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H1N1: Swine flu deaths rise, as does the worry. When should you or your sick child go to an ER?

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Buckle up. This is getting to be a really bumpy ride.

As the H1N1 flu, also known as the swine flu, continues to spread through our schools and workplaces, conflicting information can almost paralyze us. We worry about the safety of the vaccine, especially for our children; but we worry more about the shortage of it. We listen to a sick child’s labored breathing, and wonder if she is better off at home or in the emergency room, surrounded by other sick people. The CDC announces a rise in H1N1 deaths, and all we can do is wash our hands some more.

Here’s a roundup of the situation as it exists today, Nov. 2. If you’ve got other questions that I don’t answer here, please add them in the Comments section below,

and we'll get those answered for you as well.

The CDC update on hospitalizations and deaths:

The Centers for Disease Control updates key flu indicators every week (see first web link, below). At the end of last week, the report noted that deaths associated with H1N1 and pneumonia has been higher than expected for four weeks now. Another 22 children died from the flu this past week, at least 19 of them confirmed to be H1N1. The total since April of pediatric flu deaths is now 126.
Hospitalizations are also higher than normal for this time of year, and the highest hospitalization rate is for children 0-4. And 48 states are reporting widespread flu activity right now – the only two that aren’t are Hawaii and South Carolina.

How do I know if I have H1N1?

There is a self-evaluation available at http://www.flu.gov/evaluation/ . It does not, of course, substitute for a doctor’s visit – what it does is give you an idea of the severity of your symptoms and whether you need to be seen by a doctor immediately. Questions are about fever, cough, chest pain, sore throat, etc. At the end the assessment gives you an idea of the immediacy with which you might need to seek a doctor’s opinion.

Where are the H1N1 flu shots?

If you click on the map at http://www.flu.gov/ you can get the latest information on when vaccines should be available in your area. You just click on your state, and can then click on your county.

Add a Comment19 Comments

Wow, what a day!!! Yesterday my 15 year old daughter was fine and today she is not. It's going to be a long bumpy road! She has contracted H1N1. The worse thing is that overnight she developed pneumonia like symptoms and started coughing up blood and couldn't breathe and she is running a very high fever. I took her to the doctor who immediately gave her Tamiflu after bloodwork/x-rays and such. Gave us perscriptions for Augmentin, Tussionex Pennkinetic Susp, and upped her asthma medications. He sent her home and said that if things worsen in the next 24 hrs. to take her straight to the ER...She seems bad enough already...I am so worried!!! I am suppose to wake her up in the night and check on her...He didn't say what I am watching for. To make matters worse... They gave me the H1N1 vaccine and, yes, I had to take the one with ether glycols in it (I was the one above who made the comment on allergies to Vaccines, couldn't sign in)...it was the only one they had. I had a fever of 100.6 when they gave it to me, though I have no other symptoms. I have heart and lung problems like my daughter. So getting the shot when I am already sick is suppose to prevent me from getting it worse? My doctor works in the same building as my daughter's doctor. So they both said that I should get it. Then my doctor made an appointment for me to see her in two days. Meanwhile, if I get a higher fever or develop any flu symptoms I am to take Tamiflu too. Doesn't this cancel out the flu shot? So many unanswered questions...I don't even think the doctors were ready for this. I had to sit in a waiting room filled with people with masks...for such a small clinic...it came down to standing room only! They had extra doctors to handle the overflow, but still waited 2 hours! The nurse at my daughters school is sending anywhere from 12-16 children home daily with flu like symptoms. Her high school is a small rural school...out here H1N1 shots aren't available unless you are pregnant or dying. It took the doctors calling the public health and sending my health records to them to even get the vaccine for me!!! Why such a shortage in rural areas? So many questions left unanswered...So much confusion. Sorry to rant so much...If my post and story should be directed to somewhere else, that is fine with me. I am just so afraid for my daughter and myself right now...and also seeing my community fall apart around me. My whole family is on Tamiflu, all but me, and we are on house arrest. My prayers go out to the family mentioned above and for their families and friends. Is it okay to update our status here?

November 17, 2009 - 1:24pm
EmpowHER Guest

Just received a letter from my daughters school, 2nd grader has died from respatory (spelling) failure! Not confirmed H1N1 but most likely. So very sad!

November 6, 2009 - 1:45pm
(reply to Anonymous)


This is so very sad. Oh my. Where does your family live?

How is your daughter's school handling this, in addition to sending out a letter?

Have children in your area been able to get swine flu vaccinations yet?

How is your daughter doing with the news?

November 9, 2009 - 8:40am
EmpowHER Guest

Thanks for the list... I get the seasonal flu shot each year. I never knew what is in each one (that is in additives.) I have had bad reactions to flu shot in the past. I did read the list of companies on the wiki site. I see a particular shot for the US:


The following information about ingredients in the H1N1 2009 vaccine made by Sanofi-Aventis SA, based in Paris was found in the package insert:

"The virus-containing allantoic fluid is harvested and inactivated with formaldehyde. The virus is then chemically disrupted using a non-ionic surfactant, polyethylene glycol p-isooctylphenyl ether (Triton® X-100), producing a "split virus". The split virus is further purified and then suspended in sodium phosphate-buffered isotonic sodium chloride solution.

