Swine Flu

I hope my kids and I have faster-than-average immunity from the H1N1 vaccine.

ViolinsMy kids’ violin teacher arranged a concert at the local nursing home.  It’s a good performance opportunity for the students, and the residents love to have visitors.  I think the staff enjoys it, too, to know that they’re not forgotten.

The day of the concert we arrived, everyone dressed all spiffy, excited to play for someone other than the family members who are obligated to attend recitals.

Before we even had the chance to unload our instruments, a staff member met us in the parking lot.  She regretted to inform us that they were in the process of closing the building to visitors because they had (at least one) case of swine flu.  Therefore, no visitors – especially school children.

Too late.  My children and I had been there the previous day.  There were a lot of residents who weren’t feeling well – enough that I commented on it.  Of course they all wanted a hug.  A few always give us a peck on the cheek.

Usually staff keeps sick people in their rooms, and I’ve come to view the nursing home as one of the places we can go where we’re least likely to be around sick people.  I was miffed that they had exposed us, and used a lot of hand sanitizer that day — I still had to breath the air, though.

If it takes the vaccine two weeks to be effective, my kids and I could end up sick since we hadn’t had that much time between getting our shots and being exposed.  Do I sound little bit concerned about this?

Everyone says that elderly people aren’t considered at-risk.  A few seniors with whom I am acquainted have been very upset that they couldn’t get the H1N1 vaccine.  From their perspective, it sounded as if the health department was expecting a particularly deadly strain of flu and instead of preventing the disease, officials would be using this as a way to trim the medicare rolls and get costs back under control.  Most of the people I’ve discussed this with hadn’t realized that they’ve already lived through this particular strain of flu, so are probably already immune.  Obviously, not all of them are.

Until now, I’ve been happy with the timing of our shots, knowing that we would be able to build immunity before sharing germs with extended family over Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Maybe those precautions weren’t enough.

But I can’t live my life in a bubble.  It’s interesting, trying to figure out the right balance.

What steps do you take to avoid being exposed to illness?