Five things that are freaking me out about H1N1

Are y’all feeling a little freaked out by H1N1, the so-called “swine flu”? I’m not usually one to get my knickers in a twist over the panic-du-jour (Y2K, avian flu, computer viruses — why are all the major media panic-attacks linked to either computer or human viruses anyway?) but this one is slowly but surely unnerving me.

Here’s five things that are freaking me out about H1N1.

1. Healthy 40-year-olds are apparently a high risk group, as are toddlers under two.

2. Schools may close, kids have to stay home for up to a week. So, I have an (extremely generous) one week of family-related leave, of which I’ve used most days already. One kid gets sick, needs to stay home for a week, then you know it will be exactly a week later when the next kid gets sick and has to stay home for a week, and there’s no chance that would coincide with whatever time the school is closed, and the nanny happens to be in another risk group so I need to consider protecting her… thank goodness for the generous leave, I couldn’t imagine facing it otherwise.

3. The seasonal flu shot may make you even more susceptible to H1N1.

4. I’m trying to keep the hyperbole from getting to me, but I do find myself conscious of all the shared surfaces I touch in a day — everything from the rails near the bus exit to the door handles at the Rideau Centre (I’ve actually started using my sleeve instead of my bare hand to push them) to the ATM keypad. It’s a slippery slope from here to OCD (and I haven’t even told you about my counting thing!)

5. I’m on the fence about the whole vaccination thing. I get most of the standard vaccines for the boys, and I’m mildly opposed to the Jenny-McCarthy-fearmongering that goes on around vaccines, but vaccinating Lucas for this one gives me the willies. Our family pediatrician doesn’t recommend the seasonal flu vaccine for kids who are otherwise healthy, but he does recommend H1N1 vaccination, which is enough for me. Almost. I read every word of every article like this one, though, trying to figure out which is the lesser of two evils. The one thing I can say is holy hell am I glad I’m not pregnant right now.

So what do you think? Will you get the H1N1 vaccine for yourself, and/or your kids? Is the hype getting to you, or are you rolling your eyes at the Chicken Littles among us? Have you made any other sorts of preparations?

Author: DaniGirl

Canadian. storyteller, photographer, mom to 3. Professional dilettante.

17 thoughts on “Five things that are freaking me out about H1N1”

  1. I won’t be getting the H1N1 shot, as I do not personally feel it has been sufficiently tested. I usually get a seasonal flu shot, but won’t this year, just in case. Luckily, I work from home most of the time and have no kids living at home; my spouse works in an environment where there is little contact with the public, same for her commute. On the occasions I do have to go to the office or attend meetings, if H1N1 has really ‘hit’, I have some N95 masks which I will wear to protect myself. I’ve been using my sleeve for public doors, etc., since H1N1 first showed up in the spring, as it coincided with a personal health issue that weakened my immune system.

    Being on the tail-end of the baby boom just shy of 50, I feel I’d rather be safe than sorry. Am I usually this ‘paranoid’? Not at all, I am usually skeptical.

  2. I think this H1N1 has got us all a little nervous. I am also a little more conscious about people sneezing around me, or me sneezing at people (I am literally afraid to have people get mad at me if I’m sick and sneeze close to them). Still… from what I’ve read or heard, this flu is very contagious indeed but… it’s a flu. Just a flu, that I got last year too, and the year before with a three months old in the arms and he got it too and two weeks later we were fine…
    Maybe it’s because I’m 31 and not in a high risk group. But my son is just shy over 2 years old, and I don’t want to get him a shot. NO WAY. Hasn’t been tested enough.

    With Souleymane in daycare, I think we’re all be going through it. My thinking is : it’s a flu. More contagious, yes. But in the end, it’s just the flu symptoms, it’s not thaaaaaat baaaaaaad !

  3. Well, holy hell, I am pregnant. I just found out last week and therefore I am more than a little paranoid. My chiro says don’t get any flu vaccines. The KW midwives are saying get H1N1 vaccine but not the regular flu vaccine. My sister’s midwives in Austin TX are telling her get the regular flu vaccine and not the H1N1 vaccine. I have no idea what I’m going to do.

