12 Tips for Avoiding the Flu (Without a Flu Shot)

by Jamie Simmerman · 47 comments

Every year, the threat of contracting the dreaded flu bug looms large. And even though COVID is all anyone talks about these days, the flu season is in full swing and affecting us all. Can you afford to risk getting sick? Thanks to the government, most of us know that getting a flu shot is the best way to avoid getting the flu. But for many people, the threat of any sickness pales in comparison to facing the needle, while others are allergic to the flu shot medium and have no choice but to forgo the yearly vaccination.

Finding yourself in the no-flu-shot camp may not be ideal, but you can still take steps to minimize your risks of getting the flu. As a registered nurse, I have come to learn a few tricks you should know about when it comes to avoiding the flu. Here are a few easy ones to follow:

12 Tips for Avoiding the Flu (without a flu shot)

  1. Know when flu season occurs. Most people know that the flu generally peaks during January to February of each year, but the actual duration and intensity of each year’s flu season fluctuates. You can monitor the current situation in the U.S. by visiting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website.  During peak times, avoid spending time in public places whenever possible and avoid visiting the doctor’s office, hospital, nursing home, airport, and shopping centers. Avoid flying, taking elevators, and sharing transportation (like taxi cabs and the bus) during peak times. Avoid any close confined space with others during the flu season.
  2. Handwashing is an all-purpose disease preventer and is effective in limiting the spread of the flu in most cases. Wash with soap (antibacterial soap isn’t necessary) and warm water for a full 20-30 seconds. Include your fingernails, the backs of your hands, and in between fingers. Keep your nails short, use a nailbrush when washing, and avoid wearing rings if possible. (Artificial nails are a breeding ground for germs, and should be removed if you are concerned about contracting or passing on the flu.) Read about the CDC’s guidelines for washing your hands to make sure you are washing properly to prevent the spread of disease. Teach kids to wash properly and encourage your co-workers to wash as well. Keep hand sanitizers readily available during flu season and offer them to others often.
  3. Regularly disinfect doorknobs, the telephone, light switches, car keys, the fridge door, faucets, and the toilet to help stop the spread of germs. Often, you can pass on the flu bug before you even know you are infected, so regular cleaning during flu season helps lessen your chances of picking up a bug.
  4. Avoid public restrooms whenever possible. Don’t put your purse, briefcase, computer case, or backpack on the floor – ever. The floor is contaminated with all kinds of germs. (We cultured the bottom of our shoes worn only in the nursing lab during nursing school and came up with Chlamydia (an STD), dozens of strains of Staphylococcus (commonly found in infected wounds), that year’s flu virus, and a whole host of other disgusting bugs.)
  5. Take off your shoes at the door. Keep a separate pair of indoor shoes or slippers to be worn around the house to prevent tracking germs from the outside world into your home.
  6. Open public doors with a paper towel, handkerchief, or your rear end whenever possible – not your bare hands.
  7. Wash your hands thoroughly before applying makeup, before putting in contact lenses, after blowing your nose or sneezing, and before eating.
  8. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth at all costs. Don’t chew on pencils, pens, your fingernails, or other non-food items. Clean the outside of canned goods with hot soapy water before opening and wash your hands after touching any food packaging when preparing meals.
  9. Clean the shopping cart handle with a disinfectant and wash immediately after handling money. Disinfect your hands after using the ATM, the gas pump, after petting animals, and after collecting the daily mail.
  10. Take care of your body during flu season with plenty of rest, a balanced diet, and lots of water and exercise. Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables during the flu season – 50% of each meal should be comprised of fruits and veggies. Take a high-quality, liquid multivitamin every day. (Yes, it should be a LIQUID, not a pill, for better absorption.)
  11. De-stress. Stress is possibly the leading contributing factor to any illness. Exercise, take time for R&R, and spend quiet time alone to reduce your stress levels every day. Get counseling and deal with any unresolved issues in your close personal relationships.
  12. Try a little alcohol. While drinking alcohol isn’t found on any doctor’s advice sheet, hordes of my patients over the years swear by the power of alcohol to fend off sickness. (Think of the old home remedy of making Hot Toddies for colds and fevers.) Vodka and fruit juices (like grapefruit or orange) are favorite home remedies for preventing the flu.

What tips do you have for staying healthy during the bleak winter months? Have you found anything that helps fend off colds and flus effectively?

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{ read the comments below or add one }

  • David says:

    Always wash your hands after handling paper money. It’s got to be one of the nastiest objects we come in contact with frequently.

