Health Team

Doctors urge 'cocooning' for those who can't get flu shot

Posted October 20, 2010
Updated October 21, 2010

— Adela Broughton, of Durham, has been at the North Carolina Children’s Hospital at UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill for more than four weeks.

The 4-year-old suffers from a severely inflamed and damaged colon that prevents her from absorbing nutrients.

Her family is concerned that her weakened state makes her vulnerable to the flu.

Adela also happens to be allergic to eggs, so she can’t get the standard flu shot. The flu vaccine is cultured in chicken eggs.

That’s why UNC Hospitals is targeting parents and caregivers of children like Adela to get the vaccine themselves. The strategy is called developing a “cocoon of flu protection.”

“Since the flu is passed from person to person, if we can protect the people around Adela from getting the flu, then we can also protect the flu from ever getting to Adela,” said UNC pediatrician Dr. Michael Steiner.

So Adela’s parents and grandmother have received the vaccine.

“This was the next best thing to her getting a flu shot,” Adela’s father, Steven Brougthon, said.

Dr. Steiner says it’s a concept that should be applied to all families with young children.

“The flu vaccine is not 100 percent, so if you can have more people immunized in the household, that actually helps protect the whole household,” Steiner said.

An estimated 200,000 people in the United Sates are expected to get the flu this flu season.


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  • HlthyLivin Oct 28, 2010

    I am not a fan of some vaccines and have many questions about their ingredients and effectiveness. However, I would get a flu shot any day knowing it might protect my child. And everyone's circumstances are different. My child is starting day care for the first time in 3 years and it scares me to think of everything she'll be exposed to. She eats well and takes toddler fish oil, D3 and a multi-vitamin every day. I eat well, exercise, get the right sleep, take the right supplements, practice stress management daily and yet was knocked to my feet back in July with some kind of virus. I still don't know where I got it from?

  • brentf777 Oct 27, 2010

    Flu vaccines aren't worth the associated risks of the vaccines themselves unless you are high risk for having serious complications from the flu (elderly, compromised immune system, etc.). I have never gotten a single flu shot. What you need to do is take generous amounts of immune system boosting vitamins and herbal supplements this time of year. Vitamin C is crucial. Get adequate rest and take 500-1000 mg a day of C and it will substantially reduce your risk of catching colds and the flu. And, if you feel yourself getting a bit of a runny nose or scratchy throat, double or triple the amount of C you're taking stretched out over the course of your day. Your body will automatically use much more of it when you're sick to bolster your defenses. If you get an upset stomach, back off the dose a few 100 mg and keep taking that amount until you feel better. You diet, assuming it contains adequate nutrition (i.e. you're not eating too little) will not have much effect on preventing illness.

  • whatelseisnew Oct 27, 2010

    I would not do this.

  • pthfan22 Oct 27, 2010

    If the pharma companies didn't put things like formaldehyde and mercury in the shots I might think about getting one. I'm not dead, I don't need to be preserved! And while eating healthy won't completely protect you, it sure does a good job! As a society we eat way too much processed food which makes us unhealthy. Besides, who knows if the shot is even for the RIGHT flu-its been wrong in the past.

  • okhicks Oct 26, 2010

    I can't believe that anyone would encourage pregnant mothers and infants, to be injected with such a proven & deadly cocktail of poisons.

    Before allowing your child to be injected, request to see the Vaccine insert. Plus they've gone cheap this year, if you or your child are allergic to Latex, prepare for the worst. instead of non-allergenic stoppers, they are all Latex this year (Dr. Tenpenny)

    Total swine flu deaths for 2009 were far lower than the number of deaths from regular seasonal flu. And yet it turns out that thousands of Americans who died from the swine flu had been previously injected with the vaccines (

    In fact, according to calculations derived from official CDC estimates, thousands of vaccinated Americans died from swine flu anyway. The vaccines, it seems, don't really work after all. You're just as safe doing nothing.

    Actually, getting the vaccine may harm your health. Outspoken Dr. Wodarg even says that the full extent of

  • NC Reader Oct 26, 2010

    Animal Lover -- You are correct that a healthy diet with unprocessed food is the best one. The "American diet" has already led to high rates of diabetes and other illnesses. A healthy diet may help our immune system fight all kinds of diseases. Of course, hard work plays a vital role. Many of my ancestors lived into their 90's and even past 100. They all ate lots of fried foods and salted ham, and they drank fresh cow milk. However, they worked hard, mostly doing farm work, and were not overweight.

    However, neither a stellar diet nor lots of exercise will completely stop viruses, bacterial infections, cancer, etc.
    For example, I have known two men in their 30s, both avid exercisers who ate healthy vegetarian diets, die of brain tumors. Another very healthy eater I know is constantly plagued with colds and bronchitis. I'm a pretty healthy eater myself, but I still get the flu shot. The only times I've ever had the flu were the years I didn't get the shot.

  • leafan Oct 26, 2010

    i have two egg allergic kids that have always gotten the flu shot - you just have to get it from the allergist office and they skin test with the vaccine first. It's never been a problem. MMR is also cutltured in eggs I believe - are they holding back on that one too? Probably not - just do it the right way.

  • hppyhourhero Oct 26, 2010

    Animal Lover: So what you are saying is that a vegetarian diet free of all processed foods will prevent the human body from being infected with a virus.

    Based on this premise then I would assume you are perfectly comfortable receiving a blood transfusion that is contaminated with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)?

  • CestLaVie Oct 25, 2010

    NEWS FLASH: Consume nutrition in your food & you won't need a flu shot....ever. FRESH veggies & fruits, beans, seeds, nuts. NO animal-source foods (including dairy); no sugar; no whites; no processed, junk foods.

    It's so amazingly SIMPLE that the American public doesn't get it, including all those commenting on here today.

    Parents who feed their kids all the processed junk coming down the pike from the food industry or allow their kids to eat what the bratty kids want are no help in this matter. You & your kids are being set up for flu & every other disease sooner or later. The food industry doesn't want you to know that what they're reaping huge profits from is killing you. They laugh all the way to the bank. Most parents are brainwashed or confused or stupid. In many cases, they're just doing what their parents taught them. It's pure habit & satisfaction of taste buds, NOT nutrition.

    OK - all of you who supported this story, let's hear your denials now.

  • SaltlifeLady Oct 22, 2010

    68-dodge-Polara-- your comment in innaccurate. There is plenty of flu vaccine availabel so go out and get yours! Now is the best time, before flu season gets here!