Paranoia surrounds new H1N1 vaccine

Rachel Giesel | Staff Writer

The H1N1 vaccine hysteria is still prevalent for students, with about 200 students registered to receive the shot having refused. Around 1,300 students received the H1N1 shot on December 16, however, despite the extreme paranoia, according to school nurses Kathy McVey and Christa Nichols.
McVey and Nichols said they heard many excuses from students who tried to refuse the shot. Junior Heidi Palmer said she refused to get the shot at her doctor’s office and at school, because she said she’s scared of contracting strange side effects.

“I just didn’t want it,” Palmer said. “I told [my mom], ‘Absolutely not.’ I would just not let them give it to me. I would shake around or run away [or] something ridiculous.”

Palmer said she’s terrified of receiving the shot, but senior Kristen Eberhard said she wasn’t nervous at all when she had to receive her shot. Eberbard said she has heard numerous rumors about it that have caused all the chaos and confusion.

“I heard rumors that it was going to have bad effects,” Eberhard said. “I don’t know if [the] rumors of if [are] true, but there’s a lot of stories going around about it.”

But McVey and Nichols said the actual risk of something happening for a Mason High School student is minimal. They said the biggest fear of the students is that the vaccine is new and unfamiliar. However, MHS was supplied with the inactive vaccine (a shot with the killed virus inside of it). A nasal spray is also available, which contains the living virus, according to the Immunization Action Coalition, an organization devoted to increasing immunization rates and preventing diseases.

“We were given the inactive [vaccine], not the live, so the risk was so small,” McVey said. “Part of [the fear] is the unknown. People are unsure [about the vaccine] because it’s new.”

Palmer said one of the reasons her fear is so huge is because the vaccine has just been created. She said she usually handles medical situations well, but this vaccine makes her nervous.

“I don’t mind getting shots or getting blood taken,” Palmer said. ” I guess [I was afraid] because it was something new; I didn’t know what it would do to me.”

The only fear necessary for someone receiving the vaccine is an egg allergy, according to Nichols.

“If [a student] had an egg allergy, they were more likely to have a reaction [to the vaccine],” Nichols said. “But, out of all the students [who received the shot], not one of them had a reaction.”

McVey and Nichols said they were required to call a parent or guardian of every registered student who refused the vaccine or did not come to get his or her shot. They said if the student refused, the parent or guardian still had the option of going to an evening clinic on December 17 to get the vaccine.

“We try to say, ‘This is what your parent wanted,’ and if [the students] flat out refused, we just say, ‘Okay we’ll call your parents,'” McVey said. “We can’t force them to do it. We made sure we made contact with the parent more than anything. A lot of parents that we called said they had already discussed it and they were aware that [their student] didn’t receive it.”

Sophomore Ryan Mumma said that in spite of his fear of needles, he received the shot because his mom thought it would be best.

“I didn’t really want to get it, because it’s a shot and I don’t like needles,” Mumma said. “But I had to. My mom said I had to. My dad’s a doctor and said, ‘No.’ But I know since my mom runs the house I would have to eventually.”

It is recommended for most people to receive the shot, but Nichols said that it is essential for a certain group of people.

“I think for a certain population it’s necessary; it’s not for everyone,” Nichols said. “Ones that fit in the high risk category: pregnant [women], small kids, [people aged] less than 24 [or] greater than 65; the very young and the very old.”

Palmer said she doesn’t think getting the shot is the guaranteed way to stay healthy. She said she believes vaccines are not a requirement to live a healthy life.

“I don’t think people need to take medicine as much as they do,” Palmer said. “As long as you eat healthy and exercise, you should be fine. It wouldn’t be as easy for you to get sick if you live[d] a healthy lifestyle.”

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