My friend said it best: “Forget about the flu or the vaccine…the freekin’ hysteria about it all is enough to kill me.”

As parents who are doing little vaccinating with our kids, no one in our family is likely to get the H1N1 vaccine. But it doesn’t mean we aren’t concerned about our children getting sick. The conversations around the poker table, with doctors and research scientists, at classes or gatherings with other families, all seem to come back to similar advice. Clean yourself… thoroughly. And don’t touch your face, let alone your mouth. I can be sure my two young children, who are orally obsessed, should remain healthy through this flu season. Here we go!

Our pro-vaccine GP, a really thoughtful and smart family acquaintance, suggested we not get the H1N1 vaccine for our two-year old who has chronic inner ear infections. We haven’t been doing flu shots for anyone in our family. But with my son’s persistent, super funky  ear infections, I wanted to be sure we were still making a good choice. He did suggest strongly that we get up-to-date on our standard vaccines. I continue to consider this issue. Friends who run a vacation retreat consulted with their virus expert, a relationship they developed because of a Norwalk outbreak at their lodge. After also consulting the same GP, they are vaccinating the adults in their family who will be at their lodge with visitors. They will not vaccinate their children, and keeping prescriptions for Tamiflu for them on file should it become necessary.

Our pharmacist friend is vaccinating herself, but not her husband or the children. I have yet to talk to anyone who is vaccinating their children, but the CBC is daily interviewing people in line for the vaccine who are. Today I was told about GPs in British Columbia getting paid $15 per prescription of Tamiflu. I’m trying to get confirmation of this claim and another one about this drug having neurological effects on the Japanese who are using it a lot. It feels to me as if we would be using our children as guinea pigs, to test a drug we know very little about. I’m sticking by some more productive and less political advice for our family.

Here’s an excerpt from a circulating email I’ve seen from different sources:

These are the words of Dr. Vinay Goyal who is an Intensivist and Thyroid specialist with clinical experience of over 20 years. He has worked in institutions like Hinduja Hospital, Bombay Hospital, Saifee Hospital, Tata Memorial, etc. Presently, he is heading the Nuclear Medicine Department and Thyroid clinic at Riddhivinayak Cardiac and Critical Centre.

“The only portals of entry are the nostrils and mouth/throat. In a global epidemic of this nature, it’s almost impossible not coming into contact with H1N1 in spite of all precautions. Contact with H1N1 is not so much of a problem as proliferation is. While you are still healthy and not showing any symptoms of H1N1 infection, in order to prevent proliferation, aggravation of symptoms and development of secondary infections, some very simple steps, not fully highlighted in most official communications, can be practiced (instead of focusing on how to stock N95 or Tamiflu):

  1. Frequent hand-washing (well highlighted in all official communications).
  2. “Hands-off-the-face” approach. Resist all temptations to touch any part of face (unless you want to eat, bathe..)
  3. Gargle twice a day with warm salt water (use Listerine if you don’t trust salt). H1N1 takes 2-3 days after initial infection in the throat/nasal cavity to proliferate and show characteristic symptoms. Simple gargling prevents proliferation. In a way, gargling with salt water has the same effect on a healthy individual that Tamiflu has on an infected one. Don’t underestimate this simple, inexpensive and powerful preventative method.
  4. Similar to 3 above, clean your nostrils at least once every day with warm salt water. Not everybody may be good at using a Neti pot, but blowing the nose hard once a day and swabbing both nostrils with cotton swabs dipped in warm salt water is very effective in bringing down viral population.
  5. Boost your natural immunity with foods that are rich in Vitamin C. If you have to supplement with Vitamin C tablets, make sure that it also has Zinc to boost absorption.
  6. Drink as much of warm liquids (tea, coffee, etc) as you can. Drinking warm liquids has the same effect as gargling, but in the reverse direction. They wash off proliferating viruses from the throat into the stomach where they cannot survive, proliferate or do any harm.”

So I’m off to rub my hands down with alcohol hand sanitizer. Forget about the swine flu… the toxic smell is enough to kill me.