Monday, November 23, 2009

Swine Flu Vaccinations in Amsterdam

We went to the mass vaccination against Swine Flu for toddlers today in Amsterdam.

(Entertainment for kids while we waited in line. They were singing "the shot doesn't hurt, la la la _ but you could hear kids screaming in the distance)

Here's le moment supreme:

The Dutch are calling h1n1 "Mexican Flu" rather than "Swine Flu" to protect the pork industry (!) and there was an amusing item on TV recently where some health workers dressed up in sombreros etc. while giving shots.

Not everything has to be controversial, nor do I always have to find something to rant about.

But: some semi-intellectual content about the getting the shot versus not getting the shot after the "More"

I was interested by the reactions of many parents in my circle _ well-educated people _ who hesitated to get the vaccine.

The chance of dying from Swine Flu is minute, and the chance of dying from the vaccination is even more minute. So in a sense the choice doesn't matter much.

However, one choice is clearly superior both from a societal viewpoint and from an individual viewpoint.

For individuals, if you're vaccinated you won't get the actual flu. So you don't have to go through 5 days of flu hell, though admittedly there are side effects. I felt headache-y for two days after I had my shot.

In sum, a mild crappy feeling for two days, versus catching a full on puking flu. It seems like an easy choice to me.

From a societal viewpoint: it's important to have the vaccine distribution chain / government response primed for the NEXT virus, one that may be much more lethal than H1N1.

So in that sense, I'm very glad this virus and vaccine came along.

I would also say, it's a stunning triumph of science that they were able to create a vaccine this quickly and get it out to so many people as well as they have. I'm amazed that there isn't more appreciation of that fact. I guess especially when it comes to health issues, people will always want the moon and the stars.

As a footnote, it's true that as more and more people have either been vaccinated or sick, the epidemic will peter out. And therefore some people will get lucky and be able to skip both the vaccination and not catch the disease. This is the 'freeloader' strategy.

Okay, if that's the way you want to play it ...


Efrutik said...
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Toby Sterling said...


Every year they make vaccines for the seasonal flu (of which H1N1 is a type).

The new H1N1 vaccines were tested in the same way the others are.

So basically it's just as safe as any other vaccine.

There could still be things that go wrong with taking the vaccine, they are just *less likely* than you getting your butt kicked by the actual virus.
-Regular side effects (sore arm, headache)
-Allergic reaction (could be deadly)
-Bad batch of vaccine (like, spoiled somehow)
-Long term side effects (just like for the regular vaccine _ none known of yet but it could happen).

One thing that I hate is that the big drug companies weaseled a guarantee that they couldn't be sued if something goes wrong.

I feel like that needlessly undermines confidence in them.

But I have to admit I understand where they're coming from, given the sue-everybody attitude of people in the U.S. _ and the crazy, energetic nature of the people involved with the anti-vaccination movement.

Laura K. said...

There's so much more reasons to NOT take the vaccine than there are to TAKE it.

I'd rather have natural immunity and less toxins and metals in our bodies.

Zoe has not yet received a single vaccine whatsoever and I do not like being told that makes us freeloaders. On the contrary. We plan to get her some select vaccines but only on our terms and separated with no adjuvants.

We will likely be paying full price ourselves and will travel to France for some.

I have done my homework on all vaccines. I've spent an insane amount of time doing so. Have you?

We are taking vitamins here.. Vitamin D is the biggest one. That is a MIRACLE vitamin so perhaps look into it for your family.

I'd love to rant a lot but it's bedtime here and frankly, I'm tired of ranting about it. You're on my FB so you have probably seen some of my posts there!

Efrutik said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Toby Sterling said...

@Efrutik, @Laura: Indeed, to each his or her own.

Being vaccinated, if nothing else, offers people peace of mind once it is done.

"Freeloader" is obviously an emotionally charged term.

A judgment-neutral way of saying it is that the whole group benefits when most people are vaccinated. (read the Wikipedia entry on "Herd Immunity").

Laura, we obviously disagree about vaccinations.

I certainly won't try to tell you what to do about H1N1 because I don't think it matters very much.

