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The Failing Flu Vaccine

A recent statement released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that the vaccine for the 2014-2015 season may not be as effective against a certain strain of influenza virus.  The CDC is particularly worried because this particular strain has always been aggressive, leading to more hospitalizations and deaths.  

An Aggressive Virus Mutates

Each year around summertime, the CDC begins analyzing flu viruses that are circulating in the southern hemisphere, to get an idea of what we can expect during the winter months in the northern hemisphere.  Based on that research, scientists can predict which strains will pose a threat.  In this case, the strain in question is H3N2, which can cause severe complications in young children, adults around 60 years or older, and those with chronic illnesses such as asthma or heart problems.  

The problem is that since last summer when the vaccines were created, the H3N2 virus mutated just enough to make the shots less effective.  Of the 85 flu virus samples collected and analyzed from October 1 to November 22, 52 percent had changed, indicating rapid mutation.  Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the CDC, says that producing a new vaccine for this strain would talk approximately four months; far too long since the strain will probably change again before then.  

Flu Vaccines Are Not Totally Ineffective

That’s not to say that the flu vaccine is not effective.  There are two types of vaccines available: trivalent, which is generally taken through injection and contains three flu strains, or quadrivalent, which contains four strains and is taken through the nose.  Most people receive the trivalent vaccine, and this year the three strains it included were H1N1, H2N2, and influenza type B.  While the vaccine may not be fully effective against H3N2, it still provides protection from the other two most common strains of flu virus.  

Aside from getting flu vaccines yearly, there are natural ways you can improve your immune system.  For example, eating more Reishi mushrooms or taking Reishi mushroom extract with a supplement of CoQ10 can help bolster your body’s defenses and fight viral infections like influenza and swine flu.  Taking in more Ometa-3 fatty acids, primarily found in cold-water fish, can also fight against infections. Lastly, there is Cistanche, which has been called the “ginseng of the desert” and significantly boosts T-cell production.  T-cells, or T-lymphocytes, are a type of white blood cell that plays a key role in cell immunity.

Alonso is a long-time health and wellness advocate who loves to write about it. His writing spans the scope of blogs, educational magazines, and books, both on and offline.