Everyone is all bent out of shape about H1N1 and with at least 20 minutes of my nightly news going ON and ON and ON about how everything to do with this particular strain of influenza has been one big colossal FAIL from the word “swine”, I’m quite simply D-O-N-E. Seriously, can we not just STFU for like, three dang minutes about this thing? I guess if I’m sitting here blogging about it I am no better than the media hypsters that are making this out to be the population of Canada’s death certificates all nicely wrapped up in bows, but at the same time, I am feeling defensive lately.
Here are some facts I’d like to share with y’all: No, I am not getting the H1N1 vaccine. No, Kale is not getting it either. If Ross elects to do it he may do so with no repercussions or snide remarks (that he can hear, anyway) from me, but as far as I know he is not intending to either. H1N1 is a flu. It’s a bad flu. The flu sucks. The H1N1 vaccine is not a cure. It’s not 100% effective and can take up to two weeks to protect you. The most common side effect reported is sore arms from getting the injection but there are some other possible side effects. The vaccine may increase your chances of being protected from H1N1, but then, so might hand washing, no nose picking, good sleep, good food and not being a hero and dragging your butt out of the house if you are sick. I am choosing not to go and line up at the mall with a hyper bipolar toddler (although admittedly, the local clinic was good as they gave out numbers and ETAs – unlike a lot of news reports where people had to stay lined up for hours and there was no end in sight) I believe there are people who need this vaccine more than me. I am confident that even if we get a flu (any flu, it doesn’t matter which one) we are healthy enough to fight it and smart enough to know when to seek medical attention. I believe my body and the bodies of my family are strong enough and will be stronger without a vaccine.
One of my largest concerns is how people are still convinced that this vaccine will protect them like a big crazy bubble. Like it’s a magical shield and that by getting it, they suddenly can throw caution to the wind and be silly about basic hygiene because they erroneously believe they are protected from viruses. You can still get H1N1. You can still get other flu strains. Other flu strains can be just as deadly.
In the back of my mind there is a niggly little a-hole that says “but what if Kale gets H1N1 and dies, aren’t you going to be ashamed then?” and I’ll be honest, I have gone down the path of getting wrapped up in the “what if” game. But that’s exactly it. What if he gets cancer? What if he falls down? What if we get hit while we are driving? What if what if what if what if what if what if what if. You can go mad. And so right now, I’m saying no. It’s not that I don’t believe in the vaccine. I simply believe there are other people who need it way more than we do, and that we night never need it. I worry that one day ten years from now, a pattern of diagnoses points back to the rushed, poorly rolled out H1N1 vaccine. I worry that the treatment is worse than the symptoms. And I know I am a big enough person to change my mind if the circumstances change.
So for now, I’m tuning out. Shut up already, H1N1.