On the H1N1 Virus: To Vaccinate or Not to Vaccinate … That is the Question

Written by Amy, a mom without a blog

The Swine Flu, or using the politically correct term, the H1N1 Virus just hit my kids’ school for the first time. I think the student is going to be OK, but he had a definite near-death struggle and is now home recovering. He had a fever of 105, trouble breathing, and couldn’t talk. It attacked his throat. The whole family has been quarantined for over a week and they still have not returned to school – even the younger sister who is in my son’s kindergarten class (and didn’t even get the virus), has been out of school for over a week in order to keep others safe from exposure. He is looking at a two-month recovery time.

Everyone is panicking. Honestly, I am too.

I grapple with the question of whether or not to vaccinate my children for this virus.

I am generally a person who goes along with all the regular vaccines, but don’t always feel comfortable doing so. I do them, but under duress. I also do them because I don’t feel as if I’m educated enough to be bold enough to choose NOT to do them. And after my son got terribly sick from a flu shot one season, I have lived by the principal that if the vaccine is optional, we’re not doing it. Hence, that’s where I currently sit with the H1N1 vaccine. It’s optional. No thanks.

I was having this discussion with a friend of mine who is leaning toward vaccinating her kids for this newest virus. She said, “It’s the herd mentality.” Immediately, I thought, “Oh yeah, everyone is panicking, everyone is rushing to the doctor to get the vaccine. We are the herd. We do what everyone else does.” Right?

She was quick to disagree. The “Herd Mentality” she was referring to was that since “most of the herd” vaccinate for various illnesses, it keeps those who don’t vaccinate safe. In other words, I should feel obligated to thank all those who do opt for the vaccine, since it’s likely we will not be getting vaccinated for H1N1. I never really thought of it that way. But I think she’s right.

So … for those of you who have been or will be vaccinated in the near future for the H1N1 Virus. Thank you. I guess.

I also know there’s a choice about receiving the live virus via a nasal mist or the “weakened live” or dead virus via vaccine. I read that a person vaccinated with the live virus may be contagious to people with a compromised immune system for up to six weeks post vaccine.

I have Multiple Sclerosis.

I am one of those with a compromised immune system. So come to think of it, if you are one of those who is getting or has gotten the live virus as your protection against the H1N1 Virus, maybe I shouldn’t thank you at all. Maybe YOU are putting ME at risk by getting the vaccine.

Basically, I conclude that there is risk by doing something; and there is risk by doing nothing.

I am very confused. I am very scared.

All of this conflicting information is making my head hurt. I think I need to go gargle with warm salt water and wash my hands.

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