I am pregnant and ended up getting the H1n! vaccine. I did a lot of research and talked with a lot dof people. It was a bit of a pained decsion, but ultimalty I have to protect myslef. I know a lot of pregnant women have gotten it and died. I go to school as well as work in a salon where I am in close contact with people all day. I tend to get sick alot during the winter, although I have never had any kind of flu shot I really think this was the best choice for me. I have not decided yet wether I am going to have my kids get the vaccine. I seem to be at a higher risk than anyone in my household. Weighing the riskes of the vaccine against the risks of getting the swine flu, my risk to conrtact the flu was much higher. That was the basis of my descion. I hope everyone makes the decsion that is right for them and thier families.
From one pregnant Rachel to another :)
I just went through the same decision-making process. It is true that we each have to weigh the risks for ourselves. But the emerging epidemiological patterns suggest that the risk of contracting H1N1 this season will be very high and--for pregnant women--the complications can be devastating. I have heard and read a lot of people dismissing H1N1 as "just" a flu. "What's the big deal? You get sick and then you get better." "You just have to keep your immune system strong." "Wash your hands frequently." For many healthy people, this may be an appropriate way to assess personal risk. And it goes without saying that these measures are invaluable for all of us. Yes! Wash your hands, cough into your elbow, get lots of rest. But for pregnant women, this is not enough. The risks are considerably greater.
I hesitate to post this, because I am averse to fear-mongering. I just want pregnant women to take this very, very seriously. This past week, The New York Times ran a tragic account of one pregnant woman's struggle with H1N1. I think it's valuable reading for anyone who imagines that H1N1 is your average bug. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/20/health/20pregnant.html?_r=1
In case the link somehow does not work, the story was titled "Flu Story: A Pregnant Woman’s Ordeal," and it ran on 19 October 2009.
I am an RN and I have a 9 month old baby, an older child with asthma and several friends who are pregnant right now and questioning the safety/ neccessity of the H1N1 vaccine as well.
I'd like to first point out how important it is make sure that you find accurate and credible sources of information to base your decision on.
Here's a handy guidline to help find credible, reliable sources on the internet.:
•Remember that anyone can publish anything they want on the Internet, true or false. It's up to you to determine which information is true and credible.
• Stay as objective as you can.
•Stick with well-respected health websites for the most credible and objective information.
-Websites containing the "health on the net" (HON-code) logo at the bottom meet standards set out by the World Health Organization, and have been reviewed by health professionals and researchers to determine that they are credible. They also have a search engine : www.hon.ch
•Always find at least a second or third reference to confirm your findings.
•Learn to separate fact from opinion. Testimonials are suspect. You will find websites that quote various people but those testimonials are a matter of opinion, and probably not fact based.
•Make sure the information you find is the most current available.
-Talk over any of your findings with your health care provider, and when in doubt, find a 2nd or 3rd opinion.
In regards to the Utube link: this is broad cast from RT news "Russia Today". From the RT website "we are set to show you how any story can be another story altogether".
U tube is only good for one thing , and that is ENTERTAINMENT! Please don't go there for answers to health related questions!!!
wwww.nvic.org is National Vaccine Information Center is an anti-vaccine organization which claims to provide information for you to make an informed decision, and while it does psot some good material, it is mostly not based on evidence and posts many testimonials/horror stories to pursued parents not to vaccinate their kids.
This is definetely a decision that is up to every individal to make, and I feel sad for every pregnant woman faced with it when there are so much confusing and conflicting info out there. I just want to warn you to think critically of all the information you come across and weigh the risk vs. benefit based on what the research has shown.
Weigh the potenial chance of getting the flu, and the risks associated if you did get it, against the risk of the vaccine. I have spent a lot of time learning more about this topic, and trying dispell the myths to get to the bottom of the facts. Based on what I have learned through my work, read in journal articles, and found on CDC & Public health Agency of Canada websites (I'm Canadian)it is estimated that the seasonal flu affects 5-20% of the population each year. This year is expected to be higher (at least 1in 4). Previous flu pandemics have involved 35-75% of the population. 97% of flu cases right now are H1N1 so that is the reality right now, not seasonal flu. H1N1 is different from seasonal flu because it spreads more quickely (it does not necessarily cause more serious illness). H1N1 is more likely to spread to a younger population because older people (born before 1957)have some immunity due to exposure in previous pandemics. However, pregnant woman are at greater risk of complications from any flu. while pregnant women are not more likely to contract H1N1, they are more likely to become seriously ill and when a pregnant woman gets very ill, that poses risk to the fetus. The virus itself is not passed to the fetus. Also you need to consider that your baby will be born in the height of flu season and if you're protected, you will pass antibodies in breastmilk, you are less likely to pass the flu onto the baby because you are less likely to get . The flu is very very serious in a newborn.
