Tuesday, November 3, 2009

H1N1 Resolution

So after weeks of debating with my husband, asking for advice from friends and relatives, and researching what to do about this crazy H1N1 vaccine, I finally decided to leave it up to fate. As a little background, I think that getting immunized for polio, mumps, etc. is very important. I believe not doing so encourages the possibility of these now defunct (in the US) diseases making a return. I think it's important to be aware of the correlation between vaccines and autism, but avoiding the ones with mercury is a better option than not getting vaccinated at this point. However, when it comes to vaccines for the flu and the chicken pox, I'm not a big believer. Yes, those diseases can be deadly. However, it is such a small percentage, that I don't think it warrants it. Sure they're unpleasant to have, but really not that big of a deal in my mind. Plus, especially for the flu which already mutates every year, I fear it contributes to the possibility of a "superbug". I am not a scientist, and I'm sure there are those who think I have done just enough research to be dangerous, but that's where I'm coming from at this point. So with the fear of an H1N1 swine flu pandemic, I initially thought it was being blown out of proportion. Actually I still do, and I wouldn't even have considered getting the vaccine, but the thing is, this year, it's not just about me. I'm 9 months pregnant and mother to a toddler. But even though they've been talking about it for months, there weren't vaccines available, so it was a moot point. I actually hoped they wouldn't be available until after I delivered on November 10th so I wouldn't have to make a decision.

Then on the nightly local news on Tuesday, October 20th, they showed the first batch of vaccines available in northeastern Kansas being dispersed to health care workers in Leavenworth. There had been one other clinic set up for children 6mos - 3 years on the Missouri side of KC a few days before. Other than that, I didn't know of anywhere that had them. I had checked our pediatrician's website, and they had not received their doses yet. My OB hadn't either. And no one I knew had gotten one. So Wednesday afternoon when I decided to make the call to my primary care physician, just to check on when they expected to get them in, I was not prepared when they said, yes, we have them, and as a pregnant patient, you are one of the people on the list. Come in ASAP! So Thursday morning, October 22nd, I headed to the doctor's office feeling confident that it was divine providence that I was getting immunized. As I am such a big fan of needles (see previous posts), while I was there, I was mostly focused on the actual act of the shot, not so much the impact of what it meant.

Until I walked out the door, and I was overwhelmed with regret.

All the doubts I'd had about it came flooding into my mind as I pressed the elevator button. It's going to cause some unknown neurological disorder that we won't know about until the baby is 5, etc. By the time I reached the ground floor, I was almost in tears. But there was no going back. I got to my office, and saw on the cover of Wired magazine that there was an article about vaccines and how important they are. I read it at lunch, and to sum up, basically it said that people who don't get them are idiots. It was definitely on an extreme end of the spectrum, and I certainly didn't agree with all of it, but it did assuage my fears a bit. OK, problem solved, no point in worrying about it anymore, right?

Except for our toddler. What to do for her?

I really didn't want to get it for her. But then I thought what if my husband (who is at the bottom of the list of people who are eligible and so most likely won't be able to be vaccinated at all) gets it, and brings it home, and I've left her vulnerable to it, and the worst case scenario plays out. Again, back and forth with my thoughts. Checked the ped's website again. They'd gotten a batch in, but were out again. Check back next Tuesday. So I left it in God's hands again.

Halloween morning, my mother-in-law called my husband and told him she was waiting in line at the Johnson County health center to get the vaccination. Because she would be around a newborn, she was eligible, and so was he. So he decided to go check out the line after he finished running his errands. S and I were out running our own errands, and he called when we were across the street at the car wash to say we could come over and get the vaccine for our daughter. So we went. There were only 1200 doses available. The line at 8am had been out the door, through the parking lot, around the corner and down the street. It was 10:30am by now, and the line was only to the back of the parking lot, but still hundreds of people had gone through, so how many doses did they have left? The couple behind me was talking about it, and the man said he wouldn't be too disappointed if they ran out. I told him I agreed, and we started talking about our indecisiveness about whether or not to get immunized.

After waiting in line for an hour, we completed the paperwork for my husband and our 2-year-old, and were initially told my husband was ineligible because there was not a newborn in the house. I told her I was due in 10 days, and she told us to go ahead. Then we got to the station, and the nurse said 10 days didn't count, he couldn't get one, but S could. I started to panic - I didn't want her to get it if he didn't. I felt like this was a sign that it was the wrong decision. She called the supervisor over, who gave the ok for DH, though, and then it all happened so fast, I didn't really have time to question it again.

So after weeks of worry, and some post-decision regret, I've come to terms with it. There's no going back. All we can do now is pray that it was the right decision and none of us suffer any ill consequences. And I'm sure when the girls are teenagers, we'll look back and laugh, and think, why were we so worked up about something so insignificant? At least that's how I'm hoping things will turn out.

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