Chilly weather is here once again.
If groggy car engines and stubborn house pets refusing that early morning romp aren’t enough to signal the onslaught of winter, how about a nice dose of … cough, cough … influenza?
According to the Centers for Disease Control, common flu symptoms include fever, chills, muscle aches and pains, sweating, dry coughs, congestion, sore throat, headache, and fatigue.
Last summer, the Center warned of a possible vaccine delay because of two reasons: One of the three virus strains used to make this year’s vaccines didn’t grow well, and production problems forced a postponement of influenza vaccines this year.
In manufacturing the vaccines, influenza viruses are grown in chicken eggs, harvested and then killed through chemical means. Then the vaccine undergoes a purification process.
According to information provided by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, "no vaccine is 100-percent effective — the effectiveness of the flu vaccine in a particular year depends on how well the strains used to make the vaccine match the strains that are causing the illness."
These are the categories of persons who should receive the flu vaccine:
o All persons over 50
o Nursing home residents and people with chronic illnesses
o Adults and children with asthma
o Persons with compromised immune systems
o Health care workers
o Pregnant women during the second or third trimester
Those who should not receive the vaccination include those who:
o Have an allergy to eggs — (welts, tongue swelling, difficulty breathing, loss of blood pressure)
o Had a previous reaction to an influenza vaccine
o Have a rare disorder called Guillian-Barre Syndrome
o Has a current illness with fever
Currently, three types of influenza virus exist: Type A infects humans and animals, Type B infects only humans, and Type C infects only humans and is the mildest form of the virus.
One cannot catch the flu from a vaccine. Some side effects that mimic the flu may last anywhere from 6-12 hours to 1-2 days after receiving the vaccine.
For those still leery about receiving the vaccine, Roga Hudson, customer service manager for Mount Hope Foods Naturally, recommends drinking lots of water and consuming Echinacea supplements along with healthy doses of Vitamin C.
Hudson also recommended olive leaf extract. "It interrupts virus replication … if it can’t proliferate, the immunity system increases in strength and can stamp it and wipe it out."
Hudson also touted the benefits of garlic, which contains natural built-in antibiotic and anti-fungal properties that stimulate the immune system. He advised exercising some caution before reaching for products that relieve the symptoms of a cold.
"In our society, we want to stop the symptoms," he explained. "The mucus is there to wash the body. It’s OK to take drying agents at the tail end of a cold, not the beginning."
Of course, always consult a physician before taking any herbal supplement, Hudson said.
However, since the beginning of time, or when the first chicken made its way into someone’s stockpot, chicken soup may very well reign as the best remedy for the flu.
According to medical researchers at the University of Nebraska — and Moms worldwide — homemade chicken soup jump-starts the immune system, alleviates congestion, and helps stop a runny nose.
So, in other words, a cure for the common cold or virus lies at one’s fingertips. The problem is deciding which remedy works best.
Fall is the best time to receive the influenza vaccine, but epidemics sometimes occur during March and April.
For more information, call the flu vaccination location hotline at 1-800-352-3792.
For information regarding additional vaccination locations, normally provided by the Yavapai County Health Department, call (520) 639-8130
Vaccine locations for the Verde Valley
Walgreen’s Drug Centers
550 S Main St.
Hours: Saturday, Nov. 11, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. (520) 649-3850
1995 W. Hwy 89A
Hours: Tuesday, Nov. 14, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2-6 p.m. (520) 282 3903
For more information on these locations, call the Walgreen’s vaccine hotline at 1-800-358-9950