Immune | May 2, 2018 | Author: Naturopath
It’s officially now flu season and May is the best time to get vaccinated. For the past few years Australia has had record-breaking flu seasons which has proved fatal for certain people. It is estimated that flu contributes to over 3,000 deaths in Australia each year—usually in more vulnerable groups such as in children and the elderly. This year a few changes have been made to the 2018 flu vaccine to provide more comprehensive protection to you and your family.
The flu is a virus which is more than just a runny nose. It’s usually more severe than the common cold and can leave you bedridden for days.
The flu viruses spread easily from person to person through coughing, sneezing and close contact, such as kissing and sharing food and drink. When you get the flu, symptoms can last for a week or more. When severe, complications such as pneumonia and worsening of existing medical conditions can lead to hospitalisation and sometimes death.
The "swine flu" virus –also known as influenza A (H1N1) emerged in 2009 and caused the first influenza pandemic in more than 40 years. It is now a regular human flu virus that continues to circulate seasonally worldwide. The current seasonal influenza vaccine has been designed to include protection against the swine flu virus and three others.
To protect yourself from the flu, you should get vaccinated every year. The flu virus is always changing so the flu vaccine changes too. Recent evidence suggests protection against influenza may start to decrease from three to four months following vaccination—so it certainly doesn’t provide you protection the next flu season. This is why annual flu vaccines are important and remember—it’s never too late to vaccinate!
Getting the vaccine from April will protect you before the peak flu period, from around June to September.
Annual immunisation against the flu is strongly recommended for people in at-risk groups such as older people, pregnant women and their families.
Healthcare workers or other people who work with high-risk groups are also recommended to get this year’s flu hot. In fact annual influenza vaccination is recommended for any person from six months of age who wishes to reduce the likelihood of becoming ill with the flu. For high-risk groups the flu shot may be available for free but for everyone else there is a small fee involved.
Currently there are different strength formulas depending on your age group. For children under 3 years there is a specific brand your health provider will use. If your child is aged six months to less than nine years and has never had the flu vaccine before, experts recommend they have two doses in the first year they receive the vaccine. The vaccines should have the dosed at least four weeks apart. After that only one flu vaccine dose is needed each year.
For seniors over the age of 65, there is a stronger influenza vaccine. Check with your immunisation provider that the right formulation is used for you or your child.
In some instances, the flu vaccine can cause a range of mild side-effects and may be more obvious in younger children. Possible adverse reactions within 1-2 days of receiving the flu vaccine include:
In rare cases the flu vaccination can cause more serious side-effects such as febrile convulsions or anaphylaxis. Therefore, you are usually advised to hang around for 15 minutes after receiving your flu vaccine.
There may be other reasons which could prevent or delay you from getting the flu vaccine such as being unwell or having other health conditions.
You can get the flu shot from a range of vaccination providers which can include general practices (your local doctor), community health clinics, pharmacies, and others.
Talk to your doctor, pharmacist or vaccination provider to arrange your flu shot.
To support your immune system and prevent possible side-effects natural therapies can be used in conjunction with the flu vaccine.
Vitamins A & D—both these nutrients are common deficiencies in the general population. In animal studies it has been found that if the body is lacking in these vitamins the bodies production of antibodies following the flu vaccination will be reduced. These nutrients can be found individually in a supplement or in cod liver oil.
Prebiotics—taking a fermented milk product with prebiotics such as galacto-oligosaccharide has been found to maintain antibody titre (especially for influenza A) for longer periods by improving levels of beneficial bacteria in the gut.
Protect your family this winter by getting this year’s annual flu shot. The flu vaccine is more important for high-risk groups and is available free of charge. For more information speak to your health care provider.
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Surman SL, et al. Vitamin Supplementation at the Time of Immunization with a Cold-Adapted Influenza Virus Vaccine Corrects Poor Mucosal Antibody Responses in Mice Deficient for Vitamins A and D.
Nagafuchi S, et al. Effects of a Formula Containing Two Types of Prebiotics, Bifidogenic Growth Stimulator and Galacto-oligosaccharide, and Fermented Milk Products on Intestinal Microbiota and Antibody Response to Influenza Vaccine in Elderly Patients: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Pharmaceuticals (Basel). 2015 Jun 18;8(2):351-65