Saturday, October 10, 2009

H1N1 - Vaccinations in the Schools

I applaud the efforts of the Health Department, CDC and public school systems in bringing the FREE H1N1 vaccines to our schools. 

The school has sent home a package, and if I sign the consent form my daughter can receive the immunization for free.  For parents who want their children to have this, and who are financially struggling (that's all of us, right?) or have struggles with finding the time to take their kids to the doctors, this is wonderful.  Their choice seems fairly clear.   (Well, except that any reactions are likely to happen within minutes to hours after receiving the vaccine, and I am just wondering who will be carefully monitoring the kids during this time?  The teacher with 25 students in her class, all of which act weird everyday?)

But many parents have concerns about vaccines of any type.  There are also the kids like my 3 year old that can't have vaccines because of allergic reactions. 

And, then there are the parents like me.  The ones that don't ever get flu shots, as I think it's better for us to build up our immunity naturally.  And, the ones that are worried that the vaccine hasn't been studied enough.  I fall into both categories.

I actually think I actually already had H1N1:  See "H1N1:It's in Loudoun- Party Anyone?"  At the time of that posting, I was not planning on my kids getting the vaccine, even if it was ready in time.  But, since then, I keep hearing stories of kids - friends of friends of mine - dying from this flu.  Dying.  Kids.  I keep asking "Was the kid healthy BEFORE they got sick?  Did they have underlying issues?" and my friends look at me like I am trying to decide if I care about the kid dying.  OF COURSE I CARE.   My heart is grieving for those parents.  I think no parent should ever have to bury a child.  Ever. Including me.

Since I can not take back their pain, I am just trying to assess the risk here; the risk for my kids.  I really don't know what to do.  I would rather have my kids be exposed and build up immunity naturally.  I CAN'T let the youngest have the shot (or nasal mist, I don't think).  But, should I let my first grader?  I would never forgive myself if she died and I could have prevented it.

The info sent home from the school is not helpful.  It says they are probably offering either mist (a live attenuated vaccine) or shots (inactivated vaccine).  Both require two doses, a month apart. The nasal mist does not include Thimerosal.  Both have risks, and "rarely" cause death.  (Rarely?  Seriously?  Isn't that the same odds if they get the Flu?)

Better yet, it says if your kid does get really sick or die from it, your liabilities are legally limited; but they set up a federal fund to pay for the medical costs associated with a bad reaction.  I am not even sure what I should think about that.

What are you going to do?  On Facebook and Twitter, I posted this question and the answers I got included thoughts like:
-They'd never get my daughter to have the shot!  Maybe the nasal mist.
-There are concerns about the nasal mist.
-Don't want my kid to be the guinea pig.
-My kids are getting them; ASAP.
-I don't know which is worse, leaning towards allowing the vaccine...I have friends who's kids have gotten H1N1, and it is bad in Tennesee.
-My daughter's getting the vaccine (if the scratch test goes well), and she's even allergic to eggs! (Note: they have cautions if you have life threatening allergies to eggs.)
-Suggestions for researching the topic on other sites (listed below).
-Concerns about it being based in "egg", sometimes from people who don't like that concept, other times b/c of parents whose kids are allergic to eggs.
-Concerns because some use fetal tissue in the vaccines - I didn't know that, by the way (but this person indicated you can ask for the "ethical" version).
-Concerns about it being based in mercury (if it is, I didn't see that information anywhere).
-Responses that indvidiual doctors and nurses have responded, well, with just as much of a divided response as anyone else.

Of course, I also got comments from some comments with parents who aren't that educated or have been misinformed and said things that were just plain silly (those are the only ones that concern me).  But, of the educated adults, it's pretty divided.

And, then there was the reaction from my husband "Don't you dare let them give that to Rachael.  I've watched the whole thing on the news every morning and I think they rushed it.  I am not letting my kids have it."  While my husband gets a vote, it may not be the deciding one.  I will completely override him if I become convinced that it is better for my children.  Oh the other hand, he normally defers these judgements entirely to me, and doesn't even have an opinion most times.  This time, he has a strong opinion.  I have to seriously consider that.

