H1N1 Vaccine Conundrum

A friend of mine posted a FoxTV Video that profiled an infectious disease doctor who recommended against the H1N1 vaccine because of thimerisol's potential impact.  The reporter mentioned that the three other doctors he's met with recommended the vaccine - 3:1 for the vaccine, but the one on TV (and YouTube) is the naysayer. My friend who posted the video is not vaccinating for H1N1.  Another friend is waiting for the first month of vaccinations to be over to then vaccinate her child.  My eldest was vaccinated this week with the flu mist.


I believe that with the flu vaccines, this is really a parent's preference and appetite for risk.  In my mind, for reasons that are probably illogical, I consider vaccines for Hepatitis and Measles more public health oriented than flu.  Schools don't require flu shots for attendance or enrollment.   With two career parents, the flu is a major issue and I don't perceive a lot of risk in the vaccines.  Other people make other choices.

I posted this on facebook after watching the Fox video:

Relief - my sons are old enough for the flu mist for H1N1 and there's no thimerisol in it. Not sure if thimerisol is a problem - but why mess with it.

Mom 1: And you are okay with them getting the live virus in the nasal spray, rather than the dead virus in the shot?

Mom 2: While at the pediatrician to have my daughter's high fever checked out last week, we let my 4-year-old son get the h1n1 spray. Now she's back to normal and he's got a fever, so whatever they had/have was probably not covered by this year's flu shot (which they both got) or the h1n1. And neither my husband nor I are sick at all, which is one good thing.

Mom 1: I understand that it takes 2 weeks for the immunization to take effect, so maybe that's why your son still got it? Also, since H1N1 made the rounds in the 70s, many of us born before abt 1976 had it then and are immune. That's why it's hitting ages 1-25 so hard.

Mom 3: Joelle have you checked out all of the possible eddects of the H1N1 vaccine (either nasal or shot). Not always good to get the 1st round of something that has not been tested thoroughly. My kids & myself have had flu mist but I do not think we are getting vaccinated for H1N1. It's not even available here yet anyway. Making them wear masks in the airport next Thursday when we go to NC to visit our eldest.

Me: Wow - this was quite the dialogue - sorry I was offline for a lot of it. To start with - I have a lot of trust in my pediatrician. He's been with us since Benjamin was born and when Jammer was hospitalized at 7 weeks with a fever, he was terrific. He is very research oriented and isn't alarmist in his nature. So, what he said was that the CDC recommends the H1N1 vaccine because the probability of an issue with the H1N1 vaccine is lower than the probability of an issue with the H1N1 flu. So - Mom 1 - I am alright with the live virus if that's what works best for the vaccine. I'm not a scientist, nor a member of the CDC - and my doctor has earned my trust on this. As for the masks - H1N1 is mostly transmitted hand to hand to mouth. I'm not sure what the masks do in comparison to handwashing/gloves. But every parent should do what makes you feel safe for your kids.
I do trust my doctor and I know he did the research.  That said - I've pulled together some more resources for my readers.  I'm not getting into the mercury, thimerisol and autism debate.  Too many opinions (both based in science and not) for me on that one.  Regarding the flu - here's what I've found.

Summary: It does compare the Canadian study of the impact of both vaccinations on both seasonal and H1N1 flu.  The CDC studies in the US and from Australia (from their CDC) do not show any impact positive or negative from taking both vaccines.  It also discusses the issue of the vaccine being new.  It's not new...it's the same as the seasonal vaccine with the H1N1 virus instead of the collection of seasonal flu viruses in the standard cocktail.

H1N1 Vaccine side effects - from the CDC - Same as you would expect from the flu vaccine.
There is healthy internet chatter about flu vaccines and Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS) because in 1976 there was a slightly elevated incidence of this very rare disease among people vaccinated for the 1976 swine flu. The CDC discusses this too - GBS is very rare and H1N1 is not rare at all - we all know someone who's been infected already.  My second thought is that this H1N1 vaccine is the same as the seasonal flu vaccine - which has no association with GBS at all. Every action has risk - I still think H1N1 is a bigger risk than GBS. By the way, your swine flu 1976 vaccinations, if you got one, doesn't do squat against this H1N1 strain - apparently.


I'm not pregnant - but apparently if you are, H1N1 is a very important vaccine to take.  My friend in NJ is an OB who admitted 5 women on Friday who were pregnant, had H1N1 and needed to be hospitalized.  Yikes.  


At the end of the day, influenza - in both seasonal and H1N1 forms, is a killer.  I had my children vaccinated against everything else that could kill them and I insist they wear helmets when they bike or skate, use boosters and seat-belts in the car and learn stranger smarts.  Every time they ride their bikes, in the car or walk somewhere, they are at risk.  The car is riskier than everything else, combined.  As a parent, we live with risk and we have to choose between what risks we will take.  My kids downhill ski - aggressively - and we teach them to take risks responsibly.  It takes 2-4 weeks for a vaccine to take effect.  I'm sure of my choice to have my kids vaccinated - and vaccinated early.  I hope I made the right call - because that's the best we can do.