Friday, October 9, 2009

About H1N1

I swore I wouldn't give unsolicited advice anymore (or, apparently, any less), but this is a topic that is important to me, a topic I want to know the facts. This will mostly list negatives, I'll admit it. Consume it with the pro-vaccinations messages you are hearing from the media, and somewhere in the middle lies reality.

I did some research on the H1N1 vaccine, based on one specific concern I heard this week. The vaccines that are being distributed widely contain thimerosal. That's the additive that was removed from vaccines because of the fear of an autism link. The experts say there is no direct connect from thimerosal (aka mercury) and autism; the experts also said in 1980 that all the kids dying or nearly dying after a DPT shot was just a coincident, until 1983 when they said, "Oops. We were wrong. It was the vaccine. We'll change it now. Sorry about that." There is a no or low thimerosal vaccine available; it just may not be available everywhere. It's worth asking for, because...what if they are wrong about the safety of thimerosal?

The other option, a nasal spray, contains a modified-live vaccine. The problem with modified-live is that it actually gives you a version of the illness. They just hope that your immune system is strong enough to beat off the weakened level of the illness. So, if someone gets it who already has a cold or infection brewing, it'll be doubly tough to fight off the illnesses. Also, once one person in your family has had the nasal spray, there is some chance they can spread the illness to anyone around them for a few days. So, please, if you do go this route, let us know so we can avoid you. :)

The third point I want to bring to your attention is that "an earlier type of swine flu vaccine was associated with cases of a severe paralytic illness called Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS) at a rate of approximately 1 case of GBS per 100,000 persons vaccinated." They think they've solved the problem that caused GBS before, but it is a concern. This vaccine has only been tested since the first of August.

So, what if you get the flu? Well, some doctors could give your children Tamiflu or an antiviral, if you come down with the flu first. An antiviral like Tamiflu can prevent flu symptoms or minimize them, but its use will be limited to high-risk groups exposed to the flu or someone who has the flu who is diagnosed with 48 hours of symptoms starting. The pediatrician in Manhattan said he wouldn't; a family practitioner in Clay Center did last year. I'm hoping for the Clay Center response, especially with our four "high-risk" children.

And a little history of the polio vaccine, to compare: Apparently, they tested it for a year before releasing to the public. Even then, the vaccine actually induced 260 cases of poliomyelitis, including 10 deaths. We've come a long way, yes, but I still think it's best to move forward cautiously.

So, that's my soapbox. As one person told me, getting a flu vaccine is more of an emotional decision than a fact-based one, so its nearly impossible to change someone's opinion about what is the right thing to do. I agree with that statement; I just thought I'd make it easier for you to find the facts.

Want to do your own research?
Or post the sources you've found -- credible sources only, please -- so I can broaden my knowledge base.

1 comment:

Tara said...

How about this, which is found in the actual package inserts of at least one influenza vaccine and one of the H1N1 vaccines:

"This indication is based on immune response elicited by (xyz) and there have been no controlled trials demonstrating a decrease in influenza disease after vaccination with (xyz)."

The have to include a disclaimer that they don't even know if it works!

Another sobering site is the government's "Vaccine Adverse Event Recording System" where you can read reports of vaccine reactions ranging from swelling at the site to death.

Also you should be aware the UK researchers are questioning the use of Tamiflu in children under 12.

"Implications for seasonal and pandemic influenza
For children with seasonal influenza neuraminidase inhibitors seem to have a small effect in terms of reducing duration of illness of between 0.5 and 1.5 days. There is currently no evidence to single out special treatment for children with asthma. It is difficult to know the extent to which these findings can be generalised to children in the current A/H1N1 pandemic. At present, most cases in children have been mild, but recommendations in several countries encourage treatment of children with suspected or confirmed A/H1N1 flu. While morbidity and mortality in the current pandemic remain low, a more conservative strategy might be considered prudent, given the limited data, side effects such as vomiting, and the potential for developing resistant strains of influenza."