Thursday, October 22, 2009

Swine Flu and Baking

It is official - we have a case of swine flu in Micah's daycare class. Apparently, a child went home sick on Friday, and he and his parent have been diagnosed with swine flu. I'm hoping that since we have shown no signs or symptoms yet means we have passed the incubation period and all is well. To make matters worse (as if I'm not already freaking out about germs), the caretaker in Micah's class had a cold yesterday. Yes, a cold. I went to pick Micah up, and she was all stuffed up, coughing, and well...sick. I'm sure it isn't the flu, but really - did she HAVE to expose Micah to her cold? He just got over being sick last month! And I certainly don't need to be sick with this pregnancy and all of the traveling I'm doing. I do not need my lungs compromised in any way if there is a chance I could catch the flu!

I hate all this fear about flu. I've never worried about the flu before - in my life, I've only had it 2 times. It has never been a big deal. It is funny - I catch everything else, but I've been relatively flu-free most of my life. I've never gotten the flu vaccine either. I am still not concerned about the seasonal flu, and to be honest, I am just not that excited about H1N1. For whatever reason, if I catch it, I just do not think it will be a big deal. Perhaps I should, but I feel like I'll go to the doctor, get Tamiflu (although I'm not sure if I'd take Tamiflu during the first trimester), go on antibiotics if I get a lung infection, and all will be well.

In the midst of all of this, the H1N1 vaccinations have arrived at our pediatrician's office. Both Micah and I cold get vaccinated, but they do not yet have the thimerosal-free (and squalene-free) version yet. So - do I give Micah the vaccine now, or wait an extra month for the safer vaccine? What about me? I'm disinclined to do the vaccine because of my needle phobia, but I do have a pregnancy to think about, too. I certainly don't want to harm the baby by taking the vaccination, but pregnant women seem to be in a higher risk category. Also, this baby will not be old enough to get the vaccine in the Fall, so getting the vaccination while pregnant could help protect my little one after he or she is born. I hate these kind of decisions!

I am currently leaning towards waiting (at least for the thimerosal-free version). Most of the cases of swine flu seem to be no worse than regular flu. Some of the information I have read seems to say that pregnant women are hospitalized more often as a precaution, not because they are actually sicker. I certainly do not wish flu on either one of us, but part of me feels that getting the flu might be safer than taking the vaccine right now. I am also not certain that Micah did not already have swine flu last month when he was sick (although, I suppose DH and I would have caught it, too, if it was swine flu).

This morning I called the pediatrician to schedule his second dosage of the regular flu shot - and was told I should call back in November. I should mention that I have called about a dozen times this week. I called a few days ago, and was told they could not see the schedule that far out because of sick appointments. I called back yesterday, several times, and was told the computers were down. I called early this morning, and was told to call back after 9. I called back after 9 and was told to call back in November. Seriously? Don't they think they could have started with that and saved me all the phone calls? I am so frustrated by all of this!

Even worse, they would not give me information about which version of the H1N1 vaccine they are currently using, or when they expect to get the thimerosal-free version. Based on the research I've done, it does not appear that the thimerosal-free version has been released yet. I just cannot get good information about what to do. The CDC recommends vaccinating, but declines to comment on either thimerosal or squalene at this time. While they will not approve these ingredients in other vaccines, the FDA has suspended most of the guidelines for the H1N1 vaccine for the next six months. I'm sorry - if something was unsafe last month, and it will be unsafe again in six months, isn't it unsafe now?

On the one hand, the studies show there is no connection between thimerosal and autism in children. Fine - I believe that. BUT, they believe autism is caused by impairment of brain development in-utero - so perhaps the vaccine would affect this pregnancy? We are encouraged NOT to feed children fish with mercury (or eat it during pregnancy) because even the low doses have been shown to affect brain development. Okay. I can accept that. Then how is thimerosal in the H1N1 vaccine safe? To make matters worse, due to the shortage of vaccinations, there are adjuvants that contain squalene in this version of the H1N1 vaccination to boost immune response and incrase the effectiveness of the vaccine. Apparently, there is some relatively new and untested research that indicates that adjuvants *might* cause autoimmune disorders in both adults and children. Until better research is done, how can I comfortably give such a vaccine to Micah? Or expose this baby? Several states have banned doctors from administering the H1N1 vaccine to pregnant women and children under 3. Moreover, this vaccination has been rushed to market prior to FDA approval and without testing. It is presumed the vaccine will do no harm because it was developed with the same techniques as the regular seasonal flu vaccine. But, with different ingredients in the vaccine, how can they be sure?

In other news, I'm busy cake-baking. I have a cake to do for a friend (I'm making a pumpkin chocolate chip cake) and next weekend I have a cake for my niece's second birthday, and my friend's son's first birthday. I'll be baking my pants off this week in order to get everything finished on time! The good news is that it appears my edible image printer should be back in order! We purchased a new printer head, so tonight I will attempt to replace it and hope that it starts working again. I'm not sure how I will get through the next week without it. I'll post cake pictures soon!


karlindaadoption said...

It sounds like an impossible decision to make. I have heard though that if you look at the actual statistics, swine flu is acutaly no more dangerous than any other strain of flu.

Here's hoping you & Micah haven't caught the caretaker's cold.

Kerri said...

Ugh- I'm right there with you regarding the debate about whether or not to get the vaccination (I'm 36 weeks pregnant). I really, really want to get the thimerosal-free version, but I just don't know when or if they'll be available. There's such a shortage of the regular vaccine as it is. My doctors all recommend getting the vaccination with thimerosal-- they say it does not cause any harm. But still, if given the choice, I'd rather NOT put mercury in my body. Sigh. At this rate, I'll probably deliver before the shot is available in my area anyway. Good luck with your decision.


Shannon said...

I got the H1N1 shot last week and am going today for the Flu shot. I took Cameron this morning for his h1n1 vaccine but he got the mist, not the shot, but his pediatrician has a waiting list for the Flu version. Its so annoying, every year there is a shortage, you would think that they would realize that they need to make MORE. Hello?!?!

Ashley said...

I just read through your posts and am so excited for you! We are hoping for a similar miracle as we can never afford IVF again (currently pg from IVF).

Okay, back on task, I don't think I will get the H1N1 shot. Also, no place here has it!! I work with children and we just had an H1N1 outbreak and everyone got it but me, I don't know how.

Good luck making a decision!