Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Breaking News: Mommy blogger reachers new level of stress and worry

H1N1 has been on my mind these last few days because a couple of very young people have suddenly died from this flu. It is all I have been talking about with my family and friends, and it's all I've been talking about on Twitter, too.

I'm the type of person who has a hard time deciding what to wear each day. I have a hard time deciding on what colour - what shade of brown - to paint my walls. I am a very indecisive person. Making decisions does not come easy to me, and I often need re-assurance by other people. Mostly by my family and close personal friends, but I value the opinions of my online community, too.

I have lost sleep and calories (meaning, I keep forgetting to eat!) because I have been debating the H1N1 vaccine for several days now. Yes, people die every year from the regular flu, but H1N1 seems to be a far worse flu for various reasons. Young, healthy people are dying everyday from this flu. Our hospitals are seeing many cases of this flu daily. In some cases, very severe cases. It's just scary. At the height of my worry, a few months ago, I was hoping 'they' would come out with a shot to help everyone stay healthy.

Finally, a vaccine was approved in Canada. And then there were doubts... doubts about the safety of a vaccine that was made so quickly, doubts about the ingredients this vaccine contains, doubts overall.

I have read everything you can imagine from the Public Health Agency of Canada website, from the Health Canada website, and other medical articles. I have read all the Q's and A's. I have read articles from the World Health Organization. Basically, everyone across the board - and by everyone I mean all the experts, the doctors, the researchers and scientist - all say the vaccine that is out right now is SAFE and effective.

The vaccine that is currently available in Canada contains Thimerosal, which, as we all know, contains a small amount of mercury. The amount of mercury in this vaccine is about the same as the amount of mercury found in a can of tuna. Nothing I would worry about. Also, Thimerosal is in all the flu vaccines that are given out in Canada, anyway, from what I've heard. It's nothing new. The controversy around this preservative has never been proven; in fact, the fears have been all but dismissed as completey untrue. My doctor says not to worry. That it is safe. It's such a small amount.

The vaccine we have in Canada contains an 'adjuvant' - basically, an element that includes a substance that boosts a person's immune system and increases their response to a vaccine. An 'unadjuvanted' vaccine has no booster element. Adjuvanted vaccines are in other common vaccines, like tetanus shots. The adjuvant in Canada's H1N1 vaccine is made up of natural ingredients like water, squalene oil and vitamin E. Squalene is a naturally occuring substance found in plants, animals and humans. After reading about this obsessively, the conclusion is that it is safe.

In June of this year, the WHO held consultations on the safety of adjuvanted influenza vaccines to discuss known and theoretical safety concerns. The outcome of the WHO consultation was that no significant safety concerns or barriers to evaluating or using adjuvanted vaccines for the current H1N1 virus were raised. All evidence is suggesting that the adjuvanted vaccine is just as safe as the unadjuvanted vaccine. Apparently, the adjuvanted vaccine offers greater protection than the non-adjuvant vaccine.

The bottom line is this - if we can prevent a serious flu like H1N1, we should do whatever we can. Washing our hands more frequently, coughing and sneezing into our sleeves, staying home if we are sick, eating healthier, taking our vitamins.

And getting vaccinated if there is a vaccine available to us. This is the year 2009. We have amazing scientists, researchers and doctors who did not just press the green light on this vaccine 'for fun'. This is serious. It's a pandemic. And I believe, I have to believe, I choose to believe - that my counry has my best interest at heart. It's not a totally new vaccine. It is very similar to the regular flu vaccine, which people get every single year. And did you know that every year they 'tweak' the flu vaccine? There are different ingredients in it every year, however, most of us have never questioned this before.

Now, we are being urged to get vaccinated - especially those in the high risks groups - which include children between 6 months old and 5 years old. My oldest son had a bad case of pneumonia last year - so bad, he required surgery in his lung to drain fluid. He had a chest tube in him for 4 days, and was on morphine. He had to wear an oxygen mask. IV, countless ultrasounds, C/T scans, x-rays. It was a nightmare, to say the least. I have seen my child that sick. I never want to see that again. I have been given a chance here to prevent my children from getting H1N1. An approved vaccine is available to me. I'm no doctor. And we all know (besides a few reputable sites online - such as Health Canada and WHO) we can't totally trust all the negative information we read.

