My thoughts*

Let’s Whine About Swine*

You know, I had absolutely no idea how to begin this post.

I wrote the title, then sat here and stared at a blank screen for nearly 15 minutes before giving up and saving the entry (aka: nothing). I opened it again today to try and write it, but I couldn’t think of a creative way to begin an entry about a subject that has been completely monopolizing the media for months on end. Swine flu this, H1N1 that.

We always seem to follow the same cycle: people get sick, the media splashes it all over every format possible, we panic, life goes on, we forget. Repeat for new illness.

Remember SARS? The epidemic we thought would never leave and would permanently change the face of Toronto’s tourism industry? I’m guessing that you probably just nodded your head and thought something along the lines of, “Oh yeah… I forgot about that!”

I think a lot of people have. Its the cycle, and it’s been six years since the SARS outbreak. Have you been to Toronto recently? It suffered a bit of a blow for a while, but it’s still the same, bustling, vibrant city we know and love. Besides, we have the swine to whine about now.

I will say this though, I believe that some positives have come out of all this hype… people are learning about the importance of washing their hands properly and often and are making good use of hand sanitizer! I hear teachers and parents preaching at their students / children about coughing into elbows instead of hands, so maybe by the end of this some personal improvements will have been made!

Anyhoo. Back to business.

Last month the death of Evan Frustaglio, a healthy, 13-year-old hockey player from the GTA who contracted the flu over a weekend, rocked Ontario’s sense of security where H1N1 is involved. Shortly thereafter the vaccination was introduced and for a time people were in an absolute frenzy to be the first in line to get their shot. I was working the first day the clinics opened, and was listening to the vaccination updates on the radio over the course of the morning. Though they were open from 8am until 8pm, by 2:30 they were turning people away because the lines were too long. Let me clarify–that’s six and half hours in advance. Holy mother of pearl.

Things seem to have tapered off a bit since–they’ve opened the clinics to everyone (at first it was just priority groups) and the rush to get your arm poked seems to have dwindled.

So here’s the thing: I’m completely on the fence about it. I’m sure there are benefits to having it done–you know, like the whole not dying from it part–but I’m still really leery. With videos like this floating around facebook, what’s a girl to think?

See what I mean? I know it wasn’t the H1N1 shot, but still. *sigh*

And then there was the whole recall in Ottawa due to several adverse allergic reactions to the vaccination… now I realize that a reaction like that is a one-in-a-million chance, but still. It’s something to consider.

I know being vaccinated for H1N1 is probably a good thing, but I guess I’m concerned that it’s still so… new. I’m also not someone who is prone to get the flu–I think I’ve had it once in the past 10 years–so I’m not in a huge rush. The Hubster also makes me take vitamins so I pretend I’m immune. :)

So what do YOU think? Are you getting the H1N1 vaccine?

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  • Miss Gentle Nudge

    I got the shot last week but mostly only because my dad made me! I have asthma, so I was in the priority group and after he talked to a family friend in the states..who happens to be one of the top ICU guys in the world (no joke either), my dad was convinced that it was a good thing to have. The ICU doctor is someone who doesn't bull shit and wouldn't recommend anything unless he fully believed it, so once my dad got the heads up from him, he basically said i had no choice and had to get it. I'm fine with the decision now because it's better save than sorry, and it's just an extra security blanket to have when everyone around you is coughing and burning up with a fever.

  • misellebee

    That cheerleader got the seasonal flu shot, not the H1N1 shot.

    I've been talking to a bunch of nurses and doctors about this. I didn't get the flu shot by the way. I wasn't able to (it was limited to only high-risk groups) and then I got H1N1. Now I have immunity against getting it again.

    What I've heard is that unlike the normal flu, we don't have immunity to this one right away. There was a similar strain that some of the older people may have contracted years ago (1968 I believe), so that's why it hasn't been as bad as usual for older people. Also, it acts differently than the normal flu. Instead of getting a fever to show you've contracted it, you get cold like symptoms (especially the cough) first. This is why it's so bad for asthmatics. It attacks your respiratory system. The fever comes a bit later. Your chances of getting pneumonia are much higher.

    One nurse I talked to said, “Chances are the shot won't kill you, but H1N1 might.” It's the cases where people are perfectly healthy and they have no explanation as to why they contracted it and died that has medical professionals worried.