    I do know that I will likely get my kids vacinated for H1N1 but not the reg flu vaccine and ask my husband to do the same. And then for me, I might get nothing and rely on those closest to me being protected. It’s extremely difficult to be informed when the messages are so conflicted and everyone is giving different advice.

  4. Wash your hands with soap and warm water. Sneeze into your elbow. At first sign of illness keep your kids home. Other than that, no advice.

  5. We just had a round of flu on this house. Actually as I’m writing, my nose also plays ‘I’m a tap’. Is it THE ONE, or just a flu (it’s not a cold, because it comes with a three day fever)? We’ll never know because we just stayed home and watched movies and napped and took a lot of liquid. As usual, I am a lot better at doing that for my daughter then for myself…

    So, basically, I will just put my head in the sand (snow?) and don’t ask myself too much questions, assuming it will be some Y2K kind of media frenzy.And wash my hands more often.

    Oh, by the way, I’m pregnant. So it might not be the best course of actions, but I think pointless stress is not very good for the baby…

  6. NO WAY will we be getting the H1N1 shot. Rushed production, limited testing, possible side-effects that could be worse than the flu itself. No thanks.

    In the interest of full disclosure, Liam (6 yrs) is full vax’d minus chicken pox, but Simon (almost 3 yrs) and Andrew (9 months) have not been vaccinated. I am not anti-vaccination, but AM pro-delayed-vaccination. Especially with all my kiddos’ allergies.

    That all being said, I totally don’t trust the pharmaceutical companies and their claims that this vaccine is safe. To them, H1N1 = $$$$

  7. I have to admit to being scared and not sure what to do. I don’t so much worry about myself (even though I am supposedly high risk) but I worry about my infant after he is born. I have to admit that I waffle between not getting it and getting it. I am still not 100% sure.

  8. I am totally freaked out by all the news coverage. I am not in a high risk group so will not have the vaccination. I am happy to be an older person.

  9. Hi Dani –

    Employers are being told they are supposed to be extra-understanding if people need extra time off. I think yours would have to be extra-extra understanding. (Just my opinion.)

    In terms of dealing with conflicting advice, I’d suggest getting provincial/state recommendations, discussing that with your health care provider(s), and trying to make your decision with the most current information available when the vaccine becomes available to people in your age/risk group.

    (Of course, health care providers don’t always agree, as Karen’s experience shows.)

    And do all the usual good things, as others have suggested, including trying to keep your immune system healthy. That includes minimizing stress. (Like that’s easy these days.) 🙂

  10. oy.
    well, alex ( age 1 ) can not get any flu shots due to his newly discovered egg allergies. so he will not be getting one. this makes me extremely nervous.
    everyone around him – me, hubby, two other kids, grandparents are getting the H1N1 but are unlikely to get the seasonal flu shot, which we do traditionally take. Except for last year, as in my post partum haze, I forgot to take the kids. apparently, in hindsight, that may have been a very lucky mistake.
    i am concerned. i am not just listening to the Today show hype. i am reading everything, from everywhere. we were in Britain this summer, and it was hitting very hard – again with the fatalities hitting us 40 somethings and pregnant women. the flu itself was hitting much harder there than here. if it was any insight into what is coming, i remain uncomfortable.
    my good friends are nurses and doctors in our local hospital ( small town, not ottawa ) and there are many cases of H1N1. The patients? Again, women over 40, previously healthy. It has me nervous…really nervous.
    i have spoken to my doctor and we have even prepared a tamiflu plan. and an alternative schooling plan for my 10 year old asthmatic daughter ( underlying conditions and all). Becasue at least if we plan and nothing happens…okay;), i was unneccessarily paranoid. if it does turn out to be more serious than people expected…then at least i know that i have made an effort to protect my family as best as i can. which is what we all want to do.

  11. We won’t be getting any flu shots this year. We skip the seasonal flu shot because I think it is just not that effective – based on last year’s or projected strains, and working to reduce our overall natural immunity – something we’ll need later. And we’re saying HELL, NO to the H1N1 for so many reasons – rushed production, no studies on long-term effects, also no indication that it will prevent the particular strain going around, and the number one reason is because it is filled with aluminum and thimerosal. I’ve said no thanks to all vaccines with adjuvents and preservatives, and this one will be no exception.

