Flu Prevention & Vaccines
The best prevention is protection. This includes supporting the immune system in a prophylactic way as well as protecting yourself from contact with others who are infected. In the 2011 movie Contagion it is stated that the average person touches their face between 2000 â€“ 3000 times a day. Although no research proving this claim has been conducted it only takes a casual attention to oneâ€™s daily habits to see that we do in fact tend to touch our face more often than we think. Short of an infected person directly coughing or sneezing on you the next route of infection is by way of what we pick up on our hands and transfer to our mucosal surfaces such as our sinusâ€™ and from there to our respiratory tracts. So, washing your hands frequently can be very protective.
According to the CDC the flu vaccine is about 60% effective.
In the next few days I will review a study by Scaglione, F., et al., wherein 227 subjects were vaccinated with the flu vaccine at week 4 of the study. Half of the group was given a daily dose of 100mg of ginseng for the full 12 weeks of the study and the other half was given a placebo. Between weeks 4-12 forty-two subjects (37%) in the placebo group contracted the flu and only 15 (13%) of the treatment group contracted the flu.
In a 2010 study on the efficacy of the flu vaccine it was determined that even when the flu vaccine perfectly matched â€œthe vaccine-matched, culture-confirmed influenzaâ€ of that season itâ€™s efficacy was only 46.3%. 
In another efficacy study on virally matched vaccines the efficacy was 66.9%. 
In another vaccine study during 1997-1998 the vaccine did not match the viral strain active during that season and illness was at 50%. 
So, if you are, so to speak, â€œputting all our eggs in one basketâ€, you are taking a significant risk by trusting solely in the flu vaccine to keep you from contracting the flu. Whether you choose to get the flu vaccine or not it would be wise to add other things to your health routine in order to maintain a strong immune system.
In my next post I will be discussing diet as well as other recommendations.
1. Scaglione, F., et al., Efficacy and safety of the standardised Ginseng extract G115 for potentiating vaccination against the influenza syndrome and protection against the common cold [corrected]. Drugs Exp Clin Res, 1996. 22(2): p. 65-72.
2. Jackson, L.A., et al., Safety, efficacy, and immunogenicity of an inactivated influenza vaccine in healthy adults: a randomized, placebo-controlled trial over two influenza seasons. BMC Infect Dis, 2010. 10: p. 71.
3. Beran, J., et al., Efficacy of inactivated split-virus influenza vaccine against culture-confirmed influenza in healthy adults: a prospective, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. J Infect Dis, 2009. 200(12): p. 1861-9.