I'll Pass on Flu Shot
I've never had a
seasonal flu shot and never will until a doctor can convince me
doing so would reduce my chances of dying or becoming hospitalized
I don't fall into a high-risk category where underlying conditions
such as respiratory problems would warrant me getting a shot.
However, people like me now have to decide whether we should
get a flu shot for H1N1, a new strain of influenza that has caused
slightly higher rates of serious illness and death compared with
the normal seasonal flu.
We're told people aged 20 to 50 -- I'm 45 next month -- are at
a greater risk of becoming seriously ill or dying from H1N1 compared
with the normal seasonal flu. But the vast majority of people
aged 20 to 50 who have contracted H1N1 have neither died nor become
And many don't even know they have it.
Also, I notice people aged 20 to 50 are not listed by public
health officials as those needing the vaccine the most.
Instead, the shots will be dispensed to the highest-need people
first, including people with weakened immune systems and other
medical conditions, aboriginals and health care staff.
If I fell into a high-risk category and knew I had a greater
chance than normal of falling seriously ill or dying from H1N1,
I would get vaccinated.
But I don't. And I'm not convinced otherwise healthy people are
at much greater risk from H1N1 than the usual seasonal flu.
Dr. Joel Kettner, chief provincial public health officer, has
a difficult job. He has to ensure he's doing everything possible
to protect people from becoming seriously ill or dying from H1N1
without inciting panic. Naturally, he's going to err on the side
of caution and recommend everyone get an H1N1 vaccine, even people
like me who fall into the low-risk category.
But I figure if Kettner really thought it was imperative that
people like me get an H1N1 flu vaccine, there would be urgency
in his tone.
There wasn't yesterday during a press conference on how the new
vaccine would be rolled out.
"I think it would be very reasonable for a lot of people
to get vaccinated," said Kettner.
"Reasonable," but not "critical" or "imperative."
The other reason I'm not convinced H1N1 is that serious is because
we're almost two months into the school season and we still haven't
seen waves of people hospitalized from the virus. Not even close,
Kettner said that could change as we get deeper into the flu
season and because they don't know how the new strain will behave
in the winter months. Which is more fear of the unknown than evidence-based
science. Kettner calls it caution. OK.
But why not just get the H1N1 vaccine anyway, regardless of the
expected benefits? Well, I'm not keen on having a vaccine pumped
into my arm unless I think there's a really good reason for it.
I'm also concerned with the speed with which this vaccine was
developed, licensed and brought to market.
Change my mind
It's been approved by the Government of Canada based on "preliminary
clinical trial data."
"Recommendations for use may be modified as more clinical
trial data becomes available," a Health Canada bulletin says.
Well, if it's all the same to you, I think I'll pass on the H1N1
vaccine. On balance, I don't think it's required for someone like
But just like Joel Kettner, I reserve the right to change my
mind as new information becomes available, like if people start
dropping like flies from this thing.
Maybe then Kettner will convince me to get the shot, not the
For more, visit Brodbeck's blog Raise a Little Hell at winnipegsun.com.
Reach Tom by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
full list of h1n1 vaccine ingredients, alerts and warnings.
Reference Source: www.winnipegsun.com
October 28, 2009