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Why Your Flu Shot May Not Work

It's time to get your flu shot! But it may not be as effective if you're overweight. A new study provides evidence explaining a phenomenon that was noticed for the first time during the 2009 H1N1 flu outbreak: that obesity is associated with an impaired immune response to the influenza vaccination in humans.

Researcher Melinda Beck says, “These results suggest that overweight and obese people would be more likely than healthy weight people to experience flu illness following exposure to the flu virus. "Previous studies have indicated the possibility that obesity might impair the human body’s ability to fight flu viruses. These new findings seem to give us a reason why obese people were more susceptible to influenza illness during the H1N1 pandemic compared to healthy weight people." The study reports for the first time that influenza vaccine antibody levels decline significantly in obese people compared to healthy weight individuals.

What’s more, responses to a type of white blood cell that plays a key role in the body's immune system are defective in heavier people, meaning that fatter people are sicker people--which is a good reason to lose weight!

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In general, all vaccines tend to show more efficacy in children than adults, since the immune response diminishes with age. The 'experts' don't talk about this very often, because they are afraid that people will shy away from vaccines altogether due to a "Why bother?" attitude. The truth is, children are the primary vectors for spreading the flu, which is why we should focus on immunizing them yearly for influenza, as well as other vaccine preventable diseases.

The truth, despite the naysayers, is that childhood mortality has dropped in huge numbers with the advent of vaccines.

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