Thursday, September 23, 2010

There Is A Season

Happy Fall Everyone! All week I have been very excited for this new season to start. I love the colors, the slight chill and the magic of fall. Of course autumn is not the only new season that is upon us, we are also approaching cold and flu season, and wouldn't ya know it on the first day of fall I woke up with my first cold of the season.

Normally my sticky, scratchy throat and heavy headache wouldn't be too big of a deal and I would go on with my day normally, if maybe dragging a bit. But now that Snow Pea is on board and forced to endure these things with me I have opted to stay in my jammies in the hopes that I can fight this off before it becomes full blown. I feel kind of lazy but I know it's the right decision. The decision I am unsure about though is how to deal with the remainder of flu season.

It is very common for OBs to prescribe flu shots to women that are pregnant anytime
during flu season, between October and April. The CDC recommends that all pregnant women be vaccinated by October to protect their already weakened immune systems. But of course like all other things, there is another side of the coin. Many independent scientists, doctors, moms and researchers claim that flu shots are unnecessary and even dangerous for the pregnant woman and her fetus. Some have implicated thimerosal, a type of mercury and common ingredient in the vaccine, as being linked to autism along with other health problems in children.

A conversation on Twitter yesterday about whether we all need or should get flu shots got me thinking about this debate. Since I am not due until April, I will be pregnant during the height of flu season. I would love to claim that I have a killer immune system and am unconcerned about getting sick, but the reality is I get sick all the time (as today's cold proves). I get some sort of cold or flu every season and I can't imagine this year would be any different, especially with an even weaker immune system.

But still I can't decide if I really want to get the flu vaccine. I have never gotten one in the past and even though I do get a cold every season, I also recover from it fairly easily. And I don't know why but it does kind of make me nervous. Yes, I know the claims of flu shots being related to other health problems are not widely corroborated or researched and honestly those claims aren't the big reason I am uncertain about the shot. I generally just don't know if it's something I want to do or not. I think it is an uneasiness with the unknown more than anything, especially since I have never had one before.

So as always I turn to the opinions and experiences of others for insight. Have you ever had a flu shot? Either while pregnant or not? Did it keep you from getting sick? Did it make you feel lousy afterward? And anyone that decided to skip it, did you manage to stay healthy anyway? Any thoughts or experiences are appreciated. Of course, I have every intention of speaking with my doctor about this and asking questions and hearing his advice before making any decisions. I just can't help but look at each step during this pregnancy and want to evaluate all the information from every side before making a decision. Part of it is just who I am, and part of it stems from the years of infertility and treatments. I spent so much time learning so much about the process of getting to this point and being so involved in each step of that process, that now it's the norm and I feel uneasy if I don't learn as much as I can with each new step.
Ultimately, I want to do what's best for Snow Pea every step of the way and the more I know, the more confident I can be that I am doing just that.

20 comments:

Jin said...

I got the N1H1 vaccine (and I think regular flu) when I was about 5 or 6 weeks along (February). So side effects, just a sore arm, lol. I would ask if they have a mercury free version, which they might, if it concerns you.

I never got any kind of flu shot before, but since pregnant women have a lower immune system, I wasn't going to take any chances. I'm not sure if they'll give me the updated one now, since there's only a month and a half left to go, but I will ask anyway.

babyjourney said...

Hi Holly :) My husband and I feel strongly against the flu shot, but that is our own choice. My parents are really for it, and they get it every year. I had the shot ONCE in my life, and that was my senior year of high school when I was 17 (10 years ago). After getting the flu shot at the urging of my mom, I was sick for about a month, and could not get out of bed for 2 weeks out of that month. So since then, I haven't had the shot. I've had colds since then, but nothing a little rest couldn't get rid of. Hope that helps :)

Ally said...

I got the flu shot for the first time last year when I wasn't pregnant. I had no problems with it at all, other than a sore arm. I know a woman who died from complications of H1N1 after contracting it when her son was only 6 months old, so that alone makes me want to get one.

