Blog Update!
For those of you not following me on Facebook, as of the Summer of 2019 I've moved to Central WA, to a tiny mountain town of less than 1,000 people.

I will be covering my exploits here in the Cascades, as I try to further reduce my impact on the environment. With the same attitude, just at a higher altitude!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Swine flu, breastfeeding and the vaccine

I was really intending on doing a book club post for today, but I keep reading some advice on how to handle dealing with swine flu on some natural living and green sites with some recommendations that I wanted to hopefully clarify in regards to the benefits of breastfeeding and swine flu protection in children.

One of the things that I wanted to touch on was the assertion that breastfeeding will help protect your baby from the swine flu and that it is a valid alternative to the swine flu vaccine. On Ecochildsplay, the author states that "there are ways you can protect even the littlest members of your family, without giving them a vaccine."

She then says that "although the CDC recommends that most seemingly healthy people receive the vaccine, there are other ways to protects [sic] your babies." The article supports this argument by mentioning that the CDC states: "Breastfeed early and often. Limit formula feeds if you can. This will help protect your baby from infection."

The article goes on to say:
Yep. The Centers for Disease Control suggests breastmilk over formula to help protect your little ones against swine flu. No, breastmilk is no cure. But it may help boost baby’s immune system and make any illness a mild one.

I believe the author is inferring way too much here from the CDC's statement. I can't concur with the assumption that breastmilk will help make swine flu a mild illness. I do want to make clear the fact that I wholeheartedly agree that breastfeeding helps the child's immunity, but that is assuming that the mother has immune cells or immunity to the disease you are protecting them from.

Since this is a novel flu, one that no one (under the age of 60) has immunity for, breastfeeding won't help protect them specifically from the swine flu. In other words, unless the mother has been exposed or has come down with the swine flu and is breastfeeding, the breastfeeding child will not have any immunity.

The concept that breastfeeding in general helps boost the child's immune system is definitely accurate, but unfortunately, the CDC states that "infants are thought to be at higher risk for severe illness from novel influenza A (H1N1) infection and very little is known about prevention of novel H1N1 flu infection in infants. If you are breastfeeding or giving your baby infant formula, a cautious approach would be to protect your baby from exposure to the flu virus."

Further the CDC recommends that in order to protect your baby, if you have the flu, you should have someone else feed your infant your expressed milk in order to reduce the possibility of infecting your child. If you do not have help, then you should wear a facemask.
Since this is a new virus, we don’t know yet about specific protection against it. Mothers pass on protective antibodies to their baby during breastfeeding. Antibodies are a type of protein made by the immune system in the body. Antibodies help fight off infection.

If you are sick with flu and are breastfeeding, someone who is not sick can give your baby your expressed milk.

And, if you are wondering if I'm advocating that healthy children get the swine flu vaccine, you bet I am (there are "mercury free" shots available if that makes your hiney twinge). The vaccine should be no more risky than seasonal flu shots. And since children under 5 are considered a high risk group, wishful thinking is, frankly, more dangerous than the potential side effects of a vaccine.

So, definitely, keep up the breastfeeding, just know that it is no magic silver bullet here. If your child gets sick, monitor their symptoms and seek appropriate treatment according to your doctor's recommendations.

Are you planning on getting yourself and/or your children vaccinated when it becomes available?


Mary said...

My family will be getting a shot for the regular flu as well as the swine flu as soon as they will give us one.
My husband (who works in a public health setting) and my six year old daughter will probably be able to get one before me but I will make sure we are all vaccinated as soon as possible.

Delora said...

I'm pregnant so am strongly considering getting the H1N1 vaccine this year. However, I'm concerned that it was rolled out quickly so has had no long-term studies performed.

I started refusing yearly flu shots over a decade ago when the antibodies from one particular batch started causing me to have inconclusive Western Blot (a common test for HIV) test results. I've been put on the 'banned for life' lists by both Red Cross and our local blood banks due to this antibody similarity.

Crunchy Chicken said...

De - That's weird. How do they know if it's from your flu shot? Did other people getting the flu shot from the same lot have similar results?

Robj98168 said...

Well- I am glad I can't breast feed. of course I can't help but think of Meet the parents:
Pam Byrnes: I had no idea you could milk a cat!
Greg Focker: Oh, you can milk just about anything with nipples.
Jack Byrnes: [He reacts] I have nipples, Greg, could you milk me?

cindy24 said...

I usually don't get the flu shots because my kids have never gotten the flu and i have only had it once. That said, with 2 kids with asthma we will be getting in this year. I did get the shots myself when my youngest were under 6 months.

Unknown said...

From the WHO: Time constraints mean that clinical data at the time when pandemic vaccines are first administered will inevitably be limited. Further testing of safety and effectiveness will need to take place after administration of the vaccine has begun.

For these reasons, WHO advises all countries administering pandemic vaccines to conduct intensive monitoring for safety and efficacy, and many countries have plans in place for doing so. On the positive side, mass vaccination campaigns can generate significant safety data within a few weeks.

This vaccinne was tested for a VERY short time and frankly, this notice by the WHO screams, to me, "guinea pig," and, "we don't who how the hell this is going to affect some of you guys." Yeah, I'm not getting this one.

Farmer's Daughter said...

I've never gotten a flu shot but plan to get one, plus the H1N1 shot this year because I'm pregnant. I teach in a school where there were cases last year, so I'm not going to risk it. According to my midwife, there won't be enough vaccines for everyone, and pregnant women will be on a priority list.

Also, my superintendent recommended gettting the vaccine in her opening statements yesterday if you are pregnant.

die Frau said...

I'm in a similar league as Farmer's Daughter: I teach at a high school where we had cases of swine flu last year, and I'm trying to get pregnant. Thus, I'll probably get the H1N1 vaccine if it's available to me and a flu shot as well. I have asthma, too, so the shot helps decrease a prolonged respiratory illness.

In the meantime, I'll continue my campaign of not touching the railings in the school stairwells, avoiding doorknobs, and washing my hands frequently.

Billie said...

I will probably not get the swine flu shot or the regular flu shot. I am pretty much guaranteed to get sick because of the kids but haven't gotten the flu from them (or from anyone else in years) so willing to risk it.

Sarah said...

The last time a swine flue vaccine was rolled out quickly, it killed more people than the disease did. So my family washes their hands a lot.

My son did get the flu in June; who knows if it was H1N1, but it was late for "regular" flu. He was fine.

It's likely that if an infant contracted H1N1, the mom would too; if the baby is not in daycare then s/he likely would have contracted it from within the family. If the mom is sick before or even at the same time as the infant then she may produce helpful antibodies. I don't think breastmilk is exactly the wonderdrug advocates make out- my breastfed kids certainly weren't disease-free- but it still can be helpful in this scenario.

e4 said...

Here's an important question I haven't been able to find the answer to... We know that there have been fatalities because of swine flu, but the mortality rate is fairly low. We also know that the swine flu shot itself has a mortality rate that's also low.

A number of deaths have been attributed to swine flu itself, but out of how many who were exposed and/or contracted it?
We hear that 25 deaths are attributed to the vaccine, but how many have been vaccinated?

In other words, I don't want opinions, I want data!

Michelle said...

I've gotten the flu shot since I was pregnant with my first son; my husband and older son have also gotten them every year since. I'll do the regular flu shot and H1N1 with both my boys (even the one I'm still breastfeeding) and do whatever shots I can get for myself. With my first son, I don't know if breastfeeding helped his immunity--he had 5 or 6 ear infections before I stopped BFing at 1 year, what would it have been without the breastfeeding?

jewishfarmer said...

I agree that the websites seem to be misusing breastfeeding a bit, but it is worth mentioning (which you don't) that flu shots are not recommended for infants under six months - that means that for those babies, breastfeeding is it. I wonder to what degree the sites you are quoting are trying to reassure parents who can't give their children the flu shot. Just a thought.


Adrienne said...

H*ll no, for the reasons that Terra's comment cites. I never get a regular flu shot either, as I've only had the flu once and it was in the summer when I wouldn't have had flu shot coverage anyway. I wash my hands a lot. I'm also not in a high risk group, I might reconsider if I were but I don't know. Anything that just kinda gets whipped together in a hurry, I don't really want injected into me.

Anonymous said...

Curiously, I get bronchitis or pneumonia every year I don't get a flu shot. How weird is that? So I'll definitely get a "regular" flu shot...but I'm still on the fence about H1N1.

How different is the development of an H1N1 vaccine than developing this year's "flavor" of seasonal flu vaccine? Is it really any more dangerous or less-well-planned?

Greenpa said...

Sharon and Crunchy- I think there may be something a few people at the CDC know about breastfeeding that you don't. (gasp! :-)).

Seriously- I learned this in gradschool- and I have NEVER met a physician- or lactation nurse-counselor, or nurse, or ANYONE who knows it. Why the hell they keep it secret, I do NOT know.

The areola- is permeable during nursing- to proteins. Both ways. This allows the mother to PICK UP antigens from the baby- or in fact from the air- and THEN make antibodies against them.

So the mother does NOT have to have had the New Flu (I have neighbors who raise pigs, and the other name IS forcing some of them into bankruptcy) in order to make antibodies against it.

More commonly, what happens is the baby catches some bug, passes antigens to the mother during nursing, and she makes antibodies (more and faster, with her mature immune system) and passes them back to the infant in the milk. Before gut closure, those antibodies can and do get into the infant's blood, and help kill the bugs.

If a child has been exposed to New Flu, but doesn't have a full blown case- the child may pass early antigens through the areola, with the result that the child gets only a mild case, due to mom's early antibody response.

Tell me; ANYBODY- have you ever heard of this areolar function before? I'm starting to think I dreamed it one night. Except the CDC seems to be saying the same thing- with, of course, no explanations.

Greenpa said...

Hm; "This allows the mother to PICK UP antigens from the baby- or in fact from the air- and THEN make antibodies against them. "

Didn't catch that in my proofing; that sounds like this is a casual "maybe" kind of thing. Sorry; it isn't; it's a major, intentional, highly developed specific mechanism to protect infants from disease.

Nana said...

I won't be getting the swine flu shot either as I don't care to be a guinea pig! And I don't really like the idea of my grandson, who will be 2 in Oct. getting one. If he were my son, I'd just say NO! He was breastfed until he was 18 monthes and has been exceptionally healthy. My daughter hasn't decided.

Anonymous said...

"The vaccine should be no more risky than seasonal flu shots."

Hmmm, should be, but who knows? It hasn't been tested, it's been rushed. The fact of the matter is, we will have no idea until a large number of people get the shot.

GreenPa, I've read this same info from a midwifery text.

Sadraki said...

@Greenpa I work in a hospital and have heard about breast milk what you are saying though I didn't know it was the aerola that did this. But we encourage Mom's to feed their kids the freshest breastmilk (as many have stored supplies) as that will contain antigens to whatever is floating around in the hospital.

That said I plan to get both the regular and H1N1 vaccine this year because I work in health care and it is highly encouraged at work. Everything I have been told indicates that the new H1N1 is not more severe than seasonal flu but is more contagious (due to lack of immunity) so we expect to see many more people with severe flu cases due to more having flu in the first place.

That said it is highly unlikely that there will be enough vaccine for everyone that wants it and so some sort of priority setting of who to vaccinate will be worked out/is in work by the CDC.

Q said...

Michelle this is a little bit off topic, but my younger sister and I were prone to ear infections when we were little. You should watch to see if your baby gets ear infections when he gets water in his ears.

This is how my sister and I used to get ear infections. Not from bath water, but from things like lakes and pools. We ended up having to swim with ear plugs till we were in our late teens.

Most doctors scoff at the whole idea by the way.

Anonymous said...

I've heard of it, Greenpa!!! When I was tandem nursing my 1st 2 I got a ton of advice that I needed to wean my older kid or wash frequently btwn nursing to protect the baby. But then I read just what you said - the breast actually does adjust to make antibodies like you say. So tandem nursing could actually protect my littler one rather than put him at risk. The information is indeed out there.

When my oldest was 6 mos old he came down with the 'flu. He was one SICK baby...until I came down with the same 'flu. Then he made a miraculous (OK, not quite) recovery and I was left being one SICK mommy . I am a HUGE believer in breastfeeding immunity - in situations where Mom and baby have the same bug.

I'm not sure where you got your information on the safety of the vaccine. Saying it's just as safe as the regular 'flu vax doesn't actually make it so. I've read a lot of conflicting information and don't know what to think.

We only have 1 person in the household in the high risk group anyway so we're not the highest priority for the H1N1 vax. I absolutely will not get it in the first wave and may or may not get it/give it to my family farther down the road. I need to wait and see. On one hand it's really stupid to die of a vaccine preventable disease. On the other it's really stupid to die or become disabled by a vaccine for a disease that isn't that fatal to begin with. I need more information before I can decide which kind of stupidity I'm aiming to avoid.

Kelsie said...

I'm not getting it. I've only gotten a flu shot once in my entire life (because I was basically forced to get one), and I ended up getting the flu.

It makes me leery that this shot is being released so quickly, and it sets off alarm bells in my head that they're not sure yet whether one or two doses will be needed.

I work as a college teacher, and if things get bad at the school, they'll most likely shut down. If they don't shut down, I'll cancel my own classes.

I actually had a flu-like illness back during the initial rise of the swine flu--it was just after a vast group of tourists from all over the world had visited the art studio where I work part time, and so I do wonder if I had the swine flu.

At any rate, I'm stocking up on bone broths, garlic, herb teas, and other things to make whatever illness I get more comfortable, if I do get ill at all.

Eco Yogini said...

I work in the health care system in Nova Scotia- and the vaccine will ONLY become available in November of this year for health care professionals...
that's due to Canada needing to test on human subjects for at least 6 months.
While speaking to a parent about whether or not it would be a viable option to protect with the regular influenza season this fall, I mentioned that it may be a moot point.
If non-priority (i.e. there is a list of who gets the vaccine "first" starting with health professionals, lame i know) individuals are only eligible for the vaccination in say... December this year, then preventing possible mutations with the regular influenza will be too little, too late.

that being said, I don't like flu shots, never got them... but most likely will be required to sign up for BOTH the flu shot (with the booster) AND the H1N1 in November.

Erika said...

I'm sure my husband will roll up both sleeves and take the seasonal and the H1N1 shots as soon as they are available. I, on the other hand, will not be taking either vaccine. I have significant reactions to ALL vaccines, from the flu shot to tetanus shots, to the smallpox vaccine I received in the military. When I had my discharge papers in hand from the military, I vowed to never take another vaccine again, except a tetanus shot... maybe. Lately, I've been thinking about weather or not to break my vow if I were to be pregnant during flu season; unless things are getting much worse than normal, I still don't think I'll take any vaccines - I just have a hard time seeing how my reactions (generally a fever that hovers around 104, extreme fatigue, extreme muscle soreness all over, swollen and painful lymph nodes - both armpits, neck, etc., and a massive headache) could be beneficial or even just 'not harmful' to the child I would be carrying.
As for the whole breastfeeding and immunity thing... Yes, breastfeeding does help support the immune system of the infant/child, but just like everything nature intended, it's not a guarantee that the infant/child won't get sick, which can also be said for the vaccine...

Anonymous said...

Yes, we will all get it. I get a flu shot every year, and would like to protect all of us from this novel flu if I can!


Unknown said...

Probably not. I've never gotten the flu shot before, I'm not in a high-risk group, and I'm pretty healthy in general. Since there's likely to be a shortage of vaccine, I'd rather it go to people who need it more. If they definitely had enough for everyone, I might reconsider, so that I didn't spread it if I were infected.

Delora said...

CC - I heard about the flu vaccine causing faulty scans from an AIDS clinic I went to seeking answers to my constant blood donor rejections. My doctors at the time didn't seem to pay it much mind and didn't offer any ideas. The clinic couldn't say for sure if the flu vaccine was the cause (I should have added caveat to my comment that it was suspected), but there must have been some data floating out there somewhere that they'd bring it up as a possibility. This was in the late 90's.

scifichick said...

I've never gotten a flu shot and I'm certainly not getting this one. I am generally healthy and don't get sick often, I see no need to inject myself with something that might or might not prevent a flu.

Aimee said...

I'm about to be offensive here. People who are categorically against vaccines are either misinformed, ignorant, or just plain dumb. Do vaccines ever have side effects? Yes of course! But these side effects are generally mild and self limiting, and taken as a whole, are many millions of times LESS dangerous than the illnesses that the vaccines prevent. You don't want to be a guinea pig you say? Fine, then GET the VACCINE because you are a guinea pig for the illness without one. Getting your children vaccinated (against everything, not just flu) is probably the single most effective thing any parent can do to protect them from disease and death. And not vaccinating them is equivalent - in my not so humble opinion - to letting them play in traffic. It's also irresponsible toward your community as you increase the danger of all preventable diseases toward babies and other members of the community who cannot be vaccinated for whatever reason. Get a clue! Ask your doctor, don't you trust him or her more than some anonymous twit on the internet??

Segwyne said...

I am opposed to vaccines of any kind. I saw the movie Truth About Vaccines as one of my initial educational pieces. I strongly believe that vaccines had nothing to do with the drastic reduction in deaths from disease in the early 1900s. Hygiene played a much bigger role. I also have a child with mild brain damage from heavy metal toxicity (lead poisoning) as a toddler, so I try to take no risks with putting questionable substances into our bodies.

I also have to wonder about the flu itself. I read that the vaccine makers have been granted immunity (har har) to lawsuits if their concoctions kill someone which does not reassure me about their safety. If the vaccines were safe, there should be no need for legal immunity.

Secondly, this flu originated during a severe financial crisis. Vaccines are a lucrative industry. It makes me wonder if the severity of this new flu is over hyped to stimulate the economy with sales of vaccines and other flu-preventatives.

Sarah said...

Aimee: I agree that vaccines have been important tools in reducing communicable diseases. However, in my experience, I can NOT trust my doctor to thoroughly research the things that are important to me. In the same way I've needed to self-diagnose and request tests for every single problem my children and I have ever had (with the help of the internet which helps me find scientific journal articles), I also have had to do my own research on vaccines. And that means considering the safety records of each vaccine individually, as well as weighing the risks of vaccination vs. risk of disease. So far, through that process, I see no compelling reason for my kids or I to get the H1N1 vaccine. That's not being irresponsible. I'd say it's rather more responsible than the folks who don't do their own research and just get the vaccine because they heard they should on TV.

Greenpa said...

Cherrie, and others- I'm glad I'm not just hallucinating again. :-)

And REALLY glad the information is getting about somewhat, anyway.

Nicole- delighted it made it into a midwifery text.

Seriously- no doctor I've ever met has heard of it. We had some trouble with it with Middle Child, in fact- he had an upper respiratory thing when he came home from the hospital- acquired there- and they could NOT diagnose it. Wound up squirting anti-fungals up his tiny nose.

Finally I asked it they'd checked for pneumonia- "No, this can't be pneumonia; he'd be way way sicker than this."

Ah, but he was breast feeding. Sure as hell; did a throat swab- bingo, Diplococcus pneumoniae. Add a little penicillin- kid gets better.

Mom's antibodies were keeping him alive, but not quite able to kick it.

Spread the word! Besides, it is SUCH a cool fact!


Crunchy Chicken said...

Greenpaps - I remember reading something about that too when I was taking some lactation courses. I don't remember the exact mechanism for transference, but I suspect there's a tremendous evolutionary advantage in having such a sophisticated feedback loop since infant mortality would have been so high.

Mammals (not sure if this is a primate thang or shared with other critters) that developed this would have a distinct advantage in survival of offspring when illness spreads quickly through a population.

Kerry said...


You're wrong about this - "In other words, unless the mother has been exposed or has come down with the swine flu and is breastfeeding, the breastfeeding child will not have any immunity"

The reason the areola is so important in nursing (why pumping alone does not provide babies with the same immunities) is that actually is a permeabke membrane so baby gets your antigens and GIVES you antigens for what it has come in contact with - meaning your big strong immune system can tailor make milk that provides antibodies for viruses you haven't even gotten sick with. In fact, your body will start producing antibodies before your baby even has symptoms.

We're amazing mammals. Pass it on!

Amy in Tacoma said...

I have a four year old who was weaned a year ago, and a husband with diabetes and heart problems.

I don't fall into any risk categories and therefore, when the demand for flu shots outstripped the supply a few years back, I was told I "don't need one," despite having high-risk members of my household. Moreover, I seem to be the member of my family most susceptible to infections, and most colds/flus/viruses come into the house through me.

I am not anti-vax, and my family and I try to get the flu shot every year. But I am leery of the untested H1N1 flu shot, especially given the lethal side effects of untested swine flu vaccines in the past. It makes it very hard, given my family's circumstances, to know what to do.

Farmer's Daughter said...

Greenpa- I'm not convinced that the CDC knows this protein/antibody exchange mechanism... They recommend expressing breast milk and having someone else bottle feed, according to the post.

Malva said...

We've never gotten a flu shot and don't plan on starting this year.

The flu shot contains mercury (last vaccine to still have it as far as I know) so I'm really surprised they're advising pregnant women and little kids to get it.

Anonymous said...

I find the idea of pumping milk and having someone else feed the baby truly ridiculous. Really. I'm currently nursing my one-year-old. This means that by the time I'm showing symptoms it's probably already too late to avoid exposing him since we're in constant close physical contact. Also, as a one-year-old he's not interested in drinking expressed milk, but he's still nursing regularly. It would be highly traumatic for him if I refused to nurse him for days.

Plus, the last thing I would want to do if I had the flu was deal with pumping. I hate it with a passion, why wouldn't I just nurse the baby in bed, which allows me to expend as little energy as possible?

Get a vaccine, sure. But stop nursing while I'm sick? SO not going to happen.

BoysMom said...

I am sitting here nursing Smallest as I read. I can't see not nursing him when sick, unless I was on some medicine that wasn't safe for him.
I am not sure about the H1N1 vaccine. Grandfather, who was a pharmacologist, highly frowned on unneeded medications and vaccines. I grew up hearing that one should not take anything, not even a vitamin pill, without a good reason and understanding the possible side effects.
I'll have to see what more information about the H1N1 vaccine before coming to a conclusion.

Anonymous said...

So Greenpa- I'm not nursing...can I have my husband perform the same function for me if he's sick? :)

Anonymous said...

nope, will stay at home instead. we will be able to stay out of touch with others for weeks, perhaps months if really necessary. good food storage, work from home.

would not trust school supervisor or other boss to make medical decisions, either.

Oldnovice said...

We're of the "over 60" crowd and won't be getting any vaccinations. I like to think that all those years I spent crawling across the bathroom floor to hug the commode, wishing I were dead provided some antibodies. Hard to tell, though, as at 62 I just finished with chickenpox. My 3 kids had chickenpox in the 1980s and I didn't catch it from them, but 2009 knowing NO ONE with chicken pox, here they are. And, NO, they were NOT shingles.

My oldest daughter is pregnant and my husband has mentioned querying her about whether or not she'll get the swine flu vaccination TWICE. I just told him tonight that I'll not ask her. I know she'll ask my opinion, but I plan to say, "This is between you, Dave, and your doctor." I'm trying to practice non-interventionism.

Veronica said...

I would never get any flu shot or allow my family to get one.

Medicines do so much harm to our bodies and there are holistic ways to avoid taking them.

I know there are times that they save lives but I don't believe the flu shot counts.

Please look at the article I'm attaching from the vitamin D council.

College Student said...

I've gotten more vaccines than the average person, probably, because of foreign travel, and I've gotten the flu shot the last two years. I know there are concerns about the H1N1 flu vaccine (as there are with all vaccines) and I plan to research it carefully and try to read the studies. As a member of a risk group living in a college dorm, though, which is essentially a hothouse for infection, far away from any family who could help take care of me, and with the news going around of a severe form that's causing viral pneumonia... I'm leaning towards thinking it'd be safer, and especially more considerate of the people around me, to get it.

Greenpa said...

atclosetohome said...
So Greenpa- I'm not nursing...can I have my husband perform the same function for me if he's sick? :)

Hm. I'm not sure exactly how you want this to work- but I'm getting some very interesting images in my head...


Greenpa said...

Farmer's Daughter said...
"Greenpa- I'm not convinced that the CDC knows this protein/antibody exchange mechanism... They recommend expressing breast milk and having someone else bottle feed, according to the post."

I had the same reaction when you pointed that out- "jeez, that's dumb." But- thinking it over, there IS a way this could be beneficial.

If the mom is a regular working mom; she's home at night, yes? And nursing the baby normally then; then expressing milk to give the baby during the day.

She could pick up the antigens at night- and make antibodies in the milk that WOULD be there in the daytime portions.

My experiences with the CDC make me think most of the folks there ARE very bright- but on the nerdy side when it comes to communicating. :-)

Crunchy- yeah, no kidding! A huge advantage there. I not aware of anyone investigating whether this happens in other creatures or not- and that would be very interesting to find out.

Robbie said...

I work in health care and am on the communications team to educate staff, so I wanted to help clear a few things up:

1. There are vaccines w/o the perservatives for children so there is no concern for parents who worry about the risk of autism.

2. The seasonal flu vaccine provides protection for one year against what's thought to be the more prevalent strains for that year. So you could have the vaccine, yet catch a strain you haven't come in contact with or have been immunized for.

3. The CDC is pushing breastfeeding as a protective measure. Given the quantity of the vaccine and its ability to mutate, I'd err on the side of breastfeeding your children. And if you worry about "production" keep in mind that something is better than nothing!

Hope that helps

Anonymous said...

Nope. Ain't doing it. No way. No how. Of course, I'm allergic to components of the flu shot - so I've never had one of those - ever. I NEVER get the flu. Just doesn't happen. But I also take a boatload of Dry Vitamin D3.

I work in healthcare - remotely, for the most part - so not in acute care situations. One year one of the docs that I work with asked if I'd had my flu shot yet. I explained that I was allergic to a component so was unable to have one. He nodded thoughtfully, then said under his breath, "You'll likely be the healthiest of us for decades to come. I still wonder what we're going to find out about all of these strains that we inject into ourselves in the years to come." He's an ummunologist. Interesting, huh?

Greenpa said...

"He's an ummunologist. Interesting, huh?"

:-) oh, that's really too good to just let it pass!

Actually, I think you have coined a really good new word there!

I'm still not quite sure what it means, though.

The people who say "um" every other word? The people who nag the people who say "um" every other word?

:-) Great potential!

(and yes, I make typos all the time.)

Christine F. said...

My family and I will all get the regular season flu vaccination as we do every year. We never used to get flu shots. Then when my oldest dd was about 18mos old my husband got the flu and got very sick. I was fine but dd got it and ended up being hospitalized with respiratory complications. She had just weaned a month or 2 before that and I have always wondered if she wouldn't have gotten so sick if I was still breastfeeding her. After that scary experience we all make sure to get flu shots every year. Both of my girls have asthma and are still pretty young almost 3 & 6 yrs old so I think we may be in the "recommended" group for the swine flu vaccine. Still I don't think I'll be able to bring myself to get the swine flu vaccine or give it to my children. Like others who have commented, I have concerns about how fast it was rolled out and the lack of study results for safety and effectiveness. It's hard to trust it so completely when it is so new and the last swine flu vaccine was so disastrous. We wash our hands like crazy around here and use purelle when we can't. Wish my almost 3 yr old dd was still nursing so I could still offer her that little bit of added protection. My word verification was guessno! How appropriate :)

Anonymous said...

Three days after school began in our area, my children became ill and tested positive for H1N1. For them...otherwise very healthy children..this was mild and responded quickly and well to prescription Tamiflu. Neither my husband nor I became ill, even though we obviously were in close quarters with the virus. Universal precautions were all that was needed.

Just wanted to alleviate some of the fear that is being whipped up in the media regarding this illness.

Anonymous said...

THis si in response to the comment from Aimee. It is offensive to label those who are against vaccine that way. As someone who is a doctor and has done significant research on vaccines I have seen many children suffer, not mild, but severe and debilitating reactions to several vaccines, including one case which will likely result in the death of a 5 month old as he is currently on a ventilator and feeding tubes and suffering constant seizures as a result of a recent vaccine.

How much research have YOU done on vaccines, because I can tell you, if you rely on the fact that your physician has done the research for are wrong. I am a physician, and most don't do their own research, they rely on the drug company's data. It's dangerous!

Bottom line, if you are at very high risk and have additional risk factors like asthma or autoimmune dysfunction, consider the vaccine. If you and your family are healthy, be cautious. I myself will not get the shot. My 10 month old will not get the shot, and I will educate my patients very well and be very cautious about recommending the shot. Good Luck!

Crunchy Chicken said...

I like Jenn Savedge, but it's this kind of stuff that totally grinds my crackers to no end.

Crunchy Chicken said...

Interesting. It look like MNN pulled the article I was just complaining about. Hmm!

Anonymous said...

Guess I won't be getting the vaccine seeing as I already have it. :( Caught it from my 5 year old, who picked it up at kindergarten. Funny, no matter how many times you wash the little buggers, they still bring in every germ on the planet. Biggest worry is that my 3 month old has it now, and yes, i am breast feeding. Since I caught it first, there is some presumed antibodies in my breast milk so maybe, just maybe, she won't be as sick.

Kathy said...

“The truth is that vaccines aren’t effective, generally carry dangerous side effects, and in many cases actually fuel the spread of pandemics,” said Dr. Leonard Horowitz, a Harvard University trained medical researcher who also holds a Master’s Degree in Public Health. “The fact is that most healthcare workers know this, and they don’t trust that any swine flu vaccine will do anything but cause more problems and potential harm to the patients they care for.”

Interesting reading - and nope, no shots in our house ;)

Anonymous said...

I am a firm believer in breastfeeding and have an 11 month old that has been exclusively breastfeed since birth. I have anxiety about the upcoming flu season and am on the fence about the vaccines. At this point, I am considering getting the regular vaccine and skipping the H1N1 vaccine - it's just too new for my liking. They say it hasn't been rushed but I cannot, in good conscience, subject my family to something that is brand new and has no history of back it up. I just can't.

As research has shown, breastfeeding does provide exceptional immunities to the baby and if anything, I will be the guinea pig. If I get the vaccines and develop immunities to the flu, I can then pass those onto my baby through my milk and can avoid him getting the shots. I'd much rather subject MYSELF to the actual vaccines and let my little one benefit from the immunities I build up first. Still undecided.

Indiamommy said...

We will NOT be getting the vaccine for regular flu or H1N1. I had H1N1 in May, a fairly severe case, and my children had H1N1 just last week. They had mild cases, although they did have high fevers, body ache, cold symptoms, sore throat ect. I did take them to the doctor and they had Influenza A, which is being considered H1N1, since regular flu is not out yet. They all took
Tamiflu and recovered remarkably.

My son has mild asthma, and he had no upper respiratory issues.

I also agree that this vaccine has not been tested or evaluated long enough, and it may or may not put the public at risk.

I understand that those who died from H1N1 had some other underlying illness which was complicated after the person got sick with H1N1.

As for breastfeeding and H1N1, isn't the incubation period for H1N1 five to ten days? How will it help to seperate baby from mom if mom has it? When I was breastfeeding, I developed the flu (likely aquired it because of all the stress I was going through with my divorce). We just happened to be staying with a friend. My friend brought her to me when she was hungry (I never remembered this) and layed her next to me to latch on, and when she finished and fell asleep, my friend would put her in a crib next to me or take her out and hold her. It worked out well, and my dd did not get the flu. Doesn't mean that other babies won't get it, but it worked well for me.

And fyi, my friend never breastfed her children, but she honored the need for my child to breastfeed, even though I was completely sick and out of it. I think the combination of my daughter nursing and then leaving to sleep away from me, probably kept her from getting sick.

Indiamommy said...

And one thought, those who were not able to breastfed their babies, who are now on formula..their babies may have a more significant risk.

I think this is one of those situations for everyone at risk. Make common sense decisions. Stay well rested, eat healthy foods, avoid being in risky situations.

When you have to be in the public, be sensible and take some hand sanitizer, and use it often.

Don't put your fingers in your eyes, mouth or nose without washing them first.

Remind the children constantly about the above.

Be prepared to seek help with a doctor to obtain a prescription for Tamiflu should you get H1N1.

A temperature of 102 - 104 is indicative of H1N1. If your temp starts at 100, moves to 101, then 102 within 12 to 18 hours, see your doctor soon.

The time period from onset of first symptoms of H1N1 for taking Tamiflu is 24 hours. If you plan to use Tamiflu to get well, make sure you see your doctor immediately after your symptoms start, or Tamiflu will not help.

Cancel appointments, travel, visits with friends ect, based on various information. Don't send kids to school if there is an outbreak of the flu. It doesn't matter if it is regular flu or H1N1.

I know many people who have had chicken pox parties to get it over with. This, I think, you may want to avoid having. I think the number one reason for avoiding H1N1 is the number of days you will be sick, out of work, or out of school until you and your kids are well. With chicken pox, so many adults have had it already, so there will be many people who can care for your child. Not so with H1N1, and you are basically quarentined in your home until 24 hours AFTER the fever has broken. For us, it was a total of 9 days.

Stay healthy!

Smak73 said...

I'm a nursing mother and a healthcare worker, and I am generally in favor for a well-thought out & preservative-free regimen of vaccines. However, i am perplexed as to whether or not to vaccinate my daughter against H1N1. There is so much conflicting info regarding risks out there that I can't possibly keep up with it all to make a decision. I have two questions after reading the original post by Crunchy: you said that unless I am exposed myself to H1N1 flu then I would not be passing antibodies to my daughter in my breastmilk anyway - what if I was to get the vaccine myself, then I would be producing antibodies in response to exposure - wouldn't I then be able to give my baby immunity without having to get her vaccinated herself? Also, you mentioned that there are mercury free swine flu vaccines available for those of us with hiney twinges about such things. When I inquired about this my MD told me that there are NOT preservative-free H1N1 vaccines available as of yet (only for seasonal flu). From what I've lokked at online, she is correct - do you have other info I can read?