Every year around this time they get trotted out for TV shows and newspaper articles. They've got all their talking points lined up, ready to convince you that you'll be in great danger if you don't get a flu shot.
But this year it seems they've got a new angle: herd immunity.
You hear a lot of talk about herd immunity with childhood vaccines for whooping cough, measles, etc. But this is the first year I've seen it used to sell the flu shot.
And there's a reason we haven't seen it before. It's nonsense.
According to one expert, "There is no question that the more people who get vaccinated, the better off we all are."
Got that? There is "no question." End of discussion.
Another flu shot cheerleader claims: "It is everyone's civic responsibility to protect themselves and their community."
So plan on blaming yourself if you don't get a flu shot and the flu runs roughshod through your community.
Last year, a flu expert told USA Today that he strongly believes that everyone should get the flu shot. And yet his own research shows that the flu shot doesn't really work very well. He also admitted that the shot isn't strong enough to create true herd immunity.
But the fact is, NO vaccine creates herd immunity. That's because "true" herd immunity is when a population contracts an infection and then recovers naturally. And that natural immunity lasts a lifetime. But ALL vaccine immunity eventually wears off. And flu shot immunity, which is weak to begin with, wears off pretty quickly.
One of the experts quoted above recommends that you get your shot as early in the season as possible so you're protected right from the start. But another expert says wait until October so you'll have a better chance of immunity lasting through the worst part of the season.
So I guess we can take our pick. We can (supposedly) be protected in the early flu season, or the later flu season, but not both. And yet they suggest that if enough people get this weak shot, we'll all be enveloped by a magical immunity.
Do you get the feeling they're just making this stuff up as they go along?
Here's what we know for certain, because it's proven. If you and me and the rest of the "herd" wash our hands frequently, flu risk goes down. Then add ample supplements of vitamin D and you've got a genuine shot of staying healthy throughout the flu months ahead.
Yours in good health, Bob Reagan