Should you get a flu shot? As flu season approaches again, you may be pondering this question. Every year, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) pushes these shots. But only about one-third of Americans actually bother getting one. Most of us seem to prefer to take our chances with the flu bug.

If you're on the fence about this issue, read on for more infomation.

Are Flu Shots Effective?

Each year, vaccine researchers sit down and try to predict which virus strains will be causing trouble in the coming year. Since it takes several months to develop a vaccine, they can't wait to see which bugs will be attacking. They have to take an educated guess. They pick three likely contenders, and that's what goes into the shots for next fall and winter.

Sometime they hit it, and sometimes they don't. Back in 2003, researchers missed a flu strain that caused many people to get sick. In 2005, the CDC said they did pretty well, but somehow 31 kids in Texas were hospitalized for a strain that wasn't in that year's vaccine.

If you're over 65, you may want to rethink getting the needle. The Cochrane Systematic Review, an independent group that reviews health care interventions, found that the shot really didn't do much to protect people over 65. Researchers say that good personal hygiene, which probably means washing your hands often, along with a good diet and plenty of fluids probably does as much to protect elderly people as getting a shot does.

What About Flu Vaccine Side Effects?

Since 1991, about 26,000 adverse effects have been reported to the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System. This may seem like a low number, but remember that many adverse effects may not be reported because this is a voluntary action on the part of doctors.

What should you watch for? You may develop a mild case of the flu, with headache, fever, body aches, and the like. Some people complained of hives. A few reported seizures. Most people mention swelling at the injection site.

Is There Any Way To Prevent Flu Naturally?

As mentioned above, frequent hand washing is probably the best way to avoid being bitten by the bug. Try to get outside for a walk every day, too. People who take daily walks are half as likely to get sick as those who don't.

Eat a wide variety of fruits and veggies to boost your immune system. You may want to consider supplementing with garlic, a natural antiviral, along with vitamin C.

Many people swear by a homeopathic remedy called BaniFlu. It's safe for babies, pregnant women, and nursing mothers.

Should you get a flu shot? It's your choice. Do your homework, so you can make an informed decision.

Author's Bio: 

Want to take charge of your own health, but don't know where to begin? Start with a visit to Natural Health And Wellness Tips, where Darlene Norris shares the latest buzz on natural health. Darlene is a mom and grandma who has been using natural remedies for many years to keep her family healthy and happy.

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