A Friend of a Friend

You probably aren't getting the vaccine for yourself. You are getting it for my mother, who is iummunosuppressed. You are getting it for my co-worker Joy, who is 20 weeks pregnant. You are getting it for wee Ivy that I saw last week, who is too small to get it yet.

I can think of a hundred reasons, a hundred faces. Because sometimes it's not about us, it's about the people around us.

So, Lindy is a doctor here in Edmonton, with a major teaching hospital. And I liked what she had to say:

Hi dear friend!

You've asked what my opinion is re: H1N1 and what to do re: the vaccine. The actual virus isn't the problem -- apparently for the majority of people, it's a "mild" influenza. Although anything that's an influenza still stinks. I've had it once in my life and hope to never get it again b/c I was really really sick. For instance, I wouldn't have been able to get up to cook/clean/hug any children/bathe/do anything but sleep when I had influenza. Of course, you have friends and family and of course your spouse and thank goodness for that.


This is the problem with H1N1. It's a pandemic. No one but the really old (we think that's why the elderly have less of a problem with H1N1 than with the typical seasonal flu) have been exposed to this before. So we're all very susceptible. Which is why we need the vaccine -- imagine if 30 to 50 percent of our police forces got influenza, which is the percent of folks who are predicted to get the virus if they don't get the vaccine. Or 30 to 50 percent of a hospital's staff. Or the folks working the water treatment plants? We need to get vaccinated just so that (and here's the drama) society doesn't stop for a few weeks.

Plus, there are a small subset that once they get ill with the H1N1 virus, get really ill. Those people need to get vaccinated just to increase the chances that they won't die. Seriously. Folks with congestive heart failure, COPD, asthma, diabetes, obesity, cystic fibrosis, serious immune system compromise including HIV, and most importantly, pregnancy -- they all need to be at the front of the line for vaccine. There was a place in the southern hemisphere where 50% of the people who died from this were pregnant. That's waaaaaay higher than what would be expected.

You're going to see all elective surgeries cancelled b/c the ICUs will be filled with H1N1 patients -- this past April? There was a period of time in Winnipeg when 60 out of their 70 ICU beds were filled with H1N1 patients. And most of them required mechanical ventilation.The chances of having a bad effect from the vaccine are lower than the chances of having a bad effect from the influenza.

The news media are being totally irresponsible by helping to fuel people's fear about the fact that this is a "new" vaccine that's been only minimally tested for safety. EVERY FLU VACCINE IS LIKE THAT!!!!! And we've not had any significant problems with side effects since 1976. I'm not saying that wasn't serious. But it was only a few hundred people in 1976, not all of whom died, compared with the thousands that die from influenza every year. And with the hundreds of thousands who get sick.

The vaccine is a killed virus -- you cannot get influenza from the vaccine. CANNOT. If a person gets sick immediately after getting the vaccine, it's b/c they were exposed prior/within the same week to a virus as immunity doesn't fully form until 10-14 days after vaccination. Folks who say "I got the flu shot and I still got the flu that season"? It's b/c the people who choose which viruses to immunize against sometimes make mistakes re: what virus is going to be predominate OR the person who got influenza anyway was infected with an uncommon type of influenza OR they didn't really have the flu, they had a cold.

The folks who say, "I don't need the vaccine, I don't get sick" have loved ones and coworkers who are immune-compromised who need the protection of everyone getting vaccinated.

I hope I've eased your fears somewhat. I think it's absolutely essential that all of you get the vaccine as soon as you can.Here's a great website to look at re: vaccine safety:http://immunize.ca/en/publications-resources/questions.aspx
and another:http://www.cfpc.ca/English/cfpc/communications/lmmunization/Myths%20and%20Facts/default.asp?s=1

Good luck, honey.xoxoLindy

PS. In Alberta, to find vaccine clinics, go here:http://www4.albertahealthservices.ca/Immunization/

If you do get sick with a sudden cough (or change in cough) and a fever over 38 degrees (and possibly fatigue, malaise, sore throat, sore muscles and in children GI problems), please stay home from work/school for seven days. Call your doctor (don't go in to see them and infect everyone else in the waiting room! You don't need to be tested at this point -- if you're sick, it doesn't matter now whether it's H1N1 or seasonal) or your public health nurse if you have questions. Take acetaminophen and drink lots of water. Have only one person be your "nurse", to reduce the chances of spreading the illness in your family. If you get worse after two or three days instead of better, or you start to breathe many more times a minute than is usual, this needs medical attention immediately