& I understand if your children have had allergic reactions in the past, then the risk assessment changes quite a bit.

However, I would still urge you to consider not only the downside of vaccinations, but the upside as well.

Laura K. said...

Toby, as it turns out, Zoe does have an egg allergy in addition tot he milk allergy she was born with. EVEN if she did not have these allergies, we would not be vaccinating her or our son for H1N1. The last vaccine Sebastian got was at age 4 before I knew better. He won't receive any boosters.

I think vaccines are great for some people, but they are certainly not a one size fits all solution. Your kids seem to not be affected by vaccines so to you, my children are perhaps, collateral damage.

My son was developing properly, even extremely ahead of schedule. Then one day around 14 mos or so, he regressed into a babbling 4 month old baby. He could not use words anymore and he was stone faced. My happy giggly talkative boy, went BACKWARDS. He would do nothing but line up his toys and stare or point and say UHHHHH!

I kept such insane records of his first 2 years that I can pinpoint his regression to vaccines. He got very ill with every vaccine up to that point but at 14 months I guess he got 1 too many and it pushed him backwards mentally.

We are so lucky that with therapy, we've gotten him back and he's actually borderline genius based on all the testing (IQ included). He only has speech delays at this point but you wouldn't notice it much anymore. He no longer needs speech therapy (YAY!).

We had his diagnosis before Zoe was born and it made us really research things and we decided when I was only 1 month pregnant with her that we would not risk this for a stupid vaccine.

Vaccines do NOT work based on the reasons most people think. In fact, there's arguments that explain how they don't work at all. That many diseases are barely seen based more on HYGEINE and safer water.

Please if you really want answers, do some basic research and don't shit on those of us who have. Your child is fine, mine was not... because these types of disorders can be genetic, we will not risk it with another child.

We are certain the autism gene runs in our families, but it's pretty DAMN obvious that something had to wake it up. Our daughter is now 17 months old and has never regressed in any way.

Perhaps even with vaccines she would be fine, perhaps she would not be. We chose not to take that risk when her chances were higher for damage.

Enjoy your aborted fetal tissue, mercury (yes it's still in MOST vaccines! LOOK at the inserts!), formaldehyde, etc etc etc.

Toby Sterling said...

Hi Laura.

I think the shortest way to put this is: science and the medical profession are squarely behind vaccines presenting much less risk than the diseases they prevent.

So, we disagree.

I do support your right to do what you think is best for your children and I'm not trying to tell you what to do (or "shitting" on you).

If your children have had bad reactions to vaccines (especially due to an egg allergy) then you have to take that into consideration, hopefully by talking to doctors.

You say you've read a lot, and that's a good thing.

However, there's a lot of "crazy" out there on the Internet, so be careful what you believe.


In answer to something raised earlier (maybe on Facebook): the Dutch ordered mostly Novartis, but the kids that go to the mass immunization are getting the GSK vaccine.


Flurtissimo said...

Less people die of seasonal flu then this virus. Its been around for more than a year. "Important people" get different vaccines then the "normal people" Microbiologist raising issues are getting tazered and arrested. Baxter is screwing around with flu-virii in the Ukraine. You go stand in the flu-shot line, ill que up for my tin-foil hat. Both based on misguided conceptions and equally useful. BTW Toobs, "I thought that this goes against your "good for individual/bad for herd idea"? What about the 101st monkey?

Toby Sterling said...

@Flurtissimo _ good to see you and Laura are on the same side of an issue for once.

I don't understand most of what you're referring to. At the beginning the scandal was that important people were getting the vaccine first; there are 5 different types out there but I don't know about bigwigs getting different ones. As far as I know adults are getting Novartis and kids are getting GSK but it doesn't make much difference.

The Ukraine situation _ the main question is whether having had the virus previously offers more protection, or whether having had the vaccine will offer more protection. It's too early to say (and IMO the Ukraine strain won't spread because too many people are already immune).

On individual/herd _ I don't know what you mean. Yes, it can be advantageous for an individual to not get vaccinated when most other people are vaccinated (and net negative for the rest of the group).

That's what I referred to as the "freeloader" strategy in the post.