November 11, 2009

H1H1, Revisited

This isn't the first time I've talked about H1N1. But it is the first time I've reached any sort of conclusions about it.

For weeks Beth and I debated whether or not we'd get in line for the H1N1 vaccine for Mia and Owen. It was, after all, rushed to market. And that rush concerned me. Would it actually prevent them from getting the flu? Would we find out in 20 years that it actually did more harm than good? Autism/vaccine argument aside, I'm really reluctant to pump my kids full of medicines and chemicals unless I'm pretty confident it's going to make them better or prevent them from getting sick.

And then I saw my daughter in a hospital bed with an oxygen mask. That changed everything. She went from relatively low risk to high risk in a matter of minutes. And she might, the pediatricians think, have had H1N1, even in spite of the fact that she tested negative. As it turns out, there's a pretty well-documented path from asthma to pneumonia when H1N1 enters the mix. And there's a very high rate of false negatives.

We've - or, more accurately, Beth - now spent the better part of three weeks trying to track down vaccines for Mia and Owen. It hasn't been easy, and we are two fairly smart, industrious and computer-savvy people. I'm pretty confident that when we find the vaccine, we'll also find Jimmy Hoffa and, perhaps, the Ark of the Covenant. It's that elusive. Our pediatrician who probably has thousands of kids as patients has a whopping 300 doses. Local health clinics are making the first doses available on a lottery system but aren't making any guarantees regarding the availability of follow-up doses.

This isn't a political issue however I have a hunch that the people critical of the draft health care bills coming out of Congress right now are the same who are pointing their fingers at the government crying foul with complaints of being unprepared. There's a certain amount of irony there. And I'd have to agree with them. If the government is going to be a protector of public health, it has to step up. And what we've seen so far is a badly handled rush job which leaves those who are worried about the health of their families with little confidence that anyone is there to help.

I literally have not talked to a single individual in the last month who hasn't been sick during that same period. And maybe 10% of those I've talked with were laid low by H1N1. I haven't heard many horror stories about it. Sure, people are pretty sick but everyone seems to be getting over it just fine. But everyone is in the same boat when it comes to vaccines.

I've asked you guys about your H1N1 thoughts before but now that it's fall and cases are flaring up, I had some questions.

- Do you know anyone who's gotten H1N1?
- Have you gotten the vaccine or will you if and when it's available to you?
- Are you concerned about the vaccine?
- How do you believe the government has handled the H1N1 situation and the vaccine?

Posted by Chris at November 11, 2009 6:30 AM
Comments

I haven't commented in a long time, but I still read here regularly.

I've gone back and forth in my thinking on H1N1 vaccines for my kids. I'm still on the fence, but since there's not enough vaccine available, that makes it easier to not make a decision either way.

As to your questions:

- Do you know anyone who's gotten H1N1?

Yes. All have had a pretty bad case of it, but have or are recovering. Two are adults. Two are children - older kids who are about 8-10 years old.

- Have you gotten the vaccine or will you if and when it's available to you?

I work for the gov't and we are scheduled to get it at the end of this month at my office. I may opt out, though. I got the seasonal flu shot and I think that will be sufficient cover for me. I rarely get the flu anyway and I'm not in a high risk group. My not taking it allows for a pregnant woman or someone else more at risk to get it.

- Are you concerned about the vaccine?

Only a little bit. My understanding is that it was developed as the seasonal flu is usually developed each year. Only in this case, they took a specific strain (H1N1) to target with that particular vaccine. The seasonal flu shots usually combine the 2-3 strains the CDC thinks might be the most virulent during flu season.

- How do you believe the government has handled the H1N1 situation and the vaccine?

Poorly across the board. I think they've inflated the scare factor of the disease - it's the flu.

Posted by: jen at November 11, 2009 6:55 AM

I got the vaccine for myself and my 4 year old. A local ped. had it and was offering it to non patients. Michael got the mist and I got the shot b/c I have lupus and can't get the shot. Problem is now I can't get the second dose of the mist for Michael.

I'm not concerned about the vaccine. Flu vaccines have been out for years, it is just a new strain.

I think the government has done the best job they can when faced with a pandemic.

Posted by: jodifur at November 11, 2009 7:03 AM

I'm not prone to panic, and I'm not a big fan of flu shots, at least for otherwise healthy individuals. I'm old school and still believe that most of the time, it's better to just get sick and develop natural immunities.

That said, H1N1 made a run through our house and took out 4 of the 5 of us - me included. Two weeks later, I still have the tiniest lingering cough, but am otherwise fine. The worst part was the pounding headache.

Posted by: Traci at November 11, 2009 7:44 AM

Well if you were on Wall Street you would have gotten the vaccine by now. But I digress.

I think hyping the H1N1 virus up in the media and causing people to panic about it has now caused a huge run for the vaccine and now we are at a shortage for it. We don't hear all the deaths that are taken by the regular influenza virus every year so I don't know why the media continues to pummel us over the head anytime someone with the H1N1 virus dies. It reminds me when SARS was the panic of the day. To answer your questions:

Do you know anyone who's gotten H1N1? Yes I do, my uncles brother and son had it. They got medicine and are fine

- Have you gotten the vaccine or will you if and when it's available to you? No I will not

- Are you concerned about the vaccine? Yes

- How do you believe the government has handled the H1N1 situation and the vaccine? Poorly...you don't yell fire in a crowded theatre and not expect panic and then say "oops we don't have enough to fix it"

Posted by: Dee at November 11, 2009 7:48 AM

My 6 yr old son, my mother in law, my brother in law and my neice all had it. My mother in law and brother in law had it the worst. My son was out of comission for over a week.

I chose not to get the shot for my kids. As a mom, I went with my gut on this one. No "logical" reasoning. I had Mom reasoning.

We have a 6mo old that has a slightly lower immune system than most her age and we haven't gotten the shot for her either. She is kept from people with coughs or any other symptoms. Sounds cruel but with three people in our house that had it? My girls, myself and my husband did not get it.

The baby got the last reg flu shot the clinic had and they were holding those back for "special" kids. I had the flu shot last month. It's not that I am "concerned" about the H1N1 shot, I just think it's another shot that's not needed for me (the flu shot isn't either but there was a moment of weakness that I can't explain).

I may get vilified for this however, this flu has been hyped up as a horrible no good very bad flu and yes, it has put people in the hospital and yes, it has killed people. BUT. no more so than the regular seasonal flu (damn I kept typing seasonal fly). I think this has been blown out of proportion by the media (and to some extent the govt) and now the country is in panic mode. I don't like that. If something is going to be hyped as a serious issue to the public than there better be sufficient help for said public and really? Someone dropped the ball here big time.

Good Lord man! I should make my comments on your posts into actually entries on my blog. Sorry that I babbled. Great questions and I hope Mia is doing much better. The rest of you stay healthy too!

Posted by: Trish at November 11, 2009 7:56 AM

Do you know anyone who's gotten H1N1?

Many friends, and there were 15 diagnosed cases here where I work and who knows how many that were not officially diagnosed. I work at a college, these kids share everything. There is a big thing on college campuses -Swine Flu parties. If someone gets it everyone gathers to spread it so you can get it early and not be sick during finals. Crazy college kids.

- Have you gotten the vaccine or will you if and when it's available to you?
Did not get it and I had the opportunity and did not. Our University was offering it. First to the students and high risk staff and faculty. Then all faculty. Then you could bring your family. It seems no one was going to get the vaccine so we actually had a surplus.

- Are you concerned about the vaccine?
no, and I don't understand why people are concerned? Its just a flu shot for a specific strain, same as the flu shot every year. I just never get a flu shot...its a crap shoot every year. You never know what strains you will be exposed to. I worry more about sinus infections. I get a nasty sinus infection every year. Cant we have a vaccine for those.
The mist vaccine however-live virus! would never do that one.

- How do you believe the government has handled the H1N1 situation and the vaccine?
Eh, its the government...I think the media is more responsible for creating a sense panic.

Posted by: Lisa at November 11, 2009 8:22 AM

-Do you know anyone who's gotten H1N1?
Yes

- Have you gotten the vaccine or will you if and when it's available to you?
I will if it becomes available to me. I'm healthy and not in any risk groups or have contact with those in risk groups so I may not be able to get the vaccine.

- Are you concerned about the vaccine?
No. I work in the health field and have been in many continuing education courses about how the flu vaccine is developed and this one has been developed as those are every year. It does not worry me.

- How do you believe the government has handled the H1N1 situation and the vaccine?
I believe they rushed to tell us it would be available so soon. The regular flu vaccine takes almost a year to grow in labs...they had what about 6 months, maybe, before the "season" hit. There was no way it would be available in the amount they needed and they should have been more upfront about that. Actually you did HEAR them say that but I think overriding panic made people only hear it was being produced and you should get a shot. It was just two or three years ago when we had a shortage of regular flu vaccine due to certain circumstances. It just takes time to grow in a lab after all.