    I wish we could replace the tradition of shaking hands when we greet people. I don’t mean to be rude or anti-social but during flue season I refuse to touch almost everybody.

    As for the flue shot, we know that germs adapt and mutate. But can’t the human body also adapt and become more resistant? Do vaccines lower our adaptive capabilities? Studies suggest that children that are strictly sheltered from dust and dirt are more prone to developing respiratory problems. Do vaccines have similar affects?

    • W Ache says:

      I look at flu shots as immune system pushups. They give your body a
      chance to develop resistance without (usually) overwhelming it.
      W Ache

    • Abby says:

      I too have read that over-use of hand sanitizers is counter productive. Our bodies are quite capable of building up immunity against certain bugs and by not being exposed to anything our bodies cant build that immunity.

      That is one reason breastfeeding babies is so important. The baby’s immune system is tremendously bolstered from the antibodies mom passes to her child.

      However, sometimes no matter what we do it’s simply not enough. You are correct; viruses DO mutate. That’s why the CDC has to re-design the flu vaccine each year based on the strains that they feel will be the most deadly that year.

      I heard on the news that the outbreaks this year are so severe that people are being turned away from the emergency rooms by the hundreds because hospitals simply cannot accommodate them all. Therefore, only the most critically sick/injured people are being treated.

      I have a bad feeling that the flu will claim a lot more lives this year, many of which might have been prevented with a simple shot or nasal spray. I read that they even have developed a version of the vaccine for those who are allergic to the ingredients (egg based) of the regular formula.


  • Kathryn says:

    With regard to the vodka, a chemist patient I met two years ago told me to swab vodka in the nares when the first onset of a cold is felt. I bought the cheapest bottle and use it as such and I have only had one cold, mild at that, in the past two years. I follow all the other advice, as I am in patient care work, and this one change has made a difference. Yes, I get the flu shot, but it’s the colds I worry about most.

    Yours in good health,

  • naoma foreman says:

    All suggestions are good. I (and my family) have never worn shoes inside the home. We take them off and keep them on a small rug beside the door. Our all white home is spotless. No one gets into my house wearing shoes. I have clean slippers for anyone to wear. As for public toilets — I never touch ANYTHING. Always use a paper towel to get in and out and using spigots. I see women plunk their handbags on the floor and then go out and put them on a restaurant table. A little common sense goes a long way. When a person leaves a toilet and opens the door — they have not yet washed their hands. Does anyone think of this? Use a paper towel or toilet paper. I have not had a cold or illness in over 20 years.

  • AvieMare says:

    I agree about vaccinating children. What I do not agree with is how it is done. I have raised 4 children and have 8 grandkids, two of which ( brother and sister) are autistic. Their middle sister is not. The children developed quite normally and on schedule until suddenly something occurred that halted that progression. We will never know what it was.

    I believe babies are given far too many vaccinations at one time. Some tiny systems can handle it. Some can’t. Nobody can tell who’s child will be fine and who’s child ( like my grandkids) will develop these autistic “syndromes” after vaccinations. Doctors cannot offer guarantees. Only statistics. Great for the masses but maybe not so great for the individual.

    When my kids were little they were given the “classics” as I call them. MMR, Polio, TP…etc. Now there are so many more. Chickenpox, hepatitis strains, meningitis, influenza, Gardasil (this is falsely touted as a “cancer” vaccine which it is not; there are no known vaccines for cancer itself) etc etc.

    The first thing the nurses did when my grandchildren were born was stick a vitamin k shot and hepatitis shot in their thighs. The mothers were not even informed of this nor was permission asked.

    This is one of the reasons so many mothers will choose to stay away from hospitals and that does put babies at risk as well as mothers.

    Something is happening to our children. Whatever it is people truly do believe it stems from vaccinations, or preservatives in them. I don’t know if the CDC or WHO know the truth of what is going on. We only know what they choose to tell us.

    My theory is this: vaccinate moms and encourage and support breastfeeding.
    The baby gets enormous health benefits from breast milk and most new moms stay home in those early months. After a few months, start vaccinations slowly. Give one per visit and see how bay’s system responds. This will take many more visits but can be achieved through clinics with nurses. It will cost a lot less than caring for damaged kids for life, no matter what is causing the damage.

    Something else I might add: it never fails to amaze me how some adults whine and moan that they won’t get the flue shot because it will make them “sick” but they think nothing of allowing some stranger to inject 3 or more vaccines AT ONE TIME into their tiny baby’s poor thigh!

