‘Tis the season! People are starting to come to work with runny noses, sore throats, coughs and fatigue. With the onset of cooler weather, comes a wave of infection.

Last October, Dr. Michael Gardam, the director of infection prevention and control at the University Health Network in Toronto – a leading voice in infection control – was quoted in the Globe and Mail: “A few years ago, I was also for mandatory flu shots [for healthcare workers]. […] Then what happened is I started reading and I started going back to the original studies. I don’t feel that I can sugar-coat those any more.”

He argued against the use of mandatory vaccinations for health care workers based on lack of evidence and that healthcare workers should have the right to choose. The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews in July 2013, found vaccinated healthcare workers had no measurable benefit on flu rates or the number of related complications of long-term care residents. Another review by researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found the quality of evidence for reduced influenza death and total number of cases among patients to be moderate and low, respectively.

The general public also has a right to choose, but the data in prior years that suggested it was up to 90% effective, is false. At best, the very best flu vaccine is 60% effective, but if you look at the data year to year, the effectiveness varies.

What does that mean exactly?

Let’s assume that the vaccine works at its best and is 60% effective. Every year roughly 5% of adults get the flu, therefore, the flu vaccine may reduce your chance of getting the flu down to 2%. In children, the risk is 10% and getting the vaccine reduces the chances to 4%. In the elderly, the evidence is of poor quality and provides no significant guidance regarding safety, efficacy or effectiveness.

But wait, those numbers are only valid if the vaccine actually works. It is well documented that it did not work last year. Last year’s vaccine was not 60% effective, it was 18-23% or less because the vaccine did not cover the strain of flu virus that caused the majority of infections. The vaccine is created long before cold and flu season begins and is based on a best guess as to what strains may be active during the season.

I’m not saying you should skip the flu shot. I’m just challenging you to consider its effectiveness and not consider it as a guarantee against getting sick. Your best defense is taking precaution to prevent infection and to take active steps to support the body’s immune system throughout the winter months.

At Bronte Wellness Clinic, our team of Naturopathic Doctors can help you boost your immunity naturally through the use of various treatments and therapies, including IV therapy.

To learn more, please contact our Oakville clinic, located in the heart of Bronte Village, for details.