Monday, October 26, 2009

H1N1 Vaccine Jihad and Some Thoughts on Personal Emergency Preparedness

Somes I watch CNN too much. This outlet is one of my sources for what's going on in the world. I really like it because no one can beat them when it comes to breaking news.

But the recent Balloon Boy madness (no, I'm not linking to it) almost did me in, chasing me to my old standbys: History Channel, National Geographic, SciFi, etc.

You all know that the media sometimes has a tendency to overblow things with their parade of talking heads, one-sided perspective, etc. However, in the case of the H1N1 or "Swine Flu," I thank Allah (swt) for CNN's coverage. It's about the only place one can get some real comprehensive coverage.

Why do I worry about H1N1?

Well, I am in one of the high risk categories: Adults Under 65 with Certain Underlying Medical Conditions (People with conditions including asthma, diabetes, suppressed immune systems, heart disease, kidney disease, and neurocognitive and neuromuscular disorders should receive the H1N1 vaccination to prevent further complications.)

I have asthma (in addition to a host of other opportunities to expiate sin, Alhamdulillah). And every year, I get pnemonia. So my jihad to find an H1N1 shot has begun. But I haven't had much luck. It's been downright frustrating. I have had to do a lot of leg work and personal research.

1. I started with my doctor's office:

a. no, we don't have the shots/spray yet
b. no, we don't know when we'll be getting it
c. you're not in a high risk group (WTF?!)
d. no, we're not keeping a waiting list
e. no, we don't have a strategic plan for who will be getting them when/if the supply arrives
f. no, we don't have the ability to identify our patients who are in the high risk group (despite the fact that my provider uses automated medical records - my doctor comes into my room with a laptop each time she seems me - shouldn't they be able to press a key and come up with the info? They know how to call me when it's time for an annual gynecological exam! Even my vetinarian sends me yearly check up postcards for my cats!)
g. no, we have no plan - we have thousands of patients - how can you expect us to do this - keep calling back - first-come, first-serve basis when/if the supply arrives

2. Next step is that I vent to my Muslim sister about the situation. Well, she took her son to the local medical center clinic for some other problem, and he was offered the vaccine while they were there. But she (who is an educated university professor) didn't let them give it to him due to conspiracy theories about the vaccine. "I don't know enough about it, if it's safe, what's in it, I'd like to know more." Okay sis. You have this right.

(Sister, if you're reading this, you know I love you. But do you REALLY KNOW what EXACTLY is in that seasonal flu shot you got? No. You relied on what information is out there.)

An Aside/Rant - SabiWabi has covered this issue over at her place. Jazaka Allahu Khayr, Sabi. Conspiracy theories can kill Muslims. Yes, I know there is unsavory history in the past (Tuskeegee experiments, etc.). But, if you watched the 60 Minutes coverage a few weeks ago of children in intensive care with Swine Flu, or watched the crying grieving parents who regretted the decision to not vaccinate their kids who died from Swine Flu, you'd probably be standing outside of your doctor's office with a flaming torch. You, as an informed Muslim parent, must study the available facts/research and make a decision for your children. Don't drink the Kool-Aid in Muslim cyber-space.

3. I call my doc back over the weekend and leave a message on their machine. I'm coming next week, Insha Allah, for blood work, I tell them. I explain that I was told that the local medical center has the vaccine in. I'll take the vaccine while I'm there for blood work. They call me back - no can do. We don't have it. (Why not? Did your practice register with the government for a supply?)

4. I call the medical center next. They tell me that they do not have a supply of vaccine. I confront them. I tell them that my friend's son was offered a vaccine there. And while she was there, she claims that she was offered one. The phone operator acts confused. I remain silent on the other end and wait. She then admits to me that they had it in their Pediatric Clinic - but only for their clinic patients. They only ordered enough for them, no extra for availability to the non-clinic public should the request be made.

Ah ha - there are secret guarded supplies (ya conspiracy theories!). Couldn't she have told the truth in the first place instead of saying that they didn't have it. Translation: "We don't have it for you or your family!"

But she does give me feedback. She suggests that I call the number on the back of my insurance card. She claims that the insurance companies HAVE TO keep a list of providers.

5. I call my insurance company. No, it is not true; we have no such list. How can we know which health care providers have registered to receive a supply for their practices?

6. I check the PA Department of Health website. No luck. But, they suggest to keep checking back. When they know something, they will post it, they claim.

So, this is where it is at to date for me.

But I wonder. If a person like me - who is resourceful, pissed off and motivated when on a mission, computer literate, insurance covered, etc. - is frustrated, imagine how everyone else is coping?

What about those people and parents who are not as blessed as I am?

What about the uninsured? Those not affiliated with a doctor or clinic? Those who have to use emergency rooms as their primary health care provider?

