Friday, October 23, 2009

Have you heard of this swine flu thing?

It's really going around ;)

I find to be the whole thing to be extremely confusing and suspect that I'm not alone. Up until, oh, about 24 hours ago I've shrugged it off, for the most part. Our family are very conservative vaccinators, so I never thought twice about vaccinating myself or the girls for H1N1. I tend to be a bit of a freak about germs in general, so we aren't doing much different than we've always done in the face of this flu. We've always washed our hands upon coming in from being out of the house. Always use sanitizing wipes if we can't wash our hands out in public before eating. We stay away from intentionally socializing with people who are sick with anything more than a random cough and sniffly nose. We take our vitamins every day, eat fairly well and sleep enough. You get the idea. So, not doing anything different.

Okay, so then, yesterday, I get an email saying there is a confirmed case of H1N1 at my girl's very small school. FREAK OUT CITY. I have NO idea why I reacted at all to this news. As our school's director pointed out, it's everywhere right now. We were exposed at school, but likely are exposed in most public places that we visit. But thinking about an infected kid hocking swine flu loogies on my three year old, well, I went in to freak out overdrive.

I considered not sending my kid to school today. Why? I have NO idea (I did send her). Interestingly, about 1/3 of her class was out (sick? freaked? who knows.) I also spoke to our family doctor on the phone today. Ever so grateful that she took the time to talk to me knowing how busy her days usually are. She confirmed what I originally felt about this whole thing, and that was that we don't need to be any more freaked about it than we are about the regular flu, which is (for us) not really at all. Some people are regular flu vaccinators. I never was and, unless something changes with the health of a family member's immune system, never will be. She felt, as do I, that this whole fury is a product of the media blowing it up all crazy and freaking people out. Yes, people are getting very sick. Yes, people are dying. But you know what? People die of the regular flu. About 36,000 deaths in the US each year from the regular ol' flu. As of now, Yahoo! is reporting 1,000 US deaths from H1N1. Yes, it's people that they may not normally see succumbing, but hello, that number isn't exactly freak out worthy, comparatively speaking.

That's pretty much the bottom line, for me. Are we going to die? Yes? No? Well, probably not.

I was also very shocked to find out that WA state lifted their limits on safe levels of mercury (which is an ingredient in thimerosal, which is used as a preservative) in their H1N1 vaccines. I was told by our doctor that this doesn't apply to the nasal mist, which has no thimerosal, but rather to the injectible vaccine. I have yet to find anywhere that says what amounts of mercury will be possible in this vaccine, but this document indicates that the present allowable limits (before being lifted) are 1.0 mcg per .5 milliliter dose. Has anyone else gotten more information on this?

Of course, I was interested in also finding out, how much mercury do people consume when they eat, say, tuna? I didn't find anything definite, but it appears that a serving of tuna can contain up to about 1.4 ppm of mercury. So, even getting one lone dose of a mercury containing vaccine isn't going to completely wreck your body (as far as we know), however many doses, or doses of vaccines coupled with a diet higher in mercury containing foods, can start causing all sorts of funky symptoms in your body, not to mention whacking a few IQ points off of your children.

Since our family chooses to not vaccinate heavily, in general, we therefor are not exposed to high amounts of mercury in that form. We also do not consume mercury-containing fish so I'm not terribly concerned about the levels in ONE vaccine, would we choose to receive it. Really, for me, it's just more food for thought regarding the safety of the vaccine.

Okay, I'm starting to ramble about all of this now, but I thought it would help me to lay it all out here. Maybe it will help someone else?

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