Why should(n't) I get the H1N1 vaccine?

I’m a healthy 25-40 year old who is not otherwise in a risk group (and who does not regularly come into contact with risk groups), and I’ve never had the flu in my life that I can remember, and never gotten a flu shot. So I was startled when my mom calls me out of the blue and suggests it (possibly because my sister and brother in law most likely got them in order to care for my young nephews). I’ve put off/forgotten about it for quite a while, until I saw a local public health clinic giving out the shots for free.

I’ve looked over the old thread/poll and the pros and cons on the sheet given. The only one that jumps out at me is about the Gullian-Barre Syndrome; I know it’s not been connected to the current vaccine, but when I was a kid, I read a Reader’s Digest digest from a book on a woman who went through it. It was quite the trauma for a young mind! That and complications in general make this not a automatic “yes.”

So what do you all think? How should I make this decision? How did you make yours?

I am also in the low risk group for flu. We are offered free flu vaccinations every year at work in April at the start of the normal flu season.

I know there are some risks, but I think they’re insignificant compared with the protection provided. So I get the vaccination every year. Late last year we were also offered free H1N1 vaccinations, out-of-season, so to speak. I got that one too.

Why you may want to: Flu sucks.

A few years back I watched my physically strong, healthy, never had influenza, doesn’t have contact with high-risk groups husband get absolutely knocked on his ass by seasonal influenza. (Confirmed by antibody test.) Most of the time he could only sit on the couch, bundled in heavy blankets, sip a little soup, do a little perusing the web on his laptop if he was feeling sort of OK, and slowly trudge to the bathroom or to bed. Sometimes he’d be almost panting from fever, or shivering so hard from chills that I could see him visibly shake through many layers of blankets. In a decent-feeling moment, he tried to wash a few dishes, and collapsed to his knees on the kitchen floor. He ended up pretty much crawling to bed.

I, fortunately, had received the vaccine, since I worked with immunocompromised patients at my workplace. It matched the strain that he had - I never got the least bit sick, and good thing, because I took care of him during the flu, making food for him, bringing fluids and medicine, etc.

H1N1 seems to be worse for younger types than the seasonal flu is. I’d rather not mess with it, and we don’t know if it’ll come back after the usual flu’s season, like it came around last year.

I was in a Jewel/Osco in Chicago and the H1N1 flu shot was now $10.00. This is down from a high of $25.00 I saw last Novemeber in Walgreens. I paid $18.00 for mine in December.

So I guess they have a lot of it remaining and want to get rid of it.

Well,they’re free, so cost isn’t an issue anymore.

The shots are not free because nothing is free. There’s no charge to those who get the shots when administered. The shots paid for in some other way. Our taxes pay for the shots when they’re given by government public health.

Here’s another poll about flu shots. http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=531739

I’m nearly 60, and I do have asthma, so theoretically my risk is elevated. But I haven’t gotten one because

  1. I never get flu. Cold, bronchitis, yes, once or twice a year. But not flu.

  2. The virulence and transmissibility of this year’s flu were uncertain.

I’ve gotten a flu shot very rarely. The last time in the past 20 years was for the bird flu in 2006. That was because there was good evidence for airborne transmission, and the mortality rate for confirmed cases was 60 percent (although there’s no way to know how many people were exposed and how many with mild cases didn’t go to a doctor). For the current strain, neither of those factors has turned out to be nearly as bad.

Also, if a true pandemic was averted, I figure the media would be trumpeting the success of the way the Obama administration handled it. They haven’t, so I guess there isn’t a huge story there, even taking into account that prevention generally isn’t headline news. (I’m not saying the handling was an overreaction, however.)

Worldwide deaths due to H1N1 so far: 8000-14000
Worldwide deaths due to seasonal flu: 250k-500k

Should you get it? Your call.

I would go ahead and get it if you’re under 30. My nephew caught it and was laid up for 8 days with 104.4-104.9 fever every night. This is a guy that spends 40 hours a week around dirt and grime and has a fantastic immune system.

H1N1 may not be any worse than regular old flu, but it apparently does suck extra hard for young folks.

I won’t get it because the H1N1 flu is no big deal to get. I don’t really trust the vaccine, I don’t know why. I pass on flu shots too.

A friend’s husband contracted H1N1 last fall. He’s in his mid-50’s, overweight but a non-smoker. I don’t know if he has any health issues – I’m thinking probably not, because he’s worked steady at the same physically demanding job for many years. The flu put him in the hospital for a month, and for a week of that he was in a medically-induced coma. He went from the hospital to a rehab/therapy place for another month. He’s home now, but has respiratory and physical therapy twice a week and has taken early retirement because his lungs are shot.

If a vaccine can prevent something like that from happening, why not take it?

Like you I am a healthy 25-40 year old not in any risk group, don’t hang out with high-risk folks and had never gotten either the flu or a flu shot before.