  • KristinaP

    I have never gotten a flu shot in my life. I think that people can be TOO careful, honestly. I am careful to wash my hands, but I never use hand sanitizer, and I rarely get sick. All my coworkers that wash their hands and use sanitizer every five seconds are the ones who get sick.

  • Erin

    I've only had a flu shot once before…and I ended up in the hospital I was so sick from it. So, I don't get flu shots, and I can honestly say that, even as a teacher, I've never had the flu.

    Hold on, I have to go knock on wood.

    So, for now, I'm not getting the H1N1 shot. IF I get pregnant, however, I will get the shot. The mortality rate for pregnant women who get H1N1 is 38%!

  • Erin

    I got the vaccine, I was considered high risk because I work with the homeless. But then again, I come from a family of health care workers and I've been forced to get the flu shot for so many years that now it's automatic. For me it wasn't even a question, all of the health care professionals are getting it and they are the experts on it.

  • jenny

    my mom and beckys mom both says that the media are catastrophizing it and that they dont understand the flu shot and how it works and that there isn't anything to worry about if that easest your fears.

  • cat

    I will not get a flu shot, H1N1 or otherwise. I used to work in a medical office and the one year they offered flu shots (not H1N1) everyone but me and a couple of other people out of 50 some odd employees got the flu. I did not get the shot. I've had the flu 3 times in 27 years. Those are better odds to me.

  • Girl w/the Red Hair

    I plan on getting the vaccine next weekend. All my friends got it this weekend and it seems to have made them really fatigued but other then that they're fine.

    The thing is, if you don't get the shot there is a possibility that you already have H1N1 and are passing it on to other people. Some people with strong immune systems get the virus without having any of the symptoms, but they can still pass it on.

    I think getting the vaccine is a very personal choice, though.

  • Classroom Confessions

    That video is hard to believe. I've never gotten a flu shot as an adult and I certainly don't plan on it now. I think that a huge reason these super viruses are coming out is because we are over vaccinated as a society and new strands have developed. Some people swear by them though, and I'm not doctor, I can say that I won't be getting one. I agree, it's a personal choice and you have to weigh the costs and benefits.

  • kylaroma

    I'm seriously considering getting the shot, just because we don't have the immunity for it yet and we're all very likely to come into contact with someone who has it. I'm just one of those people who is susceptible to these things & I don't want to take any chances!

  • Janet

    I'm not getting the shot. Not the regular flu shot or the H1N1. I just kind of don't buy into all the hype. I got the flu shot one time in my life, and that year I got the flu worse than I've ever had before or since. I wash my hands constantly. Gargle with Listerine. Take Airborne at the first sign of anything. So far so good.

  • Red

    If you want to get it, get it. I had the H1N1, though, and besides it SUCKING it's just the flu. I mean, a different strain, but it's a different strain every year – that's why they're constantly vaccinating everyone every year. THIS one has just had way more hype because it's hitting the population(s) we're not used to being affected by it. The 13 year old, from my understanding, not to pay ANY disrespect, died because he KEPT PLAYING HOCKEY even though he had the flu, and developed pneumonia.

    If I HADN'T gotten H1N1 I probably wouldn't have bothered to be vaccinated – I never get the flu shot. BUT I thought it was pretty interesting – I'm taking a class on health promotion right now with a guy who's like, besides being a prof, professionally IN the know with these infectious diseases and vaccines and what-not, and HE points out to us that there hasn't been enough time to KNOW what the effects of the H1N1 vaccine are…making us all not want to get it…then when we flat out asked him he said he'd get it. So…..there you go. My Prof, who I'd trust over anyone else on this, would get it. I would not. hahaha


  • Holly

    My husband and I both got the shot. I'm pregnant, and have been feeling so breathless that I can't imagine having the flu and having an even greater reduced lung capacity than I'm already experiencing. Also, I didn't like the idea of passing the flu on to my baby once he's born.

    My take on it is that modern inventions like vaccinations save lives. There are risks with getting the flu shot, sure, but the chance of those one in a million side effects happening are small in comparison to the chance that you'll die from the flu itself. Thousands of people die from influenza each year and that rate is much higher than the people who experience adverse side effects to the vaccination. I'm grateful for the hype (though not for any lost sleep over it) if only for the fact that I'm now more educated and don't underestimate what these illnesses can do.

