Natural Immunity vs. Flu Vaccines

When it comes to preventing diseases, there are opposing opinions regarding the best way to build immunity.

Some people believe that the best way to be immune from the flu is to get vaccinated, while others think that being exposed to the virus (getting sick in the process) helps build stronger immunities.

According to Dr. Raymond Strikas, associate director for an immunization program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "The natural immunity you build is usually more durable than the immunity you acquire from an injection."However, Dr. Strikas says "Why runs the… risk of a serious illness when it is much safer to get the vaccination?"

Dr. Ardis Hoven, an infectious disease specialist and trustee of the American Medical Association, agrees saying "Getting the flu is not a good idea… The primary reason is that the influenza virus undergoes antigenic variation, so on a yearly basis the strain undergoes change."

Remember viruses go through strain changes, which mean if you get this year’s flu, it won’t prevent you from catching next year’s flu.

Getting The Flu vs. Getting A Shot

If you’re not part of the high-risk groups and are afraid of injections, it might cross your mind to just take your chances. The thing is, it does not end with you (when you get sick). If you do get the flu, you also run the risk of spreading the disease to others, and so on and so forth. By not taking the necessary preventive measures, you risk infecting people who are at an increased risk for serious illness.

Vaccines are not just about preventing people from getting sick. It’s about limiting the spread of the virus as well.

Imagine having a flu epidemic. It’s not just about health. Having that many sick people has financial implications. "The flu affects about 5 percent to 10 percent of the work force on an annual basis," says infectious disease specialist Hoven. "This impacts workforce productivity-loss of income, loss of revenue, health care costs to individuals (going to the doctor, buying medicines). So getting the flu can have a significant community effect."

If you’re afraid of shots, the vaccine is available in nasal spray form.

Can you still get sick if you were vaccinated?

You can still get the flu even if you had the vaccine. It all depends on how your antibodies respond.

In addition, as we age, we are less able to make antibodies to respond to a vaccine. "You are still better off with the shot than without, because you are much less likely to be hospitalized or die than if you didn’t have the vaccine," says Strikas. It’s also possible that the virus that’s causing the flu in your area may not be the one you were vaccinated against. It is still best to exercise caution.

Source: MSN