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Who needs the flu vaccine?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) just announced new guidelines for flu vaccinations this season and for the first time are recommending that ALL children 6 months – 18 years receive flu vaccinations. This recommendation used to be only for children under 5.

This means about 30 million more children could be getting vaccinated this year. A record number.

Why is the CDC expanding the recommendation? Not because it has any hopes that this season’s vaccine will be more effective than last season’s, when two of the three strains were not good matches, and the vaccine was only 44 percent effective overall, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But do flu vaccinations really work? Some studies show that when it comes to the elderly at least, the answer is “not really.” And many of the vaccines may still contain the preservative thimerosal, a form of mercury, which may cause developmental delays and early onset of dementia, among other ills.

Every year for almost a decade I have reluctantly bowed to the pressure of my parents in the medical community and dutifully lined up to receive my flu shot. Because viral infections are thought to trigger MS attacks, it was considered prudent for me to get the vaccine. And I pushed my husband and kids to do it, too. Now, I’m not so sure.

The naturopathic community doesn’t believe in vaccinating at all, but as a world traveler I have depended on vaccinations to emerge from countries unscathed from undesirable ailments like yellow fever and tetnus.

Growing up I knew a friend of my parents who had survived polio as a child, and I realize that the polio vaccine is what made stories like his obsolete. So I do value the contributions of the vaccination movement.

Then again, I go ahead and vaccinate my children against chicken pox, yet they get them anyway.

I guess I don’t know what I’m going to do about the flu vaccine this year. I’m going to have to give it more thought before I rush in to march in lock-step toward the vaccination clinics.

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