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Should you get the H1N1 vaccine?

Should you get an H1N1 flu shot?

Should you get an H1N1 flu shot?

We all know working from home has a great list of benefits, and a really great one is that you don’t get sick nearly as often.   But the H1N1 influenza is out there, and it looks pretty nasty.   The vaccine has been released but its availability right now is sketchy at best.  To gauge whether the vaccine is worth pursuing (right now, or soon), answer some of these questions for yourself:

1.  Am I comfortable getting this vaccine?

There’s a lot of buzz around concerning how safe this vaccine is, given the accelerated time frame in which it was released.  The truth of the matter is that this vaccine was put together just like every seasonal flu vaccine is put together, and in comparison to the seasonal flu vaccine, the timeline for H1N1 was just slightly quicker.  Very very slightly quicker.  The pharmas have gotten pretty good at putting out a safe influenza vaccine year after year.  So, if you’re comfortable getting the seasonal flu vaccine you should feel equally comfortable with the safety of the H1N1 vaccine.

2. Am I in a high risk group?

This flu has not been kind to pregnant women.  Over 10% of reported H1N1 deaths in the U.S. have been pregnant women (and needless to say, 10% of the population at any one time is not made of of pregnant women; according to the CNN article I linked, the death rate for pregnant women is something like 6x the mortality rate for the rest of the population).  It is my (non-medical-professional) opinion that you should very strongly consider getting the vaccine if you’re pregnant or actively working to get that way.  (In the interest of full disclosure, the husband and I are kinda sorta working on it, and I’m keeping a watchful eye on the Google Flu Shot Finder through Google Maps to see if the H1N1 vaccine becomes available near me, though I have not yet gotten on a waitlist at my general practitioner.  This is subject to change if I find myself pregnant.)

Another consideration is if you have (or live with) a baby younger than six months old.  Not only are these infants more immunologically susceptible, but there is no vaccine they can receive to prevent the flu.  (Same wisdom goes for the regular flu shot, too.)

People who work from home are often likely to be involved in their community – as volunteer firefighters, for example.  If you are a volunteer (or a paid) first responder or medical professional, then the vaccine is definitely something you should consider.

Lastly, if you’re younger than 24, or younger than 65 with a medical condition that suppresses your immune system or makes you more susceptible to lung-related complications (e.g. asthma) then the CDC also recommends you get the vaccine ASAP.

That isn’t to say that if you don’t fall into these groups, you shouldn’t get the vaccine.  The CDC does recommend that once the supply is there and the demand for these higher risk groups have been met, that just about everyone should get the vaccine.  H1N1 is a pretty nasty bug.

3. What is my risk of exposure?

Working at home, in general, usually lessens a person’s risk of exposure to illness.  Assuming you are 100% healthy, then not getting sick as much has your immune system pretty geared up to fight anything that comes its way.  That said, however, you still have a risk of exposure.  You go to the mall, the grocery store, and you may interact with clients.   Or, your work-at-home gig might naturally raise your risk of exposure – if, for example, you’re running a day care or babysitting service out of your home.

4.  Can I afford to get really sick?

If you’re working from home but still in a traditionally ‘corporate’ sort of job, and you have sick days and coverage and benefits, a rough case of the flu won’t be a big risk to your livelihood.  However, if you’re an independent contractor or business owner, chances are you can’t call in sick, and there might not be anyone to cover you if you can’t work for a week or more while you are sick and recuperating.  Strongly consider how a week out of commission, at a very inopportune time, might adversely impact your income.

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