Well it seems that the newest fearmongering technique has been to take data from the CDC to a logical absurdity.
Why do we quake at the mere mention of Swine Flu?
First, I want to explain that this "Swine Flu" vaccine is not like the "Swine Flu vaccine of 1976. That vaccine was made by an entirely different method, and after the large number of neurologic complications seen in 1976 that method was abandoned and is not used anymore and was not used here. The swine Flu vaccine in 1976 caused a huge number of cases of Guillain-Barre Syndrome and deaths and the immunization program's reputation in this country has never recovered EVEN THOUGH there has not been another such debacle. GB is rare with the seasonal flu vaccine.
What do they mean by a "strain" of the flu?
The term "swine" refers to the fact that H1N1 has genes from the kind of influenza commonly seen in pigs. Many species have influenza strains particular to them. We have heard recently about about dog flu. We all know about the scare with avian flu in the recent past. Typically flu strains do not jump species. When they do it can be particularly dangerous for the new species that they enter.
Our usual seasonal flu strains are mixtures of many of the same old genes that have been around for years. Thus, most of the population has some on-going resistance to the full effect of the flu. Each year scientists are in a rush to try to accurately predict which strain are going to get loose and cause the most disease. They begin studying and doing trials in the spring of every year. Every year the vaccine manufacturers have just a few months to come up with the vaccine for the prediction that year. H1N1 popped up out of nowhere in the early summer. Yes, the testing of this vaccine was rushed, but the process to make it is tried and true.
The swine flu is pretty new to the human species. Apparently it appeared a decade or so ago. So few of us have any resistance to it. Because of this more people will catch it and those that do may have a more severe disease. It is true that the amount of time that has been available to manufacture the H1N1 vaccine has been shorter this year, but only by a couple months. Yes, the testing for it has been more brief and not as thorough as for the usual seasonal flu. BUT, it is important to note that the method used for the production of the H1N1 is the same method that has been shown to be safe in the past couple decades. It is the method of producing the vaccine that is most linked to side effects. It would be highly inaccurate to associate this swine flu vaccine with that from 33 years ago.
The testing of the H1N1 vaccine is ONGOING. New testing has shown that pregnant women - a highly vulnerable group and one that has seen an unusual number of deaths - respond well to the vaccine and there has not been any remarkable incidence of side effects. However, the ongoing testing is showing that children need two doses to be fully protected. This will further decrease the number of doses that are available to the public, those at less risk of death from the infection.
Now a word of caution about a statistic that you will undoubtedly hear/read:
Now, recently the CDC announced that the rate of possible permanent harm or death from the H1N1 vaccine would be estimated to be 1 in every 100,000 shots. The procedure implemented to report serious reactions is the most comprehensive in history. They are tracking the living bejeebers out of this vaccine. So far, I have not seen any reports of serious reactions. There will be such reactions. All things that modulate the immune system wills hsow some deadly reactions if enough people get them. Viruses that are usually benign will kill some people. Vaccines act just like wild viruses. Over 16 million doses have been given out, so we might expect to hear that 160 people have suffered severe reactions. I have been watching and no such report has yet appeared.
Several of the vehemently anti-vaccination sites are running with the "data that the CDC is expecting to see 30,000 poeple maimed or killed by this vaccine." REALLY? I would like to see this quote if any of you can find the speech, press release or document that says this. If every single person in the US (approximately 307,000,000) is vaccinated would this number stand up? My math says that we would see only 3,000 such reactions. Is my math correct? If so, then someone is running amock with bad math and an agenda to boot.
I only caution you to make sure that people are quoting the CDC correctly. To my calculations, the number of serious reactions comes closer to 3,000 EVEN IF EVERY SINGLE PERSON IN THE US GETS A DOSE. Come on, people! In a good year less than 30% of people get vaccinated. So we might be looking at 1000 such severe reactions, not the 30,000 that I saw on at least a dozen sites this morning.
Is the H1N1 really over estimated or over-feared?
The H1N1 pandemic is still evolving. At first last summer it looked like the plague. Then as it hit the US it looked a lot milder. But, the whole thing is looking more sinister again. At the beginning of this year's flu season (August 31)proven (lab-veriofied) H1N1 killed 64 children in the time between August 31 and October 30. Another 10 were suspicious and definitely influenza, but they were not proven to be H1N1. So that is 74. H1N1 is the only strain that is currently actively causing disease in the US. Deaths to non-pediatric patients has been about 600 in that same time period. Yes, the math says that more than 20 people a day are dying from this in the US alone and it is just getting going.
