Last week, I toddled my pregnant self up to the Joslin Clinic for my endocrinologist appointment and an ultrasound with my OB/Gyn. And as excited as I was about the ultrasound and the opportunity for Chris and I to see our baby kicking around in there (more on that later), I was just as excited about the H1N1 vaccine.
I can’t believe I’m saying that, either. Yes, this is the same Kerri who wrote about feeling “eh” about the flu shot a few weeks ago. But a few things have come to light in the last couple weeks that have changed my outlook on things.
Like the fact that the Joslin Clinic has been riding me about getting this shot because of my high-risk situation, being both type 1 and pregnant.
Or the fact that every healthcare professional I spoke with at last week’s ePatient conference kept asking me, “You are getting the H1N1, right?” and the look of concern when I said, “I haven’t received mine, yet.”
Or the very scary fact that pregnant women, regardless of any chronic illness, are singled out as one of the highest risk groups out there.
I’m not one to leap without looking. But I’m also not one to put my baby at risk if I can help it, so when Joslin said there was an H1N1 vaccine available to me, I jumped at the chance to get it. Seems like this vaccine, for some completely ridiculous reason, is not being made readily available to people who need or want it, so if there was one available to me, I was taking it.
It was unnerving, knowing they were injecting me with a virus. A dead one, of course, but still, with all the information circulating out there about the pros and cons of the H1N1 vircus, it’s hard to know what’s true and what’s just speculation. Or, unfortunately, what’s purely fabrication. In any event, when I heard about a little girl in my home state who, at the age of 12 had being diagnosed with H1N1 and then died from it just a few days later, it was enough to scare me into rapid and determined action.
But even at the Joslin Clinic, I had to jump through a few hoops in order to be viewed as “eligible.”
“No, I’m sorry. That vaccine is only for patients who are 24 weeks pregnant and up.”
“Really?” I said, my hands against the counter. “I was told that being 14 weeks and also having type 1 diabetes made me a shoe-in for this vaccine. It’s like my prize for being the in double risk pool. So there isn’t one for me?”
She checked her chart again. “Type 1? 14 weeks? Okay, you can have a seat over there and we’ll call you in for your injection in just a few minutes.”
It felt so odd, fighting for something I wasn’t even sure I wanted in the first place. But I kept thinking about the pregnant women I’d heard about on the news who had died from H1N1. And then I thought about all the public transit I’d taken in the last few weeks, and my upcoming travel plans for this week. Did I want to take the chance?
If it was just me, I may have. I may have waited or put off the shot or taken my chances. But I’m responsible for this baby. And when we heard the heartbeat, loud and strong, and saw him (or her) kicking around in there, I knew that I needed to do whatever it took to take the best care possible of my child.
So they shot me up with the H1N1 vaccine. Oddly enough, I felt grateful.
And that night, I promptly felt ill and slept for about 15 hours straight, waking only to test, snack, and drink water. I wasn’t experiencing any full-fledged sickness, but the weather was above me enough that I hid out all weekend long, missing any Halloween festivities and instead camping out at home with hot tea, chicken soup, and Kleenex.
Today? Feeling much better and on my way to speak at a seminar in New Jersey. But I keep hearing about others who are seeking out the H1N1 and still haven’t been able to gain access to a vaccination. What does it take to get protection when you need it? How are there H1N1 clinics in some states but not in others? Are you someone who is trying to get this vaccine but can’t? Or are you avoiding this shot, and why?
I’ve already jumped, so my opinion is moot on this one. I’m pregnant, my doctors told me this was best, and I (for once) listened. But this issue is getting bigger and bigger, and with diabetes month just getting started here, I want to know how the diabetes community at large feels about this H1N1 vaccine.