Nov 4, 2009  •  In Personal

Have You Gotten Your Flu Shot?

Right before I miscarried, I came down with a severe case of the flu. I was bedridden for days with a fever spiking at 102°F, debilitating body aches, and nausea.

It remains to be seen whether what I had contracted was the swine flu. Since I was feeling better by the time I made it to the doctor’s office, I did not ask to be tested — which, in hind sight, was a very stupid thing to do — because my first priority was the baby. By the time we realized the baby was in trouble, I became too preoccupied with trying to keep the little one stay inside of me to pursue my own illness.

Although I had been planning on getting the H1N1 vaccination when I was pregnant, I was a bit nervous because I had never gotten the flu shot before. In addition, almost everyone I knew seemed to get sick after receiving the shot.

Now that I am no longer expecting, I am not on the priority list for the H1N1 vaccination. However, with the media frenzy over the swine flu and my poor track record with winter illnesses (I get sick every time there is a drastic change in temperature), I started to consider it for myself.

Then I stumbled upon a story about the ill effects of the H1N1 vaccination in Sweden. Then there was the news that broke out about the German chancellor and his ministers receiving a different version of the vaccine.

I dug deeper, and found a treasure trove of conspiracy theories regarding the swine flu, the H1N1 vaccine, and vaccinations in general. Take a look for yourself.

Have you gotten the H1N1 vaccination? What was your experience like?

If you have not been vaccinated, do you plan to in the near future?

Is there anyone else out there — who, like me, tends to believe everything she reads/hears — who is at least a bit disturbed by the ominous stories surround the swine flu and its vaccine?

17 Responses to “Have You Gotten Your Flu Shot?”

  1. Vaccines aren’t tested in clinical trials before they’re administered because there simply isn’t enough time. So you can never guarantee that a new vaccine strain will act the way you expect it to. That said, vaccine design technology and vaccine manufacturing processes have been around for decades.

    Personally, I highly doubt there’s a conspiracy. I think companies are doing the best that they can. There are just limitations to science and technology.

  2. To clear it up: the german chancellor and the ministers get the same vaccine you get in the US, only the people get a different version, as otherwise, there wont be enough vaccine for everyone. I’d also prefer the US version but alas, not happening. Hope that helped.

  3. Nadine:

    I usually don’t get the flu shot, the last time I got it, I got sick, but then again I most likely had a strain not covered in the vaccine. This year though I got the flu shot thanks to the crazy number of influenza A cases we had in our PICU (Pediatric ICU) this summer, and I got my H1N1 vaccine too. Working in the NICU, I had to get the shot instead of the nasal spray (since that one has the live virus). My only experience this time around was feeling slightly feverish the night I got the vaccine. I’m glad I got the H1N1 though…. the last thing I need is to get the virus and be out of work and end up on ECMO!

  4. I’m actually not getting the shot. Everytime I’ve gotten the regular flu shot, I’ve gotten really sick. So, I stopped getting them and have NEVER caught the flu! I’m not getting H1N1 for the same reason.

  5. Anonymous:

    I have gotten the seasonal flu shot ever since i graduated from college (10 years) They give it out every year at the hospital…I got the H1N1 vaccine last week from our county..They were only giving it out to pg women..I don’t need to risk getting sick on top of being a high risk pregnancy..i have never had any adverse reactions from the flu shots..

  6. You are definitely scaring me into not taking it, even though my mom is pushing me

    I am worried about her. She just got the shot, but she started coughing a lot last night and coming home early…..

    Also, we had the swine flu in the 1970s.. I didn’t know that. But why is it that the H1N1 is so publicly promoted over other types of regular flus that come with the season?

    I am just.. suspicious. And worried for my mom.

  7. I am definitely getting mine.

    I second the statements by Sherry & Anon. The methods for making these flu vaccines have been around for ages. The way the H1N1 vaccine has been made is no different from any of the past shots.

    Since flu shots are free in Canada, I’ve been getting them every year that they were available because it’s the responsible thing to do. You may still catch the flu (there are so many strains out there!) but the vaccines reduce your chances of contracting the flu, as well as help your immune system overcome it if you DO catch it. (Plus they protect your friends & family in case you’re a carrier!)

