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On H1N1 Anniversary, Some Still Live With Regret

jessica-holt-joey-holt-cnn-h1n1-flu-pandemic-vaccineBy the time H1N1 vaccines reached the West Coast, where I live, it was hard to ignore that nagging feeling that, while standing in remarkably long lines last year, I was overreacting. “Was I participating in a nationwide panic?” I thought more than once. After all, I wasn’t also spending hours a week tracking down seasonal flu shots. Just H1N1 — it sounded so serious.

As the so-called “swine flu” pandemic marks its anniversary this month — and the CDC and health experts all over the nation look back on the numbers — one mother still lives with her regret. Jessica Holt had heard all about H1N1, but knew it wasn’t going to happen to her.

Then her son got sent home from school, and the very worst happened. The very worst.

She watched him die from the flu.

The Southern California mother tells CNN she regrets her decision to not bother with vaccines everyday. Sadly, she’s also blaming herself.

Because of my negligence, because I was not personally educated, there’s no greater blame or regret than that.”

Holt’s story is heartbreaking — and certainly wasn’t the norm — but should she really put all the blame on herself? There was so much confusing information — from whether the shots were effective to when one could return to school and work after the fever. For every expert that said, “Get the shot!” there was the echo of some doctor saying, “Nah, don’t bother.” I know just as many parents who were all over the vaccine news as I do parents who bragged they weren’t going to bother.

Though it’s only spring, I’m wondering about next fall and whether we’ll still be hearing about H1N1 or some new strain. Will there be a different — and better  — system for getting out the vaccines.

Will more people make plans to get them or, as I kind of suspect, will far fewer? Will Jessica Holt’s story pop up in anyone’s mind?

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Photo: CNN.com

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