Parents unsure about vaccine

They've read the news. They've heard the dangers. But to many parents, the swine flu just doesn't seem all that much worse than regular flu.

That leaves them regarding a new vaccine available from Stanislaus County health care providers as something of a question mark.

"I have four kids at home. I have concerns if one happens to get it, will they all get it?" said Sandy Sanders of Riverbank. "I guess it's no different than regular flu -- you could die from regular flu, too. But still, I am concerned."

She said she's interested in getting the vaccine but doesn't know when or where it will be available.

About 4,600 doses of nasal spray vaccine were sent last week to physicians and medical clinics in Stanislaus County.

That limited supply is recommended for children ages 2 to 10 and parents of babies younger than 6 months. The spray is not recommended for pregnant women or people with asthma.

Kyle Loll, 17, of Hughson is one of the few who have had the nasal spray H1N1 vaccine. Loll said his doctor is recommending everyone under 18 get it.

"They spray it in and it drips down the back," Loll said, tipping his head back in demonstration.

Brian Loll said he would get the vaccine if it came around, but said even the regular flu vaccine seems harder to get this year. "My work was supposed to have the regular flu shot, but they ran out," the elder Loll said.

Tanya Mallory of Turlock also ran into a shortage of regular flu vaccine. She had hoped to vaccinate her 18-month-old daughter, Raegan, last week. On Saturday, Raegan came down with a 103.6-degree fever with diarrhea and a cough. The urgent care doctor said it might be swine flu.

Not appropriate for all

That's bad news for Mallory, whose immune system is depressed by medication she takes for rheumatoid arthritis.

"We can't take the nasal spray. It has the live virus and people with compromised immune systems or under 2 years old can't have it," Mallory said. "I really wish the vaccine were available, and I'm not really worried about any side effects. I'm looking forward to it."

Mike Mayer of Oakdale sees it differently. He's concerned about his three children getting sick, but he worries about the lack of testing the swine flu vaccine has had. "Put it this way, when they say it's mandatory, then we'll get it," he said.

Some have already had virus

Robert Pangelinan won't be asking for the vaccine either; he's already had the real thing.

"I just had it last week. My doctor said to get a lot of rest, drink a lot of fluids, switch off taking Tylenol and ibuprofen. It was gone within three days -- it was pretty much just a high fever," said the new dad from Escalon.

He and Justina Johnson said they kept 3-week-old daughter Erin in a separate room, but mom and baby have been fine. "I'm not going to bother with the vaccine. We might look at it for the little guy," Johnson said.

Carolina Meraz of Turlock, who is expecting her second child on Nov. 17, said she didn't know she could take the vaccine while pregnant.

"I've seen stuff on the news. My husband's cousin got it when Isabella was 5 months old and I was kind of paranoid that we should stay away," Meraz said. Her daughter is now a year old.

"If you can, then I would definitely do it, if I could find it. Even if there's a side effect, it would be better than getting the illness and all the side effects that would have."

Bee staff writer Nanette Austin can be reached at

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