Monday, October 05, 2009

To Vaccinate or Not To Vaccinate: That is the Question

So I'm a big fan of getting the flu shots for our family. I have been getting them since I was pregnant with Jackson, and the one year Jeremy didn't get the flu shot, he got the flu. I know that having the flu shot is definitely not a guarantee that you won't get the flu, just that particular strain, but I guess I usually think with a "better safe than sorry" mindset. Jeremy and I both received our flu shots last week and Jackson will receive his shot at a flu vaccine clinic this Saturday at his pediatricians office.

That being said, I'm not sure if our family will be getting the H1N1 vaccination. Here's what I'm thinking, and I'm totally open (and would greatly appreciate) advice and opinions on the subject.

Pros for the Vaccination

  • With Jeremy's unusual job (he's a funeral director in case you didn't know) I would be more inclined to encourage him to get the shot. If a pandemic did occur in our area, and people started dying, he would be exposed to the H1N1 virus on a constant basis, and then in turn, could bring it home to Jackson and myself.

  • Jackson has tendencies to have bouts with asthma. If he were to contract the flu, it could flare up his asthma and possibly cause more respiratory issues later if it turned into pneumonia. That's a scary thought to me.

  • Let's face it, having a preschooler in daycare means that Jackson will be, and has been, exposed to A LOT of germs. They have had a case of flu (regular) in his school and everyone who has had a child knows that they have a special way of sneezing or coughing directly into your face when they are sick. If Jackson got the flu, it would only be a matter of time before we all got it.

Cons Against the Vaccination

  • It makes me very nervous that the testing process for this shot has been hurried to say the least. During the 1976 swine flu outbreak, more people died from having the vaccine than from the actual swine flu. How do they know it's safe this time if they screwed up so badly last time, especially since they are rushing to get this vaccine out? There has definitely not been adequate testing to ensure safety of something that is being crammed down our throats.

  • The risk of contracting Guillain-Barre syndrome is a possibility. GBS is a neurological disease that can lead to paralysis or even death. During the 1976 swine flu outbreak, 4,000 people contracted GBS from the vaccine, which eventually led to the halting of the vaccination program. Who says it can't happen this time?

  • The swine flu vaccine will have mercury (thimerosal) in it, and the government has actually lowered it's standards on the amount of mercury that is "safe" in order to get this vaccine through the production process faster. Thimerosal is a mercury-based preservative that has been phased out of childhood immunizations since 2001 due to concerns that the preservative MAY be linked to autism. But thimerosal (which is about half-mercury) will be found in most vials of the swine flu vaccine. No one knows what a safe level of mercury is, so is it worth the risk to knowingly expose my family to mercury? A mercury free dose of the vaccination will be available later, but will be very hard to come by.

  • I am very cautious and nervous about the fact that several areas of the country are forcing people to get this vaccine or risk losing their jobs. Last time I checked the government has NO business taking away my free choice about what I'm putting into my body, and my son's body. I do vaccinate Jackson from common childhood diseases, but this vaccine has definitely not passed any standard of safety as far as I'm concerned. I don't know that it won't cause more harm than good.

So those are my thoughts so far. I have talked with our doctor and our pediatrician, and they are both pro-vaccination. I also have a friend whose daughter works for the CDC in Atlanta and she said that her daughter thinks the vaccine is perfectly safe. Those opinions are very important to me, but I still haven't decided what will be best for our family. I've never gone against the advice of our doctor, but this issue isn't easy to decide. I would love to hear your opinion on whether or not your family will be getting the H1N1 vaccine. Like I said before, I'm completely undecided so far and would love some input. Have a great day!

8 random thoughts:

Nana said...

I, too, am very concerned about the same issues that you have brought up. I'm just as confused about the H1N1 (hurry up and get the vaccine made attitude) since
(1) Jackson is in day care ... and all those germs ... putting everything in their little mouths [I tried to wipe down the toddler Sunday School room yesterday, especially the toys they were constantly putting in their mouths]; (2) Jeremy's line of work; (3) bringing home whatever type of germs. Kellyn is going to the OB today, and I asked her to discuss this matter with her doctor -- the regular flu shot and the H1N1. I just don't feel good one way or the other. It's about the "what ifs." I simply just want the BEST for my family -- safety!!