Posted by: daisy at November 11, 2009 8:31 AM

- Do you know anyone who's gotten H1N1?
Yes, my 1.5 year old had it and then after starting to get better after only 36 hours, his fever spiked again, we went to the ER, and the great ER staff found via x-ray - early pneumonia. He had no other symptoms other than the fever, no cough, no trouble breathing, etc.

- Have you gotten the vaccine or will you if and when it's available to you?
No and no.

- Are you concerned about the vaccine?
While seeing my son so sick was one of the most scary things I've experienced and I aged at least 15 years in those 5 days, I have big problems with the vaccine being rushed to market w/o testing and with thimerosal in the shot. For me it is a safety issue as I don't know what the long term affects might be. I also felt better knowing that the treatments for the influenza and pneumonia have been around and used a lot longer than the vaccine. But, it is also an ethical issue and probably a bit paranoia due to the PREP Act (http://tinyurl.com/5fcc6d) and an Emergency Use Authorization in place for H1N1 (http://fpc.state.gov/documents/organization/122922.pdf).

Knowing that I wasn't going to get the vaccine though, I knew it was my huge responsibility to keep up with H1N1, symptoms, etc. should any of us get sick so that we could seek treatment right away.

- How do you believe the government has handled the H1N1 situation and the vaccine?
I'm not sure how much of the problems are the government, how much is the media hype, and how much of it is poor management at a local level such health professionals trying to due the best they can but with inconsistencies all around. Dee's comment about a crowded theatre certainly rings true though.

Posted by: Reader from the Midwest at November 11, 2009 8:39 AM

I was hesitant at first but after some research it dawned on me that the seasonal flu vaccine is "new" every year too. It's always the same base but they alter it every year to include the current flu strain. And then I learned that if the H1N1 outbreak had happened a month or two earlier, it would have been added to the seasonal vaccine and there would be no controversy over this.

So I asked myself... do I hesitate to get the seasonal flu vaccine? No, I don't. And I get it for her too. Two of my nieces have had H1N1 but it hasn't been very severe for them. I just worry about the passing of it to others.

I was able to get Bridget the mist vaccine a couple of weeks ago and we had had no ill effects.

Posted by: donna at November 11, 2009 8:40 AM

My stepbrother had H1N1. He was miserably sick for over a week. For that reason alone I'll take the vaccine if I can get my hands on it. I'm not nervous at all, it's just the same as the seasonal flu vaccine, with a different virus strain. It's no different from what they do every year. I don't blame the government for shortages, they're not the ones manufacturing it.

Posted by: Hope at November 11, 2009 8:51 AM

- Do you know anyone who's gotten H1N1?

Not absolutely sure, but they think my son had it. As you may recall, he then ended up with pneumonia, but it was a pretty mild case regardless. He missed a week of school and his birthday party, but that was the worst of it.

- Have you gotten the vaccine or will you if and when it's available to you?

I have not gotten the vaccine, but would if it were available. I would definitely make sure my kids got it though.

- Are you concerned about the vaccine?

No. As others have mentioned, it is prepared the same way that the seasonal flu vaccine is prepared and I don't hesitate about that one. If people are really worried about thimerosal (mercury) preservative, they can ask for a single dose vaccine which doesn't have thimerosal in it. And, just as a side note, did you know that you would get more mercury from eating a can of tuna than you would get from the vaccine??

- How do you believe the government has handled the H1N1 situation and the vaccine?

I fault the government not so much for their inability to deliver the vaccine to those who want it, but for their early insistence that there would be enough. Don't promise what you can't deliver!

Posted by: Elizabeth at November 11, 2009 8:59 AM

I think everybody knows somebody who's had it -- in MN, at least, it's making the rounds really fast.

My family's been spared so far. I did manage to get a first dose of the vaccine for my kids, but there's really no chance of getting it for a healthy adult right now.

I generally prefer the potential risks of vaccines over what seem to me the more likely risks of disease.

Posted by: Julie at November 11, 2009 9:07 AM

- Do you know anyone who's gotten H1N1?
I do, at least 2 adults confirmed and one with all the symptoms but not confirmed.

- Have you gotten the vaccine or will you if and when it's available to you?
I have not and I won't since I'm not in a high-risk group and I have had the regular flu shot. My husband who has asthma and my daughter who has had asthma in the past will get one if they become available since they are both high risk. They have both had the seasonal vaccine.

- Are you concerned about the vaccine?
No since it's just another flu shot with a particular strain targeted.

- How do you believe the government has handled the H1N1 situation and the vaccine?
I'm with Hope on the situation, it's not the government manufacturing the vaccine and NOT telling people about the risks seems more harmful to me than not.

Posted by: tulip at November 11, 2009 9:09 AM

I actually don't know anyone who has gotten H1N1 and I haven't missed any days (for anything flu-related). Because The BFF is extremely high risk, she's at the top of the waiting list at her school when the injection vaccines arrive (we've only gotten the nasal mist and she can't have that). My only concern about H1N1 is The BFF. She has very weak respiratory and immune systems and catches just about every cold or flu that goes around.

I have a friend who works in the health dept. of her state and everyone in her office has been putting in massive overtime because of the misinformation that has been spread, mostly by the media (I think). They are constantly trying to get the correct information out, on top of arranging vaccination clinics AND seasonal flu issues. It's a mess.

Posted by: Sparkle Pants at November 11, 2009 9:12 AM

- Do you know anyone who's gotten H1N1?
Yes. Quite a few

- Have you gotten the vaccine or will you if and when it's available to you?
My daughter got the vaccine almost a month ago from her doctor. I have decided on no vaccines for me this year. In the past I have had the sickliest winters ever after getting th flu vaccine. Hoping to at some point get H1N1 in order to get some down time. Sad I know.

- Are you concerned about the vaccine?
Not particularily

- How do you believe the government has handled the H1N1 situation and the vaccine?
I think H1N1 in gereral has been blown out of porportion.

Posted by: Red at November 11, 2009 9:18 AM

Okay, I had to post a response today because I just got my vaccine yesterday. I am in a high risk group (pregnant) and I am a big proponent of any and all illness-warding-off measures. I haven't known anyone personally who has had it, but I have A LOT of one degree of separation. I work from home so I am lucky enough during this big sickness season to be able to mostly avoid it, but even the idea of having a cold and not being able to take much to get relief freaks me out.

On a clinical note, I have to agree whole-heartedly with Donna. I am not concern with the speed with which they developed the vaccine. The seasonal flu vaccine is new every year and this makes the H1N1 flu vaccine more standard in my mind.

I am not worried at all. I was REALLY worried when I thought I would not have access to it in a timely fashion.

Posted by: Ashley at November 11, 2009 9:18 AM

Well, since you asked:

Yes, I know two people who have "officially" had H1N1. Both were sick, but recovered without any intervention from hospitals, etc. And they recovered quickly, too.

I have not received the vaccine, and probably will not. I have no children, ergo have not seen what you have and so can be a little more brazen in the face of it all. My take on it, given the death rates and overall ability for people to get over it, is that it's been overblown. The German minister of health recently said that it's more of a media issue than a public health issue. I'm really starting to wonder if that isn't the truth.

I am concerned about the vaccine, and not just this one, but all of them. Human beings have immune systems for a reason, and overall, they have served us remarkably well in fighting off illness without help from external sources. H1N1 seems more and more to be one of those things we can get over without help. I think that from a strictly biological level, it's a little like declawing the cat. Unless it really is an issue (which going back to the previous point, I'm not at all sure of) it's better to let your own good nature handle it, for lots of reasons.

As for government, I dunno. I'm in Canada, and we've had our burps with the roll out, and even now apparently not everyone can get it--only high risk, whatever that means. I think that the government did what it could. I think they could have done better, of course, but depressingly, I've come to expect less from our leaders. It seems politics gets in the way of actual leadership regardless of which side of the boarder, or which country one happens to be in.

Oh, and you can count me as someone who has been perfectly healthy for the past month... actually for the past, oh, year at least... *knock wood*

Posted by: martin at November 11, 2009 9:34 AM

An acquaintance of ours, a man in his 50s (I think), got H1N1, pneumonia, and then a heart attack. This was about two weeks ago, and he's still in the hospital (though stable). I do admit to rapidly calculating how long it had been since I last saw him and looking up incubation periods.

If I have the opportunity, I will get the vaccine, but I definitely want those high risk people in line in front of me. I don't really have an issue with how the vaccine has been produced, because it's the same process they do every year. My issue is more with how the vaccines are being distributed. I think it's shameful that vaccines are going to businesses rather than to hospitals and clinics. Those should be the primary sources.

Posted by: Jaime at November 11, 2009 9:36 AM

- I know two people that have potentially had it...the doctors told them they likely did even when the tests came back negative. They were both no sicker than they would have been with run-of-the-mill flu, if you ask me.