    I have not had any negative effects other than a little soreness at the injection site in all the years that I have been getting the vaccines.

    This year, the most prevalent strain of the flu circulating is H1N1, so that is why there is a push for this particular vaccine. But the push is directed towards those that are at risk: mainly the younger generations. This is because our parents & people 50+ were exposed to a similar strain when they were young and are thought to have antibodies for H1N1 already. Those people are still encouraged to get their regular seasonal flu shot.

    Sadly those over 50 can still get H1N1 though :( My mom is a nurse and she got the swine flu last month and it was terrible. H1N1 may not kill you, but the suffering is way worse than a regular flu. I mean, the regular flu is bad on it’s own, but after witnessing my mom’s illness I would say that H1N1 is waaaaay worse.

    The symptoms are more severe and group together in weird ways. My mom was in so much pain & discomfort–she couldn’t eat or drink for days, would alternate between overheated and freezing… it just… when you see your strong mother whimpering in pain and too weak to vomit on her own it shakes you to the core. She is normally very healthy and strong.

    So yeah. I am definitely going to protect myself and the ones I love by getting vaccinated. I don’t want to be out for the count for 2 weeks, nor go through the misery of the symptoms & secondary infections. I think that a little soreness and feeling icky after getting the shot is a small price to pay.

    To anyone who is sitting on the fence I encourage you to get the shot eventually… don’t be in a panic about it, but definitely try to get yourself to the doc or the clinic in the next few months & get inoculated.

    And practice proper hand-washing! :)

  8. My work is offering the H1N1 shot later this month, and I plan to get it. Don’t believe the conspiracy theories; they only exist out there because of all of the anti-vaccine wackos out there with too much time on their hands. Also, the H1N1 shot is no different than the yearly flu shot; had H1N1 been discovered earlier and they had time to develop the vaccine sooner, they would have folded it into the normal flu shot, without advertising it as a separate shot (this year, you need two shots, one for H1N1 and one for the normal flu).

    That being said, I used to get the flu shot all the time when my grandmother was in a nursing home (I didn’t want to risk bringing sick germs into the facility with lots of frail old folks) and for the most part, I never had a problem.

  9. CMW:

    I wouldn’t take any medical advice from conspiracy theorists- EVER. It’s fine to believe what you read when you’re relying on proven resources- like medical journals, the CDC, your physicians recommendations, etc.

    I’m a molecular biologist with a PhD. My mom is a public health nurse. I’m also 8 months pregnant. I’ve already gotten both the seasonal and the H1N1 vaccinations. I had ZERO side effects. Just to be on the safe side, I received the individual doses of both which are thimerasol-free (themerasol being the mercury based preservative that everyone seems to think is dangerous). However, I would have taken a shot from the multi-dose vial containing the thimerasol because the dosage of mercury in that shot is equivalent to the amount of mercury in a serving of tuna fish (see links below for documentation).

    The H1N1 is made EXACTLY the same was as the seasonal flu vaccine. If the swine flu outbreak had happened a month or 2 earlier, this would be a non-issue as it would have been simply one of the strains included in the seasonal flu vaccine.

    Many of the conspiracy theorists are factually inaccurate.

    Please do yourself and your readers a favor and stick to reliable sources for your information.

    Check out these sources for information:
    http://www.sacbee.com/ourregion/story/2279707.html (debunks a lot of the wacko stuff mentioned in your link about the situation in Sweden).

    http://www.flu.gov
    http://www.cdc.gov/H1N1FLU/

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/10/health/10primer.html

  10. CMW:

    I just read Fabulously Broke’s comment and it really upsets me that the random conspiracy links you’ve included are scaring her into not getting the vaccine.

    Fabulously Broke- talk to your doctor, don’t let random strangers on the internet (myself included) be the basis on which you make medical decisions.

