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Needle-phobes Rejoice: Flu Shot Isn't The Only Answer

Photo credit: Deb Lindsey, Washington Post

WEST LONG BRANCH, NJ – Do you find yourself getting the flu often during the winter flu season, but feel like the flu shot vaccinations are risky, or just simply don’t like needles? “The good news is that for many of us, there are available alternatives to standing in long lines or paying exorbitant prices to get the flu shot, such as good hygiene or antiviral medications,” says WebMD.
Although getting the flu shot has been proven effective in many, but not all cases, research shows that alternative methods of prevention are more effective. “Preventing illness is a combination of physical health: exercise, diet, rest and sleep,” said Monmouth University Professor Christy A. Schmidt, who also works as an Attorney and Life Coach. “And mental health [such as] controlling stress, and wise actions [such as staying] away from sick people.”
To stay healthy during the cold and flu season, while balancing multiple jobs, Professor Schmidt does yoga, meditates, maintains an organic diet, and does not eat ‘junk’ or sugar. Other preventatives include frequently washing your hands, covering your nose and mouth while sneezing, and avoiding close contact with others, according to Dr. Walter Stamm, Professor of medicine at the University of Washington in Seattle.
The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention claims that a seasonal flu shot is for everyone.  Diane Brousell, an Ocean Township Elementary School Assistant Special Ed Teacher, agreed. Being in an environment full of germs, she believes the flu shot is the added protection needed to stay flu free in the winter. “10 years ago I had the flu, and I was miserable,” said Brousell. “I do believe in the flu shot and that it cuts down the percentage of people who catch the flu. The main prevention is to wash your hands as much as you can.”
On the contrary, a Better Nutrition article from 2010 stated that many health experts don’t promote flu vaccines, including the H1N1 vaccine, since the immune system, when functioning properly, has an impressive capacity to battle the flu and colds.
Putting chemicals into your body is not always the best and only solution. Besides washing your hands frequently, Brousell suggested that since people, especially children, are constantly sneezing and have runny noses, particularly in the winter, that it’s best to avoid touching anywhere on her face, especially near her eyes.
Also, a well-balanced diet is essential to staying healthy. According to WebMD, “When you eat a nutritional, well-balanced diet, many other factors fall in place that keep your body functioning optimally. Foods that are rich in nutrients help fight infections and may help to prevent illness.” Some foods in particular include foods high in antioxidants, such as raw fruits and vegetables.
The flu shot is a fine source of prevention if you so choose to use that method, but remember that if you don’t continue to maintain a well-balanced diet, wash your hands frequently, or avoid contact with your face, the flu shot will be a lost cause. “Nothing is ‘best’ – it’s a lifestyle,” said Professor Schmidt.