H1N1 is getting so much hype it is a scary thing. There is a lot of fear, uncertainty and doubt going around and some facts. For weeks we debated if our kids should get the vaccine. We are not against vaccines, so of you are then this is a whole different debate. As the threat became more and more real with people we knew getting it the debate heated up at out house. I was on the fence most of the time and thought I had made a final decision multiple times. I called the kids Dr. and got them on a waiting list. That added file yo the fire. Then we got the call that we were up. Time for a decision.
Up to this point I had looked up things casually to get informed but nothing that would make me feel good about any decision. So the first thing I did was turn to my social networks (Facebook and Twitter) to see what my friends were doing. Here were some of the responses I got.
Matt Hixson Has anyone given their kids the H1N1 vaccine? We hear things on both sides - don't know which to believe.
We opted NOT to get it for our boys. I don't feel like it's been adequately tested as compared to, say, the seasonal flu vaccine. I spent hours reading about it and for every source in favor of it, there is another against it. I'm worried about them getting H1N1 (or anything else for that matter) but I did not want to make a decision based on fear, but more on the facts as I understand them.
We have vaccinated our kids for both H1N1 and the reg strain. The decision is absolutely no different than whether to vaccinate your child for the regular strain. The H1N1 vaccine is just as stable and tested as prior annual vaccines. This season simply has two active strains with two vaccines.
All three have the standard vaccine, but not H1N1. We are in the same boat and haven’t committed to either side. Our pediatrician is in favor, but two friends one an ER MD and the other a GP have reservations. I know I said absolutely nothing to help, but thought you would feel better knowing that you are not the only fence rider.
As you can see the reponses were all over the place and these are my kids not someone elses. In writing this I found it interesting looking back that I had much more faith in Facebook due to the fact that these are people I personally know. I have not opened up my Facebook account to all people (yet).
I did get a private message on Facebook from a friend of mine who is an attorney at the FDA. He sent me this message
I can tell you that all of my FDA colleagues with kids have either already had them vaccinated for H1N1 or intend to do so. Some of those people personally worked on making sure the vaccine was safe and effective. If you want unbiased info, try this link: http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/PublicHealthFocus/ucm189691.htm
The letter is from the Commissioner of the FDA to the nations health care providers. It is worth the read. One of the most interesting points to me was that if they could have identified the H1N1 strain earlier it would have been part of the standard flu shot. Still to this point in my search there were no real facts.
I went to WebMD where they had a Dr. that had a write up on the vaccine that was helpful. Then I went to the CDC. They have a flu center that is dedicated to H1N1 and has real time stats. There are tons of pieces of real time data they are collecting. Much of the information was the same that was on WebMD and other places. There is nothing unsafe about the vaccine and it is the same risk profile as the regular seasonal flu. There are differences with this flu - it is spreading very very quickly and it is killing kids faster than the seasonal flu. Now, the only reason that this decision was tough for me is because I love my kids more than anything in the world and the last thing I want to do is make the wrong decision for them.
This is the graph that sealed the deal for me.
It shows the number of pediatric deaths over the last 3 years from the seasonal flu and the number of pediatric deaths from H1N1 this year. The last week of data on this graph is week 44 of the year. Week 44 in any of the past years did not even register. If you then take the graph and project out based on the historical trend for the flu things are going to get much worse.
I know this is a personal decision for everyone and not the easiest of ones but I wanted to share how we got to the point that our kids were vaccinated (ages - 5, 3, 11 months). I hope someone finds this helpful regardless of the decision you choose to make.