It is well-known that the peak flu season runs November through about February or March. We have 700 deaths already so far and the really dangerous time has not even arrived. It seems almost every night we hear the latest number of healthy infants and young people who have died that day from H1N1. As a pediatrician I know that the flu season often overlaps with another big killer of infants, RSV. I literally shudder thinking about what the news is going to sound like in two months. (For perspective the CDC states that for EACH of the last 30 years, on average, there have been 34,000 flu-related deaths in the US. The numbers range from 20,000+ to 52,000 deaths depending on the severity of the flu season)
God knows, and I believe, that everything possible is done to make our vaccines as safe as possible. A lot was learned from 1976 and has not been repeated. Do we hold this vaccine in fear and suspicion because of 1976? Or do we try to estimate what really threatens us and do the best we can to protect ourselves and those around us?
Again, someone please help me find out where the CDC supposedly announced that "the H1N1 vaccine will maim or kill 30,000 people."
I am amazed at the wide variety of numbers regarding all this that you can find on the net. I wrote this to help people answer some questions about the "swine" flu, what it means, how it is different, whether all "swine flu" vaccines were bad and what the risk appears to be from the vaccines versus the infections themselves.
This topic may have been done to pieces already, but it was on my mind this morning when I read what seemed to me to be blatant misinformation.
Quix, if you really want to make your hair fall out, go check out what the "MDs" at the Mercola site are spouting. Especially look at their egregious "Fact Sheet" that they're urging people to post in their communities.
And just for the record, regarding GBS, several studies have found NO LINK at all between GBS and flu shots, while two found a 1 in a million chance. That's far less of a risk than having an actual flu infection, especially among vulnerable populations.
Ahhh, gee, Bio, my hair began falling out ages ago.
Sometimes I think I should stop trying to counter the gross misinformation that is spewed with regard to my evil profession, especially when we hear new and improved misinformation about MS from our own doctors.
Honestly, the people I worked with were largely honorable, hard-working and caring. I have worked with people from the CDC and have never seen such a group of people so dedicated to public health and disease prevention and monitoring.
What is a gal to do?
I stopped reading Mercola shortly after I found his site in 2004. He jumps on every fear bandwagon that pops up with his own brand of "science" all the while exhorting you to buy his book.
As you say, the risk of GBS is far more common from wild viruses or bacterial infections than it is from vaccines. I don't believe that most people know this.
Quix, the "I've got something to sell, by the way" is such an obvious red flag...yet people seem to have blinders on when they encounter sites like that.
I also feel the same way about workers at the CDC, WHO, et al...good, dedicated people who are struggling against two tsunamis--deadly communicable diseases that are largely preventable and the sometimes equally deadly and viral misinformation campaigns that sprout up all over the Web. And they have to put up with being called killers or accused of being "in it for the money" (um...right, but that doctor peddling his books is in it for...?). Ugh. Such frustrating nonsense.
Like you, sometimes it seems like a losing battle. But I keep fighting it. Anywhere I encounter misinformation and have the opportunity to clarify the facts, I do it. I feel that at any point that some other person can encounter this misinformation, they also ought to find the facts right there next to it.
Thanks for this post. As usual, I've learn something that's going to help me make a decision. What would we do without you on this forum? There would be a huge gaping hole, I assure you.
I've already had my seasonal flu shot, and will get the H1N1 as soon as they're available.
I sure hate to think of what may be coming down the pike. It's already hit Texas pretty hard. I've been seeing lots of kids out sick from school with flu--some of which have been out for an entire week.
Just to say....I was one of the ones that received the "swine flu shot of 1976." Believe it or not, I have not had the flu of any kind since. Was it due to the swine flu shot, I doubt it.
Since I was diagnosed with MS 14 years ago, I have gotten my seasonal flu vaccine every year, with no more side effects than a sore and hot arm for a couple of days.
Quix, I believe that the H1N1 may not be widely available to the public in time to do any good. The H1N1 is already out there in full force. If we have to wait another month or two for the vaccine, it may be too late to build any immunity to the H1N1 flu. Even though I medically qualify to get it now, if it were available, I am waiting for mass quantities to be released to the public, so children and pregnant mothers get their shots first.
This flu strain is nothing to fool around with folks. You really need to give things a second thought, when deciding on whether to get the H1N1 vaccine. Everyone eventually getting it, will protect not only ourselves, but our babies out in this world and the precious mother's carrying our world's future....