Influenza A (H1N1) 2009 Monovalent Vaccine is formulated to contain 15 mcg hemagglutinin (HA) of influenza A/California/07/2009 (H1N1) v-like virus per 0.5 mL dose. Gelatin 0.05% is added as a stabilizer. Each 0.5 mL dose may contain residual amounts of formaldehyde (not more than 100 mcg), polyethylene glycol p-isooctylphenyl ether (not more than 0.02%), and sucrose (not more than 2.0%).

There is no thimerosal used in the manufacturing process of the single-dose presentations of Influenza A (H1N1) 2009 Monovalent Vaccine. The multi-dose presentation of Influenza A (H1N1) 2009 Monovalent Vaccine contains thimerosal, a mercury derivative, added as a preservative. Each 0.5 mL dose of the multidose presentation contains 25 mcg mercury.

Antibiotics are not used in the manufacture of Influenza A (H1N1) 2009 Monovalent Vaccine."

I wonder if this company makes its seasonal flu shots the same way.... I get bad rashes from formaldehyde, and I get breathing issues from any product that has Ether Glycols in it. I have to check all beauty products from toothpastes to shampoos and cosmetics...and etc.

Could this have been the reason that some years I have rashes and breathing problems following flu shots?

November 6, 2009 - 10:09am
(reply to Anonymous)


I am SO glad you checked the list and read these ingredients. Yes, I think it's entirely possible that with your common reactions to formaldehyde and ether glycols, you might have gotten side effects following vaccines made with those ingredients.

Interesting that it has happened some years and not others. I wonder if you received vaccines that were made in different ways int he years when you didn't have this reaction?

If I were you I would print out the ingredients and tuck them in your purse so that the next time you see your primary care doctor you can ask her or him their thoughts on this. It may be that simply taking an antihistimine for a few days after a flu shot would relieve your symptoms, for instance.

Thank you for your post! Very enlightening!

November 9, 2009 - 8:44am

I did a search for swine flu ingredients and found this site with the best and most complete list as per the inserts from each drug company. Hope it helps you make your decision. I know I have friends who are all grandparents and they are upset with their children who have decided they are not going to immunize their own children with swine flu shot or spray. They understand but are very worried about the grandkids going to high school, elementary schools and preschools and especially about the new baby. I think if I had to make that choice...ah, my only kid is 30...I would immunize. Over 114 kids in US have already died from swine flu. And that's not counting all the adults. Here in Arizona we have had many many deaths from it as recent as Oct 30 when a local teacher died. And remember it is not cold here, not winter at all, over 90 degrees. I think here where we are already seeing what the CDC has declared months ago as a widespread state that nobody can take a chance of getting this deadly flu, not when we could get a shot! I am praying that I will be able to get one. I am 55 and in poor health and my Mom is praying for one, she is 74 and in good health. So here's one site that I found. Sorry couldn't get it to a click on link. You will have to cut and paste it.

November 2, 2009 - 7:19pm
(reply to sandragene)

Thanks, Sandra! If anyone uses this resource, be sure to scroll down until you get to the vaccines listed for your particular country. Different countries may have different vaccine formulations.

November 3, 2009 - 9:31am
EmpowHER Guest

I can not find a consistent list of ingredients for the vaccine anywhere on the web. My daughter's elementary school is offering the vaccine for free and they have given us a very small window to respond and authorize our children to be vaccinated. With all the controversy on the vaccination, I'm torn about the safest route.
Do you know the accurate ingredient listing? Are there any known severe adverse reactions reported?

November 2, 2009 - 6:50pm
(reply to Anonymous)


Great question. Another EmpowHer member has included a link to a Wikipedia page that offers links to package information for both the nasal mist vaccine and the shot vaccine. Be sure, as you browse the links, that you focus on the U.S. vaccines only. Vaccines in different countries are manufactured to differing standards.

The CDC says that thimerosal (a mercury preservative that comes in multi-dose vials) is safe even for pregnant women. However, because some people are concerned about thimerosal, vaccine companies are making preservative-free seasonal flu vaccine and 2009 H1N1 flu vaccine in single dose syringes for pregnant women and small children.

You may also have heard about adjuvants, which are ingredients that are sometimes added to a vaccine to make it more effective. Squalene is an example of an adjuvant. There are no adjuvants in either the H1N1 or the 2009 seasonal flu shot used in the United States.

Does this help you decide? If you are still conflicted, could you call your daughter's pediatrician? They probably have some of the vaccine on site and could actually look at the ingredient label and give you an opinion.

November 3, 2009 - 9:30am

I am definitely not an expert but am an experienced Mom of a now 30 yr old....and I was a medical assistant....I would think that if the recovered child is back up to par then he can go back to school without any worries of infecting anyone. If he doesn't have a fever especially. Make sure he is all better though or he may have a relapse if he is not 100%. Make sure he doesn't have a green mucousy nose or eyes, productive cough, earache and isn't sneezing all the time. Teach them to sing the Happy Birthday song or some little ditty while they wash their hands really good...means soap lather, warm water and actually rubbing the tops of hands too.

November 2, 2009 - 6:34pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.



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