Can open, worms everywhere

One of my easiest decisions as a parent so far was the choice to vaccinate my baby. I feel 100 percent confident that protecting him from potentially deadly diseases is my responsibility as a mother and vaccines are a safe, effective way to do that. I’ve done my research (although the internet is a hard hard place to do vaccine research, especially if you’re actually in favor of vaccinating) and I’ve talked to my doctor and I choose my choice. It’s chosen. My blogger friend Brigid posted a video from the CDC a while back addressing some of the concerns and facts about vaccinations in a non-terrifying way. My feelings can basically be boiled down to even though I doubt my baby will ever be exposed to measles or rubella or hepatitis, it’s the herd immunity that prevents epidemics and I’m doing my part. And for the record, I don’t really want to hear about your cousin’s sister-in-law’s best friend’s baby who totally got autism right after his shots. For every anecdote you’ve heard there’s a child who never had a single shot and was still diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. So, like I said, I am on the vaccination train.

Until this H1N1 thing came along. Suddenly I’m not so confident. I don’t know if I want to add another shot to my baby’s 6 month appointment. For myself, no problem. I will probably get both a regular seasonal flu shot and the H1N1 shot. E’s going to get both flu shots as well (the Navy actually requires him to get them). I haven’t had the flu since I was a kid (I get strep every year instead, so if they start vaccinating against THAT sign me up!) and I don’t spend a lot of time in crowded disease-filled places like malls or day care centers, but again, herd immunity! As parents, we’re doing our part.   But my baby doesn’t hang out in those places either. And the info out there on the Swine Flu vaccine is too scary to just dismiss. Younger children need to get two shots instead of one, and Baby Evan is just barely old enough to fall in the 6 months – 24 year suggested age group. Some states are lifting the restrictions on how much mercury can be in the vaccines (I can’t find info for my state but I know California and Washington have). The last time a Swine Flu vaccine was distributed in the 70’s the side effects were terrible and much more widespread than I am comfortable with. I just don’t know what the right choice is this time.

I’m not the only mom who feels this way. One of the mommy bloggers I follow, All & Sundry, just posted something about choosing to get the vaccine (or not). She got almost two hundred comments and every single one made me think “Oh good point!” on both sides. I hope I don’t have to make a decision right away since the vaccine may not be available in time for our 6 month appointment and I’ll get a couple more weeks to think about it. Are you – and/or your children – getting the H1N1 vaccine?

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22 Responses to “Can open, worms everywhere”

  1. Other Erin says:

    The disaster in the 1970s is one of my favorite government antecdotes. I am pretty strongly against the Swine Flu vaccine since the last time it was pushed as “strongly recommended” it killed more people than the actual Swine Flu.
    The other fun fact is that the disease is far more danerous for people in their late teens early 20s. For once, a disease is leaving the very young and the very old virtually untouched.
    But I’m totally with you in general – I’m all about the MMR and all that. But the panic over Swine Flu seems so uninformed and insincere that I have very little trust in the statement that people must get it.
    My friend Kim who is 7 months pregnant came to the decision with her doctor not to get either shot if that helps at all.

  2. afteriris says:

    It is a tricky one. My dad is a paediatrician so I am massively in favour of vaccinations.

    HOWEVER… where I live is the swine flu capital of the UK, and I know a lot of people who have had it now and it really isn’t very bad at all unless you have existing medical conditions that make you vulnerable. To put it in perspective: in the UK there have been less than 50 deaths from swine flu. Regular flu kills tens of thousands every winter. Part of the reason that everyone is so excited by this particular virus is that it has been identified and can be tracked. It’s a big deal epidemiologically speaking, but it’s difficult to know whether we should be more scared than we are usually about these things.

    But on the other hand I’ve been on the wrong side of the odds, I know how devestating it is to be in that 1% where things do go wrong in anything in life. Although it cuts both ways where this vaccine is concerned because it’s so new and has been developed so quickly.

    So, that was completely unhelpful wasn’t it? I’ll shut up now!

  3. erniebufflo says:

    As far as I know, the same people who make the regular flu vaccine are making the swine flu vaccine. Each year, they choose a few strains of the flu to make the vaccine, hoping to choose the ones that will be popular that year and provide the most protection. I’m really not sure how making it with the H1N1 virus is any different than the way they change the strains from year to year. Same exact vaccine, just protecting against different “flavors” of the same basic disease. From what I’ve seen and heard from Dr. Bufflo, it’s no more dangerous than the regular flu vaccine.

    That said, Baby E can get the flu mist for the regular flu, which is a nose spray and not an injection, so that’s one less shot!

    Personally, I’m going to be getting the regular flu vaccine and the H1N1 vaccine, since I work on a college campus and fall within the high risk age range (barely).