The truth is, H1N1 flu shot is not proven safe in pregnatn woman, because it is a new vaccine, HOWEVER, it is made in the exact same way as the seasonal flu shot, which has been used in pregant women a lot and not shown to have any adverse effects. Go to tthe CDC for more safety info http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/vaccination/vaccine_safety_qa.htm
If you want my opinion based on what is right for me, I will get it because A) I work in health care so I am at greater risk of getting sick, and I put others at risk if I'm sick. B) because I have a baby and a child with asthma, both of whom are at risk of serious complications from the flu. If I were pregnant and going to deliver in flu season I would get it (and I did get it last year). If I were in none of these high risk categories I would probebly opt not to get it and let my young healthy immune system fight it naturally. This is my opinion and it is up to you all to make this decision for yourselves.
You all need to weigh the risk vs benefit of getting it and not getting it (the vaccine).
Either way, the most important thing is to focus on avoiding getting sick and from spreading to others. Wash your hands OFTEN, and cough sneeze into a tissue. Don't be paranoid, but do be cautious.
I totally agree that this should not be mandated and forced on anybody. I think that if they get away with this in states where this is being done, it is going to have very negative consequences. People need to know how to find credible information and make informed choices for themselves.
The most recent article posted by Dr. Mercola, "CBS Reveals that Swine Flu Cases Seriously Overestimated" (24 October 2009) demonstrates how dangerously websites like this may misinform readers. I will point out just a few examples in this particular case.
This article is premised on the notion that the CDC is making overblown claims about the prevalence of H1N1. It refers to a quotation from one of the CDC's generic informational pages, http://www.cdc.gov/flu/, which is actually a platform used to direct people to more detailed information about the SEASONAL flu. Dr. Mercola's claim is that because the CDC stopped testing everyone with flu-like symptoms for H1N1 in July 2009, it can have no idea of the actual number of H1N1 cases. However, if you visit the CDC pages providing specific information about H1N1, you will have a much clearer view of the claims the CDC makes and their significance. Specifically, see http://cdc.gov/h1n1flu/update.htm. It is clear that the CDC's claims about the prevalence of H1N1 are based upon *confirmed* cases, positive IDs of the H1N1 virus in patients who have been hospitalized or who have died from the illness. This is where the truly troubling--and completely verifiable--statistics emerge from.
Next, Dr. Mercola continues to misrepresent the data by describing a study conducted by CBS in July of this year ("CBS went to all 50 states directly, asking for their statistics on state lab-confirmed H1N1 prior to the halt of individual testing and counting in July.") Unsurprisingly, in July, most flu-like illness were some other virus and could not be confirmed as H1N1. This would have been useful information to report IN JULY. But now we are in the flu season. In the northern hemisphere, the flu season coincides with the winter, not the summer. It is to be expected that cases of the flu diminish in the summer. Presenting this outdated information at the beginning of the flu season implies, dangerously, that data from July is relevant to October and onward. It is not.
Later, Dr. Mercola tries to assess the safety of the H1N1 vaccine. I have to quote at some length here, sorry:
"CDC officials are screaming that H1N1 is so different from the seasonal influenza strains that have circulated in the past few decades that a national alarm must be sounded and everyone needs to be so afraid that we all should get vaccinated to prevent a deadly pandemic.
Yet, they say the new H1N1 vaccine is safe based on vaccines for that very same flu strain from which it is so different. They write on their Web site "the 2009 H1N1 influenza vaccines are expected to have similar safety profiles as seasonal flu vaccines ..."
