To vax, or not to vax? That is the question.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Good luck turning on the TV or visiting any vaguely news-related website without being bombarded about the latest conflicting swine flu reports. Get the vaccine! Don't get the vaccine! If you have flu-like symptoms, get to the emergency room! If you have flu-like symptoms, get to the designated H1N1 clinic! The message changes not just day to day, but hourly. I'm so confused I don't know what to do--I don't even know what the symptoms of swine flu are! And I don't think I'm the only one feeling this way.

I'm not an advocate of the flu shot under normal circumstances. I've never had one, and I'm from the school of "let your body fight it off" unless you fall into a high-risk category (people with compromised immune systems, the very young and the very elderly, those who work in health care, etc). I hate visiting the doctor and I prefer not to take any medication unless I'm really suffering. Even if I have a headache I'll try drinking some water or something with caffeine before taking an Advil.

But all the hype around swine flu definitely has me thinking about it more than I normally would. I'm still leaning towards not getting the vaccine and instead am trying to be extra diligent about washing my hands, avoiding touching surfaces that seem like they might be germy, keeping my hands away from my face, and so on, in hopes that those measures will be enough to help avoid catching H1N1. My gut instinct tells me not to worry, and my initial feeling--that swine flu was blown out of proportion to create a ton of panic--still holds true.

Still, there's a little bit of me that questions whether getting the vaccine would be a good idea. There's a niggling doubt that I'm putting myself in danger by not getting vaccinated. I tell that little voice to shut up, but it's hard to ignore.

For now, I choose to forgo the vaccine and see what happens, acknowledging the fact that it could be the stupidest choice I ever make. I just don't feel that there's enough solid backing on either side of the debate to make the decision clear for someone in my position--young, healthy, not pregnant. There are so many conflicting reports and stories and recommendations that for me, it makes the most sense to not inject myself with a vaccine with possible unknown side effects down the road. So instead I choose to risk catching a potentially deadly disease.

The different ways information is portrayed in the media, and the ways people process and react to that information, is fascinating to see. I'm curious to read reports once the flu season is over about what percentage of the population did get vaccinated.

If I survive flu season!

Where's my hand sanitizer and vitamin C?

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  1. I agree with you on the whole "not rushing into things" with regard to medication. I have never been vaccinated for the flu, and thank God, I've never suffered from the flu either.

    We are not in the "high risk" category, so as long as I'm good to my body, I'm hoping my body holds up its end of the bargain.

    My mother is a nurse and says the swine flu really isn't any worse than the seasonal flu. At her hospital they've actually quit testing to determine "which" of the flu's people are coming in with because MOST of the cases were H1N1.

    So, blah. I'm staying away from the vax - that's my opinion anyway. Stay healthy!! :-)

  2. I'm exactly at the same place as you are. Not really wanting to get it, but kinda worried about what would happen if I don't.

    There's going to be a student vaccine clinic on university campus at the end of the month, so I'll wait until then to make my decision.

  3. I totally agree with you. I have had the shot a few times and every time I did get sick and I know everybody says you only get a little bit of the sickness with the shot but every time I got the full on flu. So I stopped and I haven't had the flu since. I wash my hands all the time, clear my nose, use nose sprays and stay the heck away from anybody who says they have a cold.

  4. Em--I've heard that swine flu is kind of this year's version of the seasonal flu. Supposedly we're in wave 2 now or 3 or 4 "waves" of the flu...and so far so good...I'm going to keep riding the waves!

    Renee--I'm taking the wait and see approach too. I definitely don't want to rush into anything.

    Redbull--I think those basic preventative things like washing hands, keeping your hands out of your mouth, etc. go a looong way in preventing sickness.