Flu season vaccine information

Published 11:19 pm Thursday, November 19, 2015


By David Crocker



During this time of year, there’s a refreshing nip in the air. There’s also a familiar, but unwelcomed sign that winter’s not too far off. It’s “flu season.” The peak of flu season usually occurs anywhere between November and March.

Flu (influenza) is a respiratory illness whose symptoms include cough, fever, runny nose, gastrointestinal distress (upset stomach, cramps, vomiting, or diarrhea), sore throat, body aches, headache, and chills. Each year in the U.S. alone, over 200,000 people are hospitalized with flu related symptoms, and about 36,000 die from those same symptoms. Influenza is usually spread one of two ways. One way is by respiratory droplets that are propelled from person to person through coughing or sneezing (by the way, these droplets can travel as far as 17 feet). Tiny droplets from a cough can travel at 50 miles per hour, while sneeze droplets can travel over 70 miles per hour).

The other way flu is spread is by touching these respiratory droplets from an infected person, either on another person, or on an object, and then touching one’s own nose, mouth, or eyes.

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

Those who should: Pregnant women, all children over the age of six months, people 50 years and older, people any age with chronic health conditions, people who live in long term care facilities, like nursing homes, and those who are in contact with and care for others who are at high risk for complications from flu, like healthcare workers and care givers to children, and the elderly.
Those who should not take the influenza vaccine: People who have had a severe reaction to the vaccine in the past, those who are allergic to chicken eggs, those who have developed a condition called Guillian-Barre Syndrome (GBS) within six weeks of taking the vaccine, children less than six months of age (not approved for children less than six months), and people who are ill with a fever (they should wait until they recover).

Some worry that they’ll get the flu from the flu vaccine…they can’t, because the flu vaccine contains killed viruses. The “nasal” flu vaccine contains weakened viruses, but can’t give the flu to a healthy individual. It does take about two weeks for someone who’s taken the flu vaccine to be protected, so if exposed to the flu from someone else, within that time, one could still get the flu.
Now while it’s true I do recommend to take the seasonal influenza vaccine, it is equally true that I am even more an advocate of naturally boosting one’s 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 the day.
Diet or exercise question? Email me at dwcrocker77@gmail.com. David Crocker of Landrum has been a nutritionist and master personal trainer for 29 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 College equestrian team. He served as a water safety instructor to the United States Marine Corps, lead trainer to L.H. Fields modeling agency, and taught for four semesters at USC Union. David was also a regular guest of the Pam Stone radio show.