I Need to Tell You Something about the Flu Vaccine

By David Blyweiss, M.D., Advanced Natural Wellness

October 22, 2018

  • Didn’t get your flu vaccine yet? Don’t panic.
  • Easy ways to avoid the flu with getting the shot
  • To Tamiflu or not?

Some of my patients are worried. This is the final week that the CDC recommends getting the flu vaccine. And they haven’t had time to get theirs yet.

If you’re in the same boat, don’t panic. Nobody is going to stop giving flu shots just because it’s the end of October. (And you might decide you don’t even need one.)

The truth is, these shots are actually much less effective than the hype would lead you to believe. And I have to tell you. Over the years I’ve had more than my share of vaccinated patients who still end up with the flu.

They’re always surprised when this happens. “But Doc! I got my flu shot. How can I have the flu?”

The explanation is pretty simple.

Flu vaccines aren’t an exact science. They’re based on data from previous years which – in no way, shape or form – can predict future mutations. And they don’t cover all of the flu subtypes.

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This means that everyone, flu shot or not, is susceptible to this virus.

Take the 2013 vaccine. It was a mere 9% effective against influenza A (H3N2 virus) in adults 65 and older. That means 91% of older adults received no benefit at all.

And the 2015 vaccine was only 12 to 14% effective against the virus in all adults – no matter what their age. So it offered protection in less than two out of every ten people who received it.

Last year’s vaccine was pretty much a failure, too. Who knows how well this year’s shot will work?

Easy Ways to Avoid the Flu with Getting the Shot

Now, I’m not against vaccines in general. But good grief! The influenza vaccine is so hit or miss that it can hardly be called a vaccine. And you certainly can’t count on it to protect you from the flu.

I’ve found that the absolute best defense is to keep your immune response strong and healthy so you are better able to fight it off.

This means feeding your immune system. A healthy diet, rich with fresh fruits and vegetables and low on refined sugars and saturated fats, goes a long way to keeping your immune system strong. It also helps to supplement with a high quality multi-vitamin every day.

Getting enough sleep is also important to your immune response. Allowing your body to get rundown is like issuing an invitation to the flu to come and take up residence. You should try to get at least 7-9 hours of sleep every night.

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It’s also crucial to maintain adequate levels of vitamin D. When people are low on the sunshine vitamin, they’re more likely get respiratory infections like colds and flus. But it’s tough to get enough D in the winter when you live in the northern states.

I suggest getting your D from a supplement that contains the cholecalciferol form of D3. 1,000 to 2,000 IU daily should do the trick. However, if you’ve had your levels tested and find you’re deficient, you may need up to 5,000 IU a day.

And don’t forget to keep your hands clean! Use soap and warm water for 20 to 30 seconds several times a day. (Remember… antibacterial wipes don’t protect against viruses.)

To Tamiflu or Not?

In the meantime, if you do happen to fall victim to the flu this year, you know as well as I do that it never goes away nearly as quickly as you wish it would.

You could go to the clinic for an antiviral like Tamiflu, Relenza or Rapivab. But these meds only relieve your symptoms by one day, at most. And that’s only if you start taking it within 48 hours of symptoms.

I’d much rather stay in the comfort of my home than run to the doctor, sitting in the waiting room and hanging around at the pharmacy getting a prescription filled while I feel like crap. Not just so I might – maybe – feel better one day sooner.

I can get results that are the same or better – and so can you – by using some tried and true flu remedies.

Elderberry is one of your best bets. This herb practically stops flu dead in its tracks by blocking viral growth. And it’s been shown to reduce fever and other symptoms about four days quicker than if you don’t take it. All it takes is a tablespoonful four times a day for 5-7 days. And don’t be fooled by lozenges and other “Elderberry remedies”. Only the liquid extract works.

Chicken soup is another tried and true home remedy. It reduces the inflammatory response that triggers the release of mucus. And that’s really where a lot of cold and flu misery comes from. All that excess mucus leads to hacking and coughing, which generally adds to the achy feeling in your neck and back muscles.

Get plenty of healthy omega-3 fatty acids. It’s no secret that omega-3 fatty acids improve immune function. And they may have a special role when it comes to the flu. Omega 3s increase the activity of white blood cells (phagocytes) that eat the virus up. Take at least 360 mg. of DHA and 540 mg. of EPA twice daily.

If you know of an integrative physician office near you that has Argentyn silver hydrosol available, then nebulizing treatments three to four times a day at home can knock the virus down in just a few days. I keep this on hand and use it for myself and my family as a safe and effective virus buster.


Mullington JM, et al. Sleep Loss and Inflammation. Best Pract Res Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2010 Oct; 24(5): 775–784.

Schwalfenberg GK. A review of the critical role of vitamin D in the functioning of the immune system and the clinical implications of vitamin D deficiency. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2011 Jan;55(1):96-108.

Zakay-Rones Z, et al. Inhibition of several strains of influenza virus in vitro and reduction of symptoms by an elderberry extract (Sambucus nigra L.) during an outbreak of influenza B Panama. J Altern Complement Med. 1995 Winter;1(4):361-9.

Zakay-Rones Z, et al. Randomized study of the efficacy and safety of oral elderberry extract in the treatment of influenza A and B virus infections. J Int Med Res. 2004 Mar-Apr;32(2):132-40.

Rennard BO, et al. Chicken soup inhibits neutrophil chemotaxis in vitro. Chest. 2000 Oct;118(4):1150-7.

Kew S, et al. Relation between the fatty acid composition of peripheral blood mononuclear cells and measures of immune cell function in healthy, free-living subjects aged 25-72 y. Am J Clin Nutr. 2003 May;77(5):1278-86.

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