I had an interesting chat yesterday with my attending physician about the H1N1 flu and wanted to share his comments with you. 

The Bottom Line:  He recommends the seasonal flu shot for everyone who is able to take it.  He only recommends the H1N1 vaccine  for those who are ‘at risk’.   Discussion follows:

Q: Are you still seeing as much H1N1 flu? Or is it getting better?  A: It’s not getting better. It’s still spreading.

Q: Do you recommend getting the H1N1 vaccine?    A:  Not if we can’t get it until Dec or Jan.  By the time it’s available for the general public, it will probably not be needed for most people because the general public will most likely have already been exposed.   If they didn’t get sick by that time, they probably won’t.  Their bodies are putting up their own resistances.   If it’s Dec or Jan and you haven’t been vaccinated for H1N1, then it’s probably not necessary  UNLESS YOU’RE CONSIDERED AT RISK.

Q:  Who is at risk?   A: Pregnant women and children who are considered ‘at risk’ (those with pre-existing conditions like asthma, blood disorders, and other conditions that make them more at risk for illness).

Q: What about the older people?   A: In general, people in their 60’s and older are not at risk for H1N1.  Flus cycle on average every 20 years.  Older generations have been exposed in previous cycles and have their own natural anti-bodies which is the best form of resistance. 

Q: So will we see this flu again?  A: Most likely, yes.  I worry about all the people taking the vaccine now because it won’t allow them to develop their own natural resistances.  Then when they’re exposed at an older age, when their age will put them at risk, they won’t have the resistances they need and the flu could be more serious for them then.

Q: Should those who have already been sick with H1N1 get the vaccine?    A: NO!  They have the best resistances now – their own natural anti-bodies.  My children and I got H1N1 in the spring when it first started.  None of us need the vaccine now.  We’re producing our own natural anti-bodies.

Q: I’ve heard that if the H1N1 vaccine had been made in time, it would have been part of the current seasonal flu vaccine and we wouldn’t be having all the debates about it.  We’d just accept it as part of the general flu vaccine.   A: That’s right.  This vaccine has been created just like all the others.  

Q:  What about the deaths associated with H1N1, since just last week 19 deaths were reported?   A:  It’s tragic that anyone has to die, and I’m sorry for those people.  However, the death rate with H1N1 is concurrent with the average death rate for all flu.  If the media reported all flu deaths it would be like the others.  The flu is the flu.  People die every year of the common cold, too, but we don’t hear about it in the news. 

Q: I felt I should get the H1N1 vaccine to help stop the spreading of the illness, as somewhat of a civic duty since it’s so contagious.  It seems to me that if fewer people catch it, fewer people will spread it.  Some days I see a lot of people (including children and moms who have children at home) and know that I could be unknowingly exposing them to the flu for 24 hours before I realize I have it.   If I get it, then they get it, and then they expose the flu to other people, too; then it seems to me that I could possibly prevent a lot of other flu cases by getting the vaccine.    However, after hearing your comments about the vaccine,now  I wonder if I should. 

A: If you’re around a lot of people, have that concern, and feel the vaccine could make a difference, then get the vaccine; but keep in mind that if you get the vaccine now, you might not have the needed resistance to it when it cycles back around and it could be more serious then. 

A:  The only exception I have to that thought would be if this strain continues to mutate.  If it continues to mutate (change) then the anti-bodies we form toward this strain might not be effective in the future. 

(end of discussion)

I’m not trying to influence anyone on their decision about the H1N1 vaccine.  I just wanted to share a medical professional’s thoughts with you.  You can form your own opinion from there.  I’m sure there are many who will agree with his thoughts and others who will not. 

I hope you make the right choices to live well and stay well!   God bless you.