- Even though I'm in the "at risk" group, I will not get the vaccine. The concerns you voiced mirror mine...I'm just a little too nervous about the amount of time they spent rolling it out, which really answers your next question, too. Also, I'm not willing to invest the time to wait in line to actually get the vaccine. I don't get the regular flu vaccine either, to be honest. That's because of a weird hive reaction that we can't figure out, though.

- I think the government has done just fine. It's not their fault that the news has taken the subject and run around scaring everyone to hell. While the government looks bad, I also don't think it's their fault that the manufacturers assured them they'd get the right numbers of the vaccine and from that assurance, they told the American people that it would be available. I know it won't happen, but I think the manufacturers should be the ones held accountable for the delay and the troubles in accessing the vaccine. Not that the government isn't liable at all, just not as much of a villain as the media is making it seem.

Posted by: Arwen at November 11, 2009 9:41 AM

We've got it as we speak. Took out Husband and Benjamin. Benjamin only had one of the two required shots and his case was mild - only a day of high fever. Husband was REALLY sick - and had no shot.

I've got some version of it now. The Swimmy is fine.

Yes, it is hard to get the vaccines, but the pedi has advised that even if you do get the H1N1 virus to get the vaccine anyway to prevent any sort of boomerang re-infection like what happened with the Hong Kong Flu back in the 40s.

And, no, am not concerned about the vaccine. I've seen way too many kids like Mia end up in the hospital - many have been there a month or longer with terrible outcomes. And those of us with asthma know what the outcomes could be with a virus that compromises the respiratory system.

I'm getting it immediately - once I find it.

Finally - yes, the government has fallen down on the job tremendously. But execution in healthcare is not their strong point. Just a political agenda item.

Posted by: Pammer at November 11, 2009 9:45 AM

I have not had it, but I know several fairly healthy adults who have contracted it and aside from a few bad days at home, recovered quite quickly. It really is the people at risk that need the vaccine because their risk factor ups the chance of complications - which is what makes the flu - any sort of flu - deadly.

No, I am not going to get it. I believe firstly that other people at higher risk need to get it. And secondly - I'm not all that convinced that a hurry up job will be effective, although I'm pretty certain that it will not cause HARM.

The BEST information I've found about the H1N1 vaccine is from www.scienceblogs.com Pal MD is one of my favorite commentators. These are all doctors and scientists and whereas they may have a bias toward science, I do believe they are saavy enough to make a judgement about the vaccine.

Also, when it comes to the government - they DID prepare. It is the money hungry drug companies that COMPLETELY AND WHOLEHEARTEDLY overestimated their production capabilities to get more government money sunk into their facilities. The government made good faith contracts with these companies and were duped in the end. I do not blame the administration for this failure. However, I will blame them should something similar happen in the future. Because the H1N1 virus is only the FIRST pandemic disease that we will fight as viruses become more saavy. This is our trial run and we have failed miserably.

Posted by: k8 at November 11, 2009 9:52 AM

- Yes, me, currently. (At least, that's what is suspected.) As well as at least three of my friends and some children of my coworkers.
- I wouldn't have gotten the vaccine even if it was available to me. I'm not a high risk.
- I haven't done enough reading about it, honestly, since I wouldn't have gotten it if available. But the little I do know is that the H1N1 vaccine is not much different than the seasonal flu vaccine, which I have not heard any bad things about. (Again, I haven't looked into it much.)
- I don't know much about how the government has been involved, but it seems to me that high risk kids and adults should be offered it first, and then it can be made available to others. Healthy, non-risk people shouldn't be getting it before high-risk kids and pregnant women.

Posted by: stephanie at November 11, 2009 10:04 AM

My husband teaches at a high school, and they have 30 diagnosed cases, and another 50 undiagnosed but believed to be H1N1. They are undiagnosed because not all insurance companies will pay for the testing.

That's 80 kids. And the total population in the school is around 800. I don't know how I feel about odds like that.

My daughter needs a REGULAR flu shot before her next semester at college because she's a nursing student. Only there aren't any of those available either. I've called everywhere. I don't know what we're supposed to do about that either.

I've had the flu (seasonal) 2 years in a row and I was in bed for 5 days both times. So I got a seasonal flu shot this year, but h1n1 wasn't available and still isn't. I would probably get it. But I don't think that's going to be an issue for me.

As an aside, my husband sent me the following joke yesterday:

3 years ago, during the Chinese calendar year of the cow.....we had Mad Cow disease.

2 years ago, during the Chinese calendar year of the bird.....Avian flu.

This year, during the Chinese calendar year of the pig.......... Swine flu.

Next year is the Chinese calendar year of the cock .........Is anybody else worried?


Posted by: Candy at November 11, 2009 10:05 AM

I got the vaccine since I'm pregnant. The mortality rate for pregnant women with H1N1 was enough to convince me. My husband will get it as soon as he can find it since he will obvs. be a caregiver for the baby (they are only giving it to high risk people here).

I live in the land of science and the CDC. I am absolutely pro-vaccine, having lived overseas in countries where people regularly die of diseases that are 100% preventable. Biologically, the vaccine is just a different strain of flu since there are several produced every year. The fear and misperception behind this one baffles me, but I don't forget about the THOUSANDS of people that die of seasonal influenza every year. I could never risk that for my (or anyone else's) children.

As far as the govt., it was very clear from the beginning that they were concerned and had a plan put in place. Unfortunately the manufacturers could not produce what was promised.

Posted by: mingaling at November 11, 2009 10:10 AM

I know a few who have had it. Got the seasonal shot for my son, and am on the waiting list for an H1N1 shot, but should I do the mist or shot? He's 2.5 and otherwise healthy. We do all the other shots on the regular schedule with no issues, so I am not sure why I am even considering the mist other than it's a chance to avoid thimerasol. But, I can't imagine him enjoying the mist anymore than the shot, and it's a live virus so that kind of worries me. Thoughts?

Posted by: Laura at November 11, 2009 10:32 AM

We all have had a stomach virus the last few days and it has been horrible. We are NOT getting the vaccine,though I'm not sure why. Just an instinct.

My bro.has a theory the flu vaccine is the gov'ts form of "population control". They grow the virus and give it out to take out the elderly and weak.

I flounder between thinking he is total genius and complete moron. LOL

Posted by: debb at November 11, 2009 10:34 AM

- My friend's daughter came down with H1N1 2 weeks ago. She's fine now, and that's the only case I know of personally.
- I will get the vaccine once it's available.
- I'm not concerned about the vaccine. We need to nip this flu strain in the bud, and vaccinations are our best option.
- The government's doing the best it can. The public needs to be patient, and stop pointing fingers.

That's my 2 cents. Hope it helps!

Posted by: April at November 11, 2009 10:48 AM

I wouldn't have the vaccine, I might think differently if we still lived in a city though. It's too much to expect enough vaccinations for the entire UK and I'd rather they went to people who are actually high risk like your Mia, children with asthma, people with compromised immune systems, etc.

I also don't trust the UK government AT ALL with the safety of the vaccine. The whole Tony Blair MMR vaccine argument did it for me, he and his wife didn't trust the vaccine for their own child yet it was safe enough for every other British child to have. I feel like we're all just guinea pigs to the Government and our health is of no concern to them and so I cannot trust what they tell me about the H1N1 vaccine. They say it's safe, but I can't trust their word.
However saying all of that, I'm very glad of having the NHS during these times, I like how they've handled the distribution of the vaccine so far and I do feel that anyone who *genuinely* needs a H1N1 vaccine will get one from the NHS. I trust the NHS with this.

Posted by: Leah at November 11, 2009 10:48 AM

- Do you know anyone who's gotten H1N1?
Me
- Have you gotten the vaccine or will you if and when it's available to you?
Seems silly to do so

- Are you concerned about the vaccine?
No, it's the flu. It's the same thing that people die from normally if they don't get treatment. Mia has good parents who are now even more vigilant than before. Did it suck? Yes. And I was in the ER. But I've been sicker.

- How do you believe the government has handled the H1N1 situation and the vaccine?
Badly. But unsurprisingly. We have coded medical records in massive systems. People with certain codes (we have a Surgeon General, folks) should be at certain risk levels, and we should have made 125% of the vaccine for those determined levels.

But we didn't.

Posted by: alektra at November 11, 2009 10:54 AM

i do find it interesting that in the same breath people can worry that the vaccine was rushed but also complain that we're not getting enough of it fast enough. :)

although the mile long lines at the scattered clinics in our area remind me of bread lines in russia and are frankly embarrassing.

after much internal wrestling with the idea, as a pregnant person with asthma and gestational diabetes, i gladly accepted the vaccine when my OB was finally able to offer it to me last monday (i never get the flu shot and never get the flu either, and i do worry about the thimerosol, but...). but my husband and two-year-old are going to have to try to get in on one of those lines this saturday morning. and then even if we all get the vaccines, i will spend the winter with a tiny newborn trying to not look as outwardly paranoid and germaphobic as i really am on the inside.

let's just say there was a hand sanitizer station set up at the front door of our baby shower this last weekend...

