Swine Flu: To vaccinate or not to vaccinate?

Swine Flu VaccinationsOne of the most common questions I see in my office is concerning vaccinations. The fear-based campaign (on both sides!) has made it extremely difficult for parents to feel confident about decisions regarding how and when to vaccinate.  I believe in educated choices, and do everything I can to direct parents to information from both sides.  This is easier for vaccinations that have been used for several years, but what about new vaccines, such as the H1N1 (Swine Flu)?

With all new vaccines, the safety profile is the most concerning. When a similar “Swine flu” outbreak happened in the 70′s, the vaccine created caused a serious complication called Guillian-Barre Syndrome (ascending paralysis), and the actual flu virus was not the fatal pandemic they were expecting.  Besides complications (that are worse than the risk of contracting the flu), the other concerns would be what preservatives and “immune stimulators” will be in the vaccine. Much work has been done to eliminate mercury from most children’s vaccines, but flu vaccines are notorious for still using mercury as a preservative. I will be waiting to see what the ingredients contain, as well as what the safety trials show before making any recommendations.

Ultimately, there will not be enough vaccine for everybody, and their will be preference given for pregnant moms, children over 6 months, elderly, health care workers, and young adults (19-24).  So far, this flu has not been the deadly pandemic that they have predicted, and I will be treating this flu in the same way that I approach all disease—by supporting the body’s natural immune system. It is more effective to provide an inhospitable environment within the body for any bug, than it is to run around trying to find specific vaccines and medications to fight every bug that comes along. Our bodies have an amazing, built-in system to keep foreign invaders at bay, and the most effective therapy is anything that supports this system.

If you have any questions about this article, or anything else for that matter, please feel free to Ask Dr. Tara!!

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