>From Teresa Binstock This woman, Rhonda Smith, should be fired! This is negligent, inaccurate information..... Rhonda Smith * Louisiana Department of Health 325 Loyola Avenue, Room 308 PO Box 60630 New Orleans, LA 70160 Main Number (504) 568-5070 Fax: (504) 568-7722 E-mail: [email protected] Contact Us MEDIA REQUESTS ONLY. Public (private citizen, business, or student) requests, send email to [email protected], or use the main CDC Contact Us page. http://www.pe.com/lifestyles/healthandfitness/stories/PE_Fea_Health_chiro122 3.5863d.html Don't panic about flu, some advise PREVENTION: Common sense goes a long way toward maintaining a strong immune system. 4:29 PM PST on Monday, December 22, 2003 By JANET ZIMMERMAN / The Press-Enterprise Nate Coffin is sick of the fear and paranoia surrounding this year's flu vaccine. The Redlands chiropractor said there's plenty that people can do to protect themselves against the virus. It includes taking care of their bodies and keeping a positive attitude. Coffin wants people to quit worrying if they don't get the shot, which is in short supply. Dire warnings of a severe flu season have created public hysteria, said the chiropractor, whose patients have begun showing up at his office wearing masks. CheckWidthImage(1,1024,215); The Press Enterprise Boost your immune system, Nate Coffin advises. Health officials say the primary strain of flu this year is different than the virus strains in the vaccine, though the viruses share some characteristics and the shot may provide 50 percent protection. The flu season arrived earlier this year, and children are being especially hard hit. "It creates this fear and uncertainty of, 'If I don't get the flu shot, my kids are going to die,'" Coffin said. People should worry less about the virus and more about their immunity, he adds. "You're probably carrying a lot of these viruses and bacteria around anyway. If your immune system is weak, it will hit you," Coffin said. "If your immune system is intact and strong, it probably won't." The chiropractor said he has never gotten the flu shot and never had the flu. He also did not get the vaccine for his 4-year-old son and 23-month-old daughter. To ward off the flu, Coffin urges exercise, adequate rest and a diet low in sugar and carbohydrates. He also recommends chiropractic adjustments - for babies and children, too - to maintain the integrity of the nervous system, which is tied to the immune system. And don't forget the power of the mind-body connection, he said. "If this thing is going around, the paranoia multiplies and builds on itself," said Coffin, who takes a daily dose of cod liver oil. "Fear is a horrible way to motivate people." Dr. Eric Frykman, San Bernardino County's chief of disease control and prevention, agrees that a healthy lifestyle is good for general well-being. But the vaccine is the best protection from the flu, he said. "The benefit from a vaccine is that it can help your body build immunities before that organism ever gets in your body," Frykman said. He cites the number of deaths from diseases such as measles and diphtheria, which dropped dramatically after immunizations were introduced. Coffin adheres to the advice of Joseph Mercola, an osteopathic physician, author of "The No-Grain Diet" and the force behind www.mercola.com, a Web site on natural health. Mercola said the flu vaccine is ineffective because most Americans' immune systems are impaired by diets rich in sugars, grains and processed and fast foods. "Putting so much faith and credence in a single vaccine against the flu is like fireproofing one door in your house when the rest of your home is saturated in gasoline," Mercola writes. "A vaccine won't save you from the flu ... because your underlying defenses - your immunity - are seriously dysfunctional, and there are far too many potential 'invaders' to ward off via the artificial means of vaccination." Mercola also said the vaccine is inherently bad because it contains aluminum, phenol and mercury. But a Food and Drug Administration spokeswoman said the vaccine does not contain aluminum or phenol. Most of the mercury-containing preservative, thimerosal, was eliminated from flu vaccines after 1999, though some manufacturers use it in trace amounts, said Rhonda Smith, spokeswoman for the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). "There's no evidence it causes problems in children or adults, other than mild swelling at the injection site," she said. Mercola is concerned that the CDC has broadened its recommendations for who should be immunized. In addition to people older than 65 and those with chronic diseases that weaken immunity, healthy children ages 6 months to 23 months and pregnant women who will be in their second or third trimester during flu season should be vaccinated, according to government guidelines. Besides vaccination, the CDC recommends avoiding close contact with sick people, covering your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, washing your hands frequently and not touching your eyes, nose and mouth.