To take or not to take the flu vaccination

Published 11:20 pm Thursday, October 16, 2014

Well, it’s already October, and there’s a refreshing nip in the air, but with it comes a familiar, yet unwelcomed sign that Winter’s not too far off.  “Flu season.” The peak of flu season usually occurs anywhere between November and March, but South Carolina has already seen its first flu related death this season. Flu (Influenza) is a respiratory illness whose symptoms can include cough, fever, runny nose, gastrointestinal distress (upset stomach, cramps, vomiting, or diarrhea), sore throat, body aches, head ache, and chills.

Each year in the U.S. alone, more than 200,000 people are hospitalized with flu related symptoms, and about 36,000 die from those same symptoms. Transmission of Influenza is usually spread one of two ways. One is by tiny respiratory droplets that are propelled from person to person through coughing or sneezing.  By the way, these droplets from a cough can travel up to 64 mph, and 100 mph from a sneeze.  The other way is by touching respiratory droplets from an infected person, either on another person, or object, and then touching one’s own nose, mouth, or eyes.

I personally recommend most healthy folks take the seasonal influenza vaccine. Here’s a list of those who should take the vaccine, and those who should not.

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Those who should: pregnant women, all children over the age of 6 months, anyone 50 years and older, those, any age with chronic health conditions, those who live in long term care facilities, like nursing homes, and people who are in contact with, and care for others who are at high risk for complications from flu, like healthcare workers, care givers to children, and the elderly.

Those who should “not” take the influenza vaccine: those who’ve had a severe reaction to the vaccine in the past, people who are allergic to chicken eggs, those who have developed a condition called  “Guillian-Barre  Syndrome” (GBS) within 6 weeks of getting  the vaccine, children less than 6 months of age. (flu vaccine is not approved for children less than 6 months), and those who are ill with fever ; they should wait until completely recovered.

Some  worry that they’ll get the flu from taking the influenza  vaccine…they can’t, because  flu vaccine contains killed viruses. The “nasal” flu vaccine contains weakened viruses, but can’t give the flu to a healthy individual. Remember, it takes about two weeks for a person who’s taken the flu vaccine to be protected, so if exposed to the flu, within that time, one could still get the flu.

Now, while it’s I true recommend to take the seasonal influenza vaccine, it’s equally true that I’m even more an advocate of naturally boosting your own immune system. A strong immune system is by far, and away the best way to fight off the numerous microbials that attack our bodies every minute of every day. I next week’s column, I’ll show you how.


Diet or fitness question? Email me at or visit David Crocker of Landrum has been a nutritionist and master personal trainer for 28 years. He served as strength director of the Spartanburg Y.M.C.A., head strength coach for the USC-Spartanburg baseball team, S.C. state champion girl’s gymnastic team, and the Converse collage equestrian team. He served as a water safety consultant to the United States Marine Corps., lead trainer to L.H. Fields modeling agency, and taught four semesters at USC-Union. David was also a regular guest of the Pam Stone radio show.