Miranda said...

Okay so given the fact that Jackson is in daycare and so is Gracie (and James will be) I can't say we're getting the H1N1 vaccine. Bryan and I both got flu shots this year, and Gracie - like Jackson - will get hers at the pediatricians office this weekend.
All that being said, I'm not comfortable with getting it. Even with James being so little, it still makes me nervous. Add to that the fact that the pharmacist who GAVE me my flu shot suggested we not get it - I think I'm sold on the idea of skipping it.
What concerns me is the number of deaths of people who HAVE gotten it, but I also never bothered to factor in if they even went to the doctor, if they could afford good medical care, did they have pre-existing medical conditions, etc?
And I'm with you...the cons scare me more than the pros!

Emily said...

I worked on the vaccine litigation and read every single VAERS (Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System) related to certain vaccines. I am convinced that the risk of not vaccinating is higher than the risks of vaccinating that are associated with thimerisol, however I am no doctor.
You could ask for an individual dose, which would have less of the preservative, but I'm not sure if they are available.

Jeni said...

My OB told me to get a regular flu shot but he's wary about the H1N1 because of how new it is. He said the CDC is recommending it for pregnant women, but whatever obstetrics association he's a member of isn't recommending it yet, so he isn't either. My pregnant stepsister who is two weeks behind me (25 weeks pregnant) has already gotten the swine flu. She said it was awful while she had it, but she's better now and everything with baby appears to be good. Unless my OB tells me different, we'll all just get regular flu shots. I take the kids to the ped. for their checkups next week so I'll ask for them about H1N1 next week. But I doubt they'll get it, especially since they're not in school or daycare.

Jeni said...

PS..I don't think I knew Jeremy was a funeral director. I think that is so cool! Is that a little weird of me?

Kellyn said...

I'm not in favor of it. I am leery of the regular flu vaccine, so the H1N1 is definitely not on my list. I think this one is a live vaccine as well, which is more "dangerous" than the non-live vaccines, but I'm not 100% on that. I think the regular flu shot is enough until they can further test the H1N1. The risks are a little much for me right now and they treat swine with Tami-Flu just like the regular flu anyway.

Mom to the 3rd degree said...

will not be giving my children the swine flu shot. I do the flu one every year. Out here we have had SEVERAL cases of the swine flu. In fact there were at least 90 confirmed cases in our school alone. The cases are mild, in fact less severe than the regular flu. However, as you said with asthma, that could cause problems. Here, which I'm sure they would do the same thing there. For every child with Swine flu they are giving the Tami-flu and Antibiotic. The Antibiotic covers the complications from the flu that lead to death in several kids. You have to remember each child that has died from the swine flu, die from the complications not the actual flu. We all had what we believe was the swine flu a few weeks ago, it was very mild to say the least. Anthony was put on Antibiotics (because he is high risk) and he healed wonderfully. So I don't know. I guess seeing the swine flu so much lately, I don't see the need to vaccinate.

Kay said...

I've read everything I can about this topic as I have asthma. I've read all the comments here and there are a lot of valid points. One person mentioned the live vaccine... the nasal mist is live, the shot is not. Therefore people like myself that are more high risk, cannot take the mist, but must wait longer for the shot. From what I've read/been told etc, the same technology that goes into making the seasonal flu shot, goes into the swine flu vaccine... just using the different strains in the same style shot. I have also heard of people where I live that have NOT been given the option of the Tamiflu since it is in short supply and not everybody is eligible to receive it. (which means I can't really count on just getting the Tamiflu if there isn't any to get) And yes, I've heard it go both ways, one family can't get it at all for one sick member and another family receives it for every member just so they don't get sick, which I really don't agree with either. LOL Having said aaaaall of that, my daughter and I will be getting the shots when they are available, but I doubt my husband will, since he doesn't have any of the high risk preexisting conditions like I do.

On another note, I didn't know your husband was a funeral director either. That is a difficult profession.. dealing with grief every day. But I'm glad to see good people involved in it. When our son died, we had the most amazing (young lady) director and she was so kind to us, it made that process much easier. So I'm sure your husband's kindness to others is very much appreciated. : )

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