Reports from the US show a staggering rate of flu shot failure: only 23% of immunisations were effective during their last flu season. That leaves nearly 80% of those who got the jab without ‘protection’, an immunisation that was useless and unnecessary.
Why isn’t it working?
Viruses are notoriously fickle, mutating frequently to cleverly avoid detection by our immune systems, and making flu vaccinations only mildly effective at best. The Centre for Disease Control (CDC) in America states that up to 70% of flu infections last season were caused by ‘drift variants’ – mutated versions of the virus, different from the ones they predicted would cause the bulk of illness. They also state:
“During years when the flu vaccine is not well matched to circulating viruses, it’s possible that no benefit from flu vaccination may be observed.”
Another reason why the flu shot doesn’t always work is that many infections are simply not the flu. There are other types of viruses and bacteria that display similar symptoms but unless extensive blood testing is done, no one would ever know the difference.
The figures were even less appealing in older age groups.
While the greatest benefit was seen in children, those in the 18-49 age group experienced a mere 12% success rate. Experts note that the flu shot is no set guarantee you won’t get sick – but the symptoms MAY be reduced and the risk of hospitalisation less. A recent analysis of research studies concluded that any evidence of effectiveness for the flu vaccine in older adults was “lacking”. The study authors also stated that evidence of success overall was greatly reduced or absent for unknown reasons. 
Are there other ways to protect against the flu?
Maintaining a robust immune system is the best way to protect against infectious disease. Obviously, protecting yourself and others by covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze and washing your hands are important methods of protection too.
Here are some points to note on how to nourish your natural immunity:
- Eat well. Include plenty of fruit, vegetables and sources of protein in your diet.
- Get enough sleep. Sleep deprivation is a major cause of immune dysfunction.
- Keep a healthy lifestyle. Getting regular exercise improves immunity.
- Monitor stress. Chronic stress leads to immune suppression.
These few things are simple, but often overlooked and are excellent ways to reinforce natural immunity against infection.
 Whiteman, H. Medical News Today.
 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2015.
 Osterholm, M.T et al. Efficacy and effectiveness of influenza vaccines: a systematic review and meta-analysis. The Lancet Infectious Diseases. Volume 12, No. 1, p36–44