I wish I could run away with my children, to a place far away, where H1N1 doesn't exist. But that is not a real choice. Instead, I can choose to get my children - and myself - vaccinated. I spoke to my children's pediatrician, whom I trust. And he is recommending this vaccine. The one that is out now, the adjuvant one. I am feeling strongly about getting this vaccine for my children. Even though I do have doubts. It's in our best interest, health wise. Getting H1N1 is a far worse scenario than any adverse effects the vaccine may have.

I never questioned any of the immunizations my children received. Shot after shot, I approved and happily got them vaccinated. I never even asked what the ingredients were in these vaccines. I just trusted the doctor. And got my children vaccinated.

This has been the hardest choice and decision I have had to make as a parent yet. It's not fun. It's not easy. It's absolutely stressful. And I hate it. It makes me cry. I feel horrible for all of us having to make such a critical choice. We can only do what we think is best. Whatever that may be.

Good Luck to you all. And let's hope this flu goes away soon.

31 comments:

That Girl39 said...

Its horrible I know.... all this worry both about the flu itself and the vaccine. I was worried about SC getting it as she always needs an inhaler when she gets a cough and has suffered a lot in the past. We're not sure but we now wonder if she had it when we were in Spain.. she was so ill and displayed all the symptoms. I have to tell myself that she has had it otherwise I think I'd worry myself stupid. That and take all the necessary precautions that you mention. The vaccine is sounding like the best bet but because its gone quiet again in the UK, I havent really thought about it so much. I think the risk to her because of the asthmatic tendencies is probably greater than the risk from the vaccine. Good luck and try not to worry... like you, I hope it goes away soon. x

Lady Mama said...

Great post Loukia. Whatever decision you make will be the right one for you and your family. It is so hard though. Thanks for all the great information here too - makes a change to read something about H1N1 that makes sense to me!

Chrissy MacCEO said...

Loukia, this is a fantastic well thought out post. Like you, I am very worried about H1N1. But, my kids have such severe egg allergies that they can't get the vaccination, so at least I feel like I can't worry about that part of it - the whole whether or not to get them vaccinated. But, I am so worried about how to avoid it, especially because my son is asthmatic. Best of luck with keeping it away from your home, too!!

Nancy@ifevolutionworks.com said...

Go with your gut. That's always the best decision maker to me.

Good luck, whichever way you decide!

Mom2Miles said...

Sounds like you did your homework. thanks for sharing this info. I hate it, too, that when you're a mom you have to become a health expert all of a sudden. I inform myself the best I can, picked a doctor I trust, and then just go w/ my gut & hope for the best. I've decided to get the vaccine for my kids, too, but we can't FIND it anywhere. It's really maddening.

Jenn@ The Crazies said...

Great post! My son is going in for his 2nd booster on the regular flu shot tomorrow ( he is asthmatic) and we will be put on the H1N1 list. My sister is a bio chemist and this is what she does all day... studies and creates vaccines... I applaud the scientists and hope this goes away soon!

Chelle said...

I'll be getting us all vaccinated (even though we've all had h1n1 already) because I don't want to risk anything. It sucked being so sick--and we had mild cases. I have gotten my daughters vaccinated with all vaccines...bc I believe in them and believe that the risks with any illness far outweigh the risk of the vaccine. Just my thoughts on it, though!

Go with your gut, what you feel is right, honey. I know whatever decision you make will be the right one. {{{hugs}}}

2 Little Irish Boys said...

Can we moms have any more to worry about?
I hear ya.....I am starting to become a super nut about handwashing and sanitizer. We need to do all we can and hopefully everyone else will follow suit!

twinmomplusone said...

well written Loukia and informative too, thanks!

Shannon @ AnchorMommy said...

