Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Swine Flu Vaccine

To vaccinate, or not to vaccinate .... now, in general, as I've said before, I'm a straight-arrow vaccinator. Gwen has even had the chicken pox shot, which is one that many parents who are otherwise pro-vax turn down. But the fuss these days about the H1N1 shot ... I don't know. I just ... don't know.

I usually get the flu shot every year, because I work for the Health Authority. Previously, I worked at a building with a nurse, and didn't even have to leave my office to get the shot. I don't work with the public very often, but I do often work with those who do, and I do often attend meetings at public sites. So I'm exposed to the flu virus, and as such I get the shot. I haven't had the flu in years. Last year, all three of us - Gwen, Chris, and I - got the shot. And we were all 100% fine.

When I went into the local health unit to ask when this year's flu shot was going to be available, I learned that the seasonal flu shot was not even going to be offered until the new year. Instead, they recommended that we get the H1N1 shot.

You know, the H1N1 shot that's been on the market for like, a day and a half now. The shot that hasn't been through the clinical trials. The shot that may or may not give you Gulf War syndrome. That one! Yeah. Sign me up. Me and my 18-month-old daughter, please!

I think what concerns me about this vaccine is that, by default, we have no idea whatsoever about long-term effects. What if, in thirty years, Gwen is infertile? Do I want to look back at the winter of 2009 and wonder if this vaccine caused that? "Gee, I'm sorry, darling, that you will never know the joy of bearing your own child. But hey! Remember when you were two, and you didn't get the flu? YOU'RE WELCOME!"

So, on the other hand, what if we turn down the vaccine and she gets the flu? Well ... it's the flu. People don't usually die from the flu, right? And by all accounts (by which I mean, according to Amber, who saw it on the news ... I am nothing if not a rigourous researcher) H1N1, like chickenpox, seems to hit harder in adulthood than childhood. Meaning, the kids who are getting it are just FINE.

At this point I'm leaning pretty solidly towards not vaccinating. What are you all planning? (Here are some links to help you decide ... not that they've helped me all that much.)

In this video from Fox News (of all places), a doctor admits the vaccine is more dangerous than the flu and that he will NOT be getting it for his kids. (If you only follow one link, make it this one ... it's interesting to watch, because the interview goes in a direction unexpected by either party.)

A fact sheet that is pretty much, well, factual, as opposed to agenda-driven.

A pro-vax Q&A from

Anti-vax article casts doubts about whether the H1N1 vaccine has been adequately tested.

In this news video, health workers in Albany rally against enforced H1N1 vaccinations; the Chair of Preventative Medicine responds.

This article details the intense hunt for side effects that will be taking place after the vaccination is rolled out across North America.


Anonymous said...

I have not heard anything good from any sources I trust about the H1N1 vaccine. I certainly won't be part-taking. I've actually heard a nurse say she'd rather lick a sucker made of smallpox than take the H1N1 vaccine.

For what it's worth though, I never get a flu shot and don't ever intend to. I'm more cautious about vaccinations than you are - I don't intend to vaccinate my as-yet-unconceived child until it is at least a year old, and I won't be getting the chicken pox vaccine for it at all (nor the HPV one, for that matter, unless it's a girl and she asked for it).


Anonymous said...

While I don't think I will be getting it, and I also will say right off the bat that making the decision for a healthy 30-something year old and a toddler are totally different... I wanted to point out that the fact sheet seems pretty agenda-driven to my casual read. They insert a number of key anti-vaccine talking points in here and there that makes me suspect it is pretty strongly anti-vaccine. ie there is no comparison of the ingredients list with standard known "safe" vaccines, so I don't trust that fact sheet either.

David and I are discussing it now, as we both have a mild cold and have a while to get better to decide to regular/h1n1 flu shot or not.

Amberism said...

(that was the local news, too, so you know, totally reliable ;) ).

I don't get a flu shot vaccine typically because, dude! Why would I go out of my way to ensure I never got a sick day at work?! Ludicrous! Bring on the flu!

That said I haven't had the flu since I was 15 or something because I have a freakish immune system. Seriously, Steve got Norwalk, I cleaned up the mess, including the toilets, and DIDN'T get Norwalk. They should bottle my blood and use it as a vaccine.

I decided I would look into what the big deal was with h1n1 and came across some stat that says 1% of the folks hospitalized were pregnant, but 6% of the deaths were pregnant women - I think this was Those stats alarmed me an awful lot, so I annouced these stats to Steve and his response was "what's 6%, 3 people? And when was the last time you were sick? And how many pregnant women die of the regular flu every year?" All questions I couldn't answer.

There is so much about h1n1 that doesn't add up, but like you already said, the lack of a clinical trial is a pretty big deal. And it feels a lot of fear mongering to get us to vaccinate and what's the agenda, here, exactly?

Clearly I need to do some real research that I'd rather not do. Right now I'm leaning towards not vaccinating (and like you, I would probably be filed under pro-vaccine overall, if we're giving ourselves labels).

Of course, I reserve the right to change my mind and opinions on a whim.

Surprised Suburban Wife said...

I used to work for PHSA so got the flu shot free for years, like you, and didn't really get the flu other than the first year. Last year we got the flu shot for Megan. In conclusion: I am not an anti-vaccine type at all. Megan even got the varicella vaccine like Gwen!
But the H1N1...such a tough deicision! Thank you for such a thorough analysis of the factors in your decision making process. We are still undecided...long term effects is my big sticking point too.


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