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What to do about the flu?

I’ve largely been deaf to all the media frenzy surrounding H1N1. But this week, the vaccines will be available to the public. This means I need to make a decision. Ugh, I don’t like decisions.

And there are just so many darn decisions related to H1N1.

To school or not to school? The school has repeatedly asked parents not to send their children to school if they are sick. But how sick is sick? The most common symptoms of H1N1, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada, include fever, cough, fatigue, sore throat, decreased appetite, muscle aches, headache, and runny nose. I would have thought that a “flu” meant vomiting or diarrhea, but apparently these are only “sometimes” symptoms. If I am to use these common symptoms as my decision-marker as to going to school or not, my entire family would not have attended school or work for the past 2.5 weeks. Three out of four of us have been to the doctor during this time and no one tested us for H1N1. We were told that we have bad colds.  

To worry or not to worry? I’m having a hard time working out if I should even worry about it, actually. I don’t get in a panic about seasonal flu every winter. Sure, it’s awful to live through, but I don’t tend to fret about whether we’ll catch it or not. The H1N1 flu, however, is classified as “pandemic.” Yet, according to the National Post, “H1N1 has killed fewer people over the past six months than the seasonal flu kills every six days.” I’m confused, people.

To vaccinate or not to vaccinate? This is the biggie. This means that I need to make a decision and act on it. When it comes to menengitis, polio — yes, please give my children vaccines. But the flu? Yikes, I just don’t know. Have I been touched by the anti-vaccine campaigns? Yes, I guess I have to a degree. Words like “vaccine-injury,” “thimerosol” and “Guillain-Barre Syndrome” make me twitchy.

I wish I knew what side of the fence to fall. But I just don’t know what to do about the flu.

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Comments

  1. Just wanted to share two items that have been brought to my attention today, in case they are of interest:

    The first is an article in the Citizen (today) on an H1N1 death.
    http://www.ottawacitizen.com/health/teen+girl+dies+Ottawa+hospital/2143542/story.html

    The second is an article in Wired, that Dani of Postcards from the Mothership blog has shared:
    http://www.wired.com/magazine/2009/10/ff_waronscience/all/1

  2. The Atlantic had a nice sceptic’s take on the flu shot in general and H1N1 shot:
    http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200911/brownlee-h1n1

    I think we’ll get it, provided it’s convenient and I don’t need to wait in some absurd day long line.

  3. Hi KenD! Thanks for sharing that article. I printed it out and read it in bed last night. Pretty fascinating, actually.

  4. I can’t open the articles from work, but are they related to Dani’s post where she discovers that officially “the flu” must involve a fever and coughing and/or all the other symptoms you list?

  5. Hi XUP – The Wired article that Dani had up on her blog de-bunks the anti-vaccine campaigns (specifically those that link vaccines with autism) with a detailed profile of the scientist who is responsible for the vaccine for Rotovirus, while the Atlantic article is a whole other angle that I hadn’t read about yet that looks at the effectiveness of flu vaccines (not all vaccines, just the flu vaccine) and antivirals in general. Hope that helps! Julie

  6. Half my motivation for getting the shot, is to make sure I did everything I could for my family to not get sick.

    However tweets like this from Ottawa Health:
    http://twitter.com/ottawahealth
    Estimated H1N1 clinic wait times (hrs) R-Vanier 1.5; Orléans 3.5; Tom Brown 3; Kanata 3

    aren’t making me too enthusiastic. That’s mid afternoon on a weekeday for healthcare workers, infants and people with chronic diseases only. How long are the waits going to be when anyone can go?

    I’m holding out hope that my West Carleton ace in the hole comes through for me again. The lines are always shortest out in the country where there are no buses.

  7. If you’re not already inundated with information, I thought Macleans wrote a pretty good article on the topic:

    http://www2.macleans.ca/2009/10/19/swine-flu-fiasco/

  8. I’m not usually all over the flu vaccine but we’ll be getting this one. If only, because the virus has turned a touch nasty. I got the flu vaccine last year, and I’m not entirely sure it did anything.

    The article is interesting. We like to think that science is absolute but it’s not. I reckon if this helps… then why not.

  9. here in korea, people are very scared about the flu. i am at one of the only schools that haven’t shut down, and some parents are just not sending their kids to school for precaution. many of the activities that are fun for the kids have been stopped with the reason of H1n1. it seems a little much to me, considering most of my kids are coughing and they are now saying that it cannot be determined by a high fever anymore.

    thanks for posting those extra articles to read everyone!

    • Meg – Thanks for sharing what’s happening in South Korea. It is very interesting to hear how other countries are dealing with this. I’ve heard bits from Australia, naturally, but closing schools – wow.

  10. update:
    the country has been put on a national alert, as cases are rising to 10 000 a day. some children have died, and many have come in showing no symptoms at all, however are carrying the virus. there is talk about the government closing down all elementary schools, but i think that they are still going to let the individual schools decide. one woman who visited us today, told us her school had 34 cases. as for the vaccine, alot of the mothers here are quite skeptical, as they do not know alot about the vaccine. many have said they will not do it for their children.

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