Guess that's enough said. Each person has to decide for themselves. I just want to see ALL of you protected, because...DERN IT...I care about all of you and don't want to see you get sick. This dern flu is killing people....
I would actually like to get the H1N1 vaccination, but only after all of the safety tests have been conducted. The problem with me and many other CFS and even fibromyalgia patients is that vaccinations often put us in a relapse. I've had several reactions to vaccations in the past.
According to the CDC, the majority of flu vaccines contain thimerosal. Some contain as much as 25 mcg of mercury per dose. This means that it may contain more than 250 times the Environmental Protection Agency’s safety limit for mercury. That is yet another concern of mine in regards to vaccinations.
I haven't heard of any reported severe reactions to the H1N1 vaccination yet, but there have been reports of severe reactions to the H1N1 nasal mist. You might want to google, "Woman Suffers Severe Reaction To H1N1 Mist" for one testimonial. A woman in Oregon was hospitalized after receiving the mist. So given my health and my reactions to some vaccinations in the past..... reports like this obviously concern me a great deal. And not to mention... the Gardasil vaccionation. You know how many young women are now chronically ill due to that vaccine ? I guess the best thing we can do is just keep informed and do our research. I do know that some of the information on the anti-H1N1 vaccination (not all vaccines) websites is inaccurate or does not back up their claims with research. But do I trust the CDC ? No way ! ; ^)
Oh great... I check out the social forum to get away from health matters and there is a post about H1N1 vaccination deaths in Sweden. I did a google search and sure enough... there are articles about this. = (
I called my inturnests office. They took my request, will determine if I am elligable to recieve one of the few precious shots. I reminded them that I haveMS and that we are going to try to conceive in January. I am still waiting to hear.
I have a flu now, a cold has never put me down like this. Dont know what kind of flu, I dont know if it makes a difference what kind of flu it is. And since iy has kicked up my MS symptoms also, it is difficult to figure out what is what. But it has gone into my lungs and I have asthma so the dr did call in a antibiotic for me. My cog issues are worse right now so i can not think well or type well, so I am going closing this note..
The Sweden story was something written by a nonjournalist on a nonjournalism Website. There is no confirmation of these claims.
The mercury in the non-nasal version of the flu vaccine is a preservative called thimerosal, which is about 50% ethylmercury. That form of mercury differs in activity and toxicity from the scarier form, methylmercury. If you are concerned about mercury exposure, nasal vaccinations are not preserved with thimerosal, and neither are single-dose shots--thimerosal is used for multi-dose vials. If you have a concern, talk to your doctor about it. Please do not rely on information from unconfirmed sources (including me) about any of this. Here is a link to a Q&A from the CDC regarding flu vax and thimerosal: http://www.cdc.gov/Flu/about/qa/thimerosal.htm
If that breaks, it's cdc(dot)gov/Flu/about/qa/thimerosal(dot)htm
Please do what is best for you (and for the people around you), but do it with good information.
Re: relapses. Yes, an immunization may cause relapses in those people who are susceptible. HOWEVER it is very shortsighted to avoid the vaccine for this reason. The infection itself is SO MUCH MORE LIKELY TO CAUSE A SEVERE RELAPSE THAN THE VACCINE FOR IT.
It is always someone's personal choice, but please look at the WHOLE picture first.
Meg - I'm so sorry you caught the flu. There are few worse feelings in the world. And, you're right. It matters little, when you feel so bad, which strain it is. The only strain of the flu that is actually active right now is H1N1, so that is far and away the most likely. If you are still within the window of 48 hours or so please call your doctor to get on an anti-viral. They can help so much.
I read up on the history of the 76 swine because it was started down the road from me all those yrs ago. It's an excellent history lesson if anyone is interested. Said (if I'm remembering correctly) that 43 mil people were vaccinated and when 500 were said to have GBS they pulled it. Of that 500 25 died.
No disrespect to the families whom it undoubtedly affected - and who may be affected currently by vaccines and our future ones. Especially you Supermum who we cherish here on our forum. The viruses we are fighting to prevent are deadly.
Thank God for the Gardisil vaccine and those it's pretecting from the cancer causing virus. We've come a long way where womens health is concerned and this vaccine is just one proof of advancement. I've read recently where it will be given to men too - which I hope becomes more publicized.
Thank you Doc Q for the continuing education. Think we've become complacent where "flu" in general is concerned. This is very much a wake up call... wishing all health through this flu season.
