So what’s the real story with the H1N1 flu anyway?
I’ve been trying to make an informed decision as to whether or not I should get the vaccination against it, but the stories are all so conflicting. I just don’t know what to believe.
I have heard that if you are born before 1957, you only have a very small chance of catching H1N1, so to me, that says that the shot would not necessarily be worth it. But I wasn’t born before 1957 anyway, so this argument doesn’t apply to me.
I have also heard that it’s far more severe in young adults 18 – 30, an age group where most of the deaths are occurring. Well, that’s not me either.
BUT … older people (presumably those of us past 30 but born after 1957) are apparently having very severe symptoms should they become ill. A larger proportion of this group is ending up in hospital and dying. I guess that’s where I come in.
There is a priority system in place right now. The risks have been evaluated by the powers that be (according to which information, though?), and only certain groups of people can get their vaccinations at the moment. I am not in any of those risk groups. I am not a child aged between 6 months and 5 years, someone with a chronic illness (particularly asthma), pregnant, a health care professional, or someone who lives with or works with any of the listed groups. So I would have to wait, in any case.
I do have a number of friends and acquaintances who do fit into one of those risk groups and who have had their H1N1 shot. Every single one of them reports that their arm hurt like hell. Some of them had huge welts, some didn’t, but all said their arm ached really badly for up to a week. Some couldn’t lift their arm for several days, some couldn’t even bear to have their arm touched. A couple of people actually had noticeable flu symptoms for a few days and “felt like shit”, to quote one friend. Everyone who normally has the seasonal flu shot claimed that this shot was much, much worse.
Not exactly a ringing endorsement, is it?
Now, I have never had a flu shot, despite them being available for free for anybody working in the public education system here. And I have only had the flu twice in the past 23 years. I am certain of this because I know I had it when I was pregnant with DD, who is now 22, and I was unable to take any meds. (Fortunately, I really only had one day where I was flat in bed.) The other time was in February 2002, when I missed a whole week of work. I am certain of this one as well because once I could crawl out of bed, I lay on the couch in front of the television watching the Winter Olympics from Salt Lake City, USA. Vancouver is almost the same time zone as Salt Lake City, so I watched it all live. (Do I remember much of it? Just the Canadian men’s and women’s hockey teams winning the gold medals. Not much else – I was sick, dammit!)
Well, based on information I have gleaned thus far, I think I’m leaning towards not having the vaccination.
But the Winter Olympics are coming to Vancouver in February 2010, so maybe I should. Seems as good a reason as any.