    In addition to all this, my aunt is currently in an ICU unit in the hospital with H1N1, hooked up to a respirator and with double pneumonia. I'm worried for her, and it makes me all the more grateful and glad that I have the shot. Also, now I don't have to freak out when someone sneezes near me. Peace of mind is a blessed thing

  • Meg

    I usually get a regular flu shot because my various medical disorders make me high risk. I didn't get the h1n1 vaccine, but I'm kind of wishing I had, because I got h1n1 and it was pretty miserable. I understand people not getting either vaccine, though. If I didn't have an increased risk of dying from the flu I probably wouldn't bother. The flu sucks, but it's not the worst thing ever. I try not to think about it, but the shot makes me a little nervous, what with the funky things that occasionally happen.

  • curiousillusion

    So… I was totally impartial towards the shot. I don't like getting shots that haven't been out long (although that's not to say I haven't gone down that road before), plus I didn't think it would affect me.

    Then a few students (not in my class but in my school) started getting sick with h1n1 and I got nervous… but a few days later, they were cleared to come back.

    Then this weekend I started getting sick. And that made me nervous. But I'm okay now.

    So… I dont know. I think if I were high risk, I'd think about it a lot more seriously. As it is, no kids have been out with the flu lately so I'm relaxing about it.

  • Erin

    Nope. I'm fine taking my chances. I've never had the seasonal flu shot – or the seasonal flu.

    Besides, four girls at my doctors office miscarried the day after they got the shot (in their first trimester). To me, the what-ifs just outweigh any possible benefit right now, even though I'm in a high risk group…that and my doc won't even give the shot to her patients because she doesn't think it's been thoroughly researched.

  • Tellie

    I thought about getting the shot since I'm really prone to getting the flu but I've been scared out of getting. I haven't caught the flu yet, so so far so good!

  • Shop Girl*

    Oh no–you actually had it? You poor thing, I'm glad you're alright!

    And I feel the same way… all this hype surrounding it makes me so nervous! I want to make the right decision, but it's hard to know which way to go. *sigh*

  • Shop Girl*

    You make a good point–maybe if I DID just go for it I'd have some peace of mind, even just for making a decision one way or another! Thanks for your input; I hope your aunt pulls through okay!

  • Shop Girl*

    When you say “it's just the flu”, what do you mean? All I remember from the last time I had it (it's been at least 10+ years) was being tired, hot/cold and puking. Ew.

    And so wait–your prof preached against the vaccine, but then said he'd go get it? haha That does wonders for my peace of mind! ;)

  • Shop Girl*

    That's what I've heard from several people who've gotten flu shots in the past! I hate being sick, and I just want to avoid it at all cost… and I can't decide if getting or not getting the shot will help me achieve that! haha

  • Shop Girl*

    That's a very good point… I hadn't considered our lack of immunity to it. I wonder though, do you think it matters at all if I'm fairly immune to the regular flu (I've had it once in 10+ years)? Or is H1N1 so powerful that it kinda gets to anyone?

  • Shop Girl*

    Isn't the video CRAZY? The running backwards and speaking bit totally threw me for a loop!

    And I've heard that–that we are the ones creating these super strains because we keep getting vaccinated against weaker strains. *sigh* Can't they just go away?

  • Shop Girl*

    Can I ask how long the fatigue lasted? A couple of hours or a couple of days?

    And that last part–that I could have it and be passing it on–TERRIFIES me. It's really the only reason I even began considering the vaccine as I never get the regular one… I'd feel terrible if I passed it on to someone!

  • Shop Girl*

    That's very true, although I've heard that it's very subjective from doctor to doctor. Some swear by it, others against it. I wish they'd all just take a stance together! haha

  • Shop Girl*

    Lucky you! (Well, not the sickness = hospitalization part… that must have been terrible.)

    I had no idea the stats were that high for pregnant women! In that situation there would be absolutely no question.

  • Shop Girl*

    You know, I've actually heard that! Your immune system can weaken if you don't expose it to dirt and germs or something!

    You must be doing something right if you're avoiding sickness!

  • Shop Girl*

    You're right about the video–you must have commented just before I clarified! haha! You're quick–I usually post then edit as I read through! :)

    I think I read that there was a bout of Swine Flu in 1976 or something… scary to think it's happening again on a much larger scale!

    Thank you so much for your comment, I really like how that nurse phrased that statement. Hopefully none of us catch it!

  • dearjennymac

    I had the flu shot but am not getting the h1n1 shot…they railroaded it through the FDA in order to mass produce it for public availability…the lack of testing alone unnerves me. Makes me nervous for my kiddo though….both the risk of getting the vaccine and NOT getting the vaccine.