Should I Get a Flu Shot?
Q: Every year I debate over whether or not to get a flu shot. Do you have any advice?
A: I am glad you asked! I believe that each person needs to evaluate the pros and cons of obtaining a flu shot. If you are a fairly healthy individual who is not at high risk of developing a life-threatening case of pneumonia, I don't believe you need to get a flu shot.
Some people might benefit from flu shots, including elderly people who tend to be immune-suppressed or have a history of pneumonia — since pneumonia is a major cause of death in the elderly. Also, anyone who has HIV, is on chemotherapy or other cancer drugs, whose bone marrow is depleted or whose spleen has been removed might also benefit.
A few "cons" about flu shots: The immune system is strengthened by having a chance to fight off viruses. Getting these shots on a yearly basis can weaken the immune system's natural defense mechanisms. Also, some people tend to get sick as a result of receiving a flu shot! And for some people, the contents in the vaccine can cause additional complications.
Being a naturopathic physician, I believe in the body's ability to heal itself. The body can do this very effectively when it is kept healthy. By taking extra good care of yourself and possibly working with a natural health practitioner, you can stay resistant to colds and the flu every winter. Remember, there are many routes to immunity besides obtaining a flu shot!
Contributor: Jana Nalbandian, ND
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