One Side of the Debate: Please Consider Vaccination
I've heard many warnings about the H1N1 Influenza vaccine lately and the R.N. in me needed to know if the facts I'm getting in my inbox are all true. I'm getting message that concern me. Folks, you have to do the research on this. The data is out there. To save you some time, I'll give you a few links if you're uncertain about what your family should do, but then you need to research it for yourself and be informed. If you're anti-vaccine, please hear me out and do the research to be sure you understand it all.
I'm getting e-mails that say the campaign to get people to take the vaccine for H1N1 is based on hype and scare tactics. Please, think about statistics before believing that. I'm getting more fear messages from those who don't believe in vaccines than I am from the CDC. The CDC isn't getting a thrill from scaring people. They want to save lives. Doctors and nurses want to save lives! Really, they do.
Why is this flu different from others? It's affecting a different demographic--the young and healthy. In the normal flu season, we're more concerned about the elderly and the immune compromised. This flu is taking the lives of healthy children too. A doctor friend commented on my post today and her comments confirmed what I saw on the news tonight. Some healthy kids have needed ventilators during their recovery from H1N1.
So, if you'll bear with me for a few minutes, let's answer some questions about the vaccine.
1. Is it safe?
I've scoured the web and cannot find evidence that the vaccine is deadly. Here's a report that quotes the CDC. In this report, as of last week, only one person has had a severe reaction that led to death. This reaction was later determined to be related to prior health concerns.
On the other hand, as of this week, the CDC reports that 5000 people have died of the virus or complications from it and over 400,000 have become ill. Those are just the cases that are reported to the WHO. Here is this week's World Health Organization report on the virus.
When we weigh out the minimal numbers of people who have had any sort of severity in a reaction to the vaccine to the number who are seriously ill or who have died, how can the risk of getting vaccinated outweigh the risk of getting sick?
2. What about the supposed mercury in the vaccine?
These concerns come from the ingredient Thimerosol which is in the injection form but not in the nasal form of the vaccine. Thimerosol contains trace amounts of mercury. So trace in fact that it can be declared mercury free. Here is a detailed report about Thimerosol.
I researched the amounts in the vaccine and there is more mercury in one serving of "safe" tuna fish. In fact, there is twice as much mercury in regular tuna than in the vaccine. See this fish report.
Some of the single doses that they are administering have NO Thimerosol in them and thus no trace mercury. Reports of dangerous levels of mercury in the vaccine are meant to inflame panic and are distorted to promote fear.
3. How does this vaccine differ from regular flu vaccine? And why can't it be given in one shot?
It could be given in one vaccine, except that the flu vaccines were already being made when the H1N1 problem came up. So a second vaccine had to be made. The vaccine is manufactured the same way as regular flu vaccine and is just as safe. The only difference is that in contains the H1N1 strain of the virus. The CDC has extensive information on this.
Also note, the nasal vaccine has a weakened live virus and the shot has an inactive form of the virus.
4. I've heard of people getting sick after the vaccine. Why should I get it then?
If you get full blown influenza right after the vaccine, it is likely you were already exposed to it before you received your shot. It takes 2 weeks before you are protected after receiving the shot. If you get sick in the meantime, you'll need to see your doctor for ways to lessen the effects of the virus just as if you weren't immunized.
If you get some mild flu-like symptoms, this is a rare, but normal side effect. Remember it's way better than getting the real thing. I've had influenza twice and as a healthy person, I was miserable! It's not an easy illness.
5. Should I get immunized?
That's up to you to decided for yourself and your children. Study the CDC website and look for answers to your questions. Talk with your physician, especially if someone in your family is high risk due to chronic problems. I'm choosing to have my kids vaccinated when they administer it at school. My husband and I fall in the lowest risk category, so we'll pass on getting the vaccine until those who are at high risk have all had a chance to receive their vaccine.
Weigh it out. Think it out. Consider what I've said and study it for validity. Study the other things you've heard. Then make your choice based on being fully informed of all sides of the issue.
Thanks for listening. And be healthy.
Michelle Rayburn, R.N.