    Which little newly born people can handle this onslaught at once and which can’t is a gamble that fewer parents are willing to take. But instead of insisting on a slower, saner vaccination schedule ( how many doctors offer/support this option?) they dismiss the entire idea of vaccination altogether and throw the baby out with the bathwater, to the detriment of all.


  • Richard says:

    Wow! Lot of great comments on this forum. So here is my two bits. Ever wonder why we don’t get the flu in May, June, July, etc. Well it is because we are outside in the yard, garden, beach getting sunshine on our bodies, which creates vitamin D3, and immune enhancer. So, your dermo doctor says use sun screen, but in winter we are all covered up, therefore, we have a massive deficiency in D3. OK flu, welcome into my body. Flu shots may work if it is for the current strain. D3 works on all flu strains.

    How do I know this? Well, current national sources and my own experience. No clinical trials, but, I have not had the flu in 15 years, and no flu shots. I take 5000mg of D3 daily, 10,000 if I am going to a hospital to visit a friend with flu. My supplement also has 1000mg of sea iodine, which helps prevent cancer.

  • Al Dearden says:

    I stumbled into this discussion looking for Paula Deen’s snack recipies for the Super Bowl. The sequence of clicks when “Food Network” to “Flu cookies” to “12 Tips…”
    As a practicing pediatrician, I must add my own two cents.
    I am perfectly willing to acknowledge that some people somewhere have had and will have a problem with the flu shot. BUT, the vast majority of the population are protected and not harmed by the flu vaccine. And this flu season-2012-2013-the vaccine is a dead match for the major flu viruses out there.
    And to further the discussion on vaccines, the shots pediatricians give to their patients in the first year of life prevent over 18,000 babies from dying every year.
    I urge all readers here to get yourselves and your relatives vaccinated. And to add even more to the discussion, all new parents and new grandparents should get the adult DPT vaccine. Why, you ask? We have had an increase in Pertussis in the last decade. Pertussis is also call Whooping Cough. In the 1970s, we had 3,000 cases annually. Last year, we had 35,000 cases. And we also have had a major increase in deaths from Pertussis. The ones who are dying are babies under six months of age who are getting Pertussis from their parents, grandparents and other care givers.

    As to the Super Bowl, I’m rooting for Baltimore.
    And I need to get some filo dough and asparagus.

    Al Dearden

    • Richard says:

      Use 5000mg of D3 also in the winter months to enhance the immune system, protects against all strains of the flu. It also helps your bones.

  • Old remedies says:

    One of the best remedies in history in Eastern Europe, is the Romanian moonshine or hard liquor. Makes Vodka look like child’s play. Its 70% alcohol and will kill any bacteria or virus in your throat (which is usually where it starts). Gargle with something like that and have a shot or two when you feel something coming on. It does irritate your throat a bit, but not much. It will also kill any stomach virus you may have. I believe the drink is called “Tuica” and the best is made of prunes in northern Romania. Doctors used to rise their mouth with it, and their hands way back. Bacteria dies on contact.

    Another remedy which has been mentioned, is salt water. That has to be done a few times to be effective.

    • AvieMare says:

      I had some homemade German moonshine when my husband was stationed in Germany back in the 80’s. Oh DEAR GOD did that stuff have a kick.

      It was almost tasteless going down but about a minute later I felt like a Mac Truck had hit me. That stuff would have been good for field surgery!

  • AvieMare says:

    I wonder if those kids that died had gotten the vaccine? A simple 3 second prick might have saved them if they did not. Might not have but as the parent of a dead child, I can tell you all about living with the horror and guilt and what-if’s that refuse to leave your very soul when you loose a child.

    For the thousands of you out there who think you can get the flu from a dead virus (the flu shot) please take the time to do some objective research. Put your ideas and notions and superstitions aside and really research this issue.

    The flu shot can indeed make you feel sore, achy, feverish or crappy. What it CANT DO is actually give you the flu because it’s a dead virus. But here is why you are fooled into thinking it can:

    1. After the flu shot your immune system is busy as a beehive building up antibodies against the vaccination. While your body is devoting so much labor to this critical task, it’s defensive ranks are thinned out until it it can get it’s Calvary lines back up and fortified to fend off attacks from other nasties.

    2. With your defenses lowered for a week or so, if you have been exposed to any viral illnesses prior to your shot, they find a week spot in your body’s thinned out Calvary line and rudely penetrate it. Now you can become sick with whatever virus you were brewing before the shot! Most of the time you never even knew you were exposed to any viruses because it was too soon for symptoms to appear.

