Flu Vaccination

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Last year at this time, the H1N1 virus, also referred to as the "swine flu," had us all rather panicked. People were anxious to get vaccinated against the flu then. But what about now? My guess is that the media attention given to the H1N1 epidemic last year left a skeptical public uncertain about the impact of the flu, and the safety and effectiveness of flu shots in general. Regrettably, H1N1 made itself personally known to my family last year when my own 9-year-old niece, Brianna, received a positive diagnosis. Unfortunately, she contracted H1N1 before a vaccine became available. I’ll admit that my sister and her husbabd were very concerned. In the back of their minds, they knew that she could easily become a tragic statistic, and the feeling was one of helplessness.

They did their best to quarantine her in order to keep the virus from spreading to their other four children. They tried to make her as comfortable as possible in her room, and gave her a walkie-talkie to call them with when she needed something. They even downloaded a week’s worth of her favorite shows to keep her entertained. Her sisters slipped get well cards under her door and they served her meals on special trays that only my sister or her husband would handle and deliver. After a week or so, my niece recovered and resumed life as usual. It sure is interesting how a brief brush with an unpredictable disease can change your perspective. The unspoken fear that we faced last year has faded into a childhood memory for Brianna. Surprisingly, it appears that public memory has been short-lived as well — which troubles me as a mom of an 8 month old.

Due to the heightened concern from last year’sH1N1 outbreak, I would have guessed that more people would be inclined to get flu shots this year. Unfortunately, it appears that a significant portion of the public is more concerned about potential side effects of the vaccine than with the consequences of falling ill with influenza. A survey of...
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