For reasons that are beyond me, health authorities will not admit that they got it wrong with swine flu. In some respects this is happening on the quiet as many countries have slashed their orders for vaccines and you hear less about it. In the northern winter predictions of countless deaths have of course not materialized.In fact the flu season has been no worse than usual.

Dire predictions of swine flu at the winter Olympics were made. Not one single case has occurred. In the southern hemisphere we are preparing for the next winter, still four months away. This will be the second winter with H1N1.You would think that people who claim to be “of science” and who criticize other practitioners for being “unscientific” would use the facts from last winter and apply them. You would be wrong.

The facts are that the H1N1 virus was no more severe than any one of the usual flu viruses both in terns of numbers of cases and severity. Some people get severe symptoms with flu, some people are hospitalized and some die. This happens every year. The predictions of both cases and deaths from H1N1 were so far wide of the reality as to be laughable, if so much effort, time and money had not been wasted.

If any further proof was needed that the last winter flu in Australia was mild it came in the profit result of listed medical centre company, Primary Healthcare. In its half yearly result the company noted that attendances at general practice clinics had been flat. One reason for this cited in the half yearly report was the “lack of a flu epidemic compared to last year”.Not only was last years flu season not worse than usual it was milder than the previous year, resulting in less visits to the doctor.

People can get things wrong. We all do. We can learn from mistakes. So what are we getting from the health department in Australia? Recognition that they were wrong? Advice to treat this winter like any other? No, we are getting dire warnings for this year.

The threat of a second wave has been raised. How can you have a second wave when there was not a first one? There is the threat that the virus will morph somehow. It was not serious last year, but somehow it will change this year and be the killer that we were all supposed to be afraid of.

To that end the Chief Medical Officer wrote to all Australian General practitioners urging them to vaccinate everyone against H1N1. It also tells us that the government will be spending more health dollars on a campaign to inform the public of the importance of getting vaccinated.

It admits that most of the 20 million vaccines bought by the Australian government have not been used. It also does not mention the spending on anti viral drugs which have been shown not to work, but that is a whole other story.

Now here is the really interesting part. Nowhere is there any mention of what the individual can do to support their immune system. There is no mention of the importance of things that make a real difference to your immune system such as

1) Eat a balanced diet with adequate fruit and vegetables as well as sources of essential fatty acids such as fish, olives (or olive oil), linseed or nuts.

2) In addition to this many people may benefit from vitamin supplements, particularly antioxidants such as vitamins A, C and E, which help the immune system.  Zinc, Vitamin D and Folate supplements are also helpful.

3) Regular exercise has been shown to boost the immune system.

4) Make sure you get enough sleep, as this is the bodies recharge the battery time

5) Drink 30-35ml/kilo of water each day.

6) Most importantly examine your workload and stress levels and take steps to reduce them before they reduce your immunity to illness.

The notion that only a vaccine can protect you from the flu is wrong. According to the product information the vaccine has a variable, albeit high percentage  “take” and of course it does nothing against other viruses. Your immune system is there to keep you healthy. All it needs is for you to care properly for it.

Do not get caught up in hysteria about killer flu. Do not be swayed by alarmist predictions. Be responsible for your own health

The best way not to be sick is to be healthy.