Monday, November 9, 2009

A hard choice to make... H1N1 vaccine

So you can class me into that group of people out there that do not fully believe in innoculating or medicating for everything.  I don't take headache medication unless I'm almost blind with pain.  And I have lived through a stage of migranes so bad that I even met with a neurologist who did some simple tests to check for a brain tumor (maybe I'm a little bit of a hypocondriac, but not medicated!!).

 When my son was going through his first two years of life and innoculations seemed to happen every couple of months, I voiced my opinion to my wife about the Chickenpox vaccine.  My fear about autism being diagnosed in children after receiving the chicken pox vaccine was overwhelming, but because William's doctor is my wife's doctor, his opinion prevailed, as well as the school board apparently making it mandatory for anyone entering grade primary to have it.  Do not get me started on why the school board can dictate that our children get innoculated against an infection most of my generation lived through without much more than a rash. 

And now we are faced with the pandemic known as H1N1, or the swine flu.  The propoganda on all media say that we should all be vaccinated because the waves of illness are swift and potentially fatal.  FATAL.  If that is not enough to make you wake up and stand in line for a needle at 4am then you're probably like me.  You have probably read horror stories from the 70s when this flu last made it's round and the vaccine at that time caused neurological problems in some recipients.  You have probably heard that this flu is no more fatal than the regular seasonal flu, but it's the different segment of the public that is becoming ill.  And you have probably heard that the government has agreed with the manufacturer of that vaccine that there will be no legal suits filed against the manufacturer of the vaccine for any negative effects it will cause in the public.  That last statement is probably the one that causes me the most fear.

But I also hear the stories of children, apparently in perfect health, falling ill quickly and fatally.  It is terrifying.  I emailed my ex-wife-to-be and told her to please speak with me before she ever got him vaccinated.  We emailed back and forth some news articles and then I relented and told her that I was okay with having him receive the needle.  My reasoning?  I could never live with William getting sick or dying because of my decision, even if it was because I didn't want any potential side-effects to harm him.  I basically agreed out of fear of regret.

And then I turn around and maintain the idea that the vaccine is probably unnessary and that once restrictions on who can be vaccinated are removed, I will not be someone who gets the vaccine.  Is that hypocritical or what?  I have to state that if I was William's only parent I would probably not have had the needle administered.  I would have watched him very closely for signs, and probably kept him home from school until the waves of illness were passed. 

Sidenote:  My employer is being progressive in their thinking and established an H1N1 policy.  If you or anyone in your home becomes infected you have to stay home until it is cleared, regardless of vacation or sick time remaining.  And if it's someone in your household they will try and make arrangements for you to be able to work from home.  Sign of the times?  I hope not.

I think our government has put us in a very vulnerable place.  They have played on our fears and forced us to make a choice on an issue that may have grave consequences for countless Canadians (besides the other countries around the world).  And that choice, for children under five, had to be made very quickly, or we may miss out on having them receive the needle before the supply runs out or they become sick with this potentially fatal virus.

I hope I made the right choice.  I also hope that this is the last pandemic we see, but I fear it is far from the end.  We are living in global times where there are people flying from every city everyday, that probably are hosts to diseases our systems would never have encountered even 50 years ago.  As a parent that is one of the most scary things we now face.  It, for the time being, has out-shadowed my concern for the environment.  Survival may not be claimed by rising temperatures but instead the flu.  

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