Flu shot or flu not
By Lyndi-Colleen Morgan
As the weather changes and the flu virus spreads some people will get the flu shot, while others look for alternative options.
“The need to live a healthier lifestyle is continuing to become more common among individuals, and some are seeking homeopathic alternatives to the yearly flu shot,” said Gale Connors, a manager at Sangster’s Health Centres in Tillsonburg.
The flu affects the respiratory tract and is caused by the influenza virus. It is spread when an individual comes in contact with an area that is contaminated with the virus. Symptoms include a fever, runny nose and congested lungs.
In 2015, the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit distributed almost 294,000 vaccines in total. Close to 50 per cent of these were flu vaccinations.
According to dontgoviral.ca, in 2015, 12,000 Canadians who didn’t receive the flu shot were hospitalized and 3,500 died.
But a drug called Influenzinum may be an oral homeopathic alternative to the vaccine.
“Influenzinum is a natural alternative … it is used to address the same flu strains that have been identified that year, but in a natural way,” said Connor. “You take one vial a week for six weeks.”
While details for this years product is are not available,homeopathic medicines typically include plant extracts and other natural ingredients. Influenzinum is also lactose-free, vegan, and kosher.
The product retails for about $20, and Connor knows of six customers at the Tillsonburg location who have pre-ordered the product.
Connors uses the product herself, partnering it with the flu shot because she is on a mandatory list with the government due to her diabetes.
“My doctor phones me up when it’s time to get a flu shot and says you have to come in,”said Connor. “ I do use the Influenzinum product if I feel run down or notice something isn’t right.”
Connor said there is an option to use both the flushot and the Influenzinum for those who choose to do so.
She said given the choice she would use the Influenzinum instead of the traditional vaccination, but recommends people do their research, including discussing options with a physician.
Lora Piccinin is the manager of the infectious disease prevention department at the WECHU. She is responsible for preventing and reducing infectious diseases in the public by identifying cases so further transmission can be controlled.
She said the flu is an infectious disease that spreads quickly and can result in later complications. The vaccination is designed to combat this.
“Each year the flu changes due to different strains,” said Piccinin.
“There are two types of flu,”explains Piccinin. The two types are influenza A and influenza B. A flu shot we get what is called a quadrivalent injection or vaccine, which means it covers four different strains or types of flu: two A and two B.
A great deal of research is done to improve the effectiveness of the vaccines. A well matched flu shot can protect 50 to 60 per cent of the population, which can protect many people including those most at risk. Individuals at risk include diabetics, pregnant women, those 65 and older and those younger than five. The flu shot is federally funded, making it available to all those who choose to get it.
Some people will not get the flu shot due to the misconceptions they might have, but the majority of these ideas are false.
“People say ‘when I get the flu shot I get the flu’. That’s not possible because there is a very small dose of the weakened virus to help you build up antibodies of the flu,” said Piccinin. “The misconceptions about the flu should be corrected to ensure people remain healthy.”
Molly Harper is a student at the University of Windsor, and said she has not bothered to get the flu shot for a few years.
“I had a bad experience quite a few years ago and haven’t gotten it since. I personally don’t think I need to get it,” said Harper.
She said she would consider the alternative, depending on the information she can find about the product.
“I would consider it over the flu shot,” said Harper. “It is more compelling health wise and this way you don’t receive a shot.”
However, Piccinin said the best method of prevention is the flu shot.
“Every year we have people hospitalized, dying and sick from the flu, so if we can do our part by protecting ourselves and the ones we love from spreading the flu … we can do it to prevent those who are most vulnerable from getting sick as well, ” said Piccinin.
Influenzinum vials will be available for a few weeks online and at health stores such as Sangster’s.
Flu shots will be made available at pharmacies, doctor offices and vaccination clinics before the end of October.