H1N1 Vaccine--Is there reason to be more concerned with it than the flu itself?

I am in the population that is #2 (with healthcare workers #1) on the list the CDC recommends gets the H1N1 vaccine: I am pregnant. In fact, I’m in my second trimester, and 2nd and 3rd trimester preggos are at greater risk than 1st trimester. Now, add to that I am a teacher and interact with 100 or so kiddos each day, and I would seem a prime candidate. FTR, one of the schools in our district had a 6th grader who reportedly died from the H1N1 virus; while the CDC has not listed him as a confirmed death (he’s listed as “possible”), the media was of course all over it.

What has surprised me, however, is a pregnancy message board I frequent had a recent poll about the swine flu and this vaccine, and by far more ladies were saying they would NOT get the vaccine than would. The most common reason given was the vaccine is untested, and hasn’t been proven safe enough for their comfort. A few quote the 1976 swine flu vaccine that resulted in 500 who did get vaccinated coming down with a rare neurodegenerative condition called Guillain-Barre syndrome. There is concern that, being preggos, we’ve all been told to be extremely careful what we put in our body. An untested vaccine is worrisome to them.

Others have said that they don’t get flu shots, as they always get sick after receiving the flu shot and/or don’t think it works.

So, whereas I was once eager to get the vaccine ASAP, now I am confused. I am, admittedly, concerned about being injected with a vaccine that was rushed into production, but I also don’t want to suffer the consequences of not being vaccinated.

I’d put this in GQ, but I’m not sure this is a black and white, factual question. I’m looking for input and clarification; my instinct is the women on the preggo board are being distracted by anecdotal and/or old data that is influenced by the fear some of them have of the government. Then again, the 1976 fiasco is a real event, so that is understandable.

It’s not untested: http://www3.niaid.nih.gov/news/QA/vteuH1N1qa.htm

Guillain-Barre was considered to be a pathological reaction to that vaccine; the typical chance of contracting the disease after any flu vaccination (not necessarily as a result of getting the vaccine) is about 1 in 1 million.

Some people do experience side effects after a vaccination that are similar to a cold or flu, and automatically assume that means the vaccine did not work or that it actually gave them the flu. This isn’t the case.

Sometimes the vaccine doesn’t work. Among other reasons, health agencies have to predict a year or so in advance what strains of the flu will be most common that season, then the pharmaceutical companies start working on the vaccine. They may have predicted wrong. One or more strains may have mutated in the meantime. Or, you may get the vaccine too late and have been exposed already (leading to more assumptions that the vaccine causes the disease).

Anecdotes mean nothing in the face of decades of scientific research and data, but I’ll add this if it helps you - a few years back my husband got influenza (antibody-confirmed and everything). I had received the vaccination as I work in a hospital. I remained perfectly healthy and was able to care for him. He definitely needed it, as my otherwise extremely healthy, almost-never-gets-a-cold husband was laid up on the couch, able to only slowly stagger or even crawl to his bed or to the bathroom, shivering visibly under many layers of blankets and running a huge fever.

The flu is not something to take lightly. Regular old yearly influenza kills, on average, 36,000 people and hospitalizes over 200,000 more, in the US alone.

flu.gov should have more info for you.

I’d dismiss the folks who say they “don’t get flu shots, as they always get sick after receiving the flu shot and/or don’t think it works.” If they got sick just after getting the shot, it hadn’t had time to work. Or they really didn’t have influenza–which is not a very bad cold or simple GI distress. Or they got flu (medically verified) that wasn’t the strain in that year’s shot–this does happen. We’re offered free flu shots at work; I doubt the company would go to all that expense, year after year, if the things didn’t work most of the time.

However, in your condition, I can understand your concern about this particular strain. Let’s hope you can find some specific data. Nothing “faith based.”

My midwife told me that I should get the usual dead virus vaccine, but not the live virus or “flu mist”. I’ve heard no unusual RELIABLE information that would say don’t get it this year. Pregnant women and the unborn are at risk for complications not usual in most populations, which is why we’re on the #2 slot. I’ll be standing in line as soon as it comes out.

I get sick after flu shots, but it’s usually a sore arm and a bad headache. I take Tylenol before the shot now, and I haven’t had as much trouble since I started doing that. And no, the shot doesn’t always work. That’s part of the problem with having to make a long-term projection (read: guess) about which strains are likely to cause trouble the next fall and winter. They don’t always get it right, or at least not completely right.

I’m on the list for the vaccine, being a medical technologist in the hospital and working with specimens. The hospital will be doing our shots for free, along with the seasonal flu shot. This all starts next week, as far as I understand it, and I’ll be at the employee health office with my sleeve rolled up.