Wish that this vaccine were more widely available - I would be happy to take it to go with my seasonal vaccine which I have already received.
Where I work is an incubator of all things germy and especially this flu. College campuses and dormitories are breeding grounds for every contagious germ imagineable.
The H1N1 is rampant now on campus - students and faculty alike are coming down with it. My coworker went home sick with it this week too. Hand disinfectant and obsessive hand washing are the order of the day. Our emergency isolation houses are full and there is talk of taking over a much larger space in our recreation complex to house sick students.
Two weeks ago a local kindergarten child died from H1N1 - this past week a 26 year old woman died. Both of these people were healthy before becoming infected with the H1N1.
Am I overly worried about this disease? Not really, because I am old enough to put this in historical perspective with other pandemic waves. But I am smart enough to recognize that this virus has the potential to create havoc in an unusual proportion of numbers.
Influenza deaths occur every year - but normally those deaths are among the population that is already compromised with their health. That isn't the case with the H1N1.
The risk from vaccines is considerably less than the risk from contracting this flu or any other influenza.
It saddens me that we live in a time where there is such mistrust in our government and also the ease at which many will disseminate false information about the dangers of the vaccines.
I realize that there are several different themes in my words here - there are so many angles to this story that it is hard to focus on just one.
And Meg, your symptoms sound just like those of the people I know working through the H1N1. Just watch for the signs that the cough has turned into something more serious.
stay healthy everyone - don't forget to scrub your hands often!
I agree... we must all look at the ENTIRE picture to make an informed decision. We must also weigh our risks, etc. It is just heartbreaking though for people, such as myself, who cannot tolerate some vaccinations. I know one CFS expert says that if you think you can survive the flu, then don't get the flu shot.
It is an agonizing decision for someone like me and other chronically ill patients who cannot tolerate some vaccinations. It also makes me question the safety of these vaccinations. Honestly.. if I were healthy..... knowing what I know now, I would refuse all flu shots.
I am taking important steps to boost my immune system, which includes eliminating sugar completely from my diet. I may get the vaccination after ALL of the safety tests have been completed and I will be watching adverse reaction reports closely. One other report that came out today was that the German Medical Association is now warning that the Swine flu vaccine is "unsuitable" for patients suffering from environmental diseases and other chronic multi-system illnesses. (google and you will find the article) So I'm getting ALL of the information and carefully reviewing it, so that I can make an informed decision.
As my friend, who is an attorney with CFS, says, "My gut says to live with the consequences and so I will either live with or die with the consequences. Choices."
I wish everyone here the best and pray that none of us will catch either the regular flu or the H1N1 flu.
Platelet Gal, for people in a situation in which they are better off not getting vaccinated--always something to discuss with your *doctor*--the rest of us have yet another reason to do it. We confer herd immunity that protects people who cannot be vaccinated. And the vaccination guidelines clearly state that certain populations should NOT receive the vaccine or should NOT receive the nasal vaccine. I'm not sure how anyone can predict whether or not they can survive the flu, which ordinarily kills between 30000 and 50000 people in the US alone (I'm actually sure that no one can predict their response to the infection), but I'm absolutely sure that those death numbers are far far higher than the zero deaths attributable to seasonal flu vaccines.
Safety testing of this vaccine formulation has been longstanding and has clearly shown the overwhelming safety. The only thing different in this formulation is the virus, and that's different every year in the flu vax. If a person has gotten flu vaccines in the past without incident, this should be no different for the vast majority of people.
I have multiple problems involving autoimmunity, and I get the seasonal flu vaccine yearly with no problems, as do my three children and my husband. We have all gotten our seasonal flu vaccines this year, and my children have also received a first does of the nasal H1N1 with absolutely no problems whatsoever. Meanwhile, healthy children in our community have died from H1N1 infection.
I have a relatively mild allergy to eggs, so I discussed whether I should get flu shots with my PCP. She told me that the benefits (for me) far outweigh any risks. My neurologist's office also stressed the importance of me getting my flu shots.
As I said before, as soon as I can find them, I'll get them.
The American Lung Association has a vaccine clinic finder web page, so you can try to find a flu vaccine clinic in your area. You just type in your zip code, and voila!
The majority of people can tolerate vaccinations. But for those of us who cannot, it is horrible what we experience and I, and some of my physicians agree, that if I continue to get vaccinations that harm me, then it could hurt my overall health. There are some CFS patients who are now bedridden because of vaccinations. So although most people don't understand.... the fibro/CFS experts do. You might want to check out my concerns that I posted months ago to Prof. Garth Nicolson.