I want to hear what you're planning to do, and why.  Please, share your thoughts. 

Important Update:  I got my hands on another pamphlet floating around, "A Guide For Parents." It is from the CDC, Virginia Department of Health, and Dept of Health and Human Services.  It says that the antiviral meds that can treat this disease are most effective if started within the first 2 days of coming down with H1N1.   So, my typical "you must be sick for 3 days before we go to the doctor" theory is going out the window.  I think I will be one of those freaky parents who rush their kids to the doctor's office for testing at the first sign of every sniffle, and I will insist my children get the medicine and not wait and see if they can fight it on their own.  That is not the kind of mom I like to be, but these are my babies here.

I took my kids in for a regular checkup and discussed it with our doctor, she strongly encourages the vaccine.  Since my kids are healthy, she recommended the nasal mist.  I asked her "what if" and asked her about the effectiveness of the antivirals.  She reiterated that they MUST BE STARTED within 2-3 days of getting sick to ensure effectiveness!!!  This is critical and not being widely discussed.  Please, spread the word!  At her practice, if you come in with flu like symptoms they will test you - the initial test can be done in 8 minutes in their office.  They send a second specimen to the CDC for confirmation and study, but if the initial test comes back positive, they give the antivirals immediately.  It's a 5 day course. As your doctor about their policy.

I told her I typically have a "you must be sick 3 days" policy before we go to the doctors.  She chuckled a little and said that is normally why she likes me, but warned "Don't be messing around like that this year.  This is something to take very seriously. Whether or not they have the shots, if your kids get a fever bring them in immediately."

Then, I watched a doctors show on afternoon TV.  Consistent with everything else I've learned, the major differences between a cold and flu are that with a flu, you have a fever, muscle/joint aches a dry cough (not post nasal drip cough) and maybe tummy problems.  It is nearly impossible to know if you have the seasonal flu or H1N1 without testing.

Ironically, at the end of the day I decided we'd forgoe the shots and monitor carefully, and do lots and lots of preventative stuff.  My husband came home and said he thought about it and maybe the kids should get the vaccines.  I looked puzzled and told him I had been leaning towards not doing the vaccines.  He laughed and said, whatever you decide I will back you 100%.  What is a parent to do?  It's a tough call this year.

Regardless of where you stand on this issue, remember we're all just trying to do what we hope and believe is right for our children. Even if we disagree with each other, I respect your thoughts, and I pray for the safety and well being of your children and those you love. Please do the same for me.

If you are undecided, these are the resources the school provided:

Web Analytics


  1. Best of e "worst" sites happens 2b where docs/hospitals report adverse vaccine reactions. By then may be too late!

    Google or Bing for Dr. Bill Deagle, Dr. BJ Hardick, Dr. Rebecca Carley, Dr. Andrew Wakefield, Dr. Russel Blaylock, Dr. Jonny Bowden even --->

    Health advocates ---> That's me.

    Be well!

  2. I got a servere Allergic Reaction from the Flu Shot, had wheezing, and have been sick ever since. If death is a side effect either/ or. I would rather err on the side of caution. If the Creators of the H1N1 Vaccine in August said, they wouldn't take it, because it has Mercury in it; and can Cause Autism and Another Serious Malady, why on earth would you get that Caccine for your child? It's unconscienable! You're making a Decision for the Child that may Impair their health for Life. Frankly, those aren't good odds. Your husband's Decision should be respected!

  3. Hmmm...did you consider DEATH to be one of the irreversible "bad reaction"?

  4. Hello, Neat post. There is a problem together with your web site in web explorer,
    might check this? IE still is the marketplace leader and a large
    component to other folks will omit your fantastic writing
    due to this problem.

    Here is my web-site: male puberty questions