The way I see it, I’m going to be working in a hospital through a (likely) bad flu season. It makes sense to be prepared, not only to keep myself healthy and able to work and help diagnose others, but also to keep me from bringing the flu home to my family, most of whom will be unlikely to get the swine flu vaccine.

As a counter point see this article. A pregnant woman in Columbus died from H1N1, her baby survived. Now, pregnant women are looking to get vaccinated. I am not one to scare easily, but I am making sure my whole family gets vaccinated this year for both types of flu.

Believe it or not, howye, that incident (though not the specific article) was referenced in the thread, as well as an anecdotal I-know-someone-who-got-it-and-died-but-the-baby-was-saved story, and in BOTH posts the ladies said they still would not be getting the vaccine.

I think the main concern the ladies on the preggo MB have, and their main legitimate concern IMO, is that this vaccine has not been tested on pregnant women, at least not as best that I can tell. Ferret Herder, I checked the link you provided on the clinical trials and saw that the groups tested included adults, children, and the elderly, but no pregnant women. Considering how differently things work in the body during these months, and how normally benign things can be harmful to the fetus, there seems to be a concern of, “But what will it do to me?”

It is my gut reaction that mathematically, odds are considerably in favor of me taking the vaccine vs. not. I have no clear numerical values, but I would assume the odds I come down with swine flu would be much shorter than the odds I suffer a negative reaction to the vaccine.

Speaking of numbers–when the news broke that pregnant women were topping the list of those susceptible to the H1N1 virus, they quoted statistics that 15 out of the 260 swine flu fatalities were pregnant women. Fifteen, in a country of 300 million (and several million preggos), is a very low number. Pregnant women represented 6% of the swine flu deaths, much higher than the 2% of the general population they comprise. But, again, 6% is a low number…and 15 is a very low number.

I asked my OB about safety, and he surprised me–he simply said we don’t know right now. That isn’t encouraging. Still think I should, but I’m not as “ACK! Gotta get it, gotta get it!” as I once was. Of course, my logic processor has been dipped in hormones and emotion, so it’s a bit harder to, um…think. :wink:

Well, here in the province of Quebec, health authorities have recommended that all pregnant school teachers go on leave.

Teachers also have priority on vaccines, though they will be getting a version that doesn’t contain the boosting adjuvant that would help stretch the number of vaccines available.

2 pregnant women died here in Quebec from the h1n1 flu.

Huh…going on leave. Another consideration. My official maternity leave would be around Thanksgiving-ish, unless my OB requires otherwise.

I’ve done a fair amount of reading this morning, and I am now going back to “I need to get this.” I remain in the minority on the pregnancy message board; I believe 3 out of 15 of us posting have said we’re getting it.

Those saying they will not be getting it are saying things along the lines of this poster:

FTR, this is what I posted at that forum, editing out the full-article quote I included since that isn’t appropriate here:

Not sure what any of them will do with that info, but hey. Like I said, I’m back to “I will be getting this vaccine.”

I suspect that whether it shows in what they write or not, at the end of the day, some of the ladies you’ve been interacting with just don’t believe that the likelihood of them encountering swine flu is all that high.

So why put yourself at risk (however slight) by knowingly exposing yourself to something unlikely?

You’ve looked at your life and decided that the chances of exposure to the H1N1 flu are too high for comfort, and you’d rather take a slight risk which should reduce the consequences of that exposure when it happens.

I think you’ve made a good choice for you, but that doesn’t make it the right choice for everyone.

As it happens, I’ve been vaccinated against seasonal flu for the first time this year. Several of my younger co-workers seem to think that getting a shot–any shot-- is in and of itself worse than getting the flu. So they aren’t getting it (It was free and not inconvenient for me or my co-workers–we work in retail, with a pharmacy, which distributed the shots to those who wanted them on Wednesday).

I’ll admit, I’m not sure that I’m really at enough risk for the flu to justify the risks of the vaccination (low as I believe them to be). And I may not bother with the H1N1 vaccine when the time comes. But the extent of “what, are you nuts? A shot! Ugh!” I was exposed to the other day made me want to roll my eyes and fear for the future.

Change is scary.

Fears about the H1N1 vaccine as detailed in the OP seem to stem from two basic sources - one, lingering memories/publicity about the swine flu vaccine program of '76 (an epidemic that never occurred and a vaccine that in a small percentage of cases produced a largely temporary, but scary neurological problem) - and two, general fears about vaccines promoted by antivaxers, particularly in reference to the debunked link between vaccines and autism.

We’ve learned from the problems in the '70s, and side effects from the current vaccine should be in line with the low incidence of problems with common flu and other vaccines in general. As a health care provider working in a hospital I should be at high priority for vaccine eligibility, and I’m definitely going to take advantage of it.

