This is the everything-you-need-to-know-to-be-as-healthy-as-possible newsletter, brought to you by Kristy Russ, pharmacist and health consultant. I have over 16 years experience in helping people improve their health. I specialize in nutritional medicine, which is the secret of "true" preventative medicine. Yes, if I'm successful in getting people to follow my advice, I will put myself out of a job.

For even more information go to

If you like this e-zine, do a friend a favor and pass it along.

If a friend DID forward this to you and if you like what you read, please subscribe.

The Flu Vaccine:
Is it necessary post-pandemic?

By special request, I am dedicating this month's e-zine to influenza. After all the hoopla last year, people are unsure what importance to place on getting a flu shot this year. Unlike last year though, the question isn't so much whether the vaccine is safe, as much as "Do I really need to bother getting it?"

Regarding safety: If you read my web-page from last year, swine flu prevention, you know that I was not convinced of the long-term safety of the H1N1 vaccine that was being given. My concern was with the controversial adjuvant that was used to boost the immune response.

This year, I have no concerns whatsoever regarding the safety of the vaccine being given. The H1N1 strain has been added to the "regular" influenza vaccines (Fluviral and Vaxigrip in Canada). These are the same vaccines that have been used for decades and have excellent safety profiles.

Regarding necessity: Well, since we are NOT in a pandemic, there is no reason that your risk of getting influenza is any greater this year than it was any other year(except last year of course).

So then the decsion is based on the risk to you if you DID catch influenza. The majority of people just feel horrible for a week or two and make a full recovery with no complications. Influenza can have some serious complications, though- most people don't realize that it's responsible for about 500,000 deaths per year worldwide.

I would recommend immunization for the following people:

  • People at high risk of complications from influenza:
    • Adults and children with chronic health conditions (eg, heart disease, asthma, diabetes, cancer, immunodeficiency, kidney disease, anemia, etc.)

      Interestingly, the risk of a heart attack is decreased by 20% in those vaccinated against influenza.

    • Residents of nursing homes or chronic care facilities
    • People >65 years
    • People with kidney disease
    • Healthy children 6–23 months of age

  • Healthy pregnant women. Pregnant women have 18 times the rate of hospitalization due to flu complications and vaccination seems to protect the infant from influenza in the first 6 months of life. There are several studies as well as decades of use to document the safety of flu vaccination during pregnancy.
  • People capable of transmitting influenza to those at high risk (eg. healthcare workers, members of the same household)
  • Morbidly obese people(BMI >40), aboriginal people, and healthy children ages 2-4.
    • These people experienced more hospitalizations due to complications from H1N1 last year. It's unsure whether seasonal flu will affect them the same, but since there may still be some H1N1 circulating, it's a sensible precaution.

If you don't fall into any of the above categories, then it's really your own decision. It certainly doesn't hurt to get it, but whether it's important to get it? I would have to say no. It's definitely NOT a pleasant experience to deal with influenza, though. Trust me on that!

And now I'd like to dispel some of the myths surrounding the flu shot:

  • MYTH #1- The flu vaccine can give people the flu.

    Reality: The virus has been killed, so it is not capable of causing an infection. Less than 2% of people who get the vaccine will experience flu-like symptoms 24-48 hours after their shot. This is just an individual’s unique immune response to the vaccine rather than a case of influenza. These side effects are short-lived and much less severe than if you actually had the infection.

    Also, protection from the vaccine takes about 2 weeks to develop, so if you are exposed to the virus during that time, you may still get it.

  • MYTH #2- The flu vaccine doesn’t work (ie: Got vaccinated and still got the flu).

    Reality: The vaccine is 90% effective in preventing influenza in healthy young adults. For those who DO get influenza despite being vaccinated, their illness is usually much less severe. In the elderly, the vaccine is not as effective in preventing the actual disease, but is very effective in preventing complications from it (ie: hospitalizations and death).

    Also, people tend to use the word “flu” to describe many illnesses that aren’t actually influenza and there are many other types of infections that cause flu-like symptoms. The flu vaccine only protects against true influenza, so usually the problem is that the person had a different type of infection that felt like the flu.

  • MYTH #3- The side effects from the vaccine are worse than the flu.

    Reality: The people who say this have obviously never had a true case of influenza. Most people experience little or no side effects. As discussed above, those rare people who get flu-like side effects from the vaccine should be comforted in the fact that they only have to deal with some mild discomfort for a day or two, instead of the severe symptoms that can last for weeks if they actually got the flu. For those high risk groups, we’re talking about major problems like pneumonia, hospitalization or death. Obviously, the benefits of vaccination far outweigh the risks of side effects.

  • I'm not sure about the U.S., but as far as I know here in Canada, the flu vaccine is available free of charge to everyone. It used to only be for those at high risk. There are usually several drop-in clinics offered in your area during October and November, so look into it and protect yourself for this season.

    Because Laughter Really IS Good Medicine...

    I know Halloween's over, but it's still a good chuckle...

    Top 10 Signs You Are Too Old to Be Trick or Treating:

    10. You get winded from knocking on the door.

    9. When the door opens you can't remember why you're there.

    8. You're the only Power Ranger in the neighborhood with a walker.

    7. You have to avoid going to houses where your ex-wives live.

    6. People say, "Great Keith Richards mask!" and you're not wearing a mask.

    5. You have to carefully choose a costume that won't dislodge your hairpiece.

    4. By the end of the night, you have a bag full of restraining orders.

    3. You have to have another kid chew the candy for you.

    2. You ask for high fiber candy only.

    1. When someone drops a candy bar in your bag, you lose your balance and fall over.

    What's New at

    Antioxidant Discussion Forums

    Create your very own webpage on my site! (Don't worry- you don't need to know anything about how to do it. If you can type, done!) If you have an interesting story to share or have a comment or question about a topic on the site, you can post it right onto the website. Read about how others have been affected by antioxidants, make a comment on someone else's submission or post your own.

    It's fun. It's free. And you don't have to register for anything.

    Click here to post your own story, comment or question.

    Nutrition News

    Here are links to informative and/or interesting news articles on nutrition...

    Diet Buster: Halloween Candy In The Office

    Public Warned Of Toxins In Seafood From Offshore Channel Islands, California(A good reminder why you need to know where your fish oil capsules are coming from)

    Sugary Drinks Link To Diabetes And Metabolic Syndrome Risk Is Clear And Compelling

    Colorectal Cancer Rates Could Drop 23% With Lifestyle Changes Alone

    Making Mealtime A Healthy Family Affair

    Comments? Ideas? Feedback? I'd love to hear from you. Just reply to this zine and tell me what you think!

    See you next month...

    Good Health to You,

    Kristy Russ, BScPharm Pharmacist and Health Consultant

    P.S. Give your body the best nutrition possible. You'll not only feel better now, but you'll also have that quality of life in the future that you've always imagined for yourself. Click here to find out more.