    Now, most people ( if they do get sick after the shot) recover pretty quickly anyway because their immune system gets back up to speed. A very small minority do get the full blown flu, but the severity and duration may be lessened when the immune system composes itself.

    A VERY few people from that group get deathly ill but recover. An even smaller portion of the deathly I’ll people may have lifelong problems. And an even TINIER percent die.

    So you see… It’s all about risk assessment and what risks you want to take with yourself and your family.

    Here are things that are more likely to kill you than a flu vaccine (assuming you are not allergic to the vaccine):

    Just getting up and facing everyday life
    Driving your car (very bad statistics on this one)
    Running with scissors
    Not opening the restroom door with a paper towel after washing your hands, grabbing the fecal-encrusted door, and going back to touch fecal-encrusted menus ( ask them if they clean those menus! Ha!)
    Eating your food after handling said doors and menus
    Eating undercooked hamburger
    Getting bitten by a cat, dog or worse… Human

    Silly yes…but I hope you see my point. There are a gazillion things we do every single day that put us at more risk than dying of a flu shot.

    So unless your doctor says you should not be vaccinated, get the shot.

    But wait! I have a bad back! I have Fibromyalgia! I have Asthma! I have Diabetes! I’m Anemic! I have Myofacial Pain Syndrome! That shot will worsen my condition!! God Haaaaalp meh!

    Well, I do too. Every single thing above I have and then some. All the more reason the flu will kick your a$$ if you get it.

    Oh, and to those whinies who moan about a sore arm? Imagine how a tiny infant feels when nurses cram up to 4-5 vaccines into that itty bitty body at ONE time. Imagine how his/her little thigh feels and why his fever spikes and why he screams all night in agony.

    I’m NOT against vaccines with the exception of the Guardia vaccine for girls, which is touted as a cancer vaccine; it is NOT. It MAY prevent cervical cancer by offering some protection against a few papilloma viri that have been known to cause cervical cancer. That one has not been around long enough to convince me of it’s safety and I hear it’s very expensive which also raises some red flags for me regarding profit margins vs true safety statistics but that’s another story.

    I propose INTELLIGENT vaccinations for kids. One at a time. Give the body a chance to build it’s immunities before slamming it again. Some tiny bodies can take over-vaccination. Some can’t. No way for parents to tell if their child will be unlucky for life. I do think there is a vaccine correlation to the damage that has been incurring in babies and toddlers. But I don’t know if the preservative issue is the true cause. I tend to believe it’s the inundation of multiple vaccinations at once over too short a time.

    When I was a kid nobody had even heard of Autism. Me and my own kids got MMR, Whooping Cough, Polio, Tetanus and Smallpox. I do recall when in Germany as a kid the Army gave out Typhoid vaccines due to an outbreak. Try getting one of those. It will show you the meaning of sick. Still… Sick is not dead!

    So…. Do like I do. Get your flu vaccine in the hip, especially if you have Fibro or you simply would like the use of your arm for the week after the shot! That huge muscle is made for laughing at vaccines and shots ( barring a few vitamin/antibiotic shots!) and simply walking will work the hip and keep it from stiffening or being favored as we tend to favor a sore arm.


    PS: if you would like to know the true meaning of painful shots come over and I will give you a Lovenox (blood thinner) shot in your little ole tummy. After just one shot you will be running people over to get your flu shot.

    • Jemima says:

      Why bother getting ANY shot. There are ways to stay healthy without using vaccines.

      • AvieMare says:

        Tell that to people watching their children die of diseases that could have been prevented. I saw a vid of a baby with Whooping Cough the other day. Funny, the sounds children make when they cough so hard they almost suffocate.

        The notion that EVERYONE can stay healty without vaccines is an idealology that simply does not ring true for the millions of people who die from preventable diseases.

        There are ways to boost immunity but some people don’t have great natural immunity. The lucky ones can rely on good nutrition and a healthy lifestyle ( if thats you, great) but for people like me that concept just isn’t good enough. With my Asthma and Diabetes the flu can be lethal. I’m still not ready to throw in the towel yet. I’m going on my 8 th grandchild and I hope to cuddle THEIR babies before I leave this Earth.

        After the vaccine: No, there is no guarantee as many have pointed out. But again, it’s like everything in life: a game of odds.

