Although I haven't seen the latest numbers, I would guess that in France at least half of the population has no intention of getting the H1N1 flu shot. My husband isn't planning to. I, however, will as soon as I can. We both agreed to vaccinate le Petit, and here's what decided us, in no particular order:
- I take public transportation every day during rush hour, when "standing room only" on the RER A means "breathing room barely." I figure that if there's a flu virus out there it probably has my name on it, and I don't want to give it to le Petit or the ten-month-old baby that shares our nanny and plays at our house every day.
- Dr. Sears had a post on their site which I interpreted as pro-vaccine. I'm far from an unconditional Dr. Sears fan, but I know that they tend to be vaccine-conservative, so I figured that if they were more or less in favor of the H1N1 flu vaccine, it probably was for a good reason.
- Our much-trusted pediatrician recommended it. He also assured me that kids under 10 would be vaccinated with the non-adjuvant form, which I've heard is better tested in young children.
- Although I don't have complete confidence in either the government or the pharmaceutical companies, I trust both of them far more than I trust a virus.
I understand and repect parents who choose not to vaccinate for H1N1, of course.
I think it is interesting, however, to see how people evaluate risk: poorly, generally. We are terrified of flying, but think nothing of getting behind the wheel of a car. We worry about chemical contaminants and genetically-modified foods, but without any real idea of the data that might support our anxiety. Cloud wrote about this quite eloquently. I'm no better than anyone else -- I'm a computer geek, not a scientist -- but for once, I did at least read the official information provided by the ministry of health. The infamous Guillan Barre Syndrome, the only dangerous flu vaccine side effect I've heard about so far, was mentioned, and the chances of contracting it were estimated at one in one million. I told my husband he'd do better to worry that le Petit and I would cross the street safely on our way to the vaccination center. That didn't stop him from nervously calling and texting us all afternoon.
Le Petit was just fine. I based this assessment on the soundest measure of his health that I know: he refused typically, stubbornly and categorically to nap. Take that, swine flu!