The letter has been on the kitchen table for weeks.
It tells us that in 3 weeks or so, vaccinations will begin at our general practice for the H1N1 virus.
The 'Swine flu', or delightfully accusatory 'Mexican flu' as they call it here, has been fodder for breaking news headlines in the UK and Ireland for months.
Not so much here in Holland.
The level of awareness is high, and the practical everyday precautions are promoted and supported. People are encouraged to stay home if they feel ill, which to be honest isn’t exactly a foreign concept to the Dutch anyway.
Even with all this taken into account, the Dutch are rolling out their first wave of vaccinations to the public in November, starting with their target or ‘at risk’ groups. As a woman past 13 weeks of pregnancy, ET is in this group.
Which poses the inevitable dilemma, to get the vaccination, or not.
It’s hard to separate the facts and reality from the flashing yellow headlines that do more to scare than inform.
Our scanning every story of another death attributed to the virus is annexed with searching for the term ‘underlying medical condition’. More often than not, it’s been there.
The vaccine is simply untested in any significant quantity for its effect on the unborn. If I’m wrong and there is something somewhere, anywhere that says otherwise we’ll gladly read it.
In one of the most densely populated countries in the world, there is a very good chance that we have been exposed to the virus in some shape or form already.
ET is healthy. Irritatingly so if you must know, with her perfectly smug blood pressure readings et al. In other words, no ‘underlying medical condition’ annex here.
Those who are informed in, and involved with the care and support for pregnancy and pregnant women, yet not connected or motivated via association or financial gain, have not promoted the receiving of the vaccine. Midwives have spoken frankly about the pro and cons of both options, pointing out that in the worst case scenario where ET would catch the virus; she would most likely be no more affected than any other winter flu.
More interestingly, of all the women in her antenatal class, all of whom who have been given the same letter and possibility to receive the vaccine, none of them are taking it. Not one.
All this helps to support our initial reaction, to not receive the vaccination, but of course it’s not that black and white.
What if she doesn’t take it and something happens? What if she does take it and something happens?
We still see the flashing yellow breaking news stories, so we still don’t know what is for the best, and the letter is still on the kitchen table.
Any constructive or informed opinion is welcomed.