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Sunday, November 22, 2009

Vaccines and Snow Angels

The holidays are upon us and I am less stressed feeling than in years before.

In years past, November would arrive, the crazy holiday season would ensue, then in January I would wonder, "What the heck just happened? And where did the holidays go? And why didn't I drink more egg nog".
Now I ask myself, "Why is it so different this year? Why do I not have that stressed, crazed feeling to me?".

I think a large part of it may be owning my own business. When I worked for the hospital, November and December would prove to be a very busy time of year. This was due to therapists taking holiday breaks (so we'd have to work a little more to cover the client load), and increased hospital admissions and outpatient cases from winter-related conditions. Things such as ankle & hip fractures, back pain, pneumonia all seem to peak during the winter months. My workload would generally increase in November and December, making the holidays feel like something I "got through". Thats not to say I didn't enjoy the holidays-I did. It was just less relaxing than I would've liked.

Another factor may be that we don't have any babies around the house this holiday. And the kids are actually old enough to get excited about things like lights on trees, delivering holiday cookies to the neighbors, etc.

Now I have holiday shopping pretty much done (all local and home-made-yeah!!!), holiday cards largely addressed and written and am ready to start making cookies and enjoying the egg nog!

I believe our family may be the only people in Kodiak who did not get the Swine Flu vaccine. And as I've discovered this fall, it is a topic which which people are very passionate about. (sort of like co-sleeping, breastfeeding, pacifiers, potty training age, etc...)

Patrick and I did a lot of thinking and reading on the subject of flu vaccines. For us the take home message? Not enough evidence to support the use of a FLU vaccine-and still too many unknowns about the implications of all these extra vaccines. The kicker for me was reading an Atlantic Monthly article about vaccines which reported how in 2 different years in the past 2 decades there was episode where the flu vaccine was botched-it was the wrong combo for that years flu. Guess what? In those years, the morbidity and mortality rates of the elderly and kid populations didn't budge a bit.

The flu is an ever evolving, mutating and changing virus - a very different scenario than with a virus like Polio. We're all for getting our kids vaccinnated for the big standard diseases. But the flu vaccine doesn't have real strong credible science behind it. There has never been a placebo study where they took a group of healthy people, gave 1/2 the flu vaccine and 1/2 placebo to see what happens. In some ways, science is going on "faith" that it works and has worked.

When I worked at the hospital, there is incredible pressure to get flu vaccinated every year. I remember that the dept. with the most vaccinated employees would win a pizza party and I always brought my dept. down by not getting one. In some ways, I didn't like that pressure put upon us. It is a personal health choice.

So we didn't get the vaccine. And we haven't gotten H1N1-yet. I may eat my words and 1 week from now, praying to the porcelain gods-wishing we had chosen to vaccinate. But so far so good!

I say to each his own, and make an informed decision. I'm all for digging a little deeper with health care and learning a little more about the pros and cons of choices. It was a good discussion for Patrick and I to have, and I was glad he was as curious about the vaccine as me! It was good to have the many discussions about it with him.


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