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Vaccine Skeptics Take Note: The Flu Can Kill

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Skeptical of H1N1? The risks are real: A pregnant woman struck with swine flu suffered five weeks in a coma -- and lost her baby.

pregnant flu vaccine Aubrey Opdyke

Vivian Manning-Schaffel: Much has been written about the H1N1 virus. Many think it's the media darling of illnesses, that the hype is what's got so many of us wiping and disinfecting ourselves and treating our kids like the mini-petri dishes they are.

But for high-risk folks, like young babies and pregnant women, the outcome of H1N1 can be tragic. The New York Times just ran a piece about 27-year-old Aubrey Opdyke, a pregnant South Florida woman who nearly died from "The Swine" and was forced to deliver her daughter prematurely at 27 weeks. She lived all of seven minutes.

The article describes her suffering as formidable: "In the four months she was hospitalized, she spent five weeks in a coma, suffered six collapsed lungs and a near-fatal seizure. High-pressure ventilation blew her up like a molten balloon until 'she looked like she weighed 400 pounds,'" her husband, Bryan, said, and she has stretch marks from her neck to her ankles. Her muscles and lungs are still so weak that she uses a walker.

"While hospitalized, she missed seeing her 4-year-old daughter, Hope, learn to swim and start pre-school.

"And, most important, she lost her baby. Parker Christine Opdyke, almost 27 weeks in the womb, was delivered by emergency Caesarean section on July 18, when her fetal heart rate plummeted during Ms. Opdyke's third lung collapse. Her airways were too blocked to let a breathing tube in, possibly a side effect of the drugs saving her mother."

Scared yet? Here's more from the article:

"On Oct. 1, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 100 pregnant women had been in intensive care with swine flu and 28 had died. That is a tiny fraction of what are believed to have been millions of cases in the country. But it is the best argument, federal officials say, for the drawn-out, expensive effort to make a swine flu vaccine.

"Pregnant women are particularly susceptible because they are in the younger age group most likely to catch this new virus, while those over 50 who have had more flus rarely catch it. Moreover, pregnancy suppresses the immune system to protect the fetus, and the growing baby makes it harder for a mother to clear her lungs."

Holy smokes.

I'm no stranger to "The Swine." Before there was a vaccine, my school-aged kid contracted what his doctors thought was H1N1 from a classmate (New York was out of tests), and after a week of fever and mild malaise, he was good to go on with his life unscathed. For many adults who aren't pregs and older kids without overhanging health risks, this will likely be the case.

But if I were pregs, I'd be hightailing it to my doc for a dose. Especially after reading this article.

Do any of you preggos plan on getting the H1N1 shot when it becomes available?

next: Determined to Keep Her Attacker Behind Bars
14 comments so far | Post a comment now
MarMar October 22, 2009, 6:48 AM

One of my best girlfriends is at around 10 weeks pregnant right now, and she’s scheduled to get the vaccine shot next week. I know this because I e-mailed her the information about the free clinics they’re offering in our city and told her that I’m worried about her. I’m glad she’s taking it seriously but I won’t relax until I find out she’s actually been vaccinated.

Tammy October 22, 2009, 9:05 AM

First, I’m sorry that this family had to loose a child, no matter the cause.

Second, this article does nothing to sway my opinion that swine flu, while potentially fatal, is no more dangerous that any other form of influenza that “kills between 250k and 500k worldwide, ANNUALLY. The regular seasonal flu has killed more than 13,000 people in the U.S. since January”, from the CDC website.

“That is a tiny fraction of what are believed to have been millions of cases in the country.

This is the part of the article where you loose me. CNN reported just yesterday that the Fed instructed the CDC to STOP COUNTING actual swine flu cases. The CDC is instead counting the number of people seeking treatment for swine flu. That means if I walk into a clinic and say that I think I have swine flu and need to be treated, then I’m counted as having swine flu regardless of having been diagnosed with swine flu.

just sayin October 22, 2009, 9:36 AM

To me, the CDC makes the vaccine each year to be for whatever strain they are predicting…so I am thinking that by knowing that H1N1 is out there, the vaccine is a plus…I am PG and have a two year old who has already had the shot….

Robin October 22, 2009, 9:44 AM

There was also a pregnant woman in OH that caught H1N1 and went into labor early because of it. The baby survived, she did not.

ame i. October 22, 2009, 12:42 PM

My TN county only receives 1% of the allotted doses. I will have to search outside my county for doses for my children, my husband, and myself.

Heather October 22, 2009, 1:16 PM

I am pregnant and got mine on Monday. Hopefully next week our clinic will have enough to extend it to children too, so that I can get my 3 year old vaccinated..

Jean October 22, 2009, 4:16 PM

I am searching everywhere to get my infant and toddler vaccinated in south Florida….where can I go? My pediatrician and Obgyn are not getting the vaccine in and neither is my primary!!!

kim October 22, 2009, 7:40 PM

Now four different studies done in Canada… Canadian provincial authorities are rethinking flu shots because of data that link getting a seasonal flu shot to an increased risk of contracting a mild case of swine flu. Helen Branswell, medical reporter for the Canadian Press, says though not many people have seen the data, the numbers have become a part of the discussion in the public health community.

Anonymous October 23, 2009, 9:44 AM

screw the studies, get the shot or die!!!!

anonymos October 23, 2009, 11:18 AM

I’ll take the risk of catching the swine flu. I’ve read the CDCs site on the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine and they don’t have any statistics on it either. They use words like “cdc EXPECTS the side effects to be similar to the seasonal flu shot”, so in other words they don’t know. Just like I EXPECTED the value of my house to increase and instead it’s practically worthless now.

me October 23, 2009, 1:39 PM

Anonymous-Thats exactly what I feel. I am not a guinea pig and neither is my daughter. I’ll take the chances of getting the flu.

brandon October 27, 2009, 7:07 AM

I participated in the H1N! trial about 2 months ago. Received two doses.

I have been ill ever since about a week after receiving the 1st dose. Horrible congestion, fever, aches, swollen glands, malaise, etc. This has gone on for almost two months.

mercaties October 29, 2009, 12:54 AM

Just because you are a parent does not mean you necessarily know what is best. How on earth can you risk the life of your child because you “think” you know more than the CDC and your childs pediatrtian. Yes, some people will contract it and be just fine but some do not have the immunity to fight it off. Can you live with yourself if your child ends up hospitalized because you were to stubborn to have your child vaccinated because you think you know better. I’d mutch rather deal with mild but not life threatening side effects than get swine flu. All, I can say to you parents that refuse to vaccinate your child is hopefully your child will not end up ill because of your stupidity.

Anonymous November 3, 2009, 4:20 AM

hahahaahhhah some of you are ridiculous

quite a few of you may want to get some common sense shots and make that a few more vaccines if you can:

- originality




maybe those metaphorical shots will wash away your creepy fears and knock some sense into you. Anything foreign going into your body is unnatural and just disgusting.

You should be ashamed of yourselves

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