A Friend of a Friend

You probably aren’t getting the vaccine for yourself. You are getting it for my mother, who is iummunosuppressed. You are getting it for my co-worker Joy, who is 20 weeks pregnant. You are getting it for wee Ivy that I saw last week, who is too small to get it yet.

I can think of a hundred reasons, a hundred faces. Because sometimes it’s not about us, it’s about the people around us.

So, Lindy is a doctor here in Edmonton, with a major teaching hospital. And I liked what she had to say:

Hi dear friend!

You’ve asked what my opinion is re: H1N1 and what to do re: the vaccine. The actual virus isn’t the problem — apparently for the majority of people, it’s a “mild” influenza. Although anything that’s an influenza still stinks. I’ve had it once in my life and hope to never get it again b/c I was really really sick. For instance, I wouldn’t have been able to get up to cook/clean/hug any children/bathe/do anything but sleep when I had influenza. Of course, you have friends and family and of course your spouse and thank goodness for that.


This is the problem with H1N1. It’s a pandemic. No one but the really old (we think that’s why the elderly have less of a problem with H1N1 than with the typical seasonal flu) have been exposed to this before. So we’re all very susceptible. Which is why we need the vaccine — imagine if 30 to 50 percent of our police forces got influenza, which is the percent of folks who are predicted to get the virus if they don’t get the vaccine. Or 30 to 50 percent of a hospital’s staff. Or the folks working the water treatment plants? We need to get vaccinated just so that (and here’s the drama) society doesn’t stop for a few weeks.

Plus, there are a small subset that once they get ill with the H1N1 virus, get really ill. Those people need to get vaccinated just to increase the chances that they won’t die. Seriously. Folks with congestive heart failure, COPD, asthma, diabetes, obesity, cystic fibrosis, serious immune system compromise including HIV, and most importantly, pregnancy — they all need to be at the front of the line for vaccine. There was a place in the southern hemisphere where 50% of the people who died from this were pregnant. That’s waaaaaay higher than what would be expected.

You’re going to see all elective surgeries cancelled b/c the ICUs will be filled with H1N1 patients — this past April? There was a period of time in Winnipeg when 60 out of their 70 ICU beds were filled with H1N1 patients. And most of them required mechanical ventilation.The chances of having a bad effect from the vaccine are lower than the chances of having a bad effect from the influenza.

The news media are being totally irresponsible by helping to fuel people’s fear about the fact that this is a “new” vaccine that’s been only minimally tested for safety. EVERY FLU VACCINE IS LIKE THAT!!!!! And we’ve not had any significant problems with side effects since 1976. I’m not saying that wasn’t serious. But it was only a few hundred people in 1976, not all of whom died, compared with the thousands that die from influenza every year. And with the hundreds of thousands who get sick.

The vaccine is a killed virus — you cannot get influenza from the vaccine. CANNOT. If a person gets sick immediately after getting the vaccine, it’s b/c they were exposed prior/within the same week to a virus as immunity doesn’t fully form until 10-14 days after vaccination. Folks who say “I got the flu shot and I still got the flu that season”? It’s b/c the people who choose which viruses to immunize against sometimes make mistakes re: what virus is going to be predominate OR the person who got influenza anyway was infected with an uncommon type of influenza OR they didn’t really have the flu, they had a cold.

The folks who say, “I don’t need the vaccine, I don’t get sick” have loved ones and coworkers who are immune-compromised who need the protection of everyone getting vaccinated.

I hope I’ve eased your fears somewhat. I think it’s absolutely essential that all of you get the vaccine as soon as you can.Here’s a great website to look at re: vaccine safety:http://immunize.ca/en/publications-resources/questions.aspx
and another:http://www.cfpc.ca/English/cfpc/communications/lmmunization/Myths%20and%20Facts/default.asp?s=1

Good luck, honey.xoxoLindy

PS. In Alberta, to find vaccine clinics, go here:http://www4.albertahealthservices.ca/Immunization/

If you do get sick with a sudden cough (or change in cough) and a fever over 38 degrees (and possibly fatigue, malaise, sore throat, sore muscles and in children GI problems), please stay home from work/school for seven days. Call your doctor (don’t go in to see them and infect everyone else in the waiting room! You don’t need to be tested at this point — if you’re sick, it doesn’t matter now whether it’s H1N1 or seasonal) or your public health nurse if you have questions. Take acetaminophen and drink lots of water. Have only one person be your “nurse”, to reduce the chances of spreading the illness in your family. If you get worse after two or three days instead of better, or you start to breathe many more times a minute than is usual, this needs medical attention immediately

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19 Responses to A Friend of a Friend

  1. ..... Carmen says:

    Thank you for posting this – I'm really confused as to what to do. My midwives aren't saying yea or nea to getting vaccinated, just that here is mercury in it. They also don't know the side effects to the unborn baby, which has me a little spooked. The vaccine is available starting in Calgary this week. I need to make a final decision soon.

  2. areyoukiddingme says:

    I don't usually get a flu shot, but I was considering it this year. I rarely get the flu, but I got something already this year. It's very mild, but I'm not sure if it's worth getting vaccinated, since I've possibly already had the flu. Oh well, I guess I'll ask the nurse when she shows up at my workplace this week.

