Should You Get the Flu Shot and How to Avoid the Flu
Season 4, Episode 84
The 2012-2013 flu season saw three superbugs creating the perfect storm. There was the powerful flu strain H3N2, a new stomach bug from Australia and the worst outbreak of whooping cough in 60 years. The flu is the deadliest of the three. Dr Oz assembled a panel of experts to discuss the flu and flu shots. His panel consits of an expert from the Center for Disease Control, an ER Medicine expert, a Researcher and a Preventative Medicine expert.
The 2013 study shows this flu season’s vaccine is only about 62% effective and that’s about the same rate they’ve been finding over the last few years of doing the vaccine effectiveness study. The effective rate is even worse for older people. The effectiveness is generally lower in older people and higher in healthy, younger people.
The research expert believes Americans have been misled regarding the benefits of the flu shot. When looking at all of the scientific studies, they find there is no good evidence that when the elderly take the flu vaccine, that they can lower their risk of pneumonia, hospitalization or death. The vaccine works a little better in healthy adults, but it’s still not good enough. We would need to vaccinate between 33 and 100 healthy adults, just to prevent even one of those people from coming down with the flu.
In her clinical practice, the preventative medicine expert does not recommend the flu shot for her healthy adult patients under the age of 65. She says having a strong, healthy immune system is the best way to prevent getting the flu and there’s lots of ways to support a strong immune system.
When each panel expert was question about whether they recommend getting the flu shot, the responses were mixed. Two said yes, one said do your homework and make your own choice, though he opted not to get it, and the final expert said only if you’re over 65 or have a chronic illness.
Dr Oz on the flu shot: he personally recommends that you get a flu shot because the 62% protection is better than no protection. He also lists a few things to help avoid the flu virus:
- Use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
- Drink 4 to 6 cups a day of Elderbery tea. Even if you already have the flu, this tea can shorten the duration of the flu.
- If you have the flu, wear a surgical mask until one day after your fever subsides. You can also wear them in places you feel you might be at great risk for getting the flu.
- Finally, if you have the flu, alternate doeses of acetaminophen and ibuprofen to help reduce your fever.
It seems counter-intuitive that if the vaccine is not very effective in older people, then why recommend it to people over 65? That same expert also stated that a strong immune system is the best way to prevent the flu. Maybe her reasoning for recommending it to the over-65 age group is possibly because that age group may be less inclined to change their diet, excercise and sleep habits in order to build and maintain a stronger immune system and she thinks the vaccine is at least has some small chance of helping prevent the flu.
The flu vaccine debate has been going on for many years and we’ve seen over time how mass vaccinations over many years has caused the flu virus to mutate into various strains of flu which we often can’t predict and protect against. For further information on this topic, you may want to listen to the 9/26/11 Gary Null Show podcast on vaccines.
The Gary Null Show