Posted by: kati at November 11, 2009 11:06 AM

- Do you know anyone who's gotten H1N1?
Yes actually. Both my daughter (5 months old), Husband and Mother have gotten it. Although, the adults had a much worse case. It seems rest, and fluids were the key for sucess and we all managed to get through it. How I avoided it is a mystery.

- Have you gotten the vaccine or will you if and when it's available to you? Seeing as I lived with 3 infected people and stayed healthy, I don't think I'll seek out the vaccine. I personally believe it should be saved more for the tiny and the elderly who need all the help they can get avoiding this bug.

- Are you concerned about the vaccine?
No more so than I am about every other vaccine, and shot that the pediatrician insists that my child must have. I want her to be healthy, I want her to have every advantage... but at what point are we blocking all germs and potentially starting the creation of a super bug? It spooks me a little. She still gets the shots though. I have no biology or medical training. I've got to have some faith in those that do.

- How do you believe the government has handled the H1N1 situation and the vaccine? As another commenter said, it's more the media hype than the goverment that's causing the panic. We, as a people, are designed to beat back these diseases. If you take proper procautions, you will be safe. It saddens me that Obama has to remind people to do simple things like cover their mouths when they cough, or wash their hands. Shouldn't we have learned by now how NOT to spread disease?

Posted by: Annie at November 11, 2009 11:07 AM

- Do you know anyone who's gotten H1N1?

I know coworkers (otherwise healthy young adults) who've had it earlier in the season.

- Have you gotten the vaccine or will you if and when it's available to you?

I am not in a priority group so I haven't yet, but if there is enough vaccine, I will.

I did take my daughter to get it--and a tip for you b/c I think you live either in the same county or the county next to mine--don't go during the week. Go on Saturday, to the clinic at the Ffx govt. center, and go in the afternoon. NO LINES. I'm not kidding. Sign up for the Ffx govt. twitter feed and they will give you updates on wait time.

- Are you concerned about the vaccine?

Not really. It is made the same way as the flu vaccine, just different strain.

- How do you believe the government has handled the H1N1 situation and the vaccine?

I think they did ok. Not great, but ok under the circumstances. I do think that the Fed govt. should have been more clear with states/localities on vaccination guidelines. Different states and counties are applying different rules re: priority audiences, and at least in the DC area, I think that's where a lot of the confusion and annoyance is stemming from.

Posted by: Jenn at November 11, 2009 11:08 AM

My husband just missed a week of work with H1N1 - not too sever though... I will get the vaccine when it's available to me - am in a high risk group (asthma). I'm not concerned about the vaccine - as others above have noted, it's the same procedure as regular flu vaccines and would have been part of a regular flu vaccine had it been discovered early enough. I think the govt has handled it as best they could - I think the hype is from the media.

Posted by: Sue R at November 11, 2009 11:19 AM

Do you know anyone who's gotten H1N1?
- Have you gotten the vaccine or will you if and when it's available to you?
- Are you concerned about the vaccine?
- How do you believe the government has handled the H1N1 situation and the vaccine?

My kids got the vaccine. I'm not too concerned because I've heard again and again that it's the same thing as the normal flu vaccine and we've had that before. I have been trying to go more natural and avoid the flu vaccine, but the H1N1 changed my viewpoint. I was actively deciding when Mia was hospitalized, and her hospitalization was the deciding factor for me. I have a four year old too.

I got lucky. I called my pediatrician office on columbus day looking for the normal flu shot and asked about the swine flu one. They had it. I don't think they ever advertized that fact. But I was lucky.

I think the government handled it poorly, especially the prioritization of the available vaccine. I think governemnt run healthcare would be a total nightmare/disaster.

Posted by: Kris at November 11, 2009 11:23 AM

Yeah the news has done an excellent job of scaring us into getting the vaccine, we just got it Sat.

The only people I know that have gotten it, are the strangers whose blogs I read....so far.

Posted by: Surfer Jay at November 11, 2009 11:23 AM

I'm not worried about it. I don't know anybody that's had it, I don't know anybody that's gotten the vaccine.. I'm sure as hell not getting it- god only knows what else it'll do, if it even helps against H1N1... and really, all anybody has done about it is make people panic.

H1N1 has been around for a while, and the world hasn't ended and we haven't all died. I'm more worried about getting hit by a car when I leave my house than I am about swine flu.

Posted by: Katie at November 11, 2009 11:43 AM

There is some ignorance regarding the vaccine. Some people I work with (and have commented here) have said they'd prefer to let their natural immune system fight the virus instead. Well that is what a vaccine does - it gives the immune system 'training' so it is ready and stronger to fight the virus should a person become infected. I think the health authorities in our respective countries (America, Canada) have done a lousy job of educating the public if this ignorance still persists.

I am a school teacher in Vancouver, Canada. Every day, about 5 - 10 kids are out with the H1N1 flu. So I know many kids who have had it.

Despite this, school teachers are not in the high priority group to receive the limited supply vaccine in this country. I would have gotten the shot already if it were available to me. Also, my 4 year old son will also get the shot. I have no concerns about it.

Our governments have handled this very poorly. As another commenter wrote, they shouted fire in a movie theatre, created panic and then did not have the provisions to quell the panic.

Posted by: jacqueline at November 11, 2009 11:43 AM

-Do you know anyone who's gotten H1N1? I think we had it a few weeks ago, but as we weren't tested, we'll never know. Other than that, a case was reported in my office, but I don't know who, and also a case at my stepson's school.

- Have you gotten the vaccine or will you if and when it's available to you? We've had the regular flu vaccine but not H1N1. The only reason we haven't done the H1N1 is because it's been inconvenient to get to the shot clinic.

- Are you concerned about the vaccine? No. I don't have an issue with any vaccines. Recently, I was jawing with a nurse while she took my son's vitals at his well-baby, and she said she didn't know why everyone was so concerned. The H1N1 is just the regular flu vaccine with the H1N1 component instead of the regular flu component. They were able to make it quickly because they already know how to make it. At least that's what she said.

- How do you believe the government has handled the H1N1 situation and the vaccine? I believe a bigger-than-necessary deal has been made about H1N1. I hardly know anyone who's had it; certainly no one who's been hospitalized or died. If what we all (including our toddler) had last month was H1N1, the stomach bug we had in August was WAY worse, and I'll take H1N1 over that ANY day.

Posted by: Brooke at November 11, 2009 11:48 AM

I find it interesting that we are in some bit of a disagreeance today. It's rare.

- Do you know anyone who's gotten H1N1? Yes.
- Will you get it? My kids are getting it today. I wont.
- Are you concerned about the vaccine? No, and I find it odd that you are. You must have read different info than me.
- How do you believe the government has handled the H1N1 situation and the vaccine? Great. They pressured labs to create a vaccine and ordered it all in 2009. That's impressive. Also, they didn't let pharmaceutical companies run the public through the ringer on costs.

It sucks that we couldn't get enough out in time for flu season, but I do believe it's saving the lives of pregnant women and children and that's enough for me.

Posted by: Brad at November 11, 2009 11:55 AM

For the first time in my life, I am in a high-risk category because I'm pregnant, with the added bonus of a toddler in daycare. But my OB has cautioned against the shot because of her concerns and I am not normally a fan of the flu shot for healthy individuals. SO NOW WHAT, I ask you.

Right now it is a moot point. I live in a rural state and the shot is unavailable in my area (because country folk can survive? Dunno). But even if I could get it...I probably wouldn't. The flu is already here in strength. For it to be effective, I should have gotten it a month ago. Instead, I am being diligent about sanitation, am taking my vitamins, and getting plenty of exercise and sleep. In other words, the same things that have kept me from getting the flu for the last 10 years or so.

Posted by: Alias Mother at November 11, 2009 12:14 PM

A fair number of the kids at my daughters' school have been sick. I know many have been tested and/or assumed to be H1N1. If the vaccine were readily available, I might make the effort to get it for my kids. I'm no more concerned about it than I am the regular flu vaccine. I think both are extremely useful in general, but no one in the family except Owen has ever been vaccinated (regular flu, this was his first year.) I'm not fond of pumping my kids full of things they don't need, and we don't carry any risk factors aside from age. If our risk changes, I will line up with the rest of the world.

As for how the government has handled the whole situation? Aside from maybe blowing the risk a little out of proportion, I don't have a problem with it. People are blaming the government for not getting more vaccine out faster, and in the next breath questioning the safety of the vaccine because of the speed with which it was created. Manufacturing of any type takes time, but lots of people seem to think that every dose needed can be produced and delivered instantly. I also think it's somewhat irresponsible to broadcast every death that occurs from H1N1, as opposed to comparing the death rate of flus this year to flus in pervious years. That's probably the media's fault more than the government's, but declaring a state of emergency or whatever just freaked people out.

IMHO, H1N1 is just the flu. A named flu, but just the flu. It has risks and deaths associated with it, but isn't a reason to flip out more than you would any other year.

