It’s the toward the end of February, and flu levels are at “epidemic levels”, according to the CDC (plus there are colds and other viruses going around!). And this year, they’re rating the flu shot as only 48% effective.
That’s actually not bad for the flu shot, which just doesn’t perform as well as other vaccines (the next “worst” performs in the high 80s, most are in the 90s). What people really need to understand is that these numbers are a reflection of how well it works for otherwise healthy twenty-somethings. A vaccine teaches your immune system how to respond to viruses, so if it’s having a bad day, then it doesn’t learn as well (pretty well analogous to life!). Our immune systems weaken with age, by the season of the year, by diet, and by general exposure/pressure to pathogens we come into contact with each day. So at only 48% effective for the strongest of us, we could all use a little more caution until cold and flu season starts to ebb.
(Here’s one caveat I’ll throw in, flu shot proponents say that on average, if you still get sick, symptoms are more mild than they would otherwise have been).
Prevention is always the most effective place to start, so be sure to wash hands frequently, avoid touching your face, stay away from crowds as much as you can help it, and run a humidifier around your home.
A healthy lifestyle will naturally support your immune system and give you a boost, that means that if you’re doing any of the basics like getting enough sleep, eating lots of fruits and veggies, taking time to unwind, and other self-care, you’ve got a big head start.
Then, we just have to make it until spring, when hopefully the health issues that come with summer are more mild!
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