Thursday, March 25, 2010

Getting poked to avoid the Swine Flu

Luiz and I got the H1N1 vaccine today. Zozó will get her shot tomorrow. The Brazilian department of health has just started their campaign to get everyone vaccinated. This early round prioritizes the most vulnerable: children, the elderly, pregnant women and people with chronic illnesses.

Given Luiz’s Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia, that is to say his suppressed immune system, getting a vaccine is not always indicated. He cannot receive a “live” vaccine because he may then contract the very illness the vaccine is supposed to trigger protection against. In this case the vaccine is made from inactivated virus (dead) so there is no risk of him catching the flu. But, again, given his reduced immune response, he may experience very little benefit from the vaccine overall. But every little bit helps.

Our best strategy is to practice “herd immunity” to keep Luiz from contracting Swine Flu. That’s why I got the shot today as well, even though I am not in the prioritized groups. We need everyone in our household to be vaccinated to help protect Luiz.

We took the bus to a nearby public health center, smiled, identified which category we qualified for (chronic illness) and then got the shot. In and out in less than 5 minutes. And of course it was free.

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