Posted by: Becky at November 11, 2009 12:36 PM

I've had two family members get it. Both kids and both ended up with double pneumonia and one ended up in the hospital for six days.

I haven't gotten it, but will at some point, just because I've got asthma. Also, we managed to get it for our younger two kids, but the oldest is still on a waiting list.

I am not concerned about the vaccine. I'm more concerned about the effect the virus seems to have on the lungs. But that is just because of the asthma thing.

I don't know, I think they aren't doing the best they can, but in their behalf, I think this hit hard and fast and because it hits kids and teens so bad, they are having to play catch up.

I do hope you can get the vaccine for Mia and Owen and I'm so glad that Mia is doing better now. (I'm a bad commenter, I know, but I've been thinking about you guys a lot.)

Posted by: Issa at November 11, 2009 12:42 PM

- Do you know anyone who's gotten H1N1?
Yes. I know a few. Some have recovered just fine. One 11-yr-old girl I know had a nightmarish story - a month in a coma where she was literally clinging to life, followed by a stroke. She is out of the the woods know, but has months of physical therapy ahead of her.

Further, I am 99% my husband and I had it in June. We were really sick for a week - really sick. But we did recover.

- Have you gotten the vaccine or will you if and when it's available to you?
It is not available to me yet, but I would get it if/when it becomes available. I got the first dose of the H1N1 mist for my daughters on 10/27. They need a second dose at the end of Nov. to be fully protected.

- Are you concerned about the vaccine?
No. It is the same production method used for all flu vaccines. The flu virus changes every year. Every season, a new strain must identified, isolated, grown and produced in the vaccine. The process for the H1N1 vax is no different. Did you see the 60 minutes segment on this 2 weeks ago? It covered how the vax is made. It was very interesting.

- How do you believe the government has handled the H1N1 situation and the vaccine?
I think they are doing the best they can. On one hand, people say the vaccine is rushed. On the other, they want vaccine ASAP and complain that it's not available. The H1N1 virus was slow to grow at first, which is why the vaccine was behind in production. It seems that problem is solved now and they expect more vaccine to become available in the next few weeks. I just hope to get my daughters that second dose so they are protected.

Posted by: Kimberly at November 11, 2009 12:50 PM

We vaccinate our kids. We don't do 5 vaccinations at once when they are little, but we do believe in vaccinating.

Our kids usually get the flu shot, especially my oldest who has asthma. But after reading everything on H1N1 vaccine, we didn't do it. Just like you said, it was too rushed to the market. I have three friends in the medical field (a doctor, a nurse and a pharmacist) who wouldn't give it to their kids. That was huge to me. Especially the pharmacist.

My children's school was severly affected by H1N1, over 50% of the school contracted it. And my two youngest children did get it. And guess what? It wasn't that big of a deal. They were SICK. They slept a lot. They had high fevers and horrible coughs and vomiting and diarrhea. And it was a good three weeks before there was no sign that either one of them had been sick. But I never felt scared. I never felt like they needed to be hospitalized. We were lucky. And I am still okay with our decision to not give them the vaccine.

But everyone has to make this choice for themselves. This is what worked for us.

Glad Mia is feeling better!

Posted by: April at November 11, 2009 12:52 PM

I'm in a slightly different boat, being in the Netherlands. However, I can share with you what I've picked up. Every little bit helps, yes?

The Dutch government has recently started advising that all children between 6 months (I think) and 4 years (I'm sure) get the vaccination. High risk groups are also strongly advised to get it - little kids, pregnant women, those with low resistance, etc.

This has really been spored on by a few (max 10?) young children who have died in the past week. And the Netherlands is in absolutely no way a third world country or anything like that.

The doctors are mostly publicly endorsing the vaccine. Yes, it has a substance (mercury? was during a phone interview with a major doctor on the radio) that the government (EU or NL?) had decided not to use in vaccines anymore. However, it was explained that having it in the current vaccine isn't a big problem as you get more of the substance via your normal diet per week.

As for long term effects - that's a question here, too. Nobody knows. It should be safe. And it's being explained as the risk of getting H1N1 and possibly not surviving it (1:10000) being higher than the risk of side effects, now or later.

Personally, I'm not going to get the vaccine. For one, I have a strong suspicion (wasn't tested) that the flu that I had at the beginning of October was H1N1. Beyond that, I'm healthy. Being healthy doesn't mean everything, but it gives me a boost. I'm in a risk group because of obesity, but really. I'm healthy and I've already lost 45 pounds in the last four months. (Perhaps too much info, but explaining the background of my decision).

If I had small children? I'd be on the horns of a dilemma, just like you. Thankfully, it's a bridge I don't have to cross. Good luck!

Posted by: Hannah at November 11, 2009 1:05 PM

I had *some* sort of flu last June. Ironically (okay, to me it was ironically), my project manager insisted I only had a cold and that I had to finish the document I was working on. Layoffs have been steady where I work, so I complied. No time to go to the doctor's and get diagnosed.

After the initial week of being sick, I had about three more weeks where the symptoms were gone but I got tired very easily. I'm completely back to normal now, but it makes me wonder.

I'm not getting the vaccination just because I always have reactions to vaccinations, and have to balance my risks from getting the illness against the reaction I will get from the vaccine preventing the illness. I tend to focus on keeping my immune system healthy rather than taking drugs, but I know what works for my body doesn't work for everyone's. I don't believe the vaccine itself is any more dangerous than any other vaccine that's been pushed at us recently.

I like the idea commented above about identifying the at-risk people and giving them the vaccine first. Make much more sense than the nigh-useless free-for-all we're seeing in various countries.

Posted by: Kat at November 11, 2009 1:11 PM

It actually scares me a little bit how some people avoid vaccinations. It seems irresponsible - but that's more on diseases like pertussis that were largely eradicated years ago, and polio, and stuff. I have too many friends who look at it all as a conspiracy theory.
While H1N1 has killed fewer people than the seasonal flu, I believe the main and most alarming difference is that it has been more young and healthy people, which the seasonal flu doesn't usually get.
That said, I don't usually get a flu shot, because I am not high risk (my mom will have to get the seasonal shot as well as H1N1 because she is a nurse) and I don't usually get a shot.
I am not concerned by over-rushing; I have a decent amount of faith in the medical system (while I don't think it's perfect!) and believe that the researchers and doctors who work on this have more education and information on this than I do, or will get from panicked googling on the flu.

Posted by: Heather at November 11, 2009 1:17 PM

1. Yes, we know quite a few people who have gotten the H1N1, our children being two of them supposedly. My son has asthma and other respiratory ailments so he is very high risk and has been hospitalized in the past. While pretty sick, he was thankfully not hospitalized this last time.
2. Like you, I was hesitant about the vaccine, even though my son is the ideal candidate for the shot. THe novelty of it concerned me. We finally decided to get them the shot, but then couldn't find any. No doctor's office in our area was carrying them, except for the mist and I draw the line at having a live virus shot up my children's noses. Anyway, our doc suggested that even after having the H1N1 it doesn't necessarily make them immune and recommended that we get the shot, so we're still looking and hoping to get one at a clinic next week for both kids. I am a little concerned about the vaccine, but truly it is no different than the regular flu vaccine which is made new each year. This just attacks a different strain as each flu shot does each year. And yes, I am concerned about the government's response to this. A few years ago when there was that major flu outbreak and we had shortages we heard the "We won't be caught off guard" rhetoric, yet here we are caught off-guard. I am for some type o f health care reform however if this is indicative of how government healthcare will be run I have some reservations.

Posted by: Sarah at November 11, 2009 1:33 PM

Here in the UK they have just started the vaccines, my husband will get one because he has asthma, they are restricting it to high-risk groups at the moment, but if you're in a group, there's no effort to get it, just go to the drs. I think it's awful that you're having to hunt around for it.

I don't know anyone who has had H1N1, but I know people who know people who have. I was worried about the vaccine but having thought about it more logically it is just another seasonal flu jab, and I had one of those the other week.

Posted by: Katherine at November 11, 2009 1:52 PM

- Do you know anyone who's gotten H1N1?
Actually here in southeastern NC, a lot of people had a flu-type illness well before the H1N1 was identified, and the symptoms were extremely similar. My elderly aunt had it during that phase and was very ill, and I've known a few more recently who have had it. One of our employees' youngest had it, and had to fight with the insurance company to get them to pay for the Tamiflu because his child was not in the 'at risk' group. Because his other child is though, the doctor prescribed it and the ins co agreed to pay for it. Keep that in mind.
- Have you gotten the vaccine or will you if and when it's available to you?
No, I've never had the flu vaccine and don't plan to get it.
- Are you concerned about the vaccine?
Yes. I'm very concerned. It strikes me as odd that they came up with a vaccine THAT quickly, yet they can't come up with vaccines for other illnesses after years and years.
- How do you believe the government has handled the H1N1 situation and the vaccine?
I remember the polio vaccines and other vaccines where as children, we went into centers, lined up, and got vaccines on sugar cubes. I don't remember if there was an issue about availability at that time, because I was too young. But I think if they open vaccination centers, they damn well ought to have enough vaccines to cover those who show up.

