Wednesday, 28 October 2009

The dreaded flu vaccine

Well, the time has finally come for me to make my decision about the H1N1 flu vaccine. Somehow I was hoping that there would be this huge delay and then I wouldn't have to face the decision; nevertheless, being a grown-up I guess means I have to face the real world and all its issues.

My broad viewpoint on any issue is to make an informed decision. Read, research, discuss, listen, ponder, pray, then decide. Also remember that we are all trying to do what is best for ourselves and our families, and that every decision is made in that best interest. I need to be comfortable with my decision for my reasons, to the point that I don't feel the need to defend myself with others.

In the end, I believe I will get this special vaccine. My family doctor is closely involved with the flu vaccine studies, and is one week behind me in her pregnancy. She also has two boys, the same age as mine. She and her whole family will be getting the vaccine, despite the fact they have never gotten the seasonal flu vaccine previously. Her confidence did much to boost my own, as I only know one other pregnant woman who also must make this decision. And really, it is the fact that I am pregnant that is making this such a hard choice.

The second point of view that affected me was my position in our family. Although the benefits of this vaccine have been shown to outweigh the risks, my ultimate concern on the risk side is for the fetus. However, if I do not get the vaccine, the risk is about me. And although the thought of losing the baby is terrifying, I can't imagine if something serious happened to me, leaving James and the boys. That would by far have the greater implications on our family.

The tipping point for me, however, as a person who puts absolutely nothing into my body while I am pregnant, was the information on those who have died from this flu. The recommendation is that as soon as there is respiratory distress, to immediately get to the ER. Most people who died from the flu waited a week or longer to get the help they needed. My problem is that during this pregnancy, I already have most of the flu symptoms, including constant headaches, body aches, severe trouble breathing, and physical exhaustion. Since one doesn't always present with a fever with this strain of flu, it would be very difficult for me to distinguish between a flu and my regular pregnancy symptoms. If I was feeling well enough, I would likely not get the vaccine and just be sure to run to the ER at the first sign of trouble. Studies do show that severe complications are not likely to happen if the patient is treated immediately.

James will also be in line for the vaccine, as he meets daily with elderly people who are also at a higher risk. We haven't made a decision about the boys yet, although I am leaning toward "no", but with the plan to monitor their illnesses closely and not to be afraid to run to the doctor or ER if I think it necessary. I may also play "wait and see," to determine just how severe this flu becomes in our area.

Well, that about sums up my position. It will be interesting to look back on this worldwide event next year and see just how big of a position it ends up playing. I always feel, especially with our current media standards, that these things get blown out of proportion. Then again, disasters happen, and affect the lives of hundreds of thousands, possibly even millions. And every time people think "aw, they're just blowing it out of proportion." We all seem to operate under the assumption that these things can never happen to us. And although I don't advocate living in constant fear of the great "what if," I do believe that we must face these issues as they present themselves rather than wishing they would simply go away.


Emily Tayman said...

Oh man, we should have chatted. I was going through the same thing. I think it's blown WAY out of proportion, and the only time I've had the seasonal flu vac was when I was in the mtc, because it was required...
On the other hand, it does seem to be a little more dominant than the seasonal flu, I know tons of people in my ward that have had it already. Not only that, I thought the same thing, how would I know if I caught it? I'm sick all the time. (I hate people that call the second trimester "golden," is that wrong?)
I already started writing a blog post about this last week, so I won't bore you with all my thoughts, but I've decided to get it as well. It really was a difficult decision.

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