Got My Shot + Thoughts on the Flu Vaccine

So, I got my H1N1 shot this weekend, and it went just fine. My mom’s office had finished giving it to all their high-risk patients and there was enough serum left for one more shot, so she brought it home to give to me.

My mom was pretty adamant about me getting the shot this year. Our family firmly believes in preventative medicine. If you have an option to prevent illness whether that is by getting a vaccine, taking vitamins or eating healthy, then we do it. The chances of me getting a shot here in TO in the next little while are pretty slim. Too many people were swamping the clinics, nothing was organized and there was a problem with shipment of the vaccines. What a mess! So she really wanted to make sure that I got one.

There are two main reasons I decided to get the shot (and always get the flu shots).

My mom is a nurse. It is her job to stay informed about possible public health issues and counsel her patients. She has been to several official seminars on H1N1 recently, and she also had to go through a ginormous stack of papers that lay out all the risks and benefits of getting the vaccine for each type of person (high risk, low risk, pregnant, diabetic, etc.) She needs to know this information so that she can not only inform her patients about the vaccine, but also to answer any questions that people may have about it. After fully understanding all information on the H1N1 vaccine, mom believes that the benefits of getting the shot far outweigh the few and small risks. If she is confident that getting the vaccine is a good thing, then I believe her.

Additionally, my mom has first-hand experience with the flu. Not only treating patients that have come down with it, but she actually caught it herself a month and a half ago. The flu is a little bit different for everyone that gets it, but it is quite the doozy!

I don’t want anyone to take this flu lightly. It is not like anything you have ever seen before. Yes, thousands more people die from the regular flu every year than H1N1 globally, but I’m not talking about death here. I’m talking about the plain old shittiness of getting this bad boy! Lots of people will get it, and most of them will survive.

But seriously? This is some scary shit. Like I said, my healthy, strong mother who is usually resistant to illness after years of nursing building her immune system came down with this in a bad way.

I have seen her with the flu before, but I have never seen her affected this badly. She had a high fever, intense body aches, pain all over. The sweats, the chills, nausea, diarrhea & the inability to consume food or drink for days on end. My mother, my caretaker, was totally broken by this flu. She was so weak she could hardly move, and would just lie there and moan when she wasn’t breathing erratically. I was only home for a weekend to take care of her, but what I saw scared me. My mom is a real trooper but she just couldn’t spring back from this. It took her weeks to regain her strength and shake the rest of the symptoms.

We were extremely lucky that she did not pass on the flu to any of us, and also that she did not acquire any secondary infections or complications (Such as the pneumonia that took the life of Joanna’s husband after a bout with Swine Flu).

I definitely think it is worth getting the shot, if only to prevent yourself the sheer misery that is H1N1!

I had another thought about the H1N1 shot, and flu shots in general. I know there are a lot of people who avoid getting the flu shots because they feel sick afterwards. Sometimes just for the day, sometimes for a week.

I hope that everyone realizes that you CANNOT catch the flu from the flu shot. The icky feeling you get after the injection is actually your body going into overdrive to create the antibodies and other protections that you will need to combat the virus.

Think of it this way: your body is a toy factory. It is constantly producing toys (antibodies for sake of argument) to ship out to the stores. Suddenly Christmas is around the corner and Toys R Us sends in a huge order that they need ASAP (the shot). The factory has to go into overtime to make all these toys to meet the deadline. Employees are working longer hours, management is trying to reallocate resources & pay overtime, and it’s just a general flurry of activity in the factory until the job gets done. Finally, all the toys are ready and sent to the warehouse. Everyone is a little bit tired, but they got it all done in time.

That same flurry of activity at the factory goes on inside your body when you get the shot. It sort of happens all at once and uses up your resources. That’s why you feel tired and icky and as if you’re coming down with something. Once the production is done, however, you’ll feel back to your old self, plus you’ll have all those toys (antibodies) in storage for when they are needed!

At least, that’s the way I understand it in layman’s terms. Of course I’m not a scientist or medial professional, but it makes sense to me. Take it with a grain of salt & do your own research if you think it sounds weird.

Now, this is purely speculation on my part, but the next thought I had was “why do some people feel fine after a shot, but some people feel gross for a week?”

My thinking? If you’ve already got a good and efficient immune system, your body won’t have to work so hard to create all those new antibodies. Maybe it’s even got a few on hand already! Therefore you wouldn’t have any of the sick feeling after getting the shot.

Conversely, if you don’t have a really efficient immune system, it’s going to take more time, effort and resources for your body to produce those antibodies, which is going to make you feel ick and for longer. I figure that these people who feel sick for a week after getting the shot are probably the ones that need it the most. Could you imagine that poor immune system having to combat an aggressive virus without being prepared? You’d lose the battle & get sick.

And again with the disclaimer… these are just my educated guesses on what goes on with vaccinations and our bodies, in layman’s terms. And I don’t think I need to tell you I have no idea if any of this applies to people with other medical conditions. If you’re one of those medical-types, feel free to confirm or correct my thinking on this. But be nice about it, sheesh!

So, do my musings strike a chord with you? Do you think I’m totally off base? As long as you’re not mean about it…DISCUSS!

