This morning, my cheeky 8 year old, wakes up and comes to my room telling me that he doesn’t like wearing his trousers at school. Erm…. I’m pretty sure I didn’t sign him up to a hippy alternative lifestyle commune. Thankfully it’s only because he has become so used to the recent warm weather and being in his shorts and Havaianas. Phew! I told him it’s getting colder now that it’s autumn and he needs to wrap up or he’s going catch a cold, reminding me that his school has sent out the Influenza (Flu) vaccine consent form.
I’ve already been asked about boosting the immune system as the sniffles are making a rude comeback after the blistering summer we’ve just had. You know who you are!
Your Natural Immunity
During our life and on a day to day basis, your immune system is kicking butt without you ever being aware that you’ve been in contact with some virus or infection. It is constantly learning new illnesses and how to produce antibodies to fight it. Impressive. There’s no messing with mother nature. But sometimes you can come into contact with something, entirely new to you, that your body isn’t prepared for. This is when we get ill. You can boost your own natural immunity with antioxidants like Vitamin C, Zinc, a good healthy diet, reducing stress and topping up your Vitamin D.
Once you’ve caught a cold you can use Echinacea, Golden Seal or Royal Jelly to reduce the duration of the cold. Taking Vitamin C once you’re already ill isn’t going to be much help. Speak to your GP or pharmacist about suitable natural and over the counter medicines to treat a cold or the flu.
The Flu Vaccine
The debate rages on about whether the Flu vaccine works or not, or whether to have it or not. I am a believer in vaccines. Both my children will be having the flu vaccine as will I and Mrs P.
The Flu vaccine does NOT stop you from catching the flu or a cold. (A cold is a high temperature, runny nose and sneezes that usually resolves itself within a week and the flu is the same but with severe muscle pain and can be quite debilitating.) What the flu vaccine should stop you catching, is the deadliest strains of influenza that are prevalent at the moment. This information is obtained by the world health organisation following flu trends in parts of the world where winter arrives before our winter – usually the south pacific and Asian rim. This information is used to create a vaccine and expedited through testing in time for our winter. The Flu vaccine changes every year depending on which new mutations of the virus are spreading and causing death. Last years vaccine is no longer effective against new mutated strains of the flu. A fresh up to date vaccine is required annually.
I hear people telling me that they had the flu vaccine and immediately caught the flu. It happens. But chances are that their body was understanding the vaccine and how to fight off the real virus should it be exposed to it. It will be short lived with relatively mild symptoms.
The population most recommended for the flu vaccine are
- adults 65 and over
- pregnant women
- people with certain health conditions like asthma, diabetes and breathing problems
- children aged from 6 months to 12 years
- healthcare workers
You shouldn’t have the flu vaccine if you’ve had a bad reaction to the flu vaccine in the past or are allergic to eggs. Speak to your GP.
It is hard to avoid crowded public areas like public transport, restaurants and gyms. These are the places you are more likely to contract a cold or flu from. It’s impractical to become a recluse and hibernate over winter, but by being sensible and helping your immune system, you can enjoy a healthier winter, less days off work and less suffering under a blanket.