Posted by: coolchick at November 11, 2009 2:00 PM

1. Yep. It lasted a couple days. Flu-like symptoms, then *poof* gone.

2. I have to since I work in a hospital, but were it not for that, I wouldn't bother. Leave it for the children, the elderly, and the pregnant.

3. Absolutely not.

4. I think they and the CDC have done a stellar job. Sadly, they have to deal with a large contingent of the public that breeds conspiracy theorists who feel that the vaccine is something akin to mind-control child-killing death serum. It's tempting to encourage such people not to inoculate their offspring in order to let Darwin work his magic, but it's not fair to the kids or the kids who have to be around those kids.

Posted by: You can call me, 'Sir' at November 11, 2009 2:21 PM

Talk about an issue I've done an about-face on.

Do I know someone who has had it? Besides myself, yes. More than I can count on fingers and toes. Las Vegas has it at record numbers, and we have people dying every week because of it.

Have you gotten the vaccine? No - it was never available to me to get - and now I don't need it. Nor do my kids, since they've been exposed. My youngest, so far, hasn't caught anything. My oldest had allergies that turned into pneumonia. His quick test came back negative (so did mine) and we are waiting for the results of his blood test (my blood work was positive.)

Are you concerned about the vaccine? Yes. Concerned that it's not readily available. Concerned that my County Health District does not have enough. (They don't.)

Playing the "had I known now what I knew then - and pretending it was available to me anyhow" game - I would have grabbed my kids, my boyfriend, and my coworkers and we ALL would have went and got the vaccine.

How has the gov't handled it? Dude. If you had asked me that two months ago I would have told you they were blowing this entire thing out of proportion. BIG TIME. It's THE FLU, people, it's not the plague! NOW? I think they handled it right. How they've handled the vaccine? I think they've made good efforts. They can only get the manufacturer and distributor to do so much - as right now - we aren't a socialist nation where the gov't is REALLY in control of the manufacturing and distribution of medicines.

Posted by: Mindy at November 11, 2009 2:55 PM

I have known a few people who have had it, but I've found out through facebook so they've been pretty spread across the country and not people I've come in contact with.

I've never done flu shots, and I doubt I'd do H1N1. Added to the fact that I'm pretty much in a group that would never be deemed high risk (I'm mid-twenties, healthy, no preexisting conditions, etc.) and I would never want to take a vaccination away from someone who was higher risk than I.

Now, I don't have children, and I'm glad I don't have to make that decision. I don't fully buy that vaccines are harmful, but I also don't fully buy that they're made from sunshine and roses- neither side has proven its point to me enough.

Also, I'll be the first to tell you, I don't fully understand how the government and vaccinations and this whole hullaballo works. What I don't understand is how, if it's something we make, we just can't make enough for everyone. There's no shortage of hep B or meningitis vacs. And I'm also pissed about hearing about the companies getting the vaccination before the high risk groups. It's all jacked to me.

Posted by: caleal at November 11, 2009 3:33 PM

Harley got the H1N1 shot on Monday. We waited in line for 4 hours at a free clinic at a nearby school. I couldn't get the shot as I wasn't in the risk group, but no proof is needed to get the shot. I could have lied to get it, but that's not me.

Shots are currently being given out to children and anyone with a chronic illness that puts them at higher risk. Things like diabetes and asthma.

Yes, I had concerns about the safety of the shot, but I feel the risk is lesser than putting my son in a higher risk group by not getting it--as he has asthma and that elevates his risk greatly. Lynn and I will get the shot when and if it becomes available to everyone else.

The boyfriend of a friend of mine's daughter had a confirmed case of H1N1. In turn, my friend feels her daughters had it too, but they weren't tested. They were all really sick. The more I read, the more I read about lots of false positives. I've read about many cases that aren't confirmed as positive until they died.

Google the State of Virginia's website and look up clinics or look up your local school district's web page. In Colorado, it is posted on the internet and updated regularly on the state site and school district sites to keep people informed as clinics are regularly canceled for lack of vaccines. There is a form to be completed and you have to provide proof of the county you live in (at least here) with picture ID or a utility bill.

I think you can't take the risk with having such little one's in the house. The hardest hit is under 5 and my son's age group. I feel things have died down, but you don't know how this is going to play out long-term.

The deaths are tragic, but they are more than numbers when they start hitting people we know and love.

Posted by: One Mom's Opinion at November 11, 2009 3:39 PM

I was sick about a week before all hell broke loose in our town with the flu (yes, confirmed cases of H1N1). I'm still not sure if what I had was H1N1 or not, but Jake and Hubs didn't get sick and it appeared to just be a head cold.

Then came last week, when at my work place there was over 40% of the population away sick-REALLY sick. I was grateful that when the first vaccination clinic opened in our town, both Jake and Hubs qualified because they are in a high risk category. We had them immunized immediately. Since that first clinic, it's been hard to find the vaccine anyway and I have resigned myself to the fact that I will likely not be able to get the shot. Do you see the irony? I work with kids. Kids who are all sick, and none of us can get the shot.

Do I think things were handled well? No. I'm irked that Health Canada and the Government made such a HUGE deal about the shots, only to send people into a panic and then not have enough available. I believe that when schools have an over 40% absentee rate, they should be closed and cleaned because the healthy people are then sitting ducks.

The whole thing is just ridiculous. And me, well-I still don't have the shot, but I haven't gotten sick. YET.

Posted by: Scattered Mom at November 11, 2009 3:44 PM

I am answering your questions from the perspective of a healthy single childless adult:

- Yes and each had a varying degree of it. All are fine now.
- I have not gotten the vaccine nor will I. I figure I don't have kids, I don't work in the healthcare industry and I'm not pregnant. If I was in one of the high risk categories, I would have done more research and considered it. If I had children, I would consider getting them vaccinated.
- Honestly, yes, I'm concerned about the vaccine. You're right, they rushed it to market and it scares me that we'll find out there are adverse reactions to it years down the line.
- I was talking with my osteopath about this yesterday. He said they were so scared initially because of how much the virus had mutated and how it mutated, so they made a big deal of it. And now it's turning out to be the worst case scenario (for example: 1918 when the flu wiped out massive numbers of people). Once the media runs with something, it's hard to get them to backpedal, so here we are. In hysterics over it.

I've flown back and forth across the country three times in the last two months and I'm fine. I chalk it up to my decision not to get H1N1. :)

Posted by: Erin at November 11, 2009 4:23 PM

I teach at at a high school and there are many many many children here who have been out due to "flu-like symptoms." Since we've been warned away from actually going to a doctor, there aren't many with actual positive H1N1 tests, but it's unlikely it was seasonal flu this early in the year. And two of these high school aged children have ended up in the hospital. So, yes, I really want a vaccine for myself. I had pneumonia a few years ago and it knocked me off my feet for months (and broke ribs!) and I don't want to repeat that experience.

I'm not concerned about the vaccine since I don't see it as developed any more quickly than the regular seasonal flu vaccine. The vaccines change every year to adapt to the different strains, so I figure it's all good.

And I guess I agree with you that it's not really a governmental issue beyond warning folks to stay home to avoid spreading the illness, which I think they have done well. The distributors of the vaccine have done an incredibly poor job of estimating arrival times and distribution, but that's a private industry deal. Which makes me sound like a crazy libertarian, but the government can not be held responsible for every thing. I think.

Posted by: NGS at November 11, 2009 4:25 PM

Boy do we EVER know anyone who's had H1N1- we've had major outbreaks in our little town. Lady's had two friends out of her wee little school.

I was initially on the fence about the vaccine for all of the reasons you listed. We actually had some drama with our pediatrician and a lack of INFORMATION (forget the stinking shot) regarding the vaccine (incidentally we ended up leaving this practice and switching to a smaller practice closer to our house). It was super hard to gauge the safety and necessity, so I turned to my brother in law for his advice. He's a GP, not a ped, but he's super conservative and I trust his opinion. He fully and confidently recommended the vaccine, especially for an individual in a high risk category.

So. Our older son (and by older, I mean not yet three years old), Mister, has asthma. He was a high risk candidate. I am pregnant, so add me to the list.

AMAZINGLY, our (new) ped had the vaccine available for all three of our children, and they got their first dose last week. We'll go back in a month for their second dose. My OB also had the inactive strain vaccine available for all their pregnant patients, so I got my shot a couple of weeks ago.

Good luck finding shots- it's been madness up here, and we just got plain lucky. I know the vaccine is going to be manufactured through the Spring, so in time you will find one, but still. Once in the hospital with your child is too many times.

Posted by: chatty cricket at November 11, 2009 6:51 PM

No
No, and no.
Yes I am a good deal concerned for the same reasons you are. I feel it was rushed to market to quickly. Also people have been getting the flu for centuries, and they've survived.
Not well.

