The last time I saw my doctor, he was very firm on the subject of flu vaccinations. Get them for myself, and get them for my kids. Get the H1N1 vaccination for my kids the instant it becomes available. Do not pass Go, do not fiddle-fart around, go directly to the pediatrician’s office.
I planned to do so. Then, after a while, I started feeling unsure. Specifically about the H1N1 vaccine. I started worrying, in my non-medical-professional mouthbreathing sort of way, about potential dangers of a fast-tracked vaccine, and about reactions and side effects. You know, like a fever. Or . . . Guillain-Barre Syndrome. Death. Little things like that.
Then I read that in preparation for the swine flu vaccine, Washington has temporarily lifted a restriction that limits the amount of thimerosol—a mercury preservative—given to pregnant women and children under 3. Only around 15% of the vaccine supply will be mercury-free, and people may have to wait longer for it to become available.
Huh, I thought. That doesn’t seem good. Isn’t mercury what made Jeremy Piven such an insufferable douchebag, or something?
The FDA assures us the trace amount of mercury in an influenza vaccination is fine. The CDC is recommending vaccinations for people 6 months to 24 years old, among other groups. And since it seems inevitable that my kids will be repeatedly exposed to the flu this season—you can throw all the hand sanitizer you want at a daycare, but it’s still basically a toy-filled, skill-building petri dish—it would be irresponsible for me to not get that vaccine, right? I mean, statistically if we’re looking at worst-case scenarios the kids are probably much more likely to have Something Bad happen from the flu than a vaccination. JB’s coworker had the H1N1 virus a couple weeks ago and described how it made him feel like he couldn’t breathe for a couple days. Well, jesus. If there’s a way to help my kids avoid getting an illness like that, I should be ALL OVER IT.
So why does this feel like such a creepy, shitty decision?
Where are you at with the swine flu vaccine, with regards to your kids? I’m really interested in hearing your thoughts.