I agree -- you have obviously done your homework! It's good to hear your opinion. I have to get my son vaccinated ASAP because he is quite prone to illness in the winter, and I would feel HORRIBLE if he came down with H1N1 and I had not gotten him vaccinated. I think we need to do whatever we can to stop the virus, and that includes the shot. Sad, but true.

Nap Warden said...

Ugh...all I do is worry about this. I have never washed my hands so much in my life. I had the kiddos vaccinated...I don't know what the right answer is...

Stone Fox said...

i am almost in the exact same boat as you. my only real concern is that they have never used the adjuvant with h1n1 before now, and that bothers me. *however* i am going to find out where i can get the un-adjuvanted vaccine for my kids. no matter the evidence, or what health canada is saying, i just don't feel right about getting the adjuvanted vaccine for my kids. i think it will mean having to wait until the middle of november, though, before there will be more un-adjuvanted vaccine available.

tough call, isn't it?!

Summer said...

I've been going through the same debate in my mind. When it comes to shots, my kids get them all.

But, for whatever reason, I've been hesitant on this one.

I also have a holistic friend who sends me awful emails and updates on it that scare me!!!

I just can't decide!

Maybe I'll show this post to Jimmy and see what he thinks!

Love ya girl~ You are an amazing mama~!

Smart A$$ Mom said...

I am so glad you broke this all down. I didn't do any research in regards to the H1N1 vaccine. I had already decided against it as I had vaccinated against the seasonal flu. I was so curious about all of the things you were tweeting, thanks for a quick education! In the event that our school strongly suggest the H1N1, now I feel much more informed.Thanks!!

James (SeattleDad) said...

These decisions are NEVER easy. You just have to have faith that the experts know what they are doing. Not an easy thing to do at times, but you have done all that you can to inform yourself.

Lily said...

Loukia,
In the spirit of education, I posted some more information about the H1N1 virus on my blog today.

I used the interaction that you and I had on Anya's blog the other day in my post. I hope that's okay. I didn't point it out to belittle you or anything remotely like that - I just used your comment as a launchpad for my discussion.

I hope you read the post, if for no other reason than you've mentioned that you've lost SLEEP and WEIGHT over this issue, and I'd love to alleviate some of your fears.

As far as the vaccination goes? That issue is a little more muddy. My ex husband was a conspiracy theorist (long, LONG story), so I know all about proposed link between vaccines and other forms of mental and physical illness. You are, by far, more educated on this particular issue than I. But as the other commentors said, just trust your gut and I'm sure everything will turn out all right.

Anyway, best of luck!
Lily

Chantal said...

I know how much this has been bothering you Loukia (still does). I have been following your twitter stream. I have made my decision and I am comfortable with it. I hope you will be too. Take Care.

Jessica said...

I'm with you on this one. This might seem like a shitty thing to say, but I really believe that declining a vaccine is a first-world luxury and it's our duty to take advantage of the health services at our disposal. Of course, we need to be smart and do our research, but generally speaking, we need to not be paranoid.

Just sayin' I got your back, girl :)

Chandra said...

You know I'm glad someone else understand my worries, like you do. I totally agree with you, is it SAFE? Safe enough to give to my children? My mother critcizes me for thinking that I may not give it to them and then..IF my kids were to get it would I then regret NOT getting them the vaccine? Such a hard decision.
My niece and nephew both contracted it..as well as my MIL so I'm surrounded by it..and THAT worries me but so far they (my niece and nephew) who DID receive the vaccine are doing well and recovered nicely with no complications.
I'm still up in the air and luckily (depeneding on how you look at it) it's not available in my immediate area...YET.

anya said...

Loukia, I am with you. As a parent myself, I want to do everything I can to protect my children.
I have gathered much of the same information and have come to a decision, with help of family and friends as well.
My mind is calm - it is my heart that is scared. I think you know how that feels too. Best of luck.

The Preppy Princess said...

You know, we are both so grateful we don't have to worry about the H1N1 impact on little ones of our own, I can't tell you. This is an amazing post Miss Loulou, good for you.