    I think the most important thing is that people make an informed decision.

  12. I’ve been mostly avoiding all the coverage of the H1N1 stuff, which means that the controversy about vaccines is mostly new to me. I’ve had horrible panic and anxiety in the past that was linked to illness (although not really flu-related, more fear of vominting), so I try to maintain my sanity at virtually all costs. I’m trying just to remember that it’s a flu. It might get bad, so I’ll be on the lookout for any signs of complications and act quickly if anything concerns me, but I haven’t given much thought to the vaccination issue. We often don’t get flu vaccines, due to incompetence at life generally, so having read the second article you linked to, I guess we won’t get the regular flue vaccine this year. I’m not sure about the H1N1 vaccine.

  13. Here they are recommending the opposite, get the seasonal, only get the H1N1 if you are really high risk (preggos, asthmatic). Of course we all got the seasonal before the Canadian study came out saying it might make you more susceptible to the H1N1, but too late now, we had the seasonal shots, so what will be will be.

    I have to say, not as freaked out by this one as I was (still am really) by Bird Flu.

    Good luck making the vaccination decision(s).

  14. I too am conflicted about the H1N1 vaccination problem. I was absolutely set against it for my daughter when it would involve the adjuvanted vaccine, but now that Canada has purchased adjuvant-free vaccine for children and pregnant women, I have agreed with my husband that I will consider it for my daughter and myself. My husband will discuss it with his doctor but is almost certianly not a candidate to receive it since he has already had Guillain-Barre syndrome in his teen years, and the last swine flu vaccine a few decades ago led to increased cases of Guillain-Barre so the flu shot of any type is generally contra-indicated for anyone currently healthy who has had Guillain-Barre. So for now I’ll maintain my perch on the fence. Though it looks like we’ll have at least another month (and a few thousand more news stories) before we have to make a decision.

  15. I think this is a lot of hype. I am really rather amazed that they’ve been able to produce a vaccine this quickly. (Really. Think about it.) So far, I’m seeing a lot of panic but not a lot of cause. Either way, I’m not terribly concerned about it.

    The only upshoot is that people are staying home when they’re sick, which is not a bad thing.

    I am pro-vaccination for most things.

    Will I get it? Yes. Will The Boy get it? Yes. By the time it rolls around to us, we’ll be aware of the side effects and the problems with it. I look at it this way, the vaccine may or may not be bad for you. What’s the worse outcome if you or your child doesn’t get the vaccine? Death. So far what have we seen as the side effect from the flu shot? Guillaume Barre (relatively rare.) And yes, I understand the fear of long lasting effect, but we don’t know what the long lasting effects of this flu are either, do we? Rock/Hard Place.

    I expect if it gets as bad as they predict, they will make the vaccine mandatory for school aged children, and kids who aren’t vaccinated will have to stay home…

    Thing is, I really can’t do much about it except get vaccinated… suppose it’s our main form of protection.

  16. Seriously, get the H1N1 shot. All the noise about “rushed production” and “bad testing” are the usual hype. The reason for the confusion? This is happening in real time, and is being studied as it happens.

    Right now, most provinces are saying hold off on the seasonal flu shot (cuz it doesn’t seem to be circulating much anyway) and get the H1N1 when available. If you really want a seasonal flu shot, it will probably be available in the new year, if the seasonal flu even shows up. It didn’t in the southern hemi, where the flu season is basically over.

    Side effects? Sure, the usual. Sore arms, redness, a bit of dizziness, the same for every other vaccine out there. A roughly one in a million chance at getting Guilliam Barre syndrome, but a 4 in a million chance of dying if you actually get the flu.Pick your odds.

    Otherwise, just be glad that this isn’t a really, really nasty pandemic, which we didn’t know when all this started. Hindsight may make us all look kinda paranoid, but that’s why we pay taxes for a public health system. It’s there when you don’t need it, and ready if you do.

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