Heres what Globe and Mail say about it!
Q: My three-year-old daughter got the flu two weeks ago. The doctor said it was H1N1 but it was not confirmed because the region doesn’t do routine testing. My husband and I did not get sick. How can this be? We took no special precautions. Now we’re wondering: Should we get the vaccine or are we immune to this flu?
A: You have raised several interesting issues related to H1N1 and vaccination. First, about 90 per cent of all the flu cases in Canada today are caused H1N1. There is very little seasonal flu so far. That’s why doctors assume that cases of the flu are H1N1. Testing everyone is not considered a good use of resources.
Second, there is a common assumption that everyone exposed to the H1N1 virus will get the flu. In fact, the large majority of people exposed to the virus will not get sick.
Even though you were in close contact with someone sick with swine flu, healthy young adults like yourselves have powerful immune systems that fight off a constant barrage of pathogens. When you are exposed to a virus, your body will produce antigens and develop immune resistance. In some people, this happens with very few disease symptoms; others will get quite sick. A vaccine does the same thing by tricking the body into thinking it is being exposed the virus.
Many people argue that there is no need to be vaccinated, that we should depend on our immune systems and bolster them with good nutrition. That is a bit of a gamble.
With H1N1, a new strain, it is anticipated that about one-third of the population will get sick. To date, it is estimated that about five per cent of Canadians have fallen ill with H1N1, so a lot more sick people are expected in the coming months.
While it is true that most cases of the flu are “self-limiting” – meaning you get better with rest and fluids, in rare instances people can get gravely ill and die. Again, the risk of complications is greatest in those with weaker immune systems – babies, children, people with chronic health conditions – but some healthy people will get severe illness.
So far in Canada, 1,779 people have been hospitalized with H1N1, including 351 who ended up in intensive care and required ventilators. There have been 92 confirmed deaths.
That is why public health officials recommend that everyone by vaccinated unless they had a laboratory-confirmed case of H1N1. That would include you and your daughter. Even if you have immunity to H1N1, the vaccine will do no harm.