Posted by: Dani at November 11, 2009 7:07 PM

- Do you know anyone who's gotten H1N1?
Yup, a friend with 3mo twins has it, as do both her twins. She's got a 2 yo as well, but so far she's not come down w/ it. Also the 8mo son of a co-worker has it.

- Have you gotten the vaccine or will you if and when it's available to you?
Haven't gotten it. Haven't gone out of our way to track some down, but will get it once it's available. None of us is "high risk" so we're not panicked about it.

- Are you concerned about the vaccine?
Slighly, but no more than most vaccines. And much less concerned about it than about the flu itself.

- How do you believe the government has handled the H1N1 situation and the vaccine?
Poorly, but I mostly blame the media for focusing on the sensationalist aspects of the situation, rather than helping us understand what's going on and what we should do.

Do I think the vaccine should have been handled better -- absolutely. But mostly I think those who most need the vaccine will be the most impacted, due to non-high risk folks fighting to get it ahead of those who really need it the most.

I've read that, for most of us, once we get it, will be to treat it as any other flu. Nothing worse, nothing better.

I guess I blame unthinking, uncritical consumers as well. Get the facts, folks, and then make your decisions. Do not panic!

(my opinions entirely.)

Posted by: pvz at November 11, 2009 7:23 PM

Two of my kids had it (confirmed) and my other daughter and I had the vaccine when it became available. I thought it was unnecessary for us since we'd already been exposed, but our doctor suggested to get it anyway.

In my class, I had between 10 and 12 kids at school for two weeks. Who was away changed, but if the child was sick, they were gone for a full week.

In our cases, the kids were fine as long as I kept their fevers down. But the fevers! 105.6 one time, after we left thehospital. No one was kept in hospital in my family but paranoia and diabetes won so i took my daughter to emergency where we were quickly sent home. Tamiflu made a hige difference for my son - he was only sick for 3 days.

Posted by: Lesley at November 11, 2009 7:58 PM

one of our neighbors got it. and died. 26 years old. looks like i'll be singing at her funeral saturday. a coworker's friend who works at our local hospital (we live in a tiny community) got it and was flown out from here to a bigger hospital--she's in a medically induced coma and has blue everything--hands, feet, lips, ears--and it looks like she probably won't be recovering. we're heading to the doctor tomorrow with two sickies--my husband and 18 month old. my other boy was sick early last week, but it was fevers and throwing up. then the baby got it and it was fevers, earaches, etc., and then on to the rest of the flu symptoms. but the cough and weird breathing is what worries me. my husband has been coming down with something for over a week and it finally hit over the weekend. he's been pretty much out of commission since then. you'd think we'd have gone to the doctor earlier, but there wasn't much they'd be able to do since as bad as it was, it was still pretty mild compared to some. with him, i'm thinking we might have pneumonia on our hands.

i got the vaccine. pregnant with #3. i was a little nervous about it before, but i'm hunting it down for my two kids right now.

i think the media has really turned this into a crazed frenzy. it's awful, but they can only do what they can do.

Posted by: a reader at November 11, 2009 8:50 PM

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Posted by: at November 11, 2009 9:00 PM

I know approximately 15 people with confirmed H1N1 in the last month. While I know these individuals or their family members personally, I hadn't had any contact with them recently or during their illnesses. When the vaccine first became available in our county (last week), I made sure my husband took the kids the first day. Given the poor track record of this virus with children, that they are both in daycare, and the community that daycare is in was seeing a dramatic rise in confirmed cases in the school-age set, I wanted them vaccinated. I was aware of the risks, but felt like getting the vaccine was a more calculated risk than leaving them be with all those factors going against them.

Then, Monday I spoke with two individuals who had each known someone who died over the weekend from H1N1. A child and a 25-year-old. There were pre-existing conditions with both, true, but it was a little scary. Interestingly, I wasn't worried much at all until I told my husband, who is very level-headed and scientific. He told me to get a shot. I did yesterday.

Our county health department has been amazing. The first day it was available, the place was packed - hubby sent pictures of crazy lines. But they ran people through super-efficiently. They've done a shot clinic every day since, and I only waited 15 minutes when I went. While everyone around ran out of seasonal flu vaccines early on (as they ramped up H1N1 production), H1N1 shots are still readily available in my neck of the woods. I wish the Cactus-Fish family luck and am sorry I can't send you a batch!

Posted by: kate at November 11, 2009 10:05 PM

I've got some unfortunate news for you that probably isn't that helpful... n1h1 vaccines are free here for anyone who wants one. No waiting neccessary.
I'm not considering it for any of my family. The govt. told us all here that 89% of the population of my state had it. A few of my work colleagues had it, and were quarantined, but had no more than regular flu symptoms.
I think I'd do it if my kids had a chronic illness, or asthma, or even a propensity for picking up common bugs (cos its better to be safe than sorry) but as they are pretty healthy with no real complications, i'm sitting pretty.
Just my two cents! lol.

Posted by: Carly at November 12, 2009 4:38 AM

yes, I know many people -- a few confirmed cases. (I think we had it a last week, but they aren't testing unless you're in hospital.) They, you know, had the flu. I do know a few cases where people were very sick. Shrug.

Yes, we plan on getting the vaccine. As soon as it's available to us. At this rate, flu season will be over by the time we can get it though. I am not concerned about it. It's based on the yearly flu vaccine and not a new one. Yes, they rushed it but they rush the flu vaccine every year. (FYI -- there has been 1 study maybe kind of sort of linking the MMR with autism, another 10 debunking it.)

Has our government done a good job? Well, the supply is what the supply is. But I don't think they made the best use of resources. They completely ignored the usual methods of distributing the flu vaccine. It seems to me that there could have been a better way than making the vulnerable wait for hours and hours in cold... I also hear that it's not consistent throughout the province. So in some placesthey are giving it in school.. not so in Ottawa. Where we'll have to take time off to get it.

Posted by: Nat at November 12, 2009 7:51 AM

I know 2 - 5 year old girls who got it (they are about a week apart in age) and both recovered just fine (thank goodness). I was pretty sick for a week in October, but we don't have insurance so I didn't go to the doctor. I had all the symptoms of H1N1 though.

I would not get the vaccine. I think that it's been rushed to production too quickly and that we have no idea what side effects may occur. I also wonder what happens in a case like Mia's where there's a good chance she actually did have H1N1 - is it okay for her to have the vaccine?

I'm not going to answer the last question, there's not enough room here! I will say that I do think that the whole thing has been hyped up too much.

I'm really glad that Mia turned out okay. We all worried about her.

Posted by: sherri at November 12, 2009 8:09 AM

Do I know anyone who has had H1N1?

Yep. Knocked 'em flat for about a week and they've rebounded alright. (Granted, they didn't have any pre-existing conditions or immune system disorders that could have made it way worse).

The vaccine - have I gotten it, will I? (And the other questions):

I have gotten the seasonal flu vaccine for myself and my daughters. Will I get the h1n1 vaccine? No. Even if I could, I feel it's been rushed through the system too quickly, and I can't help but wonder if there's a bit of a false sense of urgency created by gov/media to drive up demand for the vaccine (and I'm not usually THAT much of a cynic). Yeah, the h1n1 seems pretty hardcore to get, but so does the regular flu. I'd kinda like to wait it out. (THAT SAID, I'm also not passing judgement on those who DO get it. We all have our own personal criteria. I'm not opposed to vaccinations at all, in general).

Posted by: sarah at November 12, 2009 9:58 AM

- My neighbor's daughter had it, and it is possible our boys had it. It was not the worst sickness I have seen, more like the typical influenza where there was high fever, aching and whining. Some respiratory and throat issues...nothing out of the norm for the flu.

- We have not gotten the vaccine. We will not be getting it. None of the kids are high risk, and therefor I don't see the benefit in giving them a vaccine that has no long term studies associated with it. The flu is unlikely to kill them or cause long term issues in an otherwise healthy person. I SHOULD get the vaccine, however will not - based on knowing that this virus in particular is morphing and changing so quickly that there are less guarantees than normal that we are being vaccinated against what is out there right now. That is one of the biggest concerns with this strand of the flu - it is changing so quickly.

- I am concerned about any vaccine that has no real history stating what it could do long term. The risk of the vaccine is as great as the virus it is trying to contain in my opinion.

- I think the government should stay out of healthcare, and it should remain privatized - at least for delivery. Government could help with funding, but they should stay out of the actual medical business.

Posted by: Charlise at November 12, 2009 11:42 AM

Thought I was never tested, I'm confident that I had H1N1 last spring. More that 50% of the staff and students at my school were ill with the same symptoms and those who were tested, tested positive.

I know that the US and Canada do not have the same vaccine. However, it's not like whoever is manufacturing our vaccine started doing so a long time ago. My sister is a pharamcist and I default to her for all of my medical issues. When she doesn't know the answer, she makes one up and sounds confident about it so I believe her. Anyway, she says the vaccine is based on the strain of H1N1 that was around last spring. Therefore, I kicked that one (you know, after 9 days on my couch unable to do anything but cough) so I'm good to go. I hope.

