Being a yogini and very health-conscious individual, I have trusted the natural resilience of my immune system for years. Despite the annual suggestion of my doctor-father to get a seasonal flu shot, I’ve never had one, and I’m happy to report that I have not been sick for over 4 years. In fact, while my anti-flu-shot husband suffered through a week-long bout with the flu a couple of years ago, I slept soundly next to him with no problem.
Many of my friends are alternative healers and anti-vaccination moms and dads. Many argue that we don’t need immunizations; that our natural defenses are harmed by the shots and they render us more vulnerable in the long run, and there are some elements of this argument I find valid.
Why I was skeptical about H1N1 vaccinations
My father is an infectious disease specialist and epidemiologist with access to the latest information on microbial diseases around the globe. The notion that invisible organisms could cause such devastation has always compelled me. (Though my dreams of being a microbiologist are long gone, I now help my Yoga Tune Up® students peer into their own flesh and bones with laser-like focus of kinetic perception.)
Who says people should get the Swine Flu vaccine?
When the first alarms of the impending Swine Flu, or H1N1, started to make nightly news last March, I called Dad to check in. As the go-to guy for critical infectious disease cases at a major medical facility, he does not like the way the press tends to sensationalize every new disease, as he totally objects to fanning the flames of hysteria and sensationalism. His distaste for the press has led to me distrusting their messages about public health.
So when I asked him, “Is this all for real?” his response came as a surprise: “Do everything they are telling you; get vaccinated as soon as you can.”
My husband and I spent this past Christmas Day with my Dad, and the dinner conversation swirled around to H1N1. One of his current patients, who is currently “drowning inside of her own lungs,” is a 27-year-old mother. While pregnant with her second child, she refused her doctor’s recommendation to be inoculated because she “doesn’t believe in vaccines.” She contracted H1N1, and infected her husband and 2-year-old child at home. She slipped into a coma, her uninfected baby was rescued from her belly, and now she lay in isolation in the hospital, where every health-care worker who works with her must have protective respirators and clothing in order to not get sick. Her medical bills are currently in the millions, as the interventions to save her life are beyond complicated.
By “conscientiously objecting” to the vaccine, a shot that may have caused her some discomfort, she risked the health of her entire family, caused them financial ruin, and nearly died to boot.
Where I stand now on Swine Flu shots
As a teacher who works with the public, it is my responsibility to “do no harm” to the hundreds of lives I contact on a weekly basis. I also am not “magically immune” to microbes, even though the past has shown me to be abundantly healthy. Students may unknowingly carry the bug, and I can easily pass the contagion along while giving adjustments and sharing close quarters.
My husband and I now carry a card that states we are vaccinated against H1N1. (Thanks for the extra Christmas gift, Dad!) We feel very relieved to have done our part to curtail the disease, at least in our own bodies.
Now, what will you do?