A few weeks ago, my son received his regular flu vaccine. Yesterday morning, my husband and I received ours. As the clinic was not crowded (and what was up with that...don't people know they should get vaccinated?!?!?), I decided to take the opportunity to talk to the nurse about the safety of the H1N1 (swine flu) vaccine and the unknown side effects, which are freaking out so many health care workers for whom the vaccine is mandatory.
According to the nurse who attended a conference about this in August, had the H1N1 pandemic occured just a few weeks earlier, the regular flu vaccine would have included elements from H1N1. How so? The flu vaccine consists of elements from the top three worst flu strains from the previous season. As the flu virus mutates, the vaccine has to be updated.
In spite of all the hooplah in the media about possible side effects of the H1N1 vaccine, there are three major points to put things into perspective:
1. It is just a flu vaccine. We've been getting these for years. (And I bet you didn't even know how the vaccine was composed.)
2. It will probably be part of next year's vaccine anyway.
3. Dealing with the possible side effects of a vaccine (and it's a numbers game) is easier than dealing with teh disease the vaccine is intended to prevent.
I hope this little update puts your mind at ease and you and your family will get vaccinated. To quote an adage, an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.
P.S. Seasonal flu vaccines are available at CVS, Walgreens and your local health department for a nominal fee.