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Flu Shortage Scare

A shot in the dark

Remember the flu vaccine shortage that happened a couple of years ago, and what a big fuss government health officials and the media made over it? And remember the horrible devastation the lack of flu shot availability caused? No? Probably because it didn’t: Mortality rates that season were pretty similar to what they are every flu season.

I think the greatest lesson to be learned from the flu vaccine shortage is that very few of us actually need the vaccine at all. And that’s one lesson that more and more Americans appear to be learning. According to a recent survey conducted by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, less than 50 percent of Americans plan on getting a flu shot this year.

Of course, the news articles I read claimed that the reason behind the dramatic drop in demand is misunderstanding among the public about just how serious a threat the flu is. If that were really true, wouldn’t demand be low every year? Yet until now, people have come out in droves to wait in line for hours on end just to get their shot.

No, my guess is that people saw what happened last year when they weren’t able to get their annual vaccine — i.e. nothing out of the ordinary — and decided to save themselves the time and money this year. Smart decision. But the media, and the powers-that-be driving it, are intent on making us all feel stupid with quotes about how Americans are letting “common misconceptions” keep them from getting vaccinated.

If you read between the lines of these guilt- and shame-laden articles, though, it’s obvious what’s really going on here. According to Reuters, “Flu experts called the findings disappointing, because they have been scrambling to make sure enough vaccine is available for the flu season… ‘We hope this is not going to be an embarrassment of riches,’ said Dr. William Schaffner of Vanderbilt University in Nashville and vice president of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases told a news conference.”

Embarrassment of riches? How about an embarrassment of failures? In 2004, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a study that concluded that “the 2003-2004 influenza vaccine was not effective or had very low effectiveness against ‘influenza-like illness.’” And the situation hasn’t changed much — if at all — since then. It’s pretty clear that what the “experts” are really concerned about here is a decrease in flu vaccine profits, not a decrease in cases of the flu.

They are right about one thing: The flu can be very serious, even fatal. But you’re much better off concentrating on other time-tested ways to prevent it (and any other infection) — starting with eliminating sugar and allergies.

Eating even a small amount of sugar can impair your immune system’s white blood cells by up to 50 percent. And that effect continues for hours after you’ve eaten the sugar. So eliminating it from your diet is the No. 1 way to strengthen your immune system and give it a fighting chance against the flu.

Uncovering then eliminating or desensitizing to any food allergies you might have will also help boost your immune system. Removing those triggers frees up your immune cells to fight other invaders — like the flu — rather than the allergen.

There are also a number of vitamins, minerals, herbs, and other natural methods for fighting and preventing the flu. For some of Dr. Wright’s top picks, refer back to the September 2006, December 2004, and April 2001 issues of Nutrition & Healing. Subscribers can download and view these issues for free by visiting www.wrightnewsletter.com and logging on with the username and password listed on page 8 of your most recent issue. (And if you’re not already a subscriber, the website also offers details on how you can become one.)

Sources:

“Americans doubt need for flu vaccine: survey,” Reuters Health news, 10/5/06

“Flu myths deter some from getting shot,” CNN (www.cnn.com), 10/4/06