On being a flu vaccine guinea pig

 It is not easy being pregnant and having to decide whether to take the H1N1 vaccine

The Vancouver Sun

Every time I see an assurance from health authorities that the H1N1 vaccine will be available in a few months, I develop a little knot of dread in the pit of my stomach. I have a big, scary decision to make soon.

I’m pregnant; the baby’s due in January. That puts me in one of the high-risk categories for H1N1, and it also puts me on the priority list for the vaccine when it comes.

There are excellent reasons to roll up my sleeve and take the shot. H1N1 is a known, serious risk to pregnant women; many have already fallen ill and died.

My immune system was strong before I became pregnant and I have no respiratory problems, but I know (believe me, I know) that pregnancy changes everything. I can’t trust this body to act predictably anymore, not for the next six months anyway.

The trouble is, I also have trouble trusting what medical authorities tell me.

It’s not that I have some irrational fear of medical science in general. Medical science is great. I just returned from a visit to my new family doctor, and I couldn’t be happier to have one after searching for five years. I am grateful to live in a country that doesn’t have an epidemic of polio or diphtheria, and I know I can thank vaccines for that. Vaccines are up there with porcelain and the printing press on the list of wonderful, civilization-advancing inventions.

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Author: Leslie Carol Botha

Author, publisher, radio talk show host and internationally recognized expert on women's hormone cycles. Social/political activist on Gardasil the HPV vaccine for adolescent girls. Co-author of "Understanding Your Mood, Mind and Hormone Cycle." Honorary advisory board member for the Foundation for the Study of Cycles and member of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research.