  3. Mommy (You can call me OM) says:

    We're just crawling out of H1N1 at our house. My three-year-old was hospitalized for three days with H1N1/pneumonia. Unfortunately, the vaccine wasn't available here (and still isn't) prior to falling ill.

    I don't know enough to participate in a vaccination debate, but I did want to mention to Carmen that Mayo Clinic considers pregnant women as first priority for H1N1 vaccine.


  4. Trish says:

    thank you thank thank you thank you.
    I'm a mess of worry about this one. no vaccines available in my are yet. I've been calling the health dept and they don't know when.

    Here is the best article I've seen to allay fears:


  5. Calliope says:

    very helpful post. W's pediatrician basically told us to talk to the hand when I asked about the flu vaccines- If it was made available to us I would get it. It is just a question of availability (& of course cost!)

  6. Debby says:

    I was told to get the vaccination. Unfortunately, the vaccine is not available here. Unfortunately, they have no idea when the vaccine will become available here. Stuff like this makes me squeal.

  7. Natalie says:

    In my area I have access to preservative-free vaccines that have only trace mercury (instead of the normal dose). That's what I chose to do, since that is my main (though not only) issue with vaccines. I've never gotten the flu vaccine before, and may never again, but with being pregnant and working with the public, I decided this was a very good year to get vaccinated.

    I also just wanted to point out that the injectable vaccine is not a live virus, but the flumist IS – it's an attenuated one, and shouldn't get you sick, but there IS a risk of shedding the virus from it. So my husband is also getting the injection this year so that there is no chance of him passing it to me. (I also heard that the nasal vaccine isn't as effective, but I'm sure that's under debate.)

  8. Niki says:

    Thank you for posting that. It was very well said. I'm so frustrated with the rampant ignorance regarding vaccinations and the misconceptions that are circulating regarding this one. So, I applaud you for setting the record straight!

    P.S. Thanks for the link to the Maya wrap pattern. 🙂

  9. Candid Engineer says:

    Thank you for posting this. As a scientist, I have been positively appalled by the negative press on such an important health issue.

  10. Kuri says:

    @ Natalie: What is flumist?

  11. Sunny says:

    Great post, thank you. I am getting the vaccine as soon as it's available here, and so is my son. I wish more people would get it.

  12. JamieD says:

    I saw a headline on the national news today – people are hosting 'swine flu parties' to intentionally expose themselves to swine flue.

    Just when I think it isn't possible, people attain a whole new level of stupid.

  13. ..... Carmen says:

    Thanks for your comment left on my blog Mrs. Spit and to 'Mommy (you can call me OM' on your note left here.

    My hubby and I watched a news special on the vaccine tonight and had a in depth discussion on it. The unadjuvanted should arrive in our hometown by next week. Right now there are only four clinics open and the line ups have been over six hours long.

    Our decision lies right now that my daughter (2.5 yrs) and I will lay low this week in the hopes that when the second vaccine is released next week, there will be an easier way to receive it for those that are higher risk.

  14. Tash says:

    THANK YOU. Really, I'm so tired of people thinking this is an individual matter when vaccinations in general are about PUBLIC HEALTH and have been for centuries. This is about the town shutting down and/or dying, not you personally (although if you're spared in the process that's a nice side effect). I'm sure if Bella were to get it she'd be over it in 5 days, but who would she infect in the meantime? A classmate with a younger prematurely-born sibling? A classmate with a pregnant mother? Someone with CF who was in the store the day before? Someone with asthma? Which is why she's getting vaccinated at school next week. Hope it's not too late. I'd get right now if I could find it, and already got the seasonal. Take one for the team, people.

  15. loribeth says:

    I have never had a flu shot before, but I think this will be the year. Dh & I are getting the regular flu shot next week at our dr's office, but we can only get the H1N1 at a government-run clinic, & the dr's office said we'll have to wait three weeks after the regular flu shot. Meanwhile, I've been washing my hands & using Purell like crazy. :p

    I'm not quite sure why so many people are so up in arms against vaccination. I'm thinking part of it is too many of us take survival for granted — most of us weren't around in the days before vaccines when people died from things like measles & polio.

  16. Heather says:

    (Here from the Ungame!)

    We're in the "willing to get vaccinated but health provider doesn't have any available" boat. Meanwhile H1N1 is sweeping through the schools. We've got lots of classes with almost half of the kids out sick. The timing of all this is just such a mess.

    Thanks to your friend Lindy for writing this out for us!

  17. Bluebird says:

    Thank you for this. I was just telling B that I don't "get" what the tremendous opposition to the vax is all about – this is so much bigger than us. I'm forwarding him this post since you said it so much better than I.

  18. Tanya says:

    I'm thinking about waiting a week and then going to get vaccinated. The only reason for waiting at all is that the boy and I have had colds, ear infections and the stomach flu in the past 3 weeks plus the boy had a sinus infection. I just want to be sure we're basically healthy again before we go in.

    Looking at the list of who should have it… I fall into 3 of those categories so I guess it's a good thing I'd already decided to go.

  19. Meghan says:

    I'm very late to comment but can I come over and give you a hug for this <3 You have settled some of my fears and I only hope that some others read this and understand what is really being said. Thank you.

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