I think I will ask Prof. Nicolson again about the safety of this vaccination and especially about the deaths in Europe. We all need to make an informed decision and especially people like me who cannot tolerate some vaccinations. For those people who are in the same boat that I'm in.... they understand.
Platelet Gal...I think you must have misread something. I'm agreeing with you in my post. I completely understand what you're saying. My point is that the rest of us should be vaccinated if possible just to protect populations, like yours, that cannot be.
The only two deaths I can find in Sweden were two elderly people--one in their 70s and one who was 90--who had severe chronic conditions and who died a few days after receiving a flu vaccination. That's not causative or even plausible as a link given their age and condition.
It seems that some of us have reasons to believe that we will be harmed by this vaccine. If we are advised by our doctors that it is not a good idea, then we should respect that. If we believe that we would be far better off getting the infection over receiving the vaccine and nothing will change that - then discussion is moot.
Plateletgal - If you believe that this vaccine is likely to harm you permanently, then by all means give it a pass and take your chances with the infection itself. I really don't think that anyone here will work to convince you otherwise.
For those of you that are still seeking information, not having a preconceived idea about the vaccine's safety, then that is what we are presenting.
Khiba - a couple people have been told by their neurologists to avoid the vaccine. It would be very nice to hear their reasoning. I believe you should comply with the advice given by the medical provider that you have chose to trust. However, I believe than that you should, then, make extra efforts to avoid the infection, including urging those around you to get vaccinated to avoid exposing you. And, if you get the H1N1 flu, then move heaven and earth to avoid giving it to others, especially those in a high-risk group.
The actual infection of the flu can stimulate the mother of all relapses in people who are sensitive to stimulation of the immune system. Remember that an actual infection stimulates the immune system for far longer, and to a much greater degree, than a vaccine does. The effect of the infection itself should be a large part of what we consider when we look at the vaccine. This means not only looking at what the infection will do to us, but also looking at who else we might infect if we get infected. I'm not sure that I could live with myself if I caught the flu and gave it to someone who then died of it.
In the end, it may be out of our hands, for a while. With the supply of H1N1 vaccine being delayed and in short supply, and with the new info that children will need two doses to develop full immunity, it may be months before we (as a second-line high risk group) can get access to it.
This strain of the flu will likely be with us for at least the next year and a half. Pandemics don't respect the yearly cycle like seasonal flu seems to. That means that even if the vaccine arrives for us some months down the line, we should still receive it.
Also, everyone should know that there are two different flu vaccines to receive: the normal seasonal vaccine (yearly flu shot) and the H1N1. So if you got your regular flu shot, you will likely have protection from the seasonal flu, which is not yet making the rounds in full force. You still need to receive the H1N1 shot (not nasal mist) UNLESS of course, you are a person with a definite reason not to or you refuse to. This is still all voluntary.
I have to say that, given the many dozens of millions of doses already given of the H1N1 vaccine worldwide, that a couple/several deaths in one country (Sweden) are what is being used to warn us that this vaccine is likely to be horribly unsafe (see above for the discussion of possible serious or fatal reactions). Given the kinds of terrifying warnings that are sweeping the internet we should already be seeing hundreds of these reactions and deaths here in this country. Approximately 20 million doses have been given out here. Yet all I am seeing are reports of deaths in previously healthy children and yound adults and pregnant women from the H1N1 infection itself.
I would definitely suggest anyone that is at higher risk for complications get the H1N1 vaccine and the regular flu vaccine I got the swine flu earlier this fall and while it wasn't any different than any other flu i've had in my life, I had a fever of over 100 for 8 days which raised my body temp and started me into a relapse. No Fun!!!
today I asked three MS experts - two neuros and one MS nurse - about the vaccines for MS patients. It was not only unanimous, but also emphatic from all three that MS patients should have the seasonal and the H1N1 vaccines UNLESS there is some other underlying condition that would dictate otherwise.
Their reasoning is what quix said above - getting either variety of the flu would likely cause the mother of all relapses because of the fever and fighting the germs. That relapse could very well cause new PERMANENT disabilities among us.
It is interesting how the MS neuros have conflicting opinions - for me I would rather not risk any more damage. I will take the H1N1 when it becomes available and I have already had my seasonal vaccine.
Meaganj, I hope that you are well now. So sorry you encountered this nasty bug.