This demonstrates that Dr. Mercola does not actually understand what goes into making a flu vaccine. It could be a lack of general biological education. His profile states that he went to med school in the early '80s, became a family doctor in 1985, but soon left medicine for a corporate job. This probably explains why he does not understand how a flu vaccine can be both the same--in the composition of its additives, the procedures used to manufacture and test it, etc.--and different, simultaneously. The *difference* lies in the genetic makeup of the virus (live or dead, depending on the formulation) which is used in the vaccine to promote an immune response. Flu viruses evolve via the gradual accumulation and spread of genetic mutations. Flu vaccines, such as the yearly seasonal flu vaccine (which is both the same in composition/preparation and different in genetic makeup every single year) or the H1N1 vaccine (which is basically just a special case of the seasonal vaccine), attempt to mirror the genetic changes in global populations of flu viruses. When the cells of your immune system encounter these pieces of genetic information in the vaccine, it primes them in advance to respond later when you are exposed to a live, infectious, pathogenic version of the virus in everyday life. These genetic differences present no threat to your body--they are the instructions that your immune systems uses to prepare for facing the virus. And in every other respect, all of these vaccines are the same.
Just because a person emphasizes the "Dr." in front of his name does not mean that he is an expert on every domain of biological knowledge. And just because he throws a lot of numbers around does not mean that he has a grasp of their significance. Unfortunately, just as pharmaceutical companies and mainstream, institutionalized doctors may misrepresent information, so may people like Dr. Mercola, who have a particular agenda that they are pushing. And this is manifestly true in the case of Dr. Mercola's assessment of the CDC.
EXCELLENT post! Thank you for highlighting such important info. This month's Wired magazine had a very interesting story on vaccines in general that discusses some of the problems with the anti-vacc movement and although, I guess, you could say it's biased toward "vaccines are safe" it's worth reading:
-- importance of herd immunity
-- The fact that science can't prove a negative (such as X does not cause Y) which makes it easy to spread Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD) because there will always be unknowns.
-- The dangers of propagating FUD
Thanks for the link---I will definitely check it out. Very interesting stuff, culturally and scientifically.
I was talking with a friend of mine over the weekend and I realized something important about the resistance to scientific knowledge and medical intervention. I was telling her that I sometimes feel conflicted because I can definitely identify with the general impulse to seek natural solutions to problems and to experience natural processes. For instance, I am planning a home birth for January and I am really excited (with some trepidation, of course!) about really experience all of the phases of labor. But some people take the desire for the "natural" to an extreme, and I just can't go there. My friend suggested that the difference between the kind of natural philosophy that I embrace and the kind that I cannot accept might be the difference between seeking natural and authentic experience and processes for their own sake---and seeking them out as a reaction *against* something else (in this case Western medicine, etc.). When it comes to personal, emotional decisions and health care, doing things (and promoting particular perspectives) in a reactionary way (like Dr. Mercola) does NOT lead to healthy outcomes. We should make choices based upon their own inherent value, not because they seem to stand in opposition to something we don't like.
The other point that is really important to me is that to use "natural" as term of approbation is not simply stating a matter of fact--it is stating a cultural or personal preference. It is not safe to simply assume that "natural" is inherently better. The line between "natural" and "unnatural" is very blurry. The identification of everything anthropogenic as "unnatural" relies on a very narrow perspective on the history of life on earth, which is a history of complex interaction and reaction, between many different organisms, all of which have different goals or needs, many of which are in opposition. Unfortunately, a naturalistic philosophy of health does not excuse us from looking critically at the choices we make--and that means, for instance, questioning the assumption that all plant-derived substances are somehow intrinsically *good*, while all substances produced by pharmaceutical companies (evil as these corporations may be!) are intrinsically *bad*.
I'm 32 weeks pregnant and got both flu shots (seasonal and H1N1) WITH thimerosal because where I live (Japan) we don't have the choice between thimerosal containing or thimerosal-free vaccs. My two year old daughter has also been vaccinated with the H1N1 vaccine. No side effects except some redness and swelling on the arm in my case.
I have been doing my own research, reading both sides of the story. I made my decision based on the information from these two sites.
I agree with the post above, how we need to be critical in assessing what is good for our health and what not. I am also inclined to doing things naturally, but not taking it to the extreme like not choosing to vaccinate my children.
It's easy to say you don't want your child to be vaccinated when the rest of us in developed countries are. The chances of your child contracting a childhood illness with a deadly ending is small. But would you still choose not to inoculate your child when the rest of the population hasn't been immunized like in many under-developed countries? I'd rather take on a smaller theoretical risk, than endangering the lives of my children with real debilitating diseases.