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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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To Vaccinate or Vitaminate

The question weighing on many minds this fall has been whether or not to get the vaccination for the H1N1 virus or the ‘swine flu’. With fatalities occurring even in the United States, frightened families are rushing to receive whatever treatment they think, or have been told to think, will prevent them and their loved ones from falling ill and possibly dying.

But what is the advantage of getting another flu shot? Recent flu seasons have seen a public backlash from many regarding the safety of such vaccines. While there is the very real worry that a flu shot can backfire, causing elderly or people previously exposed to the flu to become sick, parents in particular fear that the mysterious chemicals included in vaccines can trigger other debilitating ailments such as autism.

Such concern has become an increasingly hot issue, with worried parents demanding to know what their doctors are injecting into their children, for example. After all, the exponential increase in the amount of kids with autism over the years has proven to be a startling and unaccountable trend, but is this a reason to start indiscriminately rejecting all vaccines?

Maybe and maybe not, although at the risk of sounding like an old man yelling at kids to get off his lawn, the fact that children today are inoculated against chicken pox does seem like a bit much. While vaccines have undoubtedly saved countless lives, there is (and should be) concern for putting any unnatural chemicals into your body.

Doctors are certainly pro-vaccine, but then again, doctors are often quick to prescribe anything that drug companies concoct, while the government claims that the swine flu vaccine is both safe and effective. However, when has the government ever lied or mislead its people, whether or not on purpose?

While certain groups should surely seek out the swine flu vaccine, it is almost ridiculous for others, and by others, I mean you, the college students reading this article. I will not be getting the swine flu vaccine because I find it utterly unnecessary. Regardless of the side effects, chemicals, and padding the profits of whoever’s mass-producing the vaccine, there seems to be little reason for such a shot. I have never gotten a flu shot and have no plans to in the near future. This is not based on some self-loathing will to die, but rather a desire to live an overall healthier life and seek out disease prevention through other paths.

There is increasing evidence for example that vitamin D in particular can be an effective way at not only preventing the seasonal flu, but other diseases as well. In fact, what most Americans do not know or realize, is that most Americans are vitamin D deficient. While some know that you can get vitamin D from the sun, some also do not realize that especially during the winter months in many parts of this country, that people do not produce enough of the vitamin for their bodies to properly function.

You might say, ‘Yeah? So what? A flu shot is both quicker and effective,’ but that would also be denying the other benefits that correlate with correct levels of vitamin D in your system. Besides for increased immunity against all flues and infectious diseases, new studies are increasingly showing the variety of health benefits from vitamin D, including: bone health, cardiovascular health including heart disease prevention, diabetes prevention, depression prevention; and reducing the risk for various cancers, including: colorectal, breast, and prostate.

So why do not doctors recommend vitamins in lieu of flu shots? That is a good question that everyone should ask his or her doctor. Maybe it is too simple of an answer with not enough of the right people are making enough money off of vitamin supplements. Needless to say, increasing your vitamin D intake and overall health is as easy as going to the store, buying a bottle (make sure it is labeled as ‘vitamin D3’), and taking at least two thousand IU (International Units) daily. While you are at it, try eating healthier and exercising more and you might find you feel much better than if you had just gotten the flu shot. Especially if you have a family history of certain diseases and or cancers, it seems almost foolish that you would not take a natural vitamin that your body needs and can help prevent such illnesses.

Everyone has to find their own path and for me that is making sure I have the right vitamin levels in my system, eating healthier, and taking care of my body so that the flu is not an issue. Perhaps an ironic twist of fate will prove me wrong and I will be one of the students to fall to the flu, but I have not yet and am feeling pretty good about my chances for making it through the rest of the season. For me all it takes is two pills a day, for you maybe it is the swine flu shot, but for everyone, it should be about knowing your options and doing what you know is best for you.

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