Monday, September 21, 2009

Weekend Update: Swine Flu & Soccer

Asperger's, autism, doctors, H1N1, opinions, safety, soccer, swine flu, vaccines
Good morning! Hope you had a lovely weekend as we prepare to enter into autumn. This past weekend we made some decisions about the swine flu (H1N1) vaccine and had soccer practice.

Gus had a crisp morning for his 2nd soccer practice & game of the season. The team has grown quite a bit and I've seen several new faces. Their workout is more geared toward teaching the game and giving the kids some time to run around and interact with each other. Half the time is spent working on a skill and then there is a shortened game with usually half the kids on the field at a time, playing against the coach and a mentor or two.

Gus has been having a great time and I see a big difference from last year when he was often very sluggish. He's got a better handle on the ball and appears much more confident and engaged in the game overall. It should be a good season! Hopefully next week I'll remember to take some pics!

Swine Flu Vaccine
Before I go any further, let me make it very clear that I am no doctor and anything I post here is strictly my layperson's opinion. Don't make any decisions based on my thoughts. Please consult with your medical professional (or several) before choosing whether or not to get the H1N1 vaccine whenever it becomes available.

That being said, I also want to state for the record that I am not against vaccines as a matter of principle. On the contrary, I would prefer to prevent my children from illness if it can be done safely and if it is necessary. We've always chosen pediatricians who lean toward the conservative side as far as medicating children, so there's never been a concern in my mind that we were being advised to take a medication or get a vaccine that wasn't warranted. The two times I disagreed with our doctor was over the chicken pox booster and over the Hepatitis A vaccine. Instead of getting a chicken pox booster, I had both my children titered, and our doctor had no problem with that. Last year she started giving the Hep A vaccine because there had been some cases in the state. I declined because neither of my kids were at risk and would not be likely to be put into a risky position. This year, after Gus developed a taste for sushi, we got him the vaccine because the disease can be spread through contaminated raw fish (as well as other foods that he's been more apt to eat as he's gotten older). All this is just to make it clear that we do the shots when necessary, and if not, then we don't.

On Thursday, I made inquiries to 3 different doctors regarding the swine flu vaccine when it becomes available next month. One RN said that it was, "a good thing to get," but offered little in the way of explanation. Maybe she thought that it was the most obvious conclusion and required no further discussion. I was very interested to hear that the other two doctors - both pediatricians - were not comfortable with the vaccine that's coming out. Their collective reasons were that a) it was rushed to production and therefore hastily tested, so b) there is little knowledge of what the side effects or possible long-term effects may be. Neither intends to offer the vaccine to their patients, and at least one has decided not to give it to her own children. She has instead adopted a "wait and see" stance.

The New York State Health Department has posted tracking information on the swine flu within the state and there is also a vaccine information page. You can also obtain information from your own state's health department.

To my way of thinking, the pros for getting the vaccine are that it will be available in mist form (no shots) and will be available without preservatives (some of the injected versions and all of the mist formulas). It is being made by the same companies, in the same manner (as opposed to the way it was made in 1976) as the seasonal flu. That being said, on the con side, side effects are anticipated to be the same as for the seasonal flu, but no one really knows because it hasn't been widely studied or for any length of time. And while my kids fall into one of the target populations, I don't see enough cause (especially judging from the relatively small number of cases in NYS) for an extra vaccination. My daughter is very conscientious about hygiene, especially hand washing, and Gus does not interact with the general population of his school enough for the benefit to outweigh the risk. So with all that in mind, we have decided to pass on the vaccine when it becomes available, unless some compelling reason arises.

What are your thoughts on the swine flu vaccine that's coming out in October?

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