Saturday 31 October 2009

H1N1 - To Get a Flu Shot or Not

I work in an office up on the 14th floor overlooking Metro Hall and had an opportunity to observe the growing line-up for the H1N1 Flu shot clinic below me.

The clinic put on by Toronto Public Health opened at 10AM but the lineup started forming at around 6AM. Seems people are worried and have great faith in the shot protecting them, even saving their lives. They are also worried as, at the moment, reports say there is not enough to go around.

The clinics opened four days ahead of schedule after a 13 year old hockey player came down with the flu last weekend and died. This stepped up the worry and many people are becoming slightly panicked

The line-up kept growing as the early morning wore on. At first it came up John Street and snaked around the courtyard (pictured left) four or five times. Then it came out onto the King Street W sidewalk and along to a large area between the buildings, where again security had it looping back and forth. By 10:00, the line-up grew and spilled out behind the building that I worked in.

It started to rain but, when I walked by taking pictures shortly after 10, everyone seemed in good spirits, although some who didn't quite dress right for a damp cool rainy morning seemed chilled right through but had no intention of leaving.

Of course, the news vans were there, with reporters and camera people milling about. I asked one cameraman if it was the same at the other clinics. He said this was small and tame compared to the others, especially the day before at East York Civic Centre, where according to CTV News, "By 2 p.m., organizers ended the line-up to newcomers, causing some tempers to heat up. People were still waiting to get shots by the early evening."

Over the day on Friday, Metro Hall gave out more than a thousand vaccinations.

I am not getting a flu shot. Why? I'm not cocky, feeling that I am healthy enough not to come down with this new flu. After all, I came down with the Norwalk flu a few years ago, and in the giving spirit of the Christmas season, passed it on to my friends. I am quite aware that anyone of us could come down with this.

My fear is that I have felt all along that this vaccine was rushed in its development, may not be affective and could possibly do me more harm than good. Interestingly, I read an article in today's Star by Thomas Walkom who says just that. Apparently the Federal Government admitted that it approved the vaccine before the manufacturer finished conducting any clinical trials on it. Not news that I want to hear.

To get a flu shot is a huge decision to make. As it is only been given to "priority groups" at the moment gives us more time to consider the pros and cons. For me, I hope my body builds a strong enough natural immunity. So I wash more regularly than before and keep using the antibacterial gel than is not available everywhere.

Hopefully this flu strain pandemic does not hit as hard as many are suggesting it will or we will be seeing panic.


Teena in Toronto said...

I'll see what my doc says next month.

erick said...

There's already been a lot of misinformation about the N1H1 flu shot. I got mine yesterday, here in Hamilton
(since I'm "high-risk").

One email I received the day before, written by an American doctor, claimed that the flu hot had monkey parts in it, if you can believe that.

At the site yesterday they were handing out flu shot info brochures from Health Canada; apparently, instead of monkey parts, it's actually the seasonal flu shot mixed with a little bit of enzyme from the human liver.

They also go into which groups it did not test as well with, and which one's should avoid it (like any medication). Very responsible.

Given the fact that N1H1 reached pandemic levels so quickly it's not surprising that it had to "rushed" in order to be delivered to the masses.

All things considered, I wish I'd taken the seasonal flu shot a couple of years back, when I got the flu which nearly killed me. Perhaps it would have saved me that agony.