I respect the thought and consideration that Ruffian has given to this issue. In general, I have to say that H1N1 and other dangerous infectious diseases are exceptionally nasty things that you don’t want put in your body. Your body is constantly facing challenges from all sort of antigens and what vaccines present to your immune system is damned mild in comparison to viruses like H1N1.

I just love the logic of this one (from the pregnancy message board): “I don’t think I’ll be putting my two yr old in the childcare at the gym (although my 4yr old will go to preschool) and then once the baby is born, I won’t be taking her out in public for awhile.”

I’m sure the 4 year old won’t bring anything home…

I know, Jill. I know. Suffice it to say, a decade-plus at the SDMB has rather spoiled other MBs for me. Logic, grammar, spelling, research, data, etc. are quite…lacking. But, people are different, and I’m not omniscient (yet :wink: ), so I usually present my case (such as the post I copied and pasted above) and back out of a thread.

Similar vein of reasoning are the multiple threads IntelliGender over-the-counter gender determination test. Many girls were eager to run out and plop down their $35 for one, but research into its effectiveness (85% with perfect use according to the manufacturer…um, considering I have a 50% shot regardless, and consumer reviews showed the test much lower than 85%, I’ll pass). I skipped, but some did it for amusement’s sake, and some had more faith in it. Regardless, a current poll on the MB shows that it’s been 47% accurate with our particular sample…WORSE than just plain guessing. It’s basically a $35 wives’ tale.

Since my post, one more girl has posted saying she won’t be getting the shot (she rarely gets the flu, doesn’t get sick, etc.), and it seems the thread may be dead. Ah well. Hopefully someone read the links and got some more info–what they did with it is up to them.

I have to wonder if in a few months we won’t be all rallying behind one of Ours who comes down with H1N1.

Being a geezer type, I am a target for regular flu but not H1N1. So if I get a flu shot ,should I get both if offered ? I went 30 years without flu shots, but my wife always wants to get them now.

I recommend that my geezer patients get both. We just don’t know what H1N1 is going to do, but we do know that flu vaccines are pretty safe these days.

As a health-care provider, I’m getting both. I hope my family members will, too.

Hey, QtM, now I’m wondering how the disease vectors work in the semi-closed environment such as your workplace.

Care to enlighten us?

Pretty much the same way they work at boarding schools, military camps, summer camps and NFL training camps. Lots of close quarters leads to more transmission.

Even so, past influenza seasons have not put undue stresses on our resources.

sigh Another poster has commented since my post, emphatically stating she will not be getting the vaccine. She and her baby will not be a guinea pig, she said (among other things). She also said that thimerosal (the mercury-based preservative many point to as an autism cause–another topic for another day, I know) was supposed to be removed from all vaccines, but is still used in flu vaccines…etc., so forth, and so on. I’m just stunned how many of these girls (and most of them are 10 years younger than I) will not be getting the vaccine. It made me seriously question whether I should (thus my OP)–I didn’t anticipate being so significantly in the minority. I believe it’s now about 17 "No"s and 3 "yes"s right now. Most are not seeing swine flu as a threat; most think of it being like any normal flu; most don’t want to risk the vaccine; many think flu shots are useless anyway…etc.

It’s in stark contrast with the reading I’ve done. Again, have to wonder what effect this may have in the future.

Thimerosal content even in the flu vaccines that do contain it (not all do) is miniscule: http://cdc.gov/FLU/ABOUT/QA/thimerosal.htm

(Plus a major scientist involved in the thimerosal controversy uses a lot of junk science, including advocating a “castration drug” (Lupron) to treat autism, and has been hit with a number of ethics and plagiarism allegations.)

You’re right, though, it’s very sad how many people are scared of this. Meanwhile, swine flu has already started up - over 2000 students at Washington State University have reported flu-like symptoms to their health service, and a 13-year-old boy just died from swine flu in Memphis.

Deep breath. You are seeing Message Board Behavior in action, more than you are seeing the anti-Vax future in motion. (Or at least, that’s my perception).

The thread you are reading and reacting to quickly tilted into a zone where people feel free to announce their reservations about this vaccine, their skepticism of the whole Swine Flu epidemic, even doubts about the efficacy or usefullness of the seasonal flue vaccine etc.

It’s hard to go against the flow, so others who are making the choice you are making are fairly likely to NOT post about it, but simply get the vaccine.

It’s human nature–annoying but mostly harmless. Get the vaccine, take reasonable precautions (wash your hands a lot), and try not to worry.

At work tonight, I was reading the handout I was offered the other day before my seasonal flu shot. Q:Who should get the seasonal flu vaccine? A: Anyone who doesn’t want to get the flu or pass it on to others. Especially These People: The Pregnant, etc.

The Swine flu vaccine will be the same way.