        When I ws a child my friends and I were like many young girls: horse crazy! We rode hard… Bareback at breakneck speeds chasing trains! Often our horses would get sick of our recklessness and dump us. We DID NOT wear safety helmets. It simply wasn’t cool in those days and our parents were ignorant as to how dangerous riding can be. I had so many injuries; lacerations, bruises, contusions, both wrists fractured at once. Many a time a churning hoof grazed my skull. I was VERY lucky.

        When I got back into riding 15 years ago when my kids were all grown, I knew more about the brain and how even a tiny tap could cause death or damage. So I bought a bunch of very cool, modern helmets designed for multiple disciplines. I even got a leather and rhinestone covered one to match my mare Avalon’s ( aka: AvieMare) black saddle. Gotta stay in fashion, girls!

        Anyway, I spent years training her and am the only one who ever really rides her. Despite the fact that she is loving and tries hard to please, she still has a very nervous temperament; so much so that my trainer who trains racehorses was smart enough to get off of her when she was having bad days.

        Wearing a helmet 100% of the time when riding won’t guarantee I won’t die from a horse-related wreak. But it sure as heck reduces my chances! I can mend from broken or fractured bones but a skull fracture is another story.

        So if a helmet or a seatbelt or a vaccine give me an edge and put the odds in my favor, I will employ everything I possibly can to come out on the winning side.

        Having said that, everyone who advocates healthy diet and lifestyle are 125.7% correct! I am sick so much of the time and when I don’t get proper nutrition I feel much worse. So I could not agree with you all more.

        My 20 YO niece moved from Utah to live with us here in SoCal last April. She had never had a flu vaccine in her life, despite the fact that she was sick pretty much all year ( I think she has allergies and asthma). Her mom is phobic about doctors and her dad just didn’t give a $hit.

        Well, needless to say she came down with the good ole SoCal version og the flu while her uncle and I did not. I cared for her night and day for over a week and it took another month for her to really recover.

        The memory of that horrible plague that came upon her must have stuck because she got vaccinated this year for the first time in her life for influenza and she has stayed well while those around her are bedridden!

        I got a simple mild cold this year and my Asthma got so bad I had to switch to some extremely strong medicine before I could breath without gasping and whistling like a train. God only knows what influenza would have done to meh!

        Anyway, when I was younger I got the full blown flu every year. Weeks of being deathly ill and having to care for 4 small children. Ugh. I have had the flu vaccine every fall for the past 14 years, and it has been 14 years since I got the flu.

        Oh, and I can’t stress hand washing enough. Sanitizers are great for times when no water is available but nothing beats a good soap ( I make my own!) and some warm water.


        • AvieMare says:

          I agree about the D. I supplement heavily with D vitamins but at last check my blood levels were barely passable. Same with iron. I can take enough iron to poison most people but my levels are still abysmally anemic. I’ve battled anemia for 20 years.

          Truthfully, I’m not sure how much longer I will last. I have Diabetes
          (very tightly controlled), Asthma, Chronic Anemia, Fibromyalgia, Myofacial Pain Syndrome, severe Arthritis from a fractured spine in my lumbar area, severe Arthritis in my neck from years of injury, both elbow tendons rebuilt, left peronial Brevis and Longus ruptured completely in two separate injuries (after the first repair I got a DVT and PE!), and the same tendons are now torn again along with the Achilles for good measure. Lol. My Primary Care and Podiatric surgeon don’t want to operate for fear of me croaking of another PE, but have agreed to try Plasma Rich Therapy.

          Let’s see.. What else. Oh yes. I have systematically lost every family member I knew on both sides since I was 13, with my father, daughter and only sibling brother all within the last 3 years. My mom and I are all that is left. This has set me back from healing as well. When the mind is not nourished the body fares poorly as well.

          My diet is weird. I eat tiny bits of food (still can’t loose weight, though!), and this keeps my sugars in check with the help of pills. Before I lost my mobility I used NO Meds at all and maintained normal sugars despite being diabetic by hiking and riding. I can’t do either anymore. I go for weeks without an appetite for no apparent reason then get hungry again and eat normally ( for me). I use Spirutein Shakes which probably keep me ticking. I swear by that stuff.

          I make all of my own soaps, most of my cosmetics and even toothpaste and deodorant. I try to minimize my exposure to toxic substances but I’m not a fanatic. We are all exposed every day to many things that we should not be.

          Like all of us I could do more but for now this is the best I can manage. My most valuable tools are exercise, nutrition and meditation. The first one is very difficult as my tendons just seem to shred with repetitive activities. The second I am working hard on. The last is probably what has helped keep me sane through all of this.

          There are so many people with no or few health problems that could be feeling so much better with proper rest, nutrition, exercise and some relaxation techniques thrown in for good measure.

