Swine Flu Update: November 4

I was able to get my H1N1 flu shot last Saturday! My State Health Department has a hotline for information on the H1N1 vaccine; since I am in a high priority group I called every few days to check on the availability. I think I got to be on a first name basis with most of their phone staff. But last Tuesday, instead of telling me the usual “Check back in a few days,” the operator asked if I would like to make an appointment to receive the vaccine! I took the earliest time available! Check your State Health Department’s website and see if they list an information line for the H1N1 vaccine and start calling!

Here’s a startling and sobering fact that you need to know: So far, 1 out of every 25 pregnant women who has contracted H1N1 has died. Take a breath, back up, and read that statement again. Read it until it has been hammered into your brain. Click the link and read the article that backs up that statement. Now, start making plans to get your H1N1 shot.

In regard the above statistic, exactly how deadly is H1N1? No one is sure. The standard measure of disease lethality is the Case Fatality Report, or CFR. Getting the CFR of H1N1 is simple math: Divide the number of people who died from H1N1 by the total number of people who contracted H1N1.

No matter what, the CFR is going to be wrong. There are going to be cases that go undiagnosed. Some people will wake up feeling miserable, realize they probably have the flu, and lock themselves away until it passes. Doctors make mistakes, and the rapid results test for H1N1 is only about 60% accurate. But the best that we can tell, H1N1 has a CFR of 0.5% for all reported cases. Regular Seasonal Flu CFR is usually about 0.1%. Both numbers are very small, but you can truthfully say that H1N1 is five times deadlier than the Seasonal Flu.

In other news, the United States has emptied its reserves of Children’s Tamiflu. Don’t worry, more is coming, and Adult Tamiflu can be “cut” to the correct dosage for children.  But that is one of those “Don’t try this at home!” activities, you don’t know what you are doing. Ask your local Pharmacist for guidance.

The Ukraine has banned public gatherings in an effort to control the spread of H1N1, since 67 people have died of “the flu”. This flu is not specifically identified but H1N1 is the most virulent illness out there right now. Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko addressed the nation about the flu situation – and placed all the blame for being unprepared squarely on his Prime Minister:

My request of May to the Prime Minister to allocate funds to establish a lab, to “arm” us in the situation, when the world is smitten by the epidemic of this flu, to date has not been answered.

Oh, boy.

There is also a looming crisis in Canada. The Providence of Alberta – in fact, all of Canada – was planning for a ho-hum, wait and see response by the public to the vaccine. Then three children died of H1N1 and there was a huge rush of people ready to be vaccinated. Still, things were under control until the manufacturer informed the Government of Alberta about vaccine shortages the day before the drug was needed. Clinics were suspended and a carefully crafted vaccination plan thrown into confusion. Nobody knows exactly what is going on and the opposition is calling for the Health Minister’s head. It’s becoming a political issue rather than a Public Health issue, and that’s dangerous. Meanwhile, a prominent Swedish politician has died from H1N1. North Korea claims not to have any cases of the Swine Flu. The South Korean government believes them – the average North Korean is undernourished and more susceptible to any kind of illness.  NK is probably taking drastic steps to make sure H1N1 can’t run free in their country.

Again, I have received my H1N1 vaccine, and I recommend you do the same.

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7 Responses to “Swine Flu Update: November 4”

  1. RHONDA LYLE Says:

    Hey Steve,
    I was wondering about your thoughts on the vaccine. I have polled every heart mom I know and got all sorts of different opinions. Our daughter has actually had the swine flu so she and Zeb ( CHD) were treated. Even though we have all been exposed, the pedi and Cardio still both highly recommend that we all be vaccinated. I have worried, cried and prayed over this. Today Zeb will get his vaccine. He is top priority for the pedi and as soon as avail my girls and husband will call get it. I am still not completely worryfree about the vaccine, but I am being sensible and praying and Trusting God. Thanks so much for your insight.

    Rhonda Lyle

  2. Joye Says:

    I am in the same situation as Rhonda, above. Ethan is scheduled to get his H1N1 shot today, but I was under the impression we could request the mercury-free version. Today, I learned that is not the case. I felt much better about giving him the vaccine when I knew it would not contain mercury. Now, I’m a little more worried. What are your thoughts on this? I feel like today is “our only chance” ….

    -joye 🙂

  3. Wendy Says:

    Hi Steve

    Here in Ontario (Canada) getting the H1N1 vaccine has been a nightmare. It became available the last week of October for high priority groups…..based on the honour system. Meaning they were giving the vaccine to anyone who claimed they had a serious underlying health issue with no questions asked. They operated 1 clinic in my city of 500 thousand people and 2 in Toronto that has 2.5 million people. Line ups were easily 6 hours long, outside in the rain and then herded like cattle indoors in packed stairwells. Completely ridiculous. We of course want to get Chris vaccinated being a cardiac kiddo and all, my daughter is 4, I have asthma and my husband is healthy but could bring it home and expose us all. Finally yesterday family doctors recived the vaccine and we have an appt on Saturday to get the shot. Cardio and the family doc agreed with our decision not to expose the kids to extra germs waiting in the lines and outside for those wait times.
    Our ICU at the children’s hospital here is full with H1N1 kids and the tech who did Chris’ echo yesterday at his check up said she’s been doing them on a lot of H1N1 kids as they are finding it is affecting healthy kids hearts. Scary.

    The roll out of the vaccine here in Canada and in my area has been ridiculous. Now they are telling people they will run out this week. Good grief!
    I’m please you got yours, I can’t wait until we have ours and I can breath a little easier.

    Wendy

  4. Pam Says:

    Steve,
    Our cardiologist for our Cardiac Kid, Zach (age 3 1/2), did not advise for or against the vaccine. Our daughter has already had the flu about 4 weeks ago and my husband was sick about 2 weeks ago. So, I’m wondering if Zach has developed his own antibodies to this nasty bug and if we even need to worry about getting vaccinated. It’s so hard to find answers…
    Thanks for all you do to advocate for CHDer’s!
    Pam Owens
    bprowens@bellsouth.net

  5. Pam Says:

    Steve,
    I decided to make a phone call after posting my comment above. Our cardiology group is now recommending the vaccine for its ped. cardiology patients. It pays to be persistent!
    So now I guess we need to find out where to get one… maybe not so easy a task. The nurse I talked to (Greenville Hospital System) said that they were still waiting to get theirs! Our pediatrician does not have them yet either. I’ll check the health department next.
    Pam Owens

  6. Melanie Palmer Says:

    I’m not positive about this but isn’t it 1 in 25 pregnant women WHO ARE HOSPITALIZED has died, not every one who has contracted the virus? Either statistic is scary but only about 1% of those who contract the virus are hospitalised. Our entire family got the vaccine last week and waited in a 3-hour line-up to do it.

    • Steve Says:

      According to the link, about 700 pregnant women in the United States have contracted H1N1; 100 of those has been admitted to an Intensive Care Unit (100 of the 700 infected, or 1 in 7) and 28 have died. (28 of 700 infected, 1 in 25)

      But this is only United States numbers.

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