Friday, August 28, 2009

H1N1 -- To Vaccinate or Not

The letter from the school district came home today. The message was simple. Please vaccinate your children against the H1N1 flu. The message echoes everything else I've heard from medical professionals.

I have read every article about the H1N1 vaccine. I mean every, single thing I can find. I have to admit I really don't want to vaccinate the girls. This is an untested vaccine they are rushing to market a month earlier than planned. The research on it is mixed. It might work, but if the virus mutates at all, then it won't work. And, let's face it odds are good the virus will mutate.

As with all flu vaccines, scientists make their best guess about the strain that will infect everyone. How many, many times do we find out later that the annual flu shot was ineffective because the strain of the flu we all tried to prevent was different from the one that eventually invaded? Too many times that I can remember.

I hate this.

I'm not an anti-vaccine crusader. The girls are fully vaccinated. They even received the Chicken Pox vaccine. On another day I'll go into why I really dislike that vaccine, but today we'll stick to H1N1.

If we decide to have them vaccinated, I'll worry about the long-term effects and undiscovered side effects. If something happens later, I'll always wonder if it's related to the vaccine.

If we don't have them vaccinated, and they get sick, I'll regret that decision.

Either way it stinks. It's a lot of worry about an epidemic that may or may not develop. It's a lot of worry about an illness we face down every year.


eatmisery said...

I wouldn't do it. We don't know enough about the vaccine and its safety to make an educated decision. In fact, I've even arranged for my maternity leave to begin the day I would've seen students. You see, we had a swine flu case last year that my principal never told anyone about, especially me (the only pregnant one there). The next day I hear a pregnant woman died from it. I was pissed.

I work in the inner city in a school that is mostly Hispanic. I don't need someone there to get swine flu from a relative and pass it along to me and my family.

However, I won't get the vaccine and I won't vaccinate my children for it. It is the flu; I don't think it's worse. It's just widespread. Fluids are critical if you contract it. That's what I know. You have to take care of it right away before it gets worse.

But I won't vaccinate for it with a shot that is really just an experiment. I know exactly how you feel about this.

Kim Moldofsky said...

We got that same note. (Duh, same state.) And I have to say I share many of your concerns. Rushing vaccine to market means it hasn't had rigorous or long-term testing and that's scary. Wasn't there a vaccine for infants a few years back that wound up having very bad affects?

I guess I'll have a chat with the pediatrician...or just blow it off. But I'm on immunosuppresants because I have arthritis, so we're thinking I should get immunized (but then by extension, shouldn't the help keep me safe as the highest risk member of the family?) Ugh. Not what I want to be thinking about right before going to bed!