Should your child get a flu shot?

Valentines and Vaccines


It’s February, time for sending Valentine cards and creating special treats for your loved ones! It’s also the month that the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) decides which influenza strains should be included in next fall’s flu vaccine. Vaccines are a highly controversial subject these days, with people taking strong positions either for or against vaccines. Every parent needs to determine what is best for their child and in order to do that, they need information. So let’s look at what we know to be true.

First, is it effective? As I just mentioned, the CDC makes its recommendation for the yearly vaccine in February every year based on what they “think” will be the most common strains of influenza to present that year. So, it’s basically their best guess and the vaccine only contains 3-4 strains. This makes the vaccine one of the least reliable. Obviously, if your child has had the vaccine and comes into contact with the strain of flu which has been covered, then she may not get the disease.

It is interesting that in 1996 and 2014, the CDC reported on two Navy ships that had influenza outbreaks despite the fact that 95% and 99% of the crew members had received the flu vaccine. Also, most people who develop flu-like symptoms are not tested for influenza, so it’s not known how many people actually contract an influenza virus every year versus another respiratory virus.

Is it safe? There is a general sense that the flu vaccine is safe and many practitioners assume this. According to Dr. Paul Thomas in his book “The Vaccine Friendly Plan”, he notes that “Since the vaccine has a different composition each year, it is very difficult to assess the safety of these flu vaccines, and long-term studies are rarely conducted”. What is frightening is that mercury in the form of thimerosal is still used as a preservative in the multi dose vials. There are hundreds of studies verifying that mercury is toxic to the brain, the immune system and kidneys. The FDA states that the maximum safe amount of mercury is 0.4mcg per kilogram. That makes the maximum “safe” dose 2.0mcg for an average 5kg infant, however your infant will receive 25mcg of mercury from the flu vaccine if drawn from a multi dose vial! There is also a small risk of developing Guillian Barre Syndrome, an autoimmune process that causes paralysis. It is a frightening syndrome that requires intensive hospital care and generally resolves, but it can leave a child with longstanding physical motor problems.

If you choose to vaccinate your child, then insist it come from single dose packaging which does not contain the mercury preservative!

Who should get a flu vaccine? Despite the risks, there are children who might benefit from the flu vaccine such as those with underlying heart , lung,  immune disease or other chronic illnesses. Again, avoid the mercury!

Bottom Line: Weigh the pros and cons of the vaccine and make your decision based on what is best for your particular child. My take – Maintaining a robust immune system is still the best way to avoid getting ill from any virus or bacteria! Many herbal products are helpful in boosting the immune system and reduce the number of days that your child is ill if he contracts a virus.

Build a healthy immune system by making sure that your kids are eating a variety of whole foods including vegetables, fruits and whole grains. Your intestinal tract contains 70% of your immune system and it needs healthy food to thrive. It also likes good bacteria like probiotics from fermented foods or from a supplement.

Stop the invaders! Wash those hands and teach kids not to touch their nose, eyes and mouths if they haven’t washed. Use natural hand sanitizer made with essential oils.

Hand out the supplements. Vitamin D is crucial for a healthy immune system and almost everyone is somewhat deficient, especially in winter.  Zinc is also required by the body to fight infection as well as Vitamin C.

If your child does catch a virus, try my favorites – elderberry syrup or umckaloaba in the first 48 hours to boost immune cell function and reduce the length of the illness. These should not be used in anyone with an autoimmune disease!

Elderberry is a safe virus buster!

You should always consult a knowledgeable herbalist when using any herbal products in children.

The flu shot isn’t all it’s reported to be and there can be serious side effects in certain children,but there are cases when it is recommended. Educate yourself and make an informed decision for you and your family and remember, the best defense is a strong immune system along with some common sense!




Lessons and Blessings from Guatemala

Welcome to the first blog on my new website!

I recently returned from a medical mission where we cared for the people of Membrillal, Guatemala. It has been a lifelong dream of mine to do a medical mission and I was not disappointed! We worked long days as we saw almost 550 patients over 4 days. It was a humbling, frustrating, rewarding and inspiring experience. One of the things that I realized is that parents in poor villages in Guatemala care about the same health issues that parents here in the U. S. care about: normal growth and development, proper nutrition, healthy brains and emotional stability. The problem is that when you are very poor in a country whose government doesn’t provide for basic healthcare, it is difficult to raise healthy children. I was able to use my integrative skills to address the whole person and to use natural solutions too. There were many times though that conventional treatments were also needed for treating serious infections and asthma. P1120979

I was excited to ask many of the grandmothers about healing plants and teas that they use for different conditions. My hope was that I would recognize some of them and encourage the young moms to use these local remedies too. The problem is that many of the names didn’t translate exactly the same into English and so I have no clue what they were! So I guess I will need to do a little more research before I go back in 6 months! Almost every mother was familiar with chamomile tea for tummy troubles, however many moms didn’t see it as a potent medicine. Instead, they thought that their kids should be given medication for colic or occasional stomach aches. It was fun to educate them and help them understand when medications are necessary. Hibiscus is another common plant which they make into a drink but most didn’t know that it acts as a diuretic which moves excess fluid out of the body, and can be used to decrease high blood pressure.

There were many blessings on this trip including the hundreds of hugs and smiles I received from everyone I came in contact with. One set of 6 year old twins that I cared for went on to hug every one of the 24 people on our team before they left! I am so grateful that God made it possible for me to fulfill this dream and use my skills to bless these hardworking, loving people! I know that they blessed me as much as I was able to bless them!

Check in next month to read about preparing your kids for the change of seasons.

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