Saturday, November 8, 2008

Of Flu Shots and Superstitions

Well I ain't superstitious,
But a black cat crossed my trail...

-- bluesman extraordinaire Willie Dixon

Generally I prefer to think that superstition and medicine shouldn't have anything to do with one another.

As I've said before, I'm an evidence-based kind of gal, and I like to have a medical team with the same basic outlook.

On the other hand, when I updated Joy's excellent neurologist on her lovely on-going seizure-free string (going on 2 months this coming Tuesday!), he glanced around and said "Quick, touch wood!" We laughed together as he jokingly allowed as how pediatric neurology had more to do with superstition than one would guess...

OK everybody, touch wood for us! Quick! Doctor's orders!

I also found myself doing something perhaps related to touching wood at Joy's recent primary care appointment. I got her a flu shot. And I requested a thimerosal-free dose.

Now, intellectually I am thoroughly convinced by the studies that, time after time, fail to find any connection or correlation between thimerosal and autism. In addition, if there were any connection, by now we should be seeing decreases in ASD diagnoses since thimerosal began to be taken out of vaccines as far back as 1999 -- and that drop has not happened.

So why did I ask for the thimerosal-free formulation for Joy?

Touch wood! I don't have any better reason than that. And I'm a little bit peeved at myself, and a lot frustrated at the anti-vaccine movement that has managed to instill this gut-level unreasoned uneasiness, even in me. An evidence-based kinda gal, or so I like to think. Emotions are such pesky beasts, aren't they?

The flu shot, recommended but not required, is about the last holdout for the regular use of thimerosal as preservative in childhood vaccines. The latest CDC guideline this year has expanded the recommended population for flu shots. They now recommend that everyone from 6 months to their 19th birthday, and also everyone over 50, get the shot. I think it used to be only up to age 5 for kids. Poor Rose, age 6 this year, got her shot this morning (didn't feel the need to specify formulation for her). Fortunately we didn't have long to wait in the doctor's office for her to stress about it. She cried almost as little as Joy this year, which is to say just a few whimpers -- Rose's whimpers were before the shot, Joy's were after.

JoyDad and I didn't whimper at all when we got ours at our respective workplaces. Or so he tells me, anyway.

Funny postscript to this year's flu shot adventure. Rose came in and told JoyDad that she'd had her flu shot.

JoyDad asked, "Where did you get it?" thinking left arm, right arm, leg, derriere, where?

Rose replied, "At the doctor's office!!"


datri said...

I have a dry sense of humor. Every time Kayla gets a shot, I just roll my eyes and say "well, she already has autism so I don't have to worry about that!"

I forgot about the flu shot appointment I made for the kids (because they made it for 8PM and the kids were already in bed!). I have to remember to reschedule it.

My DH and I just got ours and he had the WORST reaction this time -- fever, chills, muscle stiffness, shortness of breath. He even put in a vaccine incident report to the CDC.

JoyMama said...

Sorry to hear about the reaction - yikes. I have a sore arm, but nothing worse. Rose and I agree that it stung less with the actual shot this year.

The one remaining not-really-a-doubt with Joy's progress hinges on the fact that she's had two regressions, and both were within a month or two of the flu shot. I *know* there's no connection. But still. I want to ward off a Christmas regression this year, and if it takes superstition to do it, why not, right?

I like your sense of humor!

Anonymous said...

Allow yourself, to knock on wood and reject thimerosal, er, let go of the peeve. (You probably did hours ago, same time as you wrote the post, betcha.)

I've wondered if the associations between innoculations and subsequent regressions has to do just with the 'stress' of the shot. I mean, any child who's thresh-hold for stress is lower-than-average might respond to isolated pain with the injection and the temporary immune response required.

Smaller stress produces bigger responses in some. Something like that. Okay, must stop musing on JM's blog. Barbara

Trish @ Another Piece of the Puzzle said...

I think vaccinations, like any medical decision, is an individual one based on the situation of the patient. For our son, we have made the decision to forgo any more shots. He has immune issues that point to a lesser ability to process toxins and, besides, he has tested as still immune to the diseases they want to give boosters for.

Plus, my husband's family has a lot of history for Alzheimer's in his family, so we try to avoid aluminum as much as possible, and unfortunately, that is what replaced mercury in many of the vaccines.

Anyway, I mainly popped over to let you know that I replied to your comment on my 5MFSN post with some more info about our church.

Have a lovely week!

JoyMama said...

Trish - thanks for the response at 5MFSN!

And of course you're right, any medical decision has to take individual circumstances into account...

Anonymous said...

Before you put all your faith into CDC statistics, read these two websites:

JoyMama said...

Two notes on the above anonymous comment:

The only people who have left "Anonymous" comments on this blog, in over 4 months' time, have been been making anti-vaccine points. Courage of one's convictions and all that.

Second -- As an "evidence-based kind of gal," I do not recommend either of the sites in Anonymous' comment.

Barbara said...

Of all government entities, of which many I am suspicious, I have trust in CDC data. There is less agenda represented in the CDC's work than by the NIH. My opinion. For what it's worth. Free here. You get what you pay for. Everyone has an agenda. Even not-for-profits. Esp nfps. Sorry, I drift into cliche (and sarcasm). At least I do not come in anonymously. Same Barbara as TherExtras