11 thoughts on “Got My Shot + Thoughts on the Flu Vaccine”

  1. I want the vaccine, but have to wait with hundreds of thousands of other people like me who aren’t in the high risk groups. By the time I can get the vaccine, I’ll have caught the flu and possibly died from it. I saw something on tv yesterday (Decouverte on Radio-Canada) that said if we don’t get immunized, we have a 1 in 200 chance of getting big complications from H1N1. I don’t want to take the chance not to get the shot!!!

    You’re very lucky that you could get it through your mom……….
    .-= CanadianSaver´s last blog ..Lost my checkbook =-.

  2. I got my seasonal flu shot, but the H1N1 is hard to find…and I’m pregnant! I’m supposed to get it first but it’s in such high demand and low supply that you really have to find it. It’s really unfortunate and scary. Supply is supposedly increasing, but for the time being, we just have to wait and try to be really sanitary. What this flu does to pregnant women is especially frightening.
    .-= michelle´s last blog ..A NEW BRUSH =-.

  3. My mom is an RN (which is why I think I am part germaphobe, possibly borderline OCD about handwashing, coughing into one’s sleeve, etc) at one of the local hospitals that was innundated with Sars back in the day.

    She is actually slightly skeptical about the H1N1 vaccine (as am I) and it’s all too quick development,etc. She was told she would HAVE to take the shot if in the occurance that the hospital closed and they couldn’t go to work. If she didn’t take the shot, she would not get paid. She took the shot begrudgingly, but she’s still unsure about it.

    I also don’t like how the media is really, really pushing this vaccine and scaring the general public. Something about that does not sit well with me.

    The good news is…when the temperature drops, the flu numbers will drop as well. I don’t take the flu shot in general for a couple of reasons. 1. I am generally fairly healthy 2. I worry that when I need the flu shot (when I get much older), it won’t be as effective.

    Honestly, if I was pregnant I would try my best not to take anything at all. Handwashing, basic hygenic procedures, cook at home rather than eating out a lot, stay in, avoid sick people,etc.

    The people that REALLY irk me are the ones who think their job is so important that they HAVE to be there to infect everyone else. It really is just inconsiderate. If you take the normal flu shot (I’m guessing like the H1N1 shot as well), you’re supposed to ‘act’ as if you have the flu to fight the effects. Ie. Take tylenol after your shot, rest, relax, get proper sleep,etc. This helps your body adjust and get over the effects much quicker.

    Okay…that’s it for me.
    .-= Melanie´s last blog ..October Recap & November Goals =-.

  4. Like Melanie, I’m a tad skeptical about all the noise being made over the flu. It just seems like most of the media has glommed onto an issue and blown it out of proportion. The deaths that have occurred already are tragedies. But people die every year from the regular flu. I think, by and large, people should be fine, so long as they keep an eye on symptoms and go to the hospital if it becomes necessary.

    I have no plans to try and get a flu shot. I have a compromised immune system, but I also work from home and my husband is out of work. We don’t go out a lot, so chances are I won’t even come into contact with H1N1.

    If we could, I’d probably have Tim get one. He has pretty strong asthma and eczema is an auto-immune disorder. So I think he falls into the high-risk category. Plus, he doesn’t have insurance, so if he needs hospitalization we are in deep trouble.

    The only one I’m really worried about is my mother-in-law. She went into the hospital with pneumonia and COPD — the initial diagnoses, anyway — and on her second day they diagnosed H1N1. She’s now stuck in isolation (my mom mailed her some books on Saturday, when we found out) and she was already not great health-wise because of congestive heart failure. Her, I’m worried about.

    Most regular people will get through the flu — regular or H1N1. Miserable? Yes. But they’ll get through it. Unfortunately, we have all gotten panicked by the coverage and convinced that if we get it, there’s a large chance we’ll die or have long-lasting effects. I guess it’s better to be safe than sorry, but I think we’ve all gotten carried away.
    .-= Abigail´s last blog ..It’s the new math! =-.

  5. Unfortunately, my boyfriend has the flu right now. I’m sleeping on the couch, cleaning things every day, and doing my best to not get it. But, I also know that he has horrible coughing fits that he can’t cover, and he refuses to wear a mask when I’m at work. Will I get it? I hope not, but germs do live on surfaces.

    He’s definitely not too happy right now though.

  6. While I am in the high-risk group – asthma my whole life, I am choosing not to get this vaccine. I do not get the seasonal one either. I did one year, and from an apparent reaction to the delivery method (that’s the stuff they mix the vaccine in) I actually came down with the worst illness I’d had in my memory, except for the 15 day gastrointestinal flu that went around a couple of years ago – intense body aches, inability to keep anything in the body, serious diahhrea and the inability to do more than moan and watch the room spin around with delirium etc.

    Since the reaction with the seasonal flu shot I have not had one since. I am choosing not to get the H1N1 or personal reasons, related to my own personal believes of this vaccine and strain of flu itself – that stem from my science background. I’m a chemist by training.

    It is my choice not to get it, and while I understand the personal reasons everyone IS getting it, I’m not of the same belief as most of you.
    .-= Finding my way to Debt Free´s last blog ..The End of Tuesday =-.

  7. Great post Ginger! H1N1 isn't a huge concern over here, so I'm not that worried about the shot. I think I will from now on get the regular flu shot, though – I think work subsidises it!

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