The Flu Hysteria and Your Family

(originally in Nov. 2004 ZoneNet Newsletter)

In this flu season, America is faced with a dilemma: we are some fifty million flu shots short. Public health officials say that the vaccine should be reserved specifically for babies six months to two years old as well as adults over 65. They should also be reserved for women who are pregnant in their second or third trimester, health care workers who care for high-risk groups, patients afflicted with debilitating health issues such as heart and lung disease, diabetes, HIV/AIDS and asthma.

It is the time to sit down with our families and face some hard facts. I live in a house with my wife who is in her 3rd trimester of pregnancy, my 8 year-old son and my 68 year old father who we have been taking care of for nearly two years. Unfortunately, my Dad has been suffering from lung cancer. When we heard about the potential shortage a number of months ago, my wife and I had a conversation about it and we decided that she and my father needed the vaccine the most. My son and I visited our family physician and she suggested some things we can do to prepare our bodies against the flu season.

In lieu of her advice, our whole family has become even more stringent about cleanliness and discouraging the spread of germs. We wash our hands often and keep hand sanitizers on around with the understanding that it is not a substitute for the real thing. Think of all the things we touch in the course of a day that we do not realize, everything from touching strange door knobs to using public computers. Instead of sneezing into our hands, we sneeze into a tissue or into the crooks of our arms.

We have all improved our diets by incorporating more fruits and vegetables and taking antioxidant supplements.

We have also added healthier foods to our usual diets like wheat germ and yogurt to support our immune systems'. We eat better balanced meals, which supply us with healthy amounts of protein and larger helpings of vegetables and fruits or whole grains. We have also cut down on sugar both in our drinks and our food. These types of foods help deliver some of those components essential for the body to build a strong immune system, hopefully improving our ability to fight the flu. We exercise more, try to keep the stress level in our house lower and are sure to get enough sleep. I feel quite confident about our ability to ward off the flu this season and if one of us happens to catch it, then hopefully it will not hang around for too long.

We again visited our doctor so as to be sure we were in good shape. My blood pressure has gone down and our overall family health is great. Our doctor thanked our family for making a decision for the good of society by choosing to take better care of ourselves, especially since my son and I are part of the high risk group for living with a pregnant woman and an elderly man.

Ryan Joseph is a writer/researcher. For more info. visit

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