Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Flu Shots

Let's talk about flu season. It's here and our patients are asking us the annual question: "Should I get a flu shot?" Here's what we have to say:

1) As chiropractors, we are not legally allowed to give any advice on medications, including vaccinations like the flu shot. With that in mind, there is some information we feel you should have.

2) Vaccinations are supposed to work by showing your immune system a small piece of a virus, thereby allowing your immune system to recognize and fight off the virus if you are ever exposed to it. This is a great idea, and it usually works very well. Unfortunately, there is no way to isolate a little bit of the flu virus without using a lot of chemicals that are NOT necessary to the immune response.

3) Medication should be prescribed when the risk of not taking it outweighs to possible side effects of taking the medication. In the case of the flu vaccine, many people report feeling flu-like symptoms after receiving the shot. One wonders, then, how the vaccination was helpful to those people.

4) In the case of people with depressed immune systems, such as people with HIV, AIDs, small children and the elderly, the risk of getting the flu is serious. In these people, a vaccination is potentially life-saving. In the general population, the flu is mainly an inconvenience and not a life-threatening infection. One wonders why someone in the general population would choose to inject themselves with unnecessary chemicals to prevent something that may or may not even happen and, if it does happen, will most likely not be that bad.

5) There are a lot of ways to help boost your immune system naturally so that you can fight off infection on your own: getting plenty of rest, exercise and healthy foods is a good start. Limit your exposure to infected people, wash your hands often and make sure you maintain your over-all health to the best of your ability. This includes having regular chiropractic treatments to ensure that your body is not using up energy on muscle spasms and joint dysfunction.

Finally, we'd like to say that our main goal is to educate our patients. We cannot recommend for or against flu shots and it is something you should discuss with your primary medical doctor before you make a decision. When you have that discussion, however, be sure to ask them about your personal risk for contracting the flu and the chances of you having life-altering side effects from both the infection and the vaccine. Once you have all the facts, make your own informed decision.

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