternative Options for Protecting Your Body

It’s all food for thought, certainly.  We’re not saying that getting a flu shot is a bad idea – but a flu shot alone may not be enough for many people to fight a foe as persistent as the flu virus.  Medical research has shown that one of the best places to start fending off the flu is to enhance your body’s own natural defenses.  On the front lines of those defenses is your immune system.  And the key when it comes to fighting the flu is how quickly the immune system responds. Therefore, taking immune boosters or immune supplements that increase the immune system’s response time may help fight the flu.

There are other strategies people can use to help avoid the flu.  For instance, frequent hand washing kills flu germs and helps reduce the risk of transmitting the virus. It’s also important to drink plenty of water when feeling sick, as staying hydrated often reduces pesky symptoms such as sore throat. Here’s another suggestion: turn up the thermostat and turn on a humidifier.  The flu virus is most stable at 41 degrees Fahrenheit (5 degrees Celsius) and will likely not do well in warmer, moist air.

Though flu shots can protect against certain strains of the virus, there are plenty of other ways to stay healthy and avoid the flu this winter.

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