There has been a lot of publicity regarding the Swine Flu. Unfortunately, most of it has been sensationalistic nonsense, instead of educational and helpful. It is important to put the Swine Flu in perspective.
The Swine Flu has been MUCH milder than the usual flu virus that hits the world each winter, which normally kills about 30,000- 50,000 Americans — almost all elderly and chronically ill each year. Because of this, there is the usual yearly recommendation to get the flu vaccine. As of September 2009, the Swine Flu had caused a little over 500 deaths — or only about 1% as many as the normal flu — though it would be hard to tell this from the news stories. Sadly, the news media is learning that "fear sells." On the other hand, truth is liberating.
The bottom line? It is reasonable for people with CFS and/or FMS to get the flu vaccine, including the Swine flu vaccine, but not critical. For those who get severely ill when they get the flu, it is reasonable to get the vaccine. For those who get sick from vaccines or prefer to avoid them, it is best to skip them. For everyone else, it is simply a matter of personal preference. Still on the fence? Overall, I think the flu vaccine is a good idea for those with CFS/FMS who frequently get the flu (at least 1 year out of 3). Unfortunately, taking the swine flu may lower the effectiveness of the regular flu vaccine (and vice versa), so I would still simply get the regular flu vaccine instead.
Most important to avoid the flu?
- When it is going around, wash your hands after getting home from public places. The flu travels by "hitch hiking" a ride on your hands (when you touch surfaces touched by those with the flu) to catch a ride to your mouth or nose. Wash your hands when you get home to send the virus down the drain.
- Get your 8 hours of sleep a night and take a good multivitamin powder to optimize your immune system. Especially important would be the zinc and vitamin C (both in optimal amounts in the powder). These not only help strengthen your immune system, but may even determine if the vaccine works (optimal zinc is important for vaccines to work).
- If you catch a virus, take thymic protein (1 packet dissolved under your tongue 3x a day till the infection passes) as early in the infection as you can to jump start your immune defenses. This is good for children or adults, and I recommend a box in everyone's medicine cabinet (the earlier in an infection you start it the better).
- Another excellent therapy, if begun at the first sign of the flu symptoms (day 1), is a homeopathic remedy called "Oscillococcinum." This can be found not only in health food stores, but even in many supermarkets and drug stores.
- Meanwhile, avoid excess stress — like watching oversensationalized news reports. Remember, these are often geared to entertain and sensationalize (which is what sells ads) — not to give an accurate perspective.
Jacob Teitelbaum, M.D. is one of the world's leading integrative medical authorities on fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue. He is the lead author of eight research studies on their effective treatments, and has published numerous health & wellness books, including the bestseller on fibromyalgia From Fatigued to Fantastic! and The Fatigue and Fibromyalgia Solution. Dr. Teitelbaum is one of the most frequently quoted fibromyalgia experts in the world and appears often as a guest on news and talk shows nationwide including Good Morning America, The Dr. Oz Show, Oprah & Friends, CNN, and Fox News Health.