I also have gotten the "flu mist" which is the nasal spray version of the vaccine (also while not pregnant), but I do not believe this has been approved for use in pregnant women since it contains live attenuated virus. I also had no problems with that.

Not There Yet said...

I would say that if you have never gotten one before - you should not do it now. Remember you are pregnant, not sick! I spoke to my midwife about it just yesterday. I also have never gotten the flu shot, but I have also never gotten the flu. Have you? Remember the flu and a cold are VERY different things....
Also think about your exposure level - where you work, etc and let that guide your decision making process too.

Jill said...

During my first semester of grad school I decided to get a flu shot. I didn't have one during most of my undergrad career (I think I may have gotten one, but I don't remember) and I never got the flu during college, but I felt like grad school was different. I was definately more run down that I had been in the past. I was also required to be in class all the time (teaching does that) and I would have to interact with students who were stubborn and came to class. I would touch their papers and they would use my markers or scissors for projects. I didn't want to tempt fate. I got the shot and felt fine the day of, but the next day I felt pretty bad. I had a mild fever and just generally felt like crap. But after that one day I didn't have any more problems. I might have gotten a super light cold during the season, but other than that I did pretty well. We did have flu outbreaks on campus, and I had several students with the flu that year.

For the same reasons, I got the H1N1 shot last year too. No effects the second year, went on with life like normal. I did plan my shot the day before an easy day though, just in case.

The Gimlins said...

Good topic! But I am sorry to hear you aren't feeling well. I am not a flu shot person; my husband and I never get them. In general I very, very rarely get sick; the hubby catches little bugs fairly often. Last year, with our then 6 mth old son, none of us got the regular flu shot or the H1N1. As I said, I am just not a flu shot person.

That being said, I was in early pregnancy during flu season two years ago. My OB recommended it, but I was hesitant. I ended up deferring to my sis, who is a PA. She admitted that with my strong immune system I probably wouldn't catch the flu, but she also said that quite often when a pregnant woman gets the flu it lands her in the hospital. My sister basically told me to get it, saying that the benefit outweighed the risk. I trust her opinion, so I got it. That was the only time I have gotten one; however, as we are looking to do IVF again in two months, I will likely go in and get the shot soon since they are currently being offered here.

Please know that I don't mean to scare you with the hospital talk. I agree that getting this shot is a personal decision.

Get better soon!

Candice said...

Hi Holly, I too am pregnant and don't usually get the flu shot but my OB has recommended doing it so I will be doing it this year. I wanted to let you know that they do provide a different type of flu shot for pregnant women that does not contain the mercury. Just ask your OB if they provide this or if they know someplace that provides it.

Lindsey said...

Gah! I'm trying to decide the same thing... and I also woke up with a NASTY cold today, but I had to go to work cause I need to save my sick time for maternity leave:-(
I'm so back and forth with this... I think I'll talk to my OB and figure it out. I usually get a flu shot every year, but baby is making me really re-think it.

Christa said...

I got flu shots both times I was pregnant, but I had been getting them yearly for the 7 years prior to that. I did not get the H1N1 vaccine (due to unavailability) last year, and I did come down with that. I have not had the flu otherwise. Sorry you are not feeling well. I hope you were able to rest and that this passes quickly.

Brave IVF Girl said...

I always get a flu shot (and have gotten the flu the two years I wasn't able to get the shot). Have never had side effects other than soreness at the injection point (and we're all used to that at this point!)

In California, flu shots don't have mercury in them, so you don't need to worry about that.

In fact I was in the pharmacy today and was planning to get a flu shot today (since IVF #3 will be in early November), but I have to wait until after my two Humira shots (immune suppressants don't play well with vaccinations...). So I'll get mine in late October.


The most important thing is that you're comfortable with whichever choice you make.

lowfatlady said...

I never get flu shots and I never get the flu. Though I do get colds. I think that I probably would not get a flu shot while pregnant just cause I wouldn't want anything to happen to what I worked so hard to get.

MarfMom said...

