Flu vaccines

‘The flu jabs don’t work!’ Or words to that effect, front page headlines in more than one daily paper. It must have been a no-news day, because this is hardly hold-the-front-page news.
Every year, the winter vaccines protect against a selection of viruses; those most likely to be heading this way, or already here. Vaccines work by stimulating your immune system to make antibodies for that particular virus, so that when the real thing comes along, it’s ready for action.
But the trouble is, viruses mutate. It happens all the time, and when one strain is unsuccessful – when it’s slowed down by a vaccine, for example – others will soon take advantage of the empty niche.
Every year, it’s a bit of a lottery whether the vaccine will match the most common viruses that are about. This year, the match is pretty poor, so if you’ve had the vaccine, it won’t offer you much protection. And that’s all there is to it.
People move around a lot these days, and viruses move with them, so there are always going to be bugs around that you haven’t met before. Vaccines are of limited use in those circumstances; there’s a lot more mileage in looking after your immune system so that it’s ready and waiting for whatever comes its way. And you can do that by eating well, getting enough sleep, managing stress, and so on: the usual list. Herbs can help in various ways, too: by stimulating white blood cell production, tonifying your respiratory system, killing secondary bacterial infections, and generally boosting your vitality. Not letting yourself be scared by misleading newspaper headlines will help, too.

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