To Vaccinate or Not Vaccinate???, That is the Back to School Question

H1N1 also known as the “Swine flu” is a huge controversial topic that is on the minds of many parents as the school year begins once again.

Will it be a pandemic like everyone seems to anticipate?

Should not only our children but us as parents also get the new H1N1 vaccination? Has there been enough testing done for it to be truly safe?

Unfortunately these are all questions that are very difficult to answer. We won’t know until it occurs. It’s better to be prepared right? I sit here thinking what should I do in a few weeks when my 3 children go back to the pediatrician for their yearly visit and annual flu shot? My initial reaction was yes of course I will give them the H1N1 flu vaccine. My children are 1, 3, and 5. They could potentially get really sick. Thankfully they all have done great with all their vaccinations. But my god, my 1 yr old just had 3 shots 2 weeks ago. He already gets his 2nd flu shot and now he has to get 2 additional vaccines in between 13 and 15 months. My god! It just seems like so much. Is it safe??? The good thing is our children aren’t getting all the viruses/diseases that killed many years ago. I have searched and searched for information regarding the vaccination.

Here is a little of what I found:

Q: Is the vaccine safe?

A: It’s expected that it will be just as safe as seasonal flu vaccine, Baker says. It’s a new vaccine, so she understands why some people worry about safety, but as a vaccine expert she doesn’t share that concern, she says. Each year, the strains in the old vaccine are swapped for new strains, and there have never been problems, other than the usual side effects of minor fever, aches, pains and soreness at the injection site.

Concerns include possibly using chemical additives – or “adjuvants” – to boost the effectiveness of the vaccine.

They have never been used in flu vaccines in the U.S., but have safely been used in others such as tetanus.

Q: I’ve heard researchers may need to use an immune booster, called an adjuvant, for flu vaccine. What’s that?

A: For reasons that aren’t clearly understood, certain substances significantly increase the potency of vaccines, says immunologist Philippa Marrack of National Jewish Health in Denver. These adjuvants, as they’re known, are widely used in children’s vaccines, and they’re a reason why measles, mumps, rubella and diphtheria vaccine work as effectively as they do, Marrack says. Adjuvants aren’t typically used in flu vaccines in the USA, though they are in Europe, she says. Adjuvants boost potency, lower the cost of vaccination and make vaccines more widely available.

Because researchers are concerned about the potency of the H1N1 pandemic flu vaccine, they’ve begun testing versions made with adjuvants. Canada has gone even further, buying millions of doses of a vaccine-adjuvant combination from GlaxoSmithKline. Tests of adjuvanted flu vaccine in the USA probably will begin soon, says Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. U.S. public health authorities have been reluctant to use adjuvants in flu vaccine in the past because they don’t want concerns about their safety to stand in the way of persuading people to get the vaccine.

Critics also worry that some forms of the vaccine will contain thimerosal, a mercury-containing preservative.

“Thimerosal has never been associated in any valid scientific way with any adverse affect to the fetus or to young people,” said Dr. William Schaffner of the Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
The government says a thimerosal-free vaccine will be available.

Q: What about thimerosal? Is that safe?

A: Thimerosal is a preservative used in vaccines. People worry about thimerosal because it’s a form of mercury, which can be toxic, especially for pregnant women and young children, Baker says. What complicates things more is that pregnant women are considered a priority group for vaccination, because their death rate has hovered around 6%. But thimerosal, made of ethyl mercury, is different from the methyl mercury found in fish, she says. Methyl mercury can cause congenital problems in fetuses. The ethyl mercury used in vaccine isn’t thought to pose a problem, especially because it’s used in trace amounts.

Q:What are the “antiviral” drugs and what do they do to help treat 2009 H1N1 infection?

Antiviral drugs are prescription medicines (pills, liquid or an inhaled powder) that fight against the flu by keeping flu viruses from reproducing in your body. If you get sick, antiviral drugs can make your illness milder and make you feel better faster. They may also prevent serious flu complications. This fall, antivirals may be prioritized for persons with severe illness or those at higher risk for flu complications.

Ways to prevent the spread of the illness:

Take everyday actions to stay healthy.

• Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.

• Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hands cleaners are also effective.

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread that way.

• Stay home if you get sick. CDC recommends that you stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.

Also, Follow public health advice regarding school closures, avoiding crowds and other social distancing measures. These measures will continue to be important after a 2009 H1N1 vaccine is available because they can prevent the spread of other viruses that cause respiratory infections.

Your question to me I’m sure is- “So what have I decided to do?”

After reading through many articles for countless hours, I really haven’t been convinced enough that the negatives outweigh the positives. I absolutely love our pediatrician and truly trust his judgment. If he truly feels it is needed I will have my children and myself vaccinated.

This is just a small portion of the researched information I have found. The best place to go for more in depth, updated information is:

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5 Responses to To Vaccinate or Not Vaccinate???, That is the Back to School Question

  1. Young Momma says:

    Am I being foolish in not thinking H1N1 is that serious?? My son has a blood disorder, meaning his immune system is not as strong as it should be. When I brought him to the ER just a month or so after the H1N1 virus came about, he had a fever and all kinds of yucky symptoms. Cough, etc. I asked if they were going to test him for H1N1 and the doctor (and every other freaking nurse or employee who entered the room that I attacked with the same question) kind of laughed it off and said "No, that's not needed. We aren't worried about that anymore." I didn't bring him to the ER just for the H1N1 question though. An ER visit when my son has a fever is mandatory….Anyway – I'm sure his docs with have a ton to say about the four of us (myself, hubs, son, and lil son) getting the vaccine because of his disorder, so I thank you for providing that info! I still don't know about it…. my initial thought is OH heck no!!!!! lol We shall see! Can't wait to hear about what you do and what your doc says!

  2. Great information! My baby is too young to get the vaccine- but my husband and I are going to get it.

  3. Mel says:

    Wow! Thanks for all the great info! Stopping by from SITS!

  4. Alexandra says:

    Great post. I work on the marketing and communications for one of the two approved anti-virals, so (unfortunately) I have had to become a bit of an expert on this stuff. You were totally accurate with everything. Yes, this flu season will likely be a bad one… and therefore people should definitely get vaccinated… our 11-month old just did the other night… but it is highly unlikely that it will be as bad as the media is predicting.

  5. Lori says:

    I have been following this topic, and continue to read what all of my fellow moms are thinking and doing. I am anguishing with all of you; none of us wants to make the wrong decision. I am especially concerned about my son who has asthma and my daughter who is prone to pneumonia. Yet, I am still not convinced about this shot. I'm also going to share a resource for learning more about the H1N1 swine flu that even offers a flu self-assessment that you can take if you are concerned that yourself or a loved one may have contracted the H1N1 flu. It has a lot of great information, so perhaps it will be helpful, too.

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