          I don’t envy them for envy is a foolish and worthless emotion, but I will say that we never realize what we have until it is taken from us. I guess it’s just the nature of the Beast.


  • Mira says:

    AppleCider Vinegar is the best thing for warding off a cold or the flu! I buy it in the gallon jugs and keep it next to the bathtub. If I’ve been in a place where people are coughing and sneezing I usually come home and bathe and pour vinegar on my chest and throat. If I feel as though I am coming down with something I will take two tablespoons of vinegar and a tablespoon of Honey and some warm water and drink it. I have even put the vinegar in a Netty Pot and diluted with water pour into my nasal cavity.(please dilute with a lot of water as this can burn) I swear by Apple Vinegar! I don’t trust flu shots! Especially after they started advertising 24 hour a day flu shots at Walgreen’s! It used to be once a year around September but now I think they are giving us the flu! Every time I got a flu shot I got the flu! To me We are all being used by the medical Association as lab experiments. Remember What is made in Nature is cured by nature…Go for the Vinegar and not flu shots. God bless and take care Everyone!

    • Richard says:

      I agree with your vinegar comment. I would add one thing, try Bragg organic vinegar. Also, use vitamin D3 with Iodine, 5000 mg daily, includes 1000 mg sea iodine.

      Why supplement with D3? Why we do not get the flue in July, August, etc. because we get sufficient sun which creates D3. D3 enhances your immune system. I don’t get the flu, I take D3 in the winter months.

  • Tommy says:

    Oregano Oil gel caps. Take one as soon as you feel something coming on; scratchy throat, swollen lymph nodes, aches… take one with each meal, a total of three per day. Buy them at any natural foods market or vitamin store or online. It’s my best defense so far.

    (of course now that I posted about them, I’ll probably get sick… ha.)

    Try them. They WORK.

    • Patti says:

      I second the oil of oregano – the gel caps are especially good at helping avoid sinus infectons due to the anti-fungal properties. Many of us have fungal problems in our sinuses due to use of antibiotics!

  • Jemima says:

    No flu shots for me. The science doesn’t back them. It is stupid to allow yourself to be injected with crap that weakens your immune system when the ones selling the shots refuse to conduct proper clinical trials to determine their true effectiveness.

    Flu Shots May NOT Protect the Elderly OR the Very Young
    Despite government recommendations, there is little evidence that flu vaccines help individuals older than 65 or younger than two
    By Melinda Wenner Moyer-Scientific American
    Oct 18, 2012

    “So should people still dutifully line up for their flu shots? Older kids and healthy adults do get some protection from them; just perhaps NOT as much as they want or expect. But for seniors and toddlers, there may NEVER be a clear answer to this question, particularly because the U.S. government is unlikely to conduct additional clinical trials.”


    How are we supposed to make educated decisions about our health when those who want us to take their meds refuse to do the proper SCIENTIFIC tests to determine efficacy?

    • SB says:

      They don’t ‘refuse’ to do proper scientific tests, as you put it. I am a scientist and I worked in research for a pharmaceutical company for years. It has to do with study design and ethics. Go to http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/qa/vaccineeffect.htm#howeffectiveelderly for more information.

      As far as the flu shot not being as effective as people want or expect, that is no surprise nor is it a valid argument against getting immunized. Few pharmaceutical agents are 100% effective for all people of all ages. Yet they are on the market because even if they are 75% or 50% or even 25% effective, they still give relief. Yes, 100% would be ideal, but the fact is, nothing is ideal. If the flu shot reduces my chances of getting the flu by 50%, for the sake of argument, I’m going to get the flu shot.

      • sue says:

        I can’t believe the number of people who say the flu shot is useless because it isn’t 100% effective. I have asthma and even a “simple” respiratory infection (i.e. the common cold) can send me to the ER and cause lung inflammation which lasts for months. I get a flu vaccination every year and would continue to do so even if were only 10% effective. I have never had an adverse reaction to the vaccine so I see no reason not to take any protection it can provide.

        I wonder how many of these same people play the lottery, even though the odds of winning a significant amount of money are astronomically against them? Funny how people rationalize their decisions.

        To those who claim they only get the flu when they get the flu shot: why do you think that is? Do you think you got the flu from the vaccine itself? Impossible – because the vaccine is made with an inactivated (dead) virus. The vaccine also stimulates the immune system – it doesn’t suppress it, if you think that’s what’s happening. Also, the vaccine takes at least two weeks to make antibodies at a level which will protect you. If you get the flu a few days after the vaccine, it’s not the vaccine’s fault.