  4. bebehblog says:

    I thought the mist was for older babies but I will definitely ask my doctor. And it’s not the method of making the vaccine I’m concerned about, it’s the rush and the lax restrictions.

  5. lalaland13 says:

    The high-risk age range is up to 24 years. I was interviewing a health person and asked something like, “So since I just turned 25, I’m good, right?”

    Smartassery aside, I will be getting the Original Recipe Flu vaccine. For free-thanks, work. Extra Crispy H1N1, probably not at this point, but we’ll see. I started getting the regular flu shot two or three years ago and haven’t regretted it.

    I don’t blame you either way on the H1N1. While it worries me, it hasn’t mutated yet so I’m not too concerned about it. If if mutates, I will crawl under the couch cushions and hide with my cats.

  6. Audrey says:

    I am one of those “hesitant about vaccines” moms. I probably wouldn’t have thought twice about vaccines but my husband has an autism spectrum disorder and it is pretty heavily laced through his paternal family so anything I can do to minimize the chances our kids will have that particular gene turned on I plan to do. Not that we haven’t vaccinated, we’re just doing it one at a time over a course of weeks instead of two or three in one shot. Ev will totally be getting his MMR as soon as he gets over this cold he has. And he’ll be getting a flu shot as well. But the H1N1? I don’t know. My pediatrician’s office is still evaluating the vaccine and doing their own research into so they can make the best recommendation they can. I’ll probably wait until they make a verdict and then decide. I’m sort of leaning more toward not, though. For him at least. I mean, he’s not in day care and the only place he’s likely to pick anything up is from his father because he’s a children’s librarian. So hubby plans to wash his hands extra this cold season. For me, I probably will. Maybe. But only because I am hoping to get pregnant this winter and from what I understand pregnant women are pretty susceptible to H1N1. Otherwise I wouldn’t touch it with a 10 foot pole.

  7. candace says:

    just to ease your mind, they didn’t even offer it to Aubreigh when she was 6months, that was just last week too. I wouldn’t let her get it anyway. too many scary side effects from it. I know you’ll make the right decision.

  8. Erin (i need to think of a fake name) says:

    I pretty much let the results of a google search make all my parenting decisions. The internet never lies. It’s the wisdom of the masses. They even talked about it on House. On the episode called Epic Fail.

  9. ryan says:

    i’m pregnant and won’t be getting the regular or H1N1 vaccine. there are a few reasons for this – my midwife is suggesting against it (she actually rolled her eyes when i asked if she thought it necessary); aside from being pregnant, i’m not in any other risk category; i haven’t had the flu since i was a kid (my body tends towards throat infections/strep); and i live in florida which has a really low incidence of seasonal flu in general.

    will i vaccinate my kid(s)? phew, that’s a tough one. i understand both arguments for and against vaccination and i’m just not sure that the risk of autism or mercury poisoning is less than the risk of measles or rubella. but i have read that there may be something in the type/brand of vaccine and how it is administered that can increase exposure to mercury and other preservatives linked to autism and that getting a specific brand of vaccine and spacing them out can be protective. more research by me and my husband is needed, obvs, but i’d like to think that we would, in the end, choose to vaccinate just with extreme caution and with a physician willing to listen to our concerns.

  10. h_a_l says:

    Well, we are on the vaccination train with you but I don’t think I’ll get Ivy the H1N1. Aside from the fact she’s too young for it, my husband actually asked our pediatrician about it when we had her in for her last checkup and he said their office would still be evaluating the research on it and he wasn’t sure how soon it would be ready into flu season anyway.

    Also, here in NYC I bet there is going to be a high demand so we might as well let the school children and hospital workers get theirs since they will be more at risk for it anyway.

    And, like many people above have said, she’s not in daycare or anything. I think the only thing that might make me nervous is that she rides on the subway with me sometimes, but I’m usually pretty OCD about hand washing and sanitizing after riding public transport.

  11. Donavon says:

    Hey Suzanne! I had to comment…finally right?! So Mike and I both had swine flu a few weeks ago, so clearly I do not have to make the choice now on whether I want to get vaccinated or not. Everyone freaked out when they heard we were sick, like we were on the verge of death or something. It wasn’t any different than any other flu I have ever had in my life, and quite frankly, when I had mono in college, that was 100 times worse than swine flu. Both our jobs required us to take 7 days off of work. Sure, for the first 2 days or so we had high fevers, sore throats, stuffy noses, aches and pains, but after that we were just hanging on the couch, eating ice cream and watching crappy day time tv. It turned out kind of fun. I never get the flu shot, either does Mike. And if I had a bebeh, I would not give him/her either flu shot. People get the flu all the time, always have, and as long as you seek proper and timely medical treatment for your and your bebeh, you will be fine should you get sick. Also, as others have said, my doctor told me that it is people in their 20s and 30s who are at risk of H1N1 and that physicians in Mass aren’t even testing people anymore because it is no different clinically. The only reason she tested me was because I was having some GI issues as well and she thought perhaps I had a parasite, turns out it was swine. There…those are my 2 cents. : )

