By Anita Tedaldi: PNT columnist
All of our children have had the H1N1 virus this past week.
For some of them it was a particularly virulent form, with fevers over 105 F and a lot of worrying on our part. The pediatrician prescribed our youngest daughter, who is a little older than a year, Tamiflu, and told us to give the other children Tylenol and Motrin and keep them hydrated.
Basically the virus had to run its course.
I would have had my children vaccinated if they hadn’t gotten the H1N1 already.
The debate over vaccinations has always been heated, with some parents accepting vaccinations for their kids as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics, others deciding not to vaccinate their kids at all, and some choosing a few specific vaccines or choosing a different timeline.
H1N1 has fueled this debate even more.
Among the most common concerns for those against the H1N1 vaccine is the fact that it’s new and there’s the perception that it has been created quickly and distributed with short clinical trial. There’s also the fear that the vaccine contains “adjuvants,” controversial in themselves, which may stimulate the immune system but which some people blame for side-effects.
However, most scientists consider adjuvants safe, and regardless, in the U.S. there are no adjuvants used in the vaccine.
Then there’s some concern that the 1970’s swine flu vaccine may have caused some cases of Guillain-Barre syndrome, an autoimmune disorder, but there is no evidence that this new vaccine is anything but safe.
Those who support the vaccine point to some of the risks associated with swine flu, including deaths of children and younger people and possible serious complications, to support the decision to get their children vaccinated. Supporters of the vaccine also note the vaccine has been created the same as seasonal flu vaccine.
Of course, for opponents, that might be a drawback because it means the vaccine does contain trace amounts of thimerosol, a preservative that anti-vaccine fighters suspect is dangerous, but which doctors and scientists generally insist is benign.
The Center for Disease Control comes down firmly on the side of vaccination. It recommends that certain individuals get vaccinated. These include healthcare workers, pregnant women, those who care for children six months or younger, people age six to 24, and those at particularly high risk for H1N1 complications who have an underlying condition, such as asthma, kidney failure, an autoimmune disease, and diabetes.
But be warned about hunting down the vaccine on your own.
The FDA has warned to stay away from treatments being sold over the Internet for H1N1.
As reported by CNN, FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg said Thursday that “medicines purchased from Web sites operating outside the law put consumers at increased risk due to a higher potential that the products will be counterfeit, impure, contaminated or have too little or too much of the active ingredient.”
Prevention is key and if you do get sick with the flu, don’t forget to think of others.
Stay home and wait at least 24 hours after your fever has disappeared to go to work or school.
Washing hands and covering your mouth when sneezing or coughing are other ways to help keep yourself and others flu free.
Most of all, if you get the swine flu, don’t panic. It’s going to be miserable, but for the vast majority of people, it won’t be dangerous.
For more information contact your local health department or go to www.cdc.gov www.flu.gov