My question about this is should my 93 year old grandma get vaccinated? She is 93 and frail. Good health for a 93 year old, but frail all the same. I know that lots of people that get the vaccine also get mild to medium syptoms. Could she handle the symptoms? Needless to say, I'm very concerned about how she will fair this winter.

Posted by: at November 12, 2009 1:31 PM

No, I don't think I know anyone who's had it.

I was on the fence until a 13 yr old boy died here with no pre-existing conditions.

Sorry, won't take the risk. Our whole family had the vaccine on Monday, easy to get because of "remote" (Canadian) location. I am not high risk, but am single parenting 2 teens while husband is working away and board 2 extra teens in my house. If I go down we are buggered. Also my husband does not get sick pay and if he misses one day of work right now (2 unavoidable mortgages) we are buggered again. I am not concerned about the vaccine at all. If my one of my kids got sick and died and I had refused the vaccine I would NEVER forgive myself. End of Story.

Posted by: english thorn at November 12, 2009 1:57 PM

9 months preggo with a 3 yo son with asthma. Can't find the preservative free vaccine ANYWHERE. The asthma doc and the ped have said to go ahead and give my son the vaccine with thimerosal, but my feelings are strong. If it was bad enough ju-ju to remove it from most other kid's vaccines, why would I go ahead and ingest it in an H1N1 shot? Same goes for the fetus. So no vaccine, no hope from the docs or the health district and, luckily, no flu yet. It is rampant in Las Vegas and I plan to live in a bubble once the baby is born next week. Flu is *scary.*

Posted by: rebecca at November 12, 2009 2:35 PM

I fall into the "high-risk" category because I have asthma, but I still won't be getting the vaccine. I took a seasonal flu shot and a pneumonia vaccine about a month ago and had a severe allergic reaction to the pneumonia shot. It required injected and oral steroids and while I didn't land in the hospital, I did land on my parents' couch for a day and a half. All of the research I've done indicates that the pneumonia vaccine has never been given to the general population before (as it's now being done in some places since the H1N1 shot is delayed). Consequently there is little to no data about severe reactions and/or side effects. My experience with that shot makes me doubt that the H1N1 shot is much safer - has it been tested properly? Have enough studies been done to identify whether the risk is greater than risking the illness itself? My opinion is no.

Posted by: Megan at November 12, 2009 4:01 PM

I got the H1N1 at work because I'm employed at a hospital and they *finally* provided it for us. I work at an OB-GYN office and we have been giving it to our pregnant patients. They got it way before we as employees did, and I think that's bullshit. I'm high risk because I work near pregnant women, so I should get it if they do. And don't get me started on the government. I think that the medical clinics and hospitals are doing the best that they can considering what a clusterfuck this whole situation is becoming. And I'm not so worried about the future effects - everything has risks. Plus, if I hadn't gotten it, I would have had to wear a fucking mask during flu season! Nonsense.

Posted by: Stephanie at November 12, 2009 8:10 PM

Hello again! Glad to hear Mia is feeling better...and Happy Birthday to Miss Beth. :) Gosh, I feel like I kinda know the family...a little odd typing that, though. :)
Anyway, we've had some kids in my school with H1N1 and I've known a college kid that has gotten it. My oldest got influenza a, while the little one didn't get anything but an ear infection. However, they both have asthma, so I will DEFINITELY get their vaccination next week when I'm finally available to take them.
I think it's like any government thing, some people just won't be happy. I'd rather have the girls alive and know that I've done everything I can to protect them, than for them to get it and God forbid something horrible happen, and know that I might have been able to prevent it.
Listen to Beth...get the vaccine!

Posted by: Wendy at November 13, 2009 5:47 PM

Hello again! Glad to hear Mia is feeling better...and Happy Birthday to Miss Beth. :) Gosh, I feel like I kinda know the family...a little odd typing that, though. :)
Anyway, we've had some kids in my school with H1N1 and I've known a college kid that has gotten it. My oldest got influenza a, while the little one didn't get anything but an ear infection. However, they both have asthma, so I will DEFINITELY get their vaccination next week when I'm finally available to take them.
I think it's like any government thing, some people just won't be happy. I'd rather have the girls alive and know that I've done everything I can to protect them, than for them to get it and God forbid something horrible happen, and know that I might have been able to prevent it.
Listen to Beth...get the vaccine!

Posted by: Wendy at November 13, 2009 5:47 PM

Hello again! Glad to hear Mia is feeling better...and Happy Birthday to Miss Beth. :) Gosh, I feel like I kinda know the family...a little odd typing that, though. :)
Anyway, we've had some kids in my school with H1N1 and I've known a college kid that has gotten it. My oldest got influenza a, while the little one didn't get anything but an ear infection. However, they both have asthma, so I will DEFINITELY get their vaccination next week when I'm finally available to take them.
I think it's like any government thing, some people just won't be happy. I'd rather have the girls alive and know that I've done everything I can to protect them, than for them to get it and God forbid something horrible happen, and know that I might have been able to prevent it.
Listen to Beth...get the vaccine!

Posted by: Wendy at November 13, 2009 5:47 PM

Hello again! Glad to hear Mia is feeling better...and Happy Birthday to Miss Beth. :) Gosh, I feel like I kinda know the family...a little odd typing that, though. :)
Anyway, we've had some kids in my school with H1N1 and I've known a college kid that has gotten it. My oldest got influenza a, while the little one didn't get anything but an ear infection. However, they both have asthma, so I will DEFINITELY get their vaccination next week when I'm finally available to take them.
I think it's like any government thing, some people just won't be happy. I'd rather have the girls alive and know that I've done everything I can to protect them, than for them to get it and God forbid something horrible happen, and know that I might have been able to prevent it.
Listen to Beth...get the vaccine!

Posted by: Wendy at November 13, 2009 5:47 PM

I think we're going to go with the vaccine - there's a vaccination centre across the road. Gratifyingly, vaccination is free. All of the at risk groups are being vaccinated here in order (http://www.hse.ie/eng/services/swineflu/vaccine/summary.html). They've just finished pregnant women and people with an underlying health condition between 6 months and 65 and now they're doing over 65s. Next week they're doing 6 months to 5 year olds and at the end of the month, they're going into schools. After that, I think it will be generally available for the rest of us.

It is comforting to reflect that our economy (in Ireland) may be ruined but we do seem to be doing better on the vaccinations than in the States where it all sounds a bit confusing. Unless, of course, it turns out to be lethal due to insufficient testing. If the whole population of Ireland is wiped out over the next month or so, I'd stay away. Otherwise I would certainly go for it for a child with an underlying health condition.

Posted by: Anne at November 13, 2009 8:43 PM

If I still had young kids, you bet they'd be immunized. I go back to the days of the iron lung and if I were ever to meet Drs. Salk & Sabin, I'd kiss their feet.

I'm not in the critical group and the vaccine is in short supply here. Plenty for the high risk groups - the rest of us will wait.

Sorry for late response - computer crash.

Posted by: Ann Adams at November 13, 2009 8:49 PM

The Ohio elementary school where I teach has had 3 confirmed cases of H1N1 and many unconfirmed cases (we're assuming that kids who have been out sick for 1.5 weeks most likely had the H1N1). None have been serious enough to land the kids in the hospital.

Since we were one of the schools in the area hardest hit by H1N1, our county health dept. ran an H1N1 flu shot clinic at our school last week. Parents had to sign a consent form and were allowed to be present if desired when their child was to receive the vaccination.

A friend of mine called her sister who works at the CDC in Atlanta and quizzed her about the vaccine. The sister said that the vaccine is really only a few weeks behind the regular flu vaccine prep schedule, and that it IS safe. The concern, however, is that the strain of the H1N1 will probably mutate or change and the vaccine may not "cover" it. The regular flu shot is similar -- it only contains the strains of the flu that researchers think will be the more prominent strains of the season.

The people I know with children are split 50-50 on whether or not they plan to get or have gotten the vaccination. I think that if I had children now, I would have to take into consideration their current health situation and the fact that the vaccination might not even cover the mutations of the virus. It's not an easy decision to make, and I wish you and Beth the best of luck with it.

Posted by: ironic1 at November 14, 2009 3:16 PM

I know I'm a few days late with this, but thought I'd chime in. I had H1N1 last month. I'm 30, I have health insurance and a really awesome boss, so it was no big deal for me. I've read that getting it should have made my body build up an immunity so I won't (shouldn't) get it again. I am not concerned about the vaccine, however I am a childless spinster (woe). I would advise anyone old, young, pregnant or with a compromised immune system to get the vaccine. It wasn't a terrible sickness, and I feel any normal adult should be fine. I hadn't had the flu in probably 10 years and have never had a vaccine. I was due. I don't feel I am educated enough in regards to what the government has or hasn't done with this situation to make a comment on that. But let me tell you this...want some sympathy or blind fear directed your way? Tell your friends you have H1N1 and that is what you will get! :)

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