    The reason the swine flu is the following:
    In any given year in the US 5% to 20% of the population gets the seasonal flu (so between 15 to 60 million people); on average, more than 200,000 people are hospitalized from flu-related complications, and about 36,000 people die from flu-related causes. 36,000 out of 15 to 60 million means less than 0.06% of people who get the seasonal flu die from it (and 90% of them are over the age of 65).

    Compare that to H1N1:
    From April 15, 2009 to July 24, 2009, states reported a total of 43,771 confirmed and probable cases of novel influenza A (H1N1) infection. Of these cases reported, 5,011 people were hospitalized and 302 people died. 300 out of 43,771 means that about 0.7% of people who get H1N1 die from it (and unlike seasonal flu, the majority of them are under 50 years of age).

    While the risk of death seems small, I refuse to myself at risk (when a safe vaccine is available) and I refuse to participate in the transmission of this virus to others- 0.7% of which will die.

    RELIABLE sources for those who would like to judge for themselves:
    http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/surveillanceqa.htm
    http://www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/
    http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/disease/index.htm

  11. jwl:

    I never got a flu shot before this year, partly because I knew a few people got sick after getting it but mostly because I was lazy and didn’t have much motivation to look into. This year I was required to get vaccinated for work so I got both the regular seasonal flu shot as well as the H1N1 nasal mist vaccine. No side effects, but we’ll have to wait and see if I make it through flu season without getting sick!

  12. I am planning on getting the H1N1 vaccine if I can. My mom works in the medical fields – she asked an infectious disease doctor about my case specifically (mid-20s, not pregnant, no pre-existing conditions) if I should get the vaccine, and he said yes. So I’m going to try to get it, especially because young people have so little immunity to this disease.

    And I’ve been a hand-washing fanatic!

  13. Chrysogenum:

    I’m from Sweden and I would never base any sort of health related decision on articles published in the newspapers that is referred to in the text (Expressen and DN).
    Specially not Expressen since they tend to exaggerate health related issues.

    I will get the flu shot when it becomes available to the whole population , a decision I’ve reached after reading about the side effects of the flu shot and of the flu itself.
    (I am terrified of needles, so it might prove difficult to actually take the shot)

  14. Mari:

    I have gotten a flu shot every year for as long as I can remember, without any adverse reactions and without getting sick. Because I have a weakened immune system, I did request (and get) the swine flu vaccine. I’ve had no reaction whatsoever to the H1N1 vaccine, and am happy that I pursued it. I’d recommend it and my personal experience tells me that it’s safe.

  15. Geek in Heels:

    Hi everyone, thanks for all your responses and for sharing your experience with me!

    Just to be clear, I am NOT discouraging the flu shot, the H1N1 vaccine, or vaccinations in general. I was just voicing my fears (and my enhanced paranoia from insomnia) when I discovered these stories, because I never knew there existed conspiracy theories on vaccinations!

    I probably will end up getting the H1N1 vaccine, mostly because I’m very susceptible to colds and flus every winter (and spring…and fall..and even summer!). I encourage everyone to make their own educated decisions the same.

  16. I am in my mid-20s and am 34 weeks pregnant — our county is battling a severe shortage, but I was lucky enough to get on the list for pregnant women and received my shot two weeks ago. I had zero side effects except for feeling safer when I’m around the rest of the world who haven’t had the chance to get vaccinated yet. My mom works in the ICU, and she has two previously healthy women who are expected to die from H1N1 and a healthy man who may still recover — all in their 20s.

    If you’re pregnant, I truly believe getting the vaccine is the most responsible thing to do. According to my OB, the CDC and a pediatrician friend, not only does that vaccine protect moms, but also the baby once it’s born as it will inherit some of mom’s antibodies for up to six months after birth.

  17. Donna:

    I unfortunately got a mild case of the swine flu last month and I was unable to get the shot. Which I am still not feeling 100% yet myself from. I have a stuffy nose, itchy red eyes, sore throat, and one hell of a cough. (only relief I find is with my allergy medication Flonase over the counter. I do have a 6 month old daughter who is staying at her grandparents home because I am waiting for the children s H1N1 shots to come out. ( I live in Florida) Im scared she might catch it and its sad she is away form me but at least shes safe.

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