There’s been a lot of chatter out there in the blogosphere, on Twitter and on Facebook about the H1N1 vaccine. Most of the chatter I’ve heard from everyday citizens is against vaccination, and I understand their hesitance to get a new vaccine for their children. However, my midwife, doctors, and the scientific agencies that I trust all recommend getting vaccinated when the vaccine becomes available to you. I did a lot of research, and my decision was to get vaccinated.
I am in a high-risk group, which is why the vaccine was even available to me right now. Due to the fact that pregnant women are more likely to have a severe case of H1N1 or even die, I wanted to get the vaccine. I also feel that I’m in an unofficial high-risk group: teachers. Schools in neighboring towns have closed due to the number of students and staff who are sick with “flu-like” symptoms. While I have made it a habit to wash my hands regularly and clean desk tops, I feel much safer going to work now that I’ve been vaccinated.
One of the big arguments I’ve heard against getting the vaccine is that it contains thimerosal. That’s not entirely true. I won’t get into the whole debate here, but thimerosal is a preservative/anti-fungal that is suspected to contribute to the rise in Autism. While I’ve done a bit of research, and in my opinion there’s not definitive scientific evidence of the link between thimerosal and Autism, the precautionary principle makes me want to avoid it anyway. The vaccine that I got is a single-use vaccine, which comes in a plastic one-time use syringe. It doesn’t look like a normal syringe. The nasal version doesn’t have thimerosal, either. However, multi-dose vials contain thimerosal as a preservative, since syringes will be filled from the vial multiple times. If you want to avoid thimerosal, get the single-use vaccine or the nasal vaccine. Keep in mind that the nasal vaccine is not available to pregnant women because it contains weakened live virus, while the injected vaccine contains dead virus. Since the H1N1 vaccine is manufactured in the same way as the seasonal flu vaccine, I felt comfortable getting the shot.
My decision to get both the seasonal flu shot and the H1N1 vaccine was due to my pregnancy. I’ve never gotten a flu vaccine before, and if I wasn’t pregnant, I probably wouldn’t get one this year. However, this isn’t any normal flu season, and I made the decision that I believe is best for me and for my baby. When it comes to the H1N1 vaccine, everyone needs to do their own research and decide what’s best for their family.