Dr. Courtney Mann, medical director of the WakeMed Children’s Emergency Department, provides prospective on how she made the decision to vaccinate herself and her two children for H1N1.
The H1N1 vaccine is slowly starting to be available in our community. As a health care provider and a parent, I am often asked by friends and neighbors whether or not I am going to get vaccinated for the H1N1, and if I am planning to also vaccinate my two young children.
Since I am first and foremost a parent, my main concern is always that my children are safe. As such, I consider the safety of the vaccine and the consequences of not getting vaccinated. The H1N1 vaccine is made the same way with the same technology as the seasonal flu vaccine. These vaccines have been given safely for decades and I feel confident that the vaccine producing process has only become safer over time. I also know that in most people H1N1 tends to be a relatively minor illness and requiring only a few days of bed rest. However, there are some patients – especially young children, pregnant women and people with underlying conditions – in whom H1N1 can be very serious.
Both of my children are in school where they regularly share toys, pencils, crayons, and germs with others. My hope is that if they contracted H1N1 they would be one of the lucky ones and have only a minor bout of illness. However, why would I choose to put them at risk of getting sick when the virus is totally preventable with a simple shot? Additionally, once vaccinated they would also no longer be carriers for the disease, helping to stop its spread, and perhaps also serious illness in another.
Additionally, as a physician, I feel that it is my duty to get personally vaccinated to prevent the spread of the disease to our more vulnerable populations presenting to the Children’s ED. I also want to make sure that I am not incapacitated at the time you may need my care! How can I help my patients at home in bed ill?
I am a true fan of vaccines. They are the single reason we no longer have to battle diseases like smallpox, rubella, polio and many other dangerous diseases in the U.S. We have come a long way through the years. Vaccines are the only real defense against viruses for which there are no cures. By getting the flu shot every year it is also likely that you are developing increased immunity to other outbreaks of flu sometime in the future.
With all of this evidence in hand, I will vaccinate my two children as well as myself for H1N1 with no second thoughts and encourage you to do the same. Stay well!