I had a question last week from a reader who asked what my thoughts are on vaccinations and the recent H1N1 outbreak. Although I have done some reading on this very controversial topic, I have never felt knowledgable enough to really comment. So with that in mind, I would like to start off by sharing a very recent, personal experience I have had with a communicable disease exposure. (Just a side note: This isn’t the average post I plan to share but I hope it sheds some truth for you and your family to make decisions that are best for your health).
As you all know I work as a Paramedic in my spare time, when I am not busy blogging of course. Just days before Christmas, I was on shift when we were called to a patient who had overdosed on some pharmaceutical medications. After doing the necessary procedures on scene, we quickly transported our patient to the back of the ambulance, for travel to the closest emergency department. As my protocols permit me, I attempted to start an I.V. as a pre hospital intervention that was favourable in a good outcome for my patient. After my first unsuccessful I.V. attempt, I removed the catheter from my patients hand, preparing for my second try, when I quickly felt a prick into my own hand. My heart sank and I immediately ripped off my glove in hopes that it was just my imagination but sure enough, what I found was my finger covered in blood. What was to follow was countless hours of waiting in the emergency, anxiously awaiting the results of the patients blood work and my own. Three hours post exposure, on the 14th hour of my work day the doctor finally came into my room to give me the news that I was anxiously, anticipating: the patient was both Hepatitis B and C positive. At that moment, a rush of emotions surged through me, with so many unknowns and a future of unfavourable possibilities. Many days were to follow, sitting by the phone, taking a cocktail of antibiotics that left me paralyzed and unable to function. I would eventually get the call, that my Hepatitis B vaccination as a child was successful and my body was now actively producing antibodies that would protect me from the disease. As for Hepatitis C on the other hand, there is currently no vaccination or preventive medications. So begins the beginning of my 4 out of 6 week, waiting period for the results that will reveal if I have contracted this blood born disease or not. The roller coaster of emotions and associated stresses that I have been through over the last few weeks, have been overwhelming and enough to fill a short novel but I will leave it at that. In the meantime, I will continue to await my results with hopes that the odds are in my favour, providing my body with all assistance it needs to help me leave this exposure in good health.
As my story reveals first hand, childhood vaccinations do have the ability to protect us from harmful pathogens but what about the flu vaccine? This topic has sparked a cascade of my own research uncovering one stone and turning over others. As a health care worker, I have always opted out of getting the annual flu shot. This is a personal preference and it is truly up to you to get the facts and make a conscious decision on what is best for you and your body.
Obviously, there is lots of controversy surrounding the flu vaccine and it’s ability to protect us from the influenza. The recent H1N1 outbreak as people flocking to the nearest flu clinics, in a panic, influenced by the H1N1 Pandemic in 2009. The best way to make an informed decision is to take a step away from the media and embrace the scientific research that surrounds the flu and it’s vaccinations. Knowledge is power, so lets start by exploring the purpose vaccination in a nutshell: a vaccine contains a small amount of the disease germ (virus or bacteria) or parts of the germ, that get injected into our blood stream. Our body recognizes this vaccine as an unknown pathogen and gets it’s troops ready for an attack. After launching an attack, our bodies have an amazing ability to replicate these invaders, creating a set of specialized troops, in the form of antibodies that will be used to destroy future intruders of the same form. In a healthy person, this would be the ideal process our immune systems would go through. On the other hand when a patient suffers from underlying disease processes, loss in strength of the immune system: such as the elderly or the immaturity of an immune system, such as in a newborn, the necessary antibodies may not be set in place as effectively. There are other ways that we can try to protect ourselves and boost our immune system naturally. This is where my expertise comes in and I am proud to say that I have been influenza free for the last 10 years!! Below is a short list of effective ways to boost immunity, especially when we start to feel those flu like symptoms coming on:
Orgno-Germanium – Gives the immune cells a boost stimulating production against viral conditions. This is best taken in pure powder form from Japan but is also available in tablets or capsules)
Echinacea– These tinctures are popular for symptom relief and act as a blood purifier, assisting the immune system in elimination of toxins. Studies suggest that it increases your white blood cell function, destroying microorganisms.
Garlic Oil– As discussed in Fridays post: Garlic is a purifier as well, helping to rid the body of toxins and helping the immune system do it’s job.
Vitamin C – This is perhaps a key nutrient in treating viral conditions, by helping protect the cell membrane from being invaded by unwanted pathogens. A rapidly sick and healing body needs about 1 to 2 g every hour.
These are some natural ways to help protect yourself from those nasty, influenza viruses that invade our environment during this time of year. When it comes to flu vaccinations, I strongly advise you to look further into the research for yourself and make a choice that is best for you and your family. I have included below, some very informative websites that have guided me in my choices. Please take a look at these and others and make your choice wisely.
Ferrie Report, Vitality Magazine (I highly recommend her articles) http://vitalitymagazine.com/article/the-year-in-review/
(Interesting Video on the creation of the flu vaccine and their future) http://www.ihealthtube.com/aspx/viewvideo.aspx?v=fa964900140b6c36