Who protects the general public at large? Is the H1N1 situation a healthcare Katrina in the making?

Maybe the people in the Survivalist movement are on to something. Is it any wonder that there are people in America stocking up on guns, ammo, food, water, medicine, generators, batteries, etc. What will you do when you can't use your laptop, iPhone, or Blackberry, loool?

President Obama has declared a national emergency for the H1N1 flu crisis. It is supposed to help cut the red tape. Oh yea, right.

Concerning the conspiracy theories about the vaccine, I know of one way President Obama can help.

Remember when he and his wife went to Kenya before he was running for president? Remember how he and his wife got tested for HIV, right in front of the people, and with media cameras covering the event?

Why doesn't he have his little girls get the vaccine and cover it the same way? I think it would help the American people and those everywhere else feel better about getting their kids vaccinated.

One thing I'm doing while I'm waiting for my vaccine? I'm changing doctors!

Go Yankees!


Kai said...

Excellent post :-) I especially like this line:

"Is the H1N1 situation a healthcare Katrina in the making?"

Sadly I think we already have a healthcare Katrina in the making, and once again it is focused on the poor being left out in the storm. Above and beyond just the flu this year.

(Just fyi, I am being lazy and not signing my hubby out and myself in, lol)

its me, Ruqayyah, lol

Safiyyah said...

Salaams Ruqayyah: I knew it was you, loool. Insha Allah you and yours are well.

NtN said...

InshaAllah do take care with this vaccine if you can get it though. If you have any neuro issues, it can be really bad for you.

I myself am extremely high risk (asthma, 2 neuro disease, both autoimmune, previously suppressed immune system, etc) but am unable to get any vaccine ever again due to my illnesses. Guillan-Barré and it's chronic form, CIDP, can be activated by these, so take care!

Safiyyah said...

Salaams Noor,

I get the seasonal flu shot and they say that the H1N1 vaccine is made the same way. I haven't got sick yet, Alhamdulillah, from the flu shot.

I also have neuro conditions, i.e., MS and peripheral neuropathy. What is it exactly that "activates" the neuro problems. Can you explain more?

learn quran online said...

What is jihad

First, we would like to start with stating that Islam does not call for violence; rather it abhors all forms of violence and terrorism, whether against Muslims or non-Muslims. Islam, moreover, calls for peace, cooperation, and maintaining justice, and provides for the happiness and welfare of humanity as a whole. This fact is declared in the Qur'an when Allah says: (Allah commands justice, the doing of good, and liberality to kith and kin, and He forbids all shameful deeds, and injustice and rebellion: He instructs you, that ye may receive admonition.) (An-Nahl 16: 90)

Jihad is one of the words that have been misused due to misunderstanding its true meaning. The word “Jihad” is derived from the Arabic word “Jahd” which means fatigue or the word “Juhd” which means effort. A Mujahid is he who strives in the Cause of Allah and exerts efforts which makes him feel fatigued. The word “Jihad” means exerting effort to achieve a desired thing or prevent an undesired one. In other words, it is an effort that aims at bringing about benefit or preventing harm.

Jihad can be observed through any means and in any field whether material or moral. Among the types of Jihad are struggling against one’s desires, the accursed Satan, poverty, illiteracy, disease, and fighting all evil forces in the world.

There are many religious texts that refer to these types of Jihad. Among the forms of Jihad is defending life, property or honor. Those who die while engaging in Jihad are considered to be martyrs, as confirmed by Hadith. Jihad is also done to avert aggression on home countries and on all that is held sacred, or in order to face those who try to hinder the march of the call of truth.

In Islamic Shari`ah, Jihad in the Cause of Allah means fighting in order to make the Word of Allah most high, and the means for doing so is taking up arms in addition to preparation, financing and planning strategies. A large number of people are supposed to take part in Jihad including farmers, craftsmen, traders, doctors, engineers, workers, security men, preachers, writers and all those who directly or indirectly participate in the battle.

This type of Jihad was a major concern of Muslims in the beginning of the formation of the Islamic community, and a lot of verses of the Glorious Qur’an and the Hadith advocated and encouraged it. Almighty Allah says: (March forth, whether you are light (being healthy, young and wealthy) or heavy (being ill, old and poor) and strive with your wealth and your lives in the Cause of Allah.) (At-Tawbah 9: 41) Jihad is considered an individual duty (Fard `Ein), on all Muslims who are capable and fit to fight, in the event of being invaded by the enemy, and is considered a collective duty (Fard Kifayah) in the event of not being invaded. However, if the Imam (leader) calls to Jihad, people must respond to his call. This is evident from Allah’s Saying, (O you who believe! What is the matter with you, that when you are asked to march forth in the Cause of Allah (i.e. Jihad) you cling heavily on the earth?) (At-Tawbah 9: 38), and the Hadith narrated by Al-Bukhari and Muslim, "When you are called to Jihad, then go forth."

learn quran online, learn quran tajweed

Br00ke said...

