Wednesday, December 23, 2009
This was a difficult decision and one that I've spent almost two months laboring over. Having finally made this decision after much research, though, I am also finally at peace. Working as a Paramedic in NY, the first word out was that I would be mandated to get the vaccine since all healthcare workers were being mandated. I didn't know too much about it at the time, and before I was even able to get vaccinated, a passionate nurse in Rochester blew the whistle and got the NY government to recant on their decree for involuntary vaccination.
Shortly after this, I was given word that there would be a "secret" clinic for EMS workers in the county to get the vaccine free of charge. It still wasn't available to the public, or to pregnant women, and I still hadn't made a decision even up to the day before the clinic--then I got a respiratory flu type thing and so my decision was made for me. One week later, the clinic was offered again, but I had been sick to recently to receive the vaccine.
The next time I was offered the vaccine, I randomly got a stomach flu (maybe this is God here?)...and thus couldn't get it. Yesterday, for the third time, the vaccine is being offered again to me, this time through my "regular" desk job. I signed my name on a paper stating that I was interested, and then did some serious research on the topic to help me really decide.
After spending hours on the Internet reading everything from how it's absolutely necessary for pregnant women to receive to how it's a consipracy of the government to control population rates (by causing abortions of the fetuses), I decided to call the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and see what they had to say on the matter. I told them of the huge amounts of personal stories I was finding online linking the H1N1 vaccine to miscarriages/pre-term labor in every trimester, and asked what statistics they had been putting together from themselves receiving these reports. I asked if they could really recommend that pregnant women get the vaccine, and if they would put out a warning if it seemed that there were an unreasonable amount of miscarriages happening within hours of women receiving the vaccine.
The CDC told me that they didn't really have any solid research yet to indicate the safety or risks of the vaccine to pregnant women, but that "in a time of national pandemic, it is recommended for pregnant women to receive it." To me, that says "we don't really know, but we figure that you'd better just get it." They told me that until the vaccine and reports of adverse effects among pregnant women have been able to be studied, they will not release any statement to the public--they will even NOT warn pregnant women to be careful about receiving the vaccine EVEN IF the CDC was receiving a lot of reports of miscarriages and pre-term labors linked to the mothers receiving the H1N1 vaccine!
Upon researching the media and government pressure for pregnant women to receive this vaccine because of the supposedly large amount of pregnant deaths associated with getting the Swine Flu, I found out that while 6% of deaths occuring from H1N1 have been from pregnant women, none of these women received early anti-viral treatment and all ended up dying from pnemonia (a complication of H1N1). Pregnant women are also representing a statistically larger population of hospitalizations due to H1N1, though I couldn't find any solid information on trimester or health history for these women.
Looking at the history of the H1N1 vaccine that was given during the 1976 pandemic of Swine Flu, one can see that it obviously wasn't tested enough and was given to people before it was determined to be safe. Again, we rushed to an "in times of a pandemic, we should all get the vaccine" attitude. As a result, we can now see that there were deaths and complications associated with receiving the vaccine, including Guillain-Barre Syndrome (a severe nervous system disease)! We don't, however, have information about pregnant women during that time. The good news is that this current vaccine is being studied by the NIAID, including for effects on pregnant women in their 2nd and 3rd trimesters. Unforunately, the long term effects won't be known for many years, and women in their 1st trimester aren't being studied as natural causes of miscarriage are more likely to occur before 14 weeks.
The last thing I considered before making my decision was the ingredients used in the H1N1 vaccines. I won't go into too much detail here, but even some of the "safe" versions for pregnant women include mercury, formaldehyde, eggs, and sucrose. Not to mention the other billion ingredients that I don't even KNOW what they are. Yeah.
So these are the reasons and the research behind my decision to not receive the H1N1 vaccine. I may look at things differently if I wasn't pregnant, but it appears to me that it's just not a good idea for me to get the vaccine right now. There are pregnant women whom I respect whom have chosen to receive the vaccine, and so far, everything is just fine for them. I think that whether or not to receive this vaccine is a difficult and personal decision for anyone since there just isn't research supporting either side of the argument.
My best advice? Decide what is easier for you to live with. Will it be easier for you to not get the vaccine, get H1N1, and lose your unborn baby as a result; or will it be easier for you to get the vaccine and lose your baby (or have him or her suffer serious consequences later in life) as a result? For me, I'm at peace with not getting the vaccine, but given the same information, another woman may be at peace only if she does receive the vaccine. Either way, we are mothers doing what we think is best for our children--and no one can judge us for that.
H1N1 Vaccine and Miscarriage:
H1N1 Vaccine and Guillain-Barre Syndrome:
Reporting Adverse Effects from H1N1 Vaccine:
H1N1 Vaccine Study for Pregnant Women:
H1N1 Vaccine Ingredients: