H1N1 ambivalence is now an epidemic

In the NY Times Science Section this morning, proof that the H1N1 ambivalence epidemic has reach far beyond those in this writer’s acquaintance. I posted earlier this week about the tortured reactions to the swine flu vaccine among the mothers I know, and heard from even more of you in response. Sounds like this is how it is everywhere. Perri Klass, MD, the author of this article, said this is the reaction she gets to the vaccine from “nonmedical friends”:

With about half, it is something like: “Oh, my God, our doctor doesn’t have it! Can you get me a dose?” And with the other half, it is something like, “Oh, my God, that brand-new vaccine — do you really think it’s safe?”

Dr. Klass thinks it is, and makes a compelling case for it in this article, while also exploring where this inchoate and yet deep-seated uncertainty regarding the vaccine may have come from. She quotes Dr. Paul Offit, chief of infectious diseases at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and I think he has interesting insight:

Dr. Offit wondered if people were more comfortable with sins of omission than of commission. Rather than inject a foreign substance into your body, he went on, “you’ll take your chances with a natural virus infection, which may or may not kill you.”

I’m a sucker for any Roman Catholic metaphor, so I like that one. As far as my own children, I am actively pursuing the swine flu vaccine for all three- and am getting all three of them the seasonal flu vaccine this afternoon. Despite this, we’ve all been sick on and off since Labor Day. So this may be a long winter.

(photo from NYT Klass article cited above)