H1N1 Shot Today

I received my H1N1 shot today. My arm hurts a little.

For the past week I’ve witnessed an explosion in the number of patients calling and visiting the office with flu symptoms. The pandemic is now apparent. Yesterday alone I saw at least 12 people with serious flu symptoms in the office, and personally triaged another 20 or so over the phone (in addition to seeing “regular” visits). I’ve been at work until 8 or 9 PM every night this week, and the office is humming with a concerted effort that starts at the front desk and extends back through the examining room.

I’ve sent only four people to the emergency room whom I felt looked really sick; the rest have managed quite well at home with appropriate medicine and rest. It is frightening to consider the capricious will of the virus to make some people extremely ill, and to take the life of an unfortunate set. I tie a surgical mask around my face before entering rooms of patients with flu-like symptoms. It probably breeds more fear than it helps, but my office cannot afford to have a doctor out with flu.

The strain on our health care system is evident, and can be seen in the microcosm that is our family practice. Sometimes I’m running late as I try to see as many people that need to be seen as I can. The front desk follows a telephone triage questionnaire to determine who needs to be seen, who can stay home, and who needs to go to the emergency room. We get hundreds of calls a day, ranging from routine refill requests to urgent concerns. It is sometimes difficult to make an outgoing call as most of the office lines are actively blinking.

Most people understand this strain, but others yell and literally berate the fatiguing staff. We all need to think of this issue as a community problem and contribute our patience and diligence; whether in the waiting rooms of primary care doctors or in the parking lot tents of makeshift expanded emergency rooms, no one is taking leisure time.

There have been a few deaths in my community, but the majority of people have been recovering. In addition to varying degrees of fever, muscle aches, headaches, sore throat, cough, nausea, diarrhea, and malaise, I wonder if a patient statement of Doc I’m sorry, but I just feel like shit should be added to the CDC diagnostic criteria.

Over 95% of influenza circulating right now is of the H1N1 strain. Keep educating yourself. Make your own decisions in consultation with your doctor. But I am appreciative of the Herculean effort that has brought an H1N1 vaccine into my muscle today, and I am hopeful it will offer protection to those who receive it, as it did in the clinical trials this summer.

You might also find the H1N1 shot by calling your doctor, county health department, Walgreens and other pharmacies, local hospital, school, or other organization. There is an order of priority of course. Don’t fail to take standard precautions to reduce transmission risk. Good luck. I’ll let you know how my personal vaccine experience goes.


6 thoughts on “H1N1 Shot Today

  1. Chrys

    I’m glad to hear you were able to receive your shot. We are in a state of emergency here. There are no vaccines available at this time. I think most people are taking it in stride, but it is worrisome. Hand washing can not be stressed enough. The hospitals are asking any visitors, to stay home if they are sick. It isn’t worth visiting your loved one. That seems like common sense to me, but people will be ill and cough right in your face.

  2. Micha

    As an obstetrician at a hospital with a level III nicu, I received my H1N1 vaccine on Monday, rubbed my arm a couple of times, and then promptly forgot about it until now. Our patients are at particularly high risk as they are young, pregnant, and often providing care for children who have been exposed. Our department has already had the heart-breaking experience of watching a young mother die. Dr. Charles, please keep up the fight against the Glenn Becks of the world! We need actual medical professionals educating and encouraging people to take the recommended precautions.

  3. robin andrea

    I have never been vaccinated for any flu, and even managed to not get sick while I was still working at the university and exposed to a myriad of viruses every season. I was extremely careful and diligent about protecting myself. I think if I were working in a public place now I would get the H1N1 vaccine. I went to a hardware store yesterday and the cashier was spraying the money in the cash draw with lysol. I’m not sure it will help, but I was glad to see that she was taking the spread of the virus seriously.

  4. Greg P

    Received mine early in the week, and the “regular” flu shot about a month ago. Aside from all the various neurologic disorders I encounter, I also care for a number of patients with muscular dystrophy and other neuromuscular diseases, so I’m trying to protect them in particular.

  5. emmy

    My niece has been in the ICU on a ventilator for three weeks with this flu. It really upsets me to still hear people say things like “I only ever got the flu when I had the shot.” I want to shout at them “It can kill you! Get the shot!”, but it’s all a moot point right now. The shot isn’t available to us yet.

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