A Shot in the Arm

There’s an interesting article in The Washington Post today about medical workers and the H1N1 vaccine. The headline for the story is telling: “Medical Workers Leery of Flu Vaccine.”

Apparently BMJ (formerly known as the British Medical Journal) reported that in a survey of 2,200 health workers in Hong Kong during the May outbreak of H1N1, approximately 50% of them said they would not get the the vaccine due to fears of “side effects and . . . how safe and effective it would be.”

The article goes on to report that only about 35% of American health workers get the standard flu shot. George Annas, a Boston University specialist in bioethics is quoted in the article as saying: “Like the lay population, they assume they won’t need the shot because they don’t think they will get the flu.”

Now, couple this thought with another article that was out yesterday and everywhere in the media – “Swine Flu Could Affect Half of U.S.”

I’m not a health care worker but I am in and out of hospitals, and so is my husband, who is a pastor. I asked one of my co-workers yesterday if he thought my husband should get the H1N1 vaccine and he said, “Absolutely.” I told my husband that he needed to share that with his physician the next time he’s in and also tell the people at our church that visit the sick that they should get it, too. I haven’t seen anything about clergy getting the vaccine but it does make sense.

I understand the reservations people have about getting vaccines. I received the pneumonia vaccine two years ago and ended up with pneumonia. You do wonder about the effectiveness sometimes. But – H1N1 – that’s so different than the flu. “Pandemic” has a whole different connotation. We can’t treat it like it’s the seasonal flu. I think we’re going to have to step up to the plate, put our reservations aside, and bare our arms.

The links to The Washington Post articles I referred to are posted below:

“Medical Workers Leery of Flu Vaccine:”

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/08/25/AR2009082503251_pf.html

“Swine Flu Could Affect Half of U.S.:”

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/08/24/AR2009082401733.html?wpisrc=newsletter

NOTE: We now have a H1N1/Flu Information page on our website at www.minurses.org.

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