A Shot in the Arm

Flu Vaccine

Flu Vaccine

I awoke one day last weekend with possibly the worst headache I’ve ever had in my life, and Tylenol wasn’t helping, so by mid-day I was afraid I might have come down with the H1N1 flu. It is rampant in the Ozarks right now and schools throughout the region are closing.

Luckily, the headache finally subsided when my husband finally brought me my sinus medications and I was able to down some.

Keeping germs confined to one person is pretty tough in The Little House, that’s why I still insist we both take the flu shot. We got into the habit when I was caring for my elderly mother, who had a chronic lung disease, and we’ve continued taking it to keep our immune systems strong.

I might be a little more paranoid over the flu than the average person.

The deadly effects of the disease was all too real for my family as my father, who was the youngest of 13 children, lost a majority of his older siblings to the Spanish flu pandemic in 1918.

They too lived in a very small, 2-room house in rural Clarksville, Arkansas.

My dad with my brother, Steve. Fortunately, he never saw a pandemic as his parents had

My dad with my brother, Steve. Fortunately, he never saw a pandemic as his parents had

My dad wasn’t born yet, but the fact that he had never met many of his brothers and sisters was something he carried with him throughout his life, and of course, was a story passed through the generations in our family.

To this day when I hear someone pooh-pooh the immunization for warding off the flu, I think of my poor grandmother and what a devastating loss it must have been to watch so many of her children die, knowing there was nothing they could have done to prevent it. I wonder what she would say to people who now have the opportunity to fight the virus before they even fall ill, but take that luxury so casually.

Our doctor finally got in the regular seasonal flu shot this week, and we’ll both be heading in as soon as we can get into town.

The details surrounding the H1N1 around here are sketchy, our doctor’s office could only say that the health department would be the only one receiving it and they didn’t know when.

When I was covering school districts and health issues for local newspapers, I learned a lot about the myth surrounding the flu shot.

Doctors, health officials, the CDC, and nurses all told me that it is absolutely false that the flu can be contracted by taking the shot.

The regular, seasonal flu shot is a dead virus, meaning it cannot spread the virus once inside the body. If you’ve become sick after taking a flu shot it is either because a). You had come in contact with the virus before and you would have fell ill anyway, or b). You had some sort of allergic reaction.

Since my husband and I have started taking the flu shot (maybe for a decade), we haven’t had a major bought with the flu.

A friend at book club gave me some other common sense methods of warding off colds and the flu that she got from a relative who is a doctor. I thought I would pass them along, as there is a couple on the list that I didn’t know:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly and often.
  • Do not touch your face, especially your eyes, mouth and nose while out in public. I also carry hand sanitizer while out and use it frequently and use the cart sanitizer provided at the grocery store.
  • Gargle twice a day with warm salt water or Listerine. H1N1 takes 2-3 days after initial infection in the throat/nasal cavity to proliferate and show symptoms. This simple, inexpensive and powerful preventative method kills the germs and prohibits proliferation.
  • Drink as many warm liquids as you can. Drinking warm liquids has the same effect as gargling, by washing the germs into the stomach where they will not survive.
  • Clean your nostrils at least once every day with warm salt water. Blowing the nose hard once a day and swabbing both nostrils with cotton buds dipped in warm salt water is very effective in bringing down viral population.
  • Boost your natural immunity with foods that are rich in Vitamin C, or if you take Vitamin C tablets, make sure that is also has Zinc/biofavonoids to boost absorption.

Even in our Little House, when one of us has gotten a bug, we have been able to keep it from getting bad, or keep the other from getting it by:

-Immediately, upon the first sign of a scratchy throat, we begin downing Vitamin

C, Zinc and Echinacea (I haven’t had a cold in 2 years due to this method).
-Covering our mouths and noses with tissue when we cough or sneeze and then

immediately washing or disinfecting our hands before touching anything.

-Wiping down the house with disinfectant a couple of times a day, including door-     knobs, water faucet handles, phones, etc.

-Using separate hand towels.

-Immediately changing the toothbrushes after the fever subsides, to help prevent re-infection.

I heard a news broadcast the other day even recommending that the sick person wear a facemask in the house. We haven’t gone there just yet, but one never knows!

Hopefully, the preventative measures will keep us well in The Little House this year, and I hope they will help all of you too!

Do you have any tried and true methods of staying healthy during the cold and flu season?

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14 Responses

  1. Kim says:


    Very timely post! I enjoyed reading your perspective; I need to step up my preventative measures a bit after reading all your ideas.

    I was dumbfounded to learn last week that the Harrison, AR school district inoculated all the (consenting) healthy schoolchildren with an h1n1 vaccination– not a dead-virus shot, but a live-virus mist that left every child considered contagious for 7 days afterward.

    I have two toddlers. We’ve spent the week avoiding the world, essentially. I’m not sure what I’d have done if they’d been in school when this happened.


    • Kerri says:

      Thanks, Kim. Yes, I see all those kids on the news getting the mist. I wouldn’t do that, or would want my children to get it either.

  2. I am not getting the flu shot–either one. I’ve just never had one and rarely get sick. I’ll get one cold a year that might keep me down for a week or two. But mostly, I’m pretty healthy. I think it helps to stay hydrated with water, which I drink a lot of daily. I do exercise regularly. And I’m a huge fan of fruits and vegetables.

    I must have a strong immune system, because even when my kids were little and would catch colds or get sick I’d never get theirs. I do wash my hands a lot, so maybe that helps keep me healthy. My one ailment is allergies. I’ve noticed it gets increasingly worse as I age. These days, I sneeze a lot. It’s bothersome but not anything I worry about or take drugs for, except every once in a while if I get a headache.

    Call me lucky.


    • kerri says:

      You are lucky, Jackie. When I was younger and didn’t eat well, I had lots of problems with colds. Since I do eat a lot of fruits and veggies though, especially stocking up my body with them during the summer months, I stay a lot healthier. If I do feel anything coming on, Vitamin C and Zinc can usually knock it out before it gets hold.

  3. MarthaandMe says:

    These are great tips. I hope you have a very healthy fall and winter!

  4. Tammy says:

    Great post.

    I live in a small apartment and we’ve been really lucky this year. I had a small cold, but nothing major. For me, the best cure to prevent sickness is exercise. 🙂

  5. Frugal Kiwi says:

    One of my great-granddaddies died in the 1918 Pandemic as a young man. Scary stuff.

    I’m a big fan of C, Zinc and Echinachea. I also keep hand sanitizer in my purse.

  6. Being work-at-home hermits, who live in a rural area, helps a lot with germs avoidance too. :o)

    • Kerri says:

      Well, that’s for sure, Roxanne. However, my husband can catch colds very easily. I’ve tried to get him out of that annoying habit of rubbing his eyes when we’re out and about, and he did ask me to get him a bottle of sanitizer to keep at work, so I think he is getting better! 🙂

  7. Kerri says:

    I think you’re right comparing the H1N1 virus to the 1918 strain. I believe the siblings my father lost were all healthy, some young tweens and others young adults.

  8. Kathy Winn says:

    Kerri- don’t have any tried and true cures for the flu, but a hot toddy sure helps with symptoms! I think you’re wise to get a shot every year and take other preventative measures. David and I only started flu shots about three years ago, after we both came down with the worst flu either of us had ever had in our adult lives. We’ve not been sick since then. I think this H1N1 is particularly scary, since it seems to be worse in young, healthy people, than the elderly or even infants. From what I understand, the 1918 flu was similar. Here’s to weathering the winter in good health!