With the winter season fast approaching for some of us in the Southern hemisphere, there is a lot to think about. Heating, warm clothes for the kids, and elderly especially, the school holidays, and of course: flu season.
Many of us have probably experienced influenza (the flu) at some point. Sometimes we really know it, sometimes we don’t. Previous data has even found that in a typical influenza season (winter) as many as 10-40% of all children get exposed or actually get influenza in a given year.
Sometimes the infection from influenza is mild (“just a cold”) but sometimes it’s a horrific long-lasting-high-fever-achy-pneumonia-hospital-causing infection. Sometimes it’s worse. Hard to predict why we all don’t experience the same virus the same way each time we’re exposed.
Those under age 5 and those over 65 years of age are at highest risk from influenza. The reason: young children have an unexposed, immature immune system that doesn’t work as well fighting against influenza as a 12 year-old where as the elderly have a tired immune system that just doesn’t work as well as it did during young adulthood. Each year children die from the flu that could have been prevented. The flu vaccine isn’t perfect in protection, and this year it’s got about a 50% chance of totally protecting you — far better than 0% when you don’t get it at all!
I know, I know. Vaccinations have really gotten a bad rap recently, instilling feelings of anxiety and fear in mothers. The measles vaccine has been in the news recently, and it has not been good news. As we are all aware vaccines have side effects, but vaccines do work. Nobody needs to be reminded about the last centuries when we were dealing with all kinds of diseases. Thank you to vaccines and antibiotics we are much more in control. But these miracles of modern science have also come with their share of problems.
Vaccines are as important to your overall health as diet and exercise.
Like eating right, exercising, and getting regular screenings for diseases such as colon and breast cancer, vaccines can also play a vital role in keeping you healthy. Vaccines are one of the most convenient and safest preventive care measures available. We however need to emphasize the other aspects of prevention such diet, exercise and hygiene.
It is common knowledge that a well balanced diet with added Vitamin C helps the body to fight off disease. But in this day and age, it has become very difficult for people to cook their own meals and cook nutritious food. We now eat from packages without knowing what is really in those packages. This is, among many other reasons, is why we should supplement if we cannot get the required amount of fresh, nutritious food.
The importance of proper hand-washing cannot be overemphasized in the prevention of disease transmission. Hand-washing has been proven to decrease infection rates in hospitals.