Sunday, August 23, 2009

To Vaccinate or Not to Vaccinate? What's My Priority Ranking for the Swine Flu Vaccine?

At the beginning of the week I spoke with a secretary at my transplant center and asked about the H1N1 (Swine) flu vaccine and what arrangements I should make to be vaccinated. A logical question, right, considering that I'm immunosuppressed and must prioritize the "regular" fall flu vaccination - BUT, I don't fall into the publicized high-risk categories:

* Pregnant (oh, Hell No!)
* Young (although my teenage children fit this criteria).

Here was the secretary's response: "Your coordinator is on vacation this week and we don't really know anyway, so wait until you hear that the vaccine is approved and call us back."

Pardon me?

Talk about needing to be a self-advocate for your personal health! I can honestly say that in the three years I've been a patient at my transplant center, I don't recall one occasion when the center pro-actively contacted me about any health matters, liver or otherwise - no updates on Hep C treatment options, research on immunosuppressant medication, nothing. Sure, my internist (my "regular" doctor) handles all healthcare that doesn't directly impact my liver. But I expected that given WHO's declaration of H1N1 as a novel pandemic, transplant centers would be able to guide their patients about priority ranking (or not) for vaccinations. Right?

I'm an idealist and given to fuss about things that should be (in my opinion). Tilting at windmills? Probably. But to put it in the words of my 15-year-old daughter, "I'm just sayin'... "

Photo by Philippe Ramakers


Anonymous said...

I fully agree. My husband had a liver transplant in June of '08. He is doing well, thank God. His transplant center has never contacted us about anything, and when we do contact them, we often get sketchy or imcomplete answers to our questions. That is not to say they didn't do a great job in saving his life, but we wish they were a bit more pro-active. If we have learned nothing else through this whole experience, we have learned the importance of being your own advocate when it comes to health care. No one else will take charge of your care of you like you can.

--Linda B., Wichita, KS

AM said...

I have read that immuno-suppressed people are on the priority list for the vaccine. So we're covered - as long as the vaccine actually gets here in time!