This time around I went ahead and had both regular and H1N1 flu shots. Couple of reasons.

Listened to an interview on NPR with a doctor (from the CDC? Health Department? Something like that) and he recommended it. Same doctor discussed difference between what many people think of as the flu (sniffles, touch of nausea) and actual influenza (you will never, ever want to be that sick again in your life).

I work in a big office. People are always trying to “tough it out” and work while they’re sick so people are walking around coughing, sneezing, etc. I do IT work so I’m in their offices, handling their keyboard, mouse, Blackberry, etc. We had a whole department come down with some kind of raging diarrhea one week. So I was very careful to take other precautions (wash up a lot, use hand sanitizer), flu shots are another layer of protection.

Cheap and convenient. The firm makes flu shots available in the office (just down the hall from me) so for $10 and 5 minutes of my time I’m done.

I don’t know why you would say it’s no big deal to get. It’s killed a lot of people, at least in certain categories. It’s deadly to pregnant women and children, for example.

One of the reasons I’m asking, BTW, is that since I’ve never had a flu shot, I don’t know if I’d have any adverse reaction to it (though I don’t know of any major allergies either - but then, is there any ingredient of the vaccine that I would never be commonly exposed to except in the vaccine?).

Plus, the whole Gullian-Barre Syndrome thing, which as I said, is a big childhood trauma/phobia. :slight_smile:

Actually the H1N1 vaccine is free for everyone, what you’re paying for is the “admin fee,” at places like Walgreens and CVS etc.

I tried to get it for free in Chicago, but there were never any openings. They only had six city colleges in Chicago to get them and it was first come first serve. And you never knew when they got them. Like they’d say “Vaccines from 2pm to 8pm” I went at 2pm and they didn’t have any vaccine. The guy was like, maybe we’ll get some at 5pm. So I came back at 5pm, still none, I came back at 6pm and the guy said, “The vaccine came at 5:30pm and it’s gone for today.”

After I waited all Saturday, I quit. I figured I already spent $8.00 on bus and train fare to wait around and NOT get a free shot, I should’ve paid for it to begin with :slight_smile:

They’ll ask you some questions before you get a flu shot. The big one IIRC is “are you allergic to chicken eggs” - I think the vaccine is incubated in eggs.

Here’s a good place to start, the Centers For Disease Control:


I saw that (or an equivalent). As I said, it’s tough to be confident when two of those questions are predicated on having gotten a flu shot before. Are first timers recommended to “fly blind,” as it were?

ETA: Or are those items simply for exclusion purposes, a sort of “well, this should be obvious, but people who’ve gotten really sick from this shot shouldn’t take it”?

We don’t know if this generation of the virus is done yet, or not. It’d be stupid to be doing a lot of back-patting over stopping H1N1 if it flares up again this spring/summer.

People also need to take into account their relative risk. The seasonal influenza usually kills the immunocompromised and the elderly. Most people figure, eh, that’s expected. H1N1 was killing or seriously incapacitating a much younger group.

A friend of mine went through Gullian-Barre Syndrome after a flu shot and it almost killed her. She couldn’t walk and was in rehab for months. She is in her 70’s which probably saved her life. Her own immunity to the various flus.

I also have a great immune system and am older then the target group for H1N1. I don’t trust the CDC. This is just for me and people should do what they feel is best for them.

Aside from not wanting to infect fellow staff/patients at the hospitals where I work, I’ve gotten annual flu shots (including H1N1 this past year) regularly because I don’t want to get sick as a dog if I can avoid it cheaply and safely.

Plus, all the heavy metals/antifreeze/lizard noses/aborted fetuses that the antivaxers tell me are in the shots help juice up my bloodstream and keep me going on cold days.

I’m not in a high risk group, but spend a lot of time around young people in the high risk group. I was eager to get the vaccine. The ones who have gotten it have been really miserable. One perfectly healthy young woman in the area died from it after a lengthy hospitalization. I’ve got too much to do to just write off 2 weeks of my life, which is about what has happened when I’ve gotten the flu before.

Another factor is that it is possible that the flu will mutate in such a way that it becomes more serious but is still prevented by the vaccine. True, there are other ways it could mutate where the vaccine wouldn’t matter, but if it did take that particular turn, demand for the vaccine would suddenly go way up, and you’d be glad to have gotten it already.

ETA: You are somewhat more likely to get side effects from the flu vaccine the first time you get it. These are about as bad as having a cold for a day. Maybe some soreness in the arm. Not really a big deal. Guillaine-Barre is about a 1 in a million possibility. Anaphylaxis is also a small possibility, although if you’ve never had the vaccine before they usually make you stay around for a few minutes afterwards, since if that’s going to happen it is usually immediately after the shot.

ETA 2: The flu is also a risk factor for Guillaine-Barre.

I got both the seasonal and the hini because I could.