You get the best spam!

Safiyyah said...

@ Brooke - I know! Right? I was looking for some research on something I'm writing for a peace celebration. This spam is very useful :)

Unknown said...

Asalaamu alaykum sis,

First I have to say I really love your blog.

I know that there are a lot of conspiracy theories out there, and it's hard to figure out what's true from what's sensational, but I wanted to warn you at least from the nasal spray form of the vaccine. According to the insert, the nasal spray can cause severe wheezing to those who have asthma (besides that it also contains 2 mg of porcine gelatin).

I'm not sure what causes the neurological reactions from the swine flu vaccine, but if you look up Sixty minutes swine flu 1976 on youtube, you can see how the swine flu vaccines effected some people back then, also see for a current case of a negative neurological reaction to the swine flu vaccine.

Personally, I will not be taking the swine flu vaccine insha'Allah nor have I ever taken any seasonal flu vaccine. Al7amdulillah, I don't have any underlying conditions as far as I know, but I am concerned over the use of adjuvants and mercury-based preservatives like Thimerasol. My father went into his doctor for a normal check-up, and was offered a flu shot. He asked if the shot contained the mercury-based preservative Thimerasol. His doctor told him no and that that ingredient had been removed from vaccines 20 years ago due to concerns with links to autism. My dad then asked to see the insert to the vaccine, and despite the doctor's belief that thimerasol had been removed 20 years prior due to being a dangerous ingredient, the insert showed that the shot contained not only Thimerasol, but Formaldehyde as well. So, he left the office without taking the flu shot.

As for the conspiracy theories, whether you believe them or not, President Obama and his family taking the shot is not going to dispel such fears, since it is easy to question whether his shot would be the same shot that is available for the general public.

Wa'Allahu a3lam and May Allah protect us from any negative effects of the swine flu vaccines and May Allah protect us from the swine flu. Ameeen.

Yusuf Smith said...

As-Salaamu 'alaikum,

I often get "preach spam" and lengthy comments from one Islamic organisation in London, which always get round to advertising said organisation. More recently, I've been getting brief comments from "UK Migration Lawyers", which are on-topic but one-line and without the author's name. I haven't approved any yet.

As for the flu jab, I haven't had the H1N1 vaccine and have never had a seasonal flu jab that I can remember (perhaps I did as a child). My cousin had some sort of virus a couple of months ago and was issued with anti-flu medication (Tamiflu or something similar) but has never taken it.

Safiyyah, does your disability make you more susceptible? Recently in east London a paraplegic Muslimah (aged 39) died shortly after giving birth prematurely. I'm not sure if her pregnancy or her disability made her more vulnerable, or if it was just coincidence (and they often don't report details of such disabilities, the phrase "paralysed from the waist down" often being used when it's not accurate). Still, if you can't feel your body, you may not know something's wrong until it's too late.

Safiyyah said...

Salaams Yusuf:

I don't think the MS per se makes me vulnerable to the flu. But, I have had asthma since childhood, and have been getting bacterial pnemonia every year for the past few years. The first time almost finished me off :(

Stress, which negatively affects the immune system overall, definitely causes bad MS flare-ups for me. I say flare-ups because my MS affects me in a low-grade kind of way all of the time. Specifically in the area of chronic pain. When the MS flares up, I experience cognitive confusion, memory problems, and balance issues. I have had MS long enough, though, which has taught me survival stategies. I usually clear my calendar when I have flare-ups. For the memory issues, I try to write things down. You should see my day planner, lol! I also bought a nifty antique walking stick with a mother-of-pearl and brass tip! And exercise helps a lot. I bought a bike to help with the balance issues. They say that one never forgets how to ride a bike. Let me tell you - the first time I got on, I took my hand off the bars to itch my nose and almost had a spill, looool. Now, though, I ride all over the place, with no problems :)

With my respiratory problems, however, I'm afraid a good case of any flu would probably kill me ... or at least make me real miserable for a week or so :(

Safiyyah said...

Salaams Emily:

Jazaka Allahu Khayr!

I saw on CNN that they currently don't have the 1976 issues? Allahu Alim.

I, too, never got a flu shot until I was over 55 yrs. old. Aging definitely makes people vulnerable to things.

Anonymous said...

Did you finally get the H1N1? This year, insh'Allah, the flu shot and H1N1 vaccine will be rolled up into one...JAK for posting this. I've been struggling myself with whether or not to get my daughter vaccinated with it because of the conspiracy theories. Guess I was sipping a little of the kool-aid :).