  • Mike says:

    Get your flu shot my foot. I have talked to hundreds of people who have had their flu shot, and everytime they have had the flu shot, EVERY TIME, they get the flu. When they do NOT get the flu shot, they do NOT get the flu. Two teenagers have died in Minnesota, and guess what? They had the flu shot. We survived as a species for thousands of years with our own immune systems fighting infections. You know what else? Studies are now proving that the flu shots (which even if they narrowed down H1N1, H2N3, etc, the strain variations in THOSE change to the point where it doesn’t matter, and we are training those viruses to adapt to become immune from our own systems. Enough with the flu shot garbage, and I hope people just stay away from it.

    • SB says:

      Really, Mike? You talked to hundreds of people? So you conducted a scientific study funded…where? Published…where? The CDC readily admits that the effectiveness of the flu shot varies according to the age and health of the person being vaccinated and whether there is a correct match between the dead virus in the vaccine and what is spreading in the community. Despite these variables, overall the vaccine benefits public health. It is also well known that viruses mutate – on their own. Unlike bacteria, which develop resistance to antibiotics due to their overuse, viruses do not develop resistance to our immune systems due to flu shots.

  • SB says:

    Get your flu shot early. It not only decreases your risk, but when you don’t get sick, you’re not shedding virus everywhere for other people to pick up. Don’t go to work sick. Please. Your health and those of your coworkers is more important than any deadline.

    • Jemima says:

      You know what SB? Mike is right. Not all people live in fear of catching any (or all) of the diseases that are floating around out there.

      Why? Because we are counting on our NATURAL immunity to keep us well.

      This is not something we need to pay the pharma companies to do for us.

      Of course it hurts their profits when people don’t allow themselves to be scared into self medicating before there is a problem. But then again, we don’t have to worry about trying to sue the doctor when the shot goes wrong.

      You are aware of the VAERS (Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System) aren’t you? Pharma won immunity to any lawsuits that might be brought against them when the shot goes wrong.

      Why do you think that is?

      Follow the $$$$$$$$$

      • SB says:

        Our immune systems are an incredible wonder. Our bodies protect us every day from countless assaults from the micro-environment. That does not mean our immune system can always protect us from getting ill. People die from many viral illnesses, and not just from the flu – far more than those who get seriously sick from a flu shot or other vaccination.

        VAERS is a prudent measure to protect the public. The FDA has their own system in place called FAERS (FDA Adverse Event Reporting System) for post-marketing safety surveillance, to monitor manufacturer compliance, and to provide information. As with VAERS, FAERS is meant to protect the public and it’s existence does not mean something nefarious is going on.

        After the 1976 Swine Flu debacle where 400 people got sick with Guillain-Barré syndrome from the flu vaccine, I can understand the concern some people have with getting a flu shot. That was 37 years ago and measures are in place to prevent that from happening again. I am more concerned with the 5% to 20% of the U.S. population that gets seriously ill from the flu each year (an average of 200,000 are hospitalized for flu related complications) and the many thousands who die.

        We have differing opinions on this issue and I suspect we won’t change each others’ minds. I’m okay with that and wish you well.

      • Millie says:

        My husband won’t be getting a Flu shot any time soon ~ in 2010 he got a Flu shot and a month later lost all feeling in his hands & feet. Was in the hospital for 2 weeks after testing, as it started affecting his walking. He was diagnosed with Guillain Barre’ Syndrome, a rare side effect of the flu shot. After coming home from the hospital, using a walker, had 6 weeks of ‘at home’ Physical Therapy, then outpatient, at the hospital, Physical & Occupational (for use of his hands) Therapy for “6” months! He regained use of his hands and back to walking, but not 100 % like he was. But we thank God every day he recovered. So after going through something like that, it kind of makes you leary of ever getting the shot, which I got all the time, but know, not too kean on it.

  • Patti Juengst says:

    It has been shown that having low or very low vitamin D levels in your blood really increases the chances of getting the flu or the common cold. Vitamin D suppliments are cheap and easy and safer than the flu shot!


  • Laura says:

    I’ve found that whenever I start to feel a little sick, I chug water. That’s all I do – just keep drinking water all day and into the night. Clears whatever it is up in a couple of days 🙂 Simple yet effective!

