To Vaccinate or Not to Vaccinate... That is the Question for the Flu.


Worried about the flu? My patients always ask me if I think they should have a flu vaccine. Last year’s shortage of flu vaccine created such a stir of national concern that it was thought there would be epidemics of flu that wouldn’t be able to be prevented. Then we have the fear of avian flu and even more insidious strains of flu that is wafting across the globe. Here are a few facts that may help you decide what is the best prevention for you... Influenza is actually a group of viral strains that can really challenge your immune system, and can lie dormant in your system for years. Each fall, my patients line up to inquire about whether they should get a flu vaccine. To vaccinate or not to vaccinate, that is the question.

First, there are some facts about the flu vaccine that might help you decide. The flu vaccine can actually weaken the immune system and make the person more susceptible to illness. Therefore, even those people who do get the vaccine should boost their immune system before and after the procedure. I have had countless people come in after a flu vaccine and actually be quite sick for more than a week after.

The most common type of flu vaccine given to children is called Fluzone. Each dose contains 25 ug of mercury. In addition, with Flumist actual live virus is shed after the new live-virus vaccine is squirted up the nose, so vaccinated individuals are advised to avoid close contact with immune-compomised individuals for at least 21 days as the live virus they are now carrying may be transmittable to others.

One of the most important things about any vaccination is that if it is administered when the recipient is already ill, it can produce an autoimmune cascade which can go on for a lengthy period and even become chronic. So to prevent an autoimmune reaction, you do not want to introduce vaccinations if you have any immune problems at all, or are experiencing any body symptoms.

If an individual is elderly, very young, a healthcare worker or someone with serious medical conditions, then the vaccination may be essential to protect you from the complications of serious illness. If you are in one of these groups, then you should schedule your flu shot very early, such as calling in July to schedule your shot for the fall. That way you will be sure to receive one.

But for the rest of us, knowing the facts about influenza may make all the difference to being able to prevent the flu without having to resort to a vaccine. It may be easy to get a vaccine, but it does not insure that you will not get the flu, nor is it the best way to strengthen your body’s natural immunity.

Influenza is primarily caused by enveloped viruses known as Influenza Type A or Type B which can become epidemic in nature and usually proliferate in large cities. The virus is spread when an individual inhales infected air-borne droplets (following coughing or sneezing by an infected person) or comes in direct contact with an infected person’s secretions (e.g. kissing, sharing eating utensils). Viruses may also be transmitted from contact with infected surfaces, such as doorknobs, handles, elevator buttons and telephones. A hypothesis proposed in 1928 by Richard Simmons, MD asserts that the viruses may particularly favor entering the body via the ear canal. The hypothesis claims that once these viruses have entered the middle ear, they begin replicating and find their way to the tonsils and spread through the respiratory tract from there. So if you have had your tonsils removed, you are missing an essential barrier to influenza infection. Also chronic ear infections as a child may reduce your ability to fight off influenza if Dr. Simmons hypothesis is correct.

The incubation period for Influenza is approximately two days. During this time the virus replicates in the respiratory trct and its onset is usually sudden. Inhaled Influenza viruses attack epithelial cells in the respiratory system, producing catarrhal inflammation. Non-productive coughing can be an initial sign of influenza and this later generally develops into a persistent productive cough. The presence of fever is one of the symptoms that differentiate influenza from the common cold. Other signs and symptoms of influenza include chills, muscle aches, nausea, sore throat, irritability, headaches, anorexia, weakness and severe fatigue. Gastrointestinal tract symptoms occur more commonly in children than in adults.

The prognosis for healthy adults who contract influenza is excellent, although in many cases, it may take weeks rather than days to return to full levels of activity and freedom from cough. For those people who choose not be vaccinated, there are preventative measures that can reduce the likelihood of becoming infected by the virus as well as approaches to diminish the severity and duration of an active infection.

The following recommended dosages are for adults and you will note that the dosages are vigorous for acute infections.

My Prophylactic Protocol consists of a standardized extract mixture of Echinacea Purpurea, Rehmannia, Cleavers, Andrographis, Cat’s Claw and Pau D’Arco. I am happy to report ath every one of my patients that has faithfully taken this tonic beginning in the fall through the winter has escaped the flu virus successfully.

If you do develop the flu, my Acute Onset protocol is a grouping of tablet compounds containing Andrographis, Echinacea Angustifolia, Holy Basil Leaf, Eyebright, Golden Rod, Golden Seal, Cayenne, Licorice Root, Pleurisy Root, White Horehound, Ginger and Thyme. These tablets should be taken every two hours along with 2.5 ml St. John’s Wort High Grade three times per day, an Herbal Throat Spray Marshmallow Root, Sage, Calendule, Echinacea Root, Myrrh Resin and Clove every 1-2 hours, and 3 Garlic tablets per day. It seems like a lot, but it can really shake out the flu within a very short period of time.

If there is a fever present I add 5 ml three times per day of a blend of Elder and Lime Flower, Yarrow, Ginger and more Licorice Root. For nausea or vomiting there is nothing like a strong standardized ml of Ginger added to warm water.

And don’t forget the beauty of sauna and steam to sweat out the flu as well. Opening your body’s pores can really help to discharge a lot of the congestion and stagnation that is the side-effect of any strong immune response.

So prepare early and prepare well, and you won’t even think of winter as flu season again.

Karen Sterling Clickner, N.D. is the founder and director of ISIS Holistic Clinic & The Waters of ISIS Body Purification Spa in Brookline, MA with offices in London and Geneva.