I just received an email on this topic that I'm pasting below. I'm not getting it and I don't get for my daughter. Her pediatrician thinks it is pretty much worthless since the vaccine is based upon a "guesstimate" of this year's strain. He only recommends it for high-risk patients (kids with asthma or other chronic illnesses). Prevention, especially frequent handwashing, is key. BTW, the recommended time for handwashing is about the time it takes to sing Happy Birthday. Much longer than most of us take!
Here's the newsletter from "Vedababy"
The Flu Shot
FLU SEASON AGAIN: Last year I wrote to you about the importance of flu prevention and the possible need for flu shots. With flu season upon us, it's time again to face that annual question once again: flu shot or no flu shot?
Each winter, the flu vaccine is manufactured based upon the data collected from strains of flu that arrive in the Southern Hemisphere during its winter, which is our summer. As such, there is no guarantee that the Southern Hemisphere formulation will match the strains active in North America by the time our winter flu season hits. However, extensive amounts of research and development go into the study of flu strains, and the vaccines reflect that up-to-the minute research.
Yet the decision to get a flu shot goes beyond the issue of whether or not the flu shot will "work" from one year to the next: questions remain about whether the flu shot itself is harmful, whether the preservatives used are harmful, and whether the vaccine's impact on our natural immunity is harmful. And many people who have not actually suffered from the flu minimize its impact on those who are more susceptible.
Making the Decision:
The first step is to collect accurate information. First, learn about what goes into the making of the flu shot: for example, the additives. During the flu vaccine manufacturing process, antibiotics such as neomycin, polymyxin B and gentamicin are added to eliminate stray bacteria. Other ingredients can include Triton-X 100, a detergent; polysorbate 80, an emulsifier that is a potential carcinogen; and additives such as formaldehyde to inactivate the virus, as well as gelatin and residual egg proteins used to nourish the cultures. Some flu shots still contain thimerosal, an organic form of mercury used as a preservative. Thimerosal has been hypothetically linked to neurodevelopmental disorders in children such as autism, mental retardation, speech disorders, and personality disorders. Please be reminded that not all flu formulations are alike: ask your doctor about the specific ingredients.
Secondly, assess your personal risk and the risk you pose to others that you care for. This includes your exposure risk, the extent of that exposure, and its impact on your daily life. If you have a child or an elderly family member, assess the risk to their health should you get sick, as well as your overall ability to care for them. If you work outside the home, can you afford to miss 5 days of work? For your children, are they old enough to fight the infection effectively on their own? There are flu shots for children over 6 months of age that are preservative free. Ask your doctor to review the risks of your child contracting the flu this winter.
Third, consider the alternatives:
FluMist is a thimerosal-free, intranasal, alternative for people from 5 to 50 years of age. However, the intranasal delivery system is much less uniform and potentially much less effective, especially in younger children who have a difficult time inhaling in synchrony with the intranasal dose. Furthermore, because it is a live virus, you can get mild transient flu symptoms. And like the injectable form, patients with egg allergies cannot use it since contains egg proteins.
Herbal supplements include lime flower (Tilia) for nasal congestion,) and yarrow (Achillea millefolium) for anti-inflammatory. In addition, elderberry syrup ( Sambucol) helps with fever, muscle pain and respiratory symptoms. It also strengthens cell and mucus membranes to inhibit viral penetration and spread of disease. Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea and E. pallida) has been touted as effective immune enhancers; however, a recent New England Journal of Medicine study found Echinacea was actually ineffective in preventing or treating colds. On the other hand, numerous studies show Oscillococcinum can reduce the severity and duration of the flu.
Other herbal alternatives to help boost your immune system this winter include Western larch (Larix occidentalis), Olive leaf extract (Olea europaea) and Oregano oil (Origanum vulgare). Ask your doctor to review.
Finally, make your decision early:
The flu season is scheduled to peak in February so the ideal time to get the vaccine would be October and November. Begin to reinvigorate your immune strength, and do not forget the staple of infectious disease control: hand washing.