  • faye hayes says:

    I’m 53, but have type 1 diabetes and 2 open heart surgeries, one to remove the pericardium (protective sac around the heart.) Had my annual flu shot in Oct. But came down w/ ‘complicated’ influenza a month ago. Two Dr’s. visits, one (7 hours) to the ER. Because of my ‘normal’ health issues, I’ve truly been frightened. Am not well yet. Now I’ve developed serious chest pain (l side) we assume is from all my coughing. More tests to follow that. I’m better, but far from over this. Do all you can do!! I feel that I’m lucky (again) to be alive.

    I recommend following ALL posted tips, like influenza vaccine……and doing your best to avoid rather than treat once you’ve gotten it. We even had one death in our town…a 35 year old mother of two, diagnosed with influenza on Christmas Day. She called 911 for some reason after getting home, but passed away before the ambulance could get her back to the hospital. We hear about influenza deaths every year, but I’ve always thought it was “somewhere else, far away.’. Now, I know . Prevention IS the best cure!

    • Jen says:

      There is mounting evidence that vitamin D3 is crucial for immune system functioning. There are articles all over the web from reputable sources that can provide more info if you are interested. I take 2000 units/day and at least double that when I feel something may be coming on. mercola.com has lots of info on this. Also sugar is proven to lower immune system function and so avoiding processed sugar can help.

  • J says:

    R & R: Rock n roll?

  • Franklin says:

    A daily cup of tea made with fresh ginger, a slice of lime and sweeten with pure honey, to fight off both flu and the common cold.

  • AN says:

    Get lots of vitamin C – in any form, be it a supplement, orange juice, slice of lemon in your tea. Unlike oil soluble vitamins, C doesn’t accumulate in human’s body, so there is no risk of an overdose.
    Sauna is a great way to fight off both flu and common cold. Russian steambath with eucaliptus leaves put in the hot water is even better.
    You may also just inhale steam from water boiling with eucaliptus leaves.
    My gramma’s remedy – put dry mustard into fur socks and wear them for a night.
    One more Russian folk recipe – lime-tree flower tea.

  • Lora says:

    My mother is often surrounded by sick, coughing and hacking idiots who come into to work every day, and yet she hardly ever even gets a cold. I also seldom get sick, at least I don’t now like I used to when I had to live with at least ten other people and was constantly stressed, I but often live in fear of germs. I’m tired of hearing over and over about how I have to wash my hands raw like someone with OCD every time I touch ANYthing, and the only way I would be able to avoid touching any part of my own face would be to tie my hands behind my back. I live alone so I mostly only worry about going into the outside world and places that are crowded and full of kids. Christmas shopping is the worst! But I can’t buy online even if I wanted to and I have to get out SOMEtimes. I’m more emotionally sick of the whole world telling me that getting physically sick is now almost as morally morally wrong. 🙁 Maybe I’ll just get a haz-mat suit. Will that make everyone else happy?!?

    • PJ says:

      You know, Lora….A chronic, cynical, critical negative narrative and perspective about people and life has a way of making an individual much more vulnerable to illness and disease. Prescription just for you, dear: count your blessings, practice gratitude and random acts of kindness, breathe deeply, smile more….live better 🙂 best wishes to you.

  • Watch Fight says:

    In my work it is easy to get in contact with different people and some of them are sick so I can’t help but to keep applying sanitizers all day long. My defense is to eat more nutritious food, vitamins and boost up my immune system.

  • Robert says:

    I always carry hand sanitizer with me to avoid getting sick. Seems to be helping me a lot as I get sick quite a bit less than I have in previous flu seasons.

  • Jean says:

    Great tips. It’s amazing how many things we should to be careful about. Personally, I have always been very careful about not touching door handles, faucets without a tissue. My friends joke that I remind them of the TV character Adrian Monk but I pay them no heed, lol.


  • Debra says:

    I gargle with hot salt water and cider vinegar once or twice a week and more often if I feel something coming on.

  • Judi says:

    Do you have any liquid mulitvitamins to recommend? Are they gel caps or actually a liquid drink mix?

    • Cait says:

      Multivitamin gummies taste just like regular gummies as long as you don’t get the cheapest brand! 🙂

    • Jenka says:

      I’ve been taking Nature’s Plus Source of Life liquid vitamins and I can definitely tell a difference in my energy level since I started taking them! I would definitely recommend.

  • Vince Thorne says:

    I like the last 3 points. Does the flu shot provide immunity at the cost of immunity? Does it make you more vulnerable to disease say you were to miss a flu shot one year? Perhaps! A healthy lifestyle will always guard you against illness but I am not sure I will want to quarantine myself from fear of germs.

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