You can get a flu shot without thimerosal if you'd like. However, no valid scientific study has ever found a link between thimerosal and autism. I just read another article on that this morning actually. Since 2001 (or maybe 2006? I'd have to double check), no vaccines being marketed to kids contain any thimerosal, so I would think it wouldn't be hard to get your flu shot without it.

In any case, what are the risks to the baby if we do come down with the flu while pregnant? I don't think my doctor has ever told me. Is it a huge deal?

I will be getting one because I do every year, due to my other health issues and my husband's health issues. For me being pregnant has nothing to do with it. Since I'll be delivering in early Dec. though, and we're having both our families over for Christmas, I think it's doubly good for me to go ahead and get the vaccine to help prevent the flu coming into our home once Smudge is here and because my immunity will be passed to him via my breastmilk.

I've never had any complication from the shot other than being a little sore at the site. I have also never had the flu the years I've gotten the vaccine, but I did get it bad the year I skipped the vaccine. Also important to remember is that the vaccine only prevents against SOME strains of flu...whatever researchers predict will be the most common types for the year.

Slackie O. said...

I never used to get flu shots, until I was diagnosed with asthma about 6 years ago. I did get miserably sick EVERY Christmas. After the asthma diagnosis, my doctor strongly recommended a yearly flu shot and I have complied. I have not been sick at Christmas since. The flu shot itself has never given me any trouble.

Really though, it's down to what YOU feel comfortable with. Talk to your doctor and any friends you have in the healthcare field.

missohkay said...

I would recommend doing some extra research on H1N1 and pregnancy if you're considering that shot. There's a lot of misinformation out there, some of which suggests the shot wasn't tested/approved for pregnancy when released even though the government recommended that pregnant women get it. I never made the effort to sort out what was true and what wasn't.

mrskts216 said...

Hey Holly...

So, heres my opinion...

I have been a nurse for a bit now, and in my experience I have seen moms pregnant admitted to the hospital with the flu with very bad outcomes for the child they are carrying...

There will always be independent studies done that say how horrible and evil vaccinations are but I see it first hand every day that the most of the time, the benifits outweight the risks.

In the end it is a personal decision and your to make alone...but, I hope I added some insight!

Good luck :)

Bonnie

mrskts216 said...

One last thing....as far as I know the H1N1 is added into the flu shot this year, so there is not seperate shot..

Tiffany said...

Hi Holly! I DEFINITELY got the flu shot and would reccomend it to all pregnant woman, or any person who will be in contact with an infant during the flu season. I TOTALLY understand if you choose not to get one though. However I thought I would mention that the newest study came out 2 weeks ago stating that murcury IS NOT the cause of, or linked to autism in any way. There is actually a law suite pending against the physician who made that claim a few years ago because he made the claim with no medical basis. Just thought I'd throw that out there. I'm sure every doc has their own view though!

Beth Katz said...

First of all, congrats on SNOW PEA! Woo de woo!!! :)

I had the flu and H1 shots given to be on weeks 12 and 14 respectively. No mercury in the shots. And I did not get sick at all.

I think you should do what feels right to you and to your child. :)

Child. Neat, huh? A CHILD is in there. Holy cow, right? :)

Ashley said...

I have been getting the flu shot for years. I have a weakened immune system already pre-pregnancy so my doctors have always advised that I get it. I have never had any horrible side effects. Just a sore arm for a day or two after and then that day and the next day I would sometimes feel a little more tired than normal. So I will be getting it at my next OB appointment. However, I can understand why you might be concerned since you don't know how your body will respond to the shot. I would share that with your OB and see what he/she suggests. I know I just definitely don't want to have a newborn in January and then come down with the flu! :)

Jen @ After The Alter said...

I am very pro the flu shot, and as a matter of fact I am making my whole family (including my husband who doesn't do shots) get one this year. I believe it truly protects mother and child, and even protects baby once he or she is born. We are their only defense and I feel it's important to get the shot :)
You are going to get tons of opinions. Personally I would speak with your doctor and do your own research. As everything else with pregnancy there is always 2 sides and you need to do what you feel is best...