Sending you a hug,
tp

Yukari said...

Great post Loukia. Thanks for doing all the homework for us..I was unsure of getting my kids vaccinated, but now thanks to you and others, I am feeling positive about getting them.

CaraBee said...

I have thought a lot about this vaccine. Unfortunately, the decision is not really up to me. There are real shortages here. My daughter's doctor, who is affiliated with Johns Hopkins, doesn't know when or how much of the vaccine they will get. So it's a waiting game for us. We're at fairly low risk, though, so I honestly don't worry *that* much. (No more than the usual agony, anyway.)

Sandy said...

I am so stressed about this issue. I feel like no matter what I do, I'm going to kill Oscar. Sounds extreme, but both sounds make it seem that extreme. I will probably have Oscar get the vaccine, when and if it becomes available for kids under 2. We do vaccinate, but on an alternate schedule and we don't do all of the vaccines. I've never taken the seasonal flu vaccine, not even when I was pregnant. It seems like the information on both sides is so extreme. Only Dr. Sears seems to take a more moderate view.

Anonymous said...

Loukia,
I read your blog often and love your honesty. My suggestion is to study vaccinations. Your mention of mercury and the dr saying its fine is scary. Did you know that the number one cause of SIDS and Autism. Just look into a little more.

Lola said...

all dr's are recommending the vaccine but i think you as a parent must make your own decision. valid issues and studies etc exist for both sides of this debate. I just wish the media would stop sensationalizing this situation-I believe THIS is half the problem. I also question encouraging mass numbers of people to gather in small areas for hours-to get a vaccine....I also question parents who have sick kids and still let their siblings go to a party (sick as in flu). Yes, this happened at my house this weekend. I have made my informed decision for my family and am not budging and am going to limit my reading about this from here on end. As my 15 yr old son (future awesome doctor:) reminded me, more people die from the regular flu.....

anymommy said...

I was vaccinated last week and I'll have my kids vaccinated as soon as I can. I agree 100% that flu complications are far riskier than the vaccine.

Loukia said...

Thanks all for your comments. This is clearly an issue we have all struggled with lately. I just wish it didn't have to be so! I am happy that my children and I (and hubby, too) got vaccinated late last week. So worth it, in my opinion. I just wish this flu would go away... :(

Anon - I trust the WHO, and my pediatrician, and I trust when they say the amount of mercury in the vaccine is the same as a can of tuna. I also know that when we were younger, our vaccines also contained thimerosal. Actually, it was only removed from most vaccines in 2001. I know all the valid and proven reports done by WHO and the national advisory committee on immunizations has also said there is NO link between autism and thimerosal. Nothing. No proof. And truly? That's what I'm going with... I believe in vaccines, I think vaccines have saved so many lives. Without vaccines, people would still be dying from polio today. Thank GOD for our scientists and doctors. Thank GOD we live where we do. I think that we have to do what we can to prevent the spread of this illness.

Haley-O said...

This is an excellent post, Lou. And after hearing all the vaccine cons -- which, after I've now gotten the shot, speak louder than the pros -- this post is SO REASSURING. Who, what company/organization/"expert can WE go to other than our own doctors, whom we chose to trust when we "hired" them (even if they are total ass holes to moms...ahem). When my pediatrician changed his mind from no to YES, and opted to administer the vaccine to hundreds/thousands HIMSELF -- with his OWN HAND -- I made my decision. No article on the internet could convince me more what to do either way than my own doctor, a person, IRL. (And several other doctors, IRL, that I trust, who think the hysteria around the vaccine is ridiculous - never mind the hysteria around the flu itself).

((hugs))

Time For Beads said...

Saw you on sits. That bit about your son and the lung trauma last year is scary-I can see how you are nervous.

ModernMom said...

I'm home with my daugther right now. She has a fever of 103 that won't go away. Fevers, coughs and colds take on a whole new meaning now. They are down right scary. After much soul searching, I will be getting in line for our shots as soon as they are available to us.

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