  12. FourInchHeels says:

    From the conversations I’ve been involved with the last few weeks about it (a bonus of working in a hospital!) I understand the following to be true:
    – mercury (in the form of thimerosal) is only in SOME forms of the vaccine.
    – thimerosal is in the multi-dose vials, NOT in the single dose ones, and NOT in the nasal spray version
    – the shot versions contain dead virus, so while it’s possible to experience minor flu-like symptoms, you cannot actually GET the flu from it
    – the nasal spray version contains severely weakened form of the live virus, so it is remotely possible to actually catch the flu from the vaccine.
    – the h1n1 is uncommon in that it affects younger people – the protein it attaches to diminishes as you age, which is why it’s not hitting the old timers like most flu strains
    – most (but not all) deaths have been from someone with a pre-existing condition; most people just have a few blah days and then eat ice cream and watch mediocre daytime tv like Donavon said

    I know you’re responsible and not heavy on the paranoia and crazy that is the basis for some people’s decisions about the vaccine, so those are my thoughts on the whole thing; do with it what you will. I’ll be curious to see what you end up deciding to do!

  13. Brigid Keely says:

    I get the flu frequently, and often get bronchitis as well. Last time this happened, I wound up sobbing hysterically because I was so exhausted… it had been several days since I’d been able to sleep at night because every time I laid down I started coughing. The sobbing, of course, led to more coughing and then an asthma attack because! I also have asthma! WHEE FUN.

    Niko’s been crazy healthy (knock on wood) and if we do get him the H1N1 vaccine, honestly, it’d probably be more for me than for him. However, I’ve heard crazy scary stories from people who DID contract H1N1, including choking on excess mucus and not being able to breathe. As someone who has a history of lung problems, that FREAKS ME THE FUCK OUT.

    Vaccines are a sort of weird issue for us because every time I got vaccinated as a kid, I got sick soon after. However, in retrospect, that was probably because I was suddenly around a bunch of sick kids and just picked up their germs. I’ve ALWAYS been super susceptible to upper respiratory crap. More of a weird issue is that my husband’s family has a history of reacting badly to vaccines, to the point of death. Since it was in another country, I don’t know if those reactions were a physical thing (mitochondrial disorder, egg allergy… which some of his cousins have, etc) or tainted vaccines. But it’s enough to be pretty scary!

    But my uncle has Polio, and he recovered enough that he was able to go from totally crippled to playing football for the army… and now he has post Polio and is in constant, chronic pain. I read old books and diphtheria and measles and other now-rare childhood diseases were rampant, killing kids left and right (or leaving them permanently maimed). And they aren’t treated as something unusual, you know, just… matter of fact. Diphtheria would sweep through an area and parents would lose six kids and a parent within a few months.

    I’m very willing to play the odds and get vaccinated and get my kid vaccinated, especially with all the resounding proof that vaccines do NOT cause Autism or lead to ASD. I’m a little on the fence about H1N1 because it hasn’t been as thoroughly tested, but I’ll probably wind up getting it, especially considering how much contact with the public my husband has. Until I had my tonsils out at 20, at least once I year I’d go through a round of “cant’ breathe, cough till I puke, run a crazy high fever, hork up mucus for a month and a half after” and that really isn’t fun.

    Just a note… Dr Sears who has been an advocate of delaying or staggering vaccines has several times come out and said that vaccines are bad. It looks like he’s been hiding an anti-vaccine stance behind “delay! stagger!” advice.

  14. bebehblog says:

    Rebecca – Thanks for the clarification. I’ve only seen the book not actually purchased it so I didn’t know it was his son. I wonder if family dinners are sort of awkward with a pro-vaccine/anti-vaccine side of the table?

    Also, wow you can buy vaccinations yourself in Canada?

  15. […] 12. Drama! Suspense! Vaccinations!: Can open, worms everywhere. […]

  16. […] still suggested we finish Baby Evan’s Hep B series AND talked me into the H1N1 shot. You know I was on the fence about it back in October at his 6 month appointment but it became a moo point (like a cow’s opinion)  […]

  17. […] gets a polio vac at his NEXT appointment so it would mean a double dose. Um, no thank you? I mean, my belief and trust in vaccines is well documented but I’m not really interested in letting people just stick my kid with stuff unnecessarily. […]

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