Recently we published a PositiveTip dealing with how to protect yourself from influenza. Later the same day, I received a scorching email message from a very zealous, but misguided health enthusiast. I will share just a part it (without any edits):
“There is not one ingredient in the ‘flu’ coctail of toxins that would help the immunity to protect us from ‘flu’! ‘Our’ own immune system keeps us safe/healthy… Not not not list of poisons/toxins ! ???Why???? Are you not not promoting the 10 natural laws of health reform from our creator? Ha?”
This kind of rhetoric is saddening! It demonstrates a haughty, angry attitude rooted in misinformation and bold falsehoods. It defies current evidence-based knowledge on the topic.
Anyone who regularly visits this site knows that I am passionate about the benefits of wise, healthful choices on our health. The best way to prevent disease is through a careful and balanced lifestyle combined with trust in God.
It is helpful to remember there are no absolute guarantees in life. Not all smokers get lung cancer. There are those who never smoke, eat and live very carefully and still get cancer, develop heart disease, or have a stroke.
Many people who live terribly unhealthful lives do not ever get the flu—even without taking the flu shot! Some who live incredibly careful lives and take the flu vaccine, get it.
So what is going on? It basically comes down to minimizing our risks by the choices we make—including taking a flu shot. Those who choose to live healthfully—eating well, exercising, sleeping, trusting in God, etc.—employ the first line of defense in minimizing their risks of acquiring disease, including influenza.
Taking a flu shot is not evidence of lack of faith, but rather further reduces the risk of the flu, enhancing our opportunity to serve and help others. In the U.S., unvaccinated children are 3.1 times more likely to get the flu and miss twice as many school days as vaccinated kids. More sobering is that an average of more than 100 unvaccinated children die in the U.S. each year from the flu.
Vaccines have been a tremendous blessing to this world, and have saved millions of lives! To the suspicious and fearful souls like the correspondent quoted above, I would like to ask several questions.
- If you needed to spend time in a malaria infested area of the world, would you refuse to take prophylaxis for this deadly disease?
- Do you recommend that parents of infants refuse to give them immunizations when doing so could result in lifetime disability or death?
- Could it be that angry, disturbed attitudes toward those who disagree with you, actually decrease your own resistance to disease?
We are all bombarded with enormous amounts of information today. Some of it is factual, and of lot of it is not. We need to be very careful of disseminating untruths catering to those who delight in creating fear and uncertainty. Scripture gives us some wise counsel.
"Souls are saved by truthful witness and betrayed by the spread of lies" (Proverbs 14:25 NLT).
"'Walk straight, act right, tell the truth. Don’t hurt your friend, don’t blame your neighbor'" (Psalm 15:2-4 The Message).