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September 17, 2009

Will you get your child immunized for the swine flu?

In her latest e-newsletter Walnut Creek School District Superintendent Patricia Wool says that Walnut Creek schools won't close if there are any outbreaks of the H1N1 virus. However, she says the Contra Costa County Health Department is recommending that students get vaccinated both for the regular flu and for the swine flu--when this latter vaccination becomes available.


My son received the regular flu vaccine; we happened to be at the doctor for a check-up, and he got all his immunizations up to date. His doctor suggested the regular flu vaccine for him. My son is pretty healthy, but the doctor said it would be a good idea, mainly out of concern for my husband, who has serious asthma and would be at risk for getting very sick if he contracted either flu.

I'm on the fence about the H1N1 vaccine, both for my son and myself, in part because I suspect we already had a bout of it back in June. Everyone in my family was hit with this weird cold, that had symptoms unlike any other cold/stomach virus we'd ever had. Fortunately, it wasn't serious and knocked us out for a couple days, and then it was gone.

What do you think about the vaccine for yourself and your family. I admit I still have some studying to do. For example I still need to read through a story by fellow Contra Costa blogger Mister Writer. He picked through and provides links to various studies on the H1N1 vaccine, in raising questions about its safety, efficacy, and necessity. Check out his report here.

Meanwhile, here is the portion of the regular e-newsletter sent out by Wool to parents, regarding the swine flu issue:
The Contra Costa County Health Department briefed all superintendents in the county concerning swine flu (H1N1). This year the health department does not plan to close schools; however, the agency is monitoring our attendance patterns to note fluctuations. The Health Department is recommending that all students receive immunizations for both H1N1 and the regular flu. Since 0-19 year olds are most at risk for H1N1, in low income schools, the vaccine will be provided. However, WCSD will not qualify. Therefore, the Health Department is encouraging parents to vaccinate children when the vaccine for swine flu (H1N1) becomes available. The ealth Department is also recommending a regular flu vaccination for students. The doctors reminded us that students will need to receive each immunization in two doses. For adults, regular flu vaccination is recommended.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Soccer Mom, I for example noticed that you seem to use "cold" and "influenza" pretty much synonymously which is scientifically wrong. The "cold" is generally caused by the Rhinovirus a member of the Picornavirus family. The "flu" is caused by the members of the Orthomyxovirus family. Influenza can cause nausea and vomiting but more generally the "stomach flu" is caused either by bacteria or viruses such as the Rotavirus, Norvirus or Adenovirus.

Without proper testing it is impossible what you and your family might have had back in June.

As a post graduate scientist I have spent more than 30 years in the health science field and naturally find science fascinating. But I'm very worried about the wast amount of pseudo science which circulates particularly in the internet. Most of if it simply a lack of understanding but some is purposefully planted to promote a kind of things.

I have posted this link on Mr. Writer's blog as well. It is to a website called Science-Based-Medicine. It recently provided a scientific primer on influenza

http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=1229

Anonymous said...

As a follow up on my earlier post here are two articles from SBM regarding the H1N1 vaccine if anybody is interested:

http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=1296

http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=1455

Soccer Mom said...

Hi Anonymous,
Thanks very much for weighing in, and giving me and readers this information.

Yes, you're right about "cold" and "influenza." I'm not sure what we had, and, no, none of us was sick enough to be tested. For me, it felt like a "cold," but it wiped me out in ways that the usual annual cold I get doesn't. My son was listless and had stomach upset, and vomiting. It was just weird, and the timing was weird.

I have some studying to do on the subject, and thanks for the links. I, too, want to promote good science, even though I'm not, so it's great to have someone like you sharing your expertise.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I will have my kids get the H1N1 vaccine. It seems to hit the young pretty hard. Plus, I want to keep the rest of the community healthy by not having them spread it to anyone else.

hapamama said...

I'm on the fence on this... I'm generally pretty hesitant to give my children a vaccination or medication that is this new.

Anonymous said...

hapamama what is your understanding of being "this new"

You do understand that the seasonal influenza vaccine each and every year normally has three new isolates. Usually two A and one B isolate.

In the Northern Hemisphere these were for example:

2007/08:
an A/Solomon Islands/3/2006 (H1N1)-like virus;
an A/Wisconsin/67/2005 (H3N2)-like virus (A/Wisconsin/67/2005 (H3N2) and A/Hiroshima/52/2005 were used at the time);
a B/Malaysia/2506/2004-like

2008/09:
an A/Brisbane/59/2007 (H1N1)-like virus;
an A/Brisbane/10/2007 (H3N2)-like virus;
a B/Florida/4/2006-like virus (B/Florida/4/2006 and B/Brisbane/3/2007 (a B/Florida/4/2006-like virus) were used at the time)

2009/10:
an A/Brisbane/59/2007 (H1N1)-like virus;
an A/Brisbane/10/2007 (H3N2)-like virus;
a B/Brisbane/60/2008-like virus

The swine flu vaccine will only have one isolate which is the (2009) H1N1, which is yet a differente isolate from the H1N1 isolates which had been in the past seasonal vaccines.

The technology for the swine flu vaccine is not different from the technology of the seasonal flu vaccine.

Anonymous said...

Being just a bit older than those of you who are raising children now, I can tell you I would not hesitate to vaccinate my child. We, who grew up in the 50's, lived through the polio outbreaks and as we watched our friends and family die or become crippled for the rest of their lives, we prayed for a vaccine. Thank God for wonderful physicians and scientists who came up with an answer and polio was virtually wiped off the face of the earth. There was no hesitation by my parents or any of my friends parents to have us all immunized.

Talk to your personal doctor about flu shots then make your decision. But, please weigh your responsibility to your child's health and also of others with whom they have contact.

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:41 I fully agree with your comments. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) so many of us have either forgotten or not experienced how the world looked before there were vaccines.

I just want to add another point which is very current since we all hear the discussions how much health care costs and whether we can afford it.

We also have a responsibility to make sure that we can prevent unnecessary costly hospitalization as much as possible.

Anonymous said...

I'm also still on the fence. My son has asthma so I say Yes. But, my daughter was hospitalized following her MMR vaccines so I say No. Also, I had the flu vaccine last week (fromm Safeway) and had trouble breathing the next day. (not serious but bothersome).
Decisions...Decisions... But I do tell you, if H1N1 does break out in WC schools, I will homeschool.

Thud said...

I'm leaving for WC from England in a couple of weeks and I am debating the very question myself as being between 2 health systems with two very young children is always a problem...what to do?

Anonymous said...

I can't see how that would be a question of two health care systems? Both in the US and the UK you would probably get advice from a trusted expert (like your doctor) and make an informed decision.

The one added factor is that you are obviously in a couple of weeks in need to take your children to places where many people congregate (airport, airplane) in a relative small space.

Anonymous said...

I will get the H1N1 vaccine. I got the regular flu vaccine last week from Safeway. I have had the flu vaccine every year for over ten years without any complications. However, if you are allergic to eggs or neomycin, don't get the flu vaccine. The vaccine is made from eggs. When you are allergic to eggs or neomycin, you can get wheezing, difficulty breathing, and your throat starts to swell.

I learned my lesson after catching the flu 3 times in one year when I worked at a hospital. The cold is nothing compared to the flu. With a cold you feel bad, but with the flu you are struck down with excruciation muscle cramps within hours. You begin to get a very high fever and start shivering uncontrollably. Next, excruciating migraine headaches appear. I was bedridden for almost a week and could barely even walk. I was delirious and hallucinating throughout. It took well over 2 weeks before I even got better.

Many people have not even experienced the flu. The flu is a hundred times worse than a cold.

I can only imagine what swine flu is like. It is like the regular flu, but you get diarrhea and vomiting.