H1N1 Vaccine


I laugh that I can keep up with the world by simply looking at my friends’ Facebook status updates.  A few recent favorites include “Jeff intercepted a memo reminding Delhomme that he plays for the Panthers” and “Megan is beginning week 3 of (f)unemployment.”  

Today, I noticed probably 8 updates about the H1N1 vaccine.  They ranged from the funny (Jack SAYS GET VACCINATED DAMMIT) to the mundane (Rebecca is going to her 24 week OB appt and getting her H1N1 shot).  It is the latter which really upset me.  I am upset because, within 20 minutes, she had 4 nasty comments from people berating her for putting her child at risk, implying that she’s a bad mother, and then it quickly spiraled into a discussion about vaccinating children.  No, discussion is not the term. Virtual flogging is probably more appropriate.  It was cruel and I can’t imagine how she felt coming home from her appointment to read that.

Then I thought about some of the reactions I’ve had from people without RA to  the medications I’ve taken.  My favorite was when someone asked me what I took and then, in front of people, shook his head and said “poisons!”

To medicate or not to medicate: that is the loaded rheumatoid arthritis question.  And a very personal one at that.

I will be the first to say that I’ve been on some pretty hardcore medication for over 3 years.  I have also tried going med free and using alternatives.  At the end of the day, I simply have more success on the medication.

Do I read RA blogs that advocate little to no medication?  Yes.  Do I find value in them?  Absolutely. To be completely honest,  I’m quite jealous of people who are successfully med free.  But after reading the research on the long term effects of uncontrolled rheumatoid arthritis (uncontrolled by meds OR uncontrolled by alternatives),  I have decided that, for me and me alone, I need to take the medication and supplement with alternatives.  

Same concept with the H1N1 vaccine. For me (and obviously for my friend), benefits outweigh risks.  I’m not telling anyone what to do (although I have made the blanket statement at work that anyone who doesn’t get the vaccine, comes to work sick and gives it to me, if it kills me, I will come back and haunt you.  Poltergeist style. I say this even though I am getting it.  I just have luck like that.)  

I will say that I think everyone in the at risk groups should seriously consider getting the H1N1 vaccine.  That’s my opinion.  Doesn’t mean it’s right. If you choose not to, that’s your decision and I respect that we are all different people.  

But, at the risk of hateful comments, I ask that you make an informed decision.  That’s all. RA Guy has some great links explaining more.

8 responses »

  1. It makes me angry that your friend was pilloried for taking a vaccine that may save not only her life, but that of her unborn baby’s. Amazing. I’m not as forgiving as you are; I think those who refuse the vaccine for H1N1 are needlessly putting others in danger. They may not care for themselves, but there are a lot of people out there to whom the swine flu (or ANY flu) is potentially life-threatening. Shame on them for being so incredibly, mindlessly selfish.

    • Oh, I’m not as forgiving as I seem. There is one person that is a friend of mine too and let’s just say this won’t be forgotten. But the whole tone of the comments was just so ignorant. Nobody was pointing to any sort of documentation or anything- just bashing. I’ve always thought if you’re going to disagree, at least have a leg to stand on. Read the research, people!

  2. Hard for anyone to argue with “Make an informed decision.”

    After reading the pro’s and con’s, I decided to get the vaccine (just as soon as it’s available). My kids will get shots, too.

  3. It is funny because I think people must just want to make comments no matter what we are doing. I am med free and I have had people shake their heads at me for going without meds, especially if they understand what RA is. In fact, some of my family members think I am nuts but luckily still support me. I am also not a big believer in the vaccines, but honestly, that is my choice and we each have to make the choices that fit with who we are and our own personal circumstances. Like you said, we can all learn from each other but once we state that our way is the only way, we have stopped that learning from each other. I have found very few people that are completely med free and have RA but have learned so much from friends on medications. I have also learned why many parents want to get the vaccine and if my children had similiar circumstances, I would definitely consider it also. We know our children best and I don’t honestly think I have ever met a parent that wasn’t trying to do their best for their child.

  4. here, here! I got the regular flu vaccine, but have been a little on the fence about the H1N1. I see my new rheumatologist next week, so plan to ask him for his medical opinion. I’m leaning towards getting it if I can find one. I completely agree with Cathy above- the point is to learn from each other and find what works for each us, not to proclaim that your way is ‘the’ way and then cast judgement on everyone else.

  5. Your poor friend – how awful for her. Not much makes me angrier than people who pass judgment about others’ medical decisions. We all have to weigh the risks and benefits and treat our illnesses to the best of our knowledge and abilities.

    I had my H1N1 shot last week and I’m very happy I got it.

  6. That is so sad! FB gives people the ability to say things and not be accountable for them. I am hard pressed to think those people would have said those things to her face. And I totally believe it is each person’s choice to get vaccinated or take medication or whatever. Make an informed decision and stand by it. I know people who have forgone drugs for cancer in order to take a homeopathic direction and they are also berated. Just make your own decision and don’t judge others…

  7. Good article. I feel the same way. I would LUV to be able to go without my medication…for me it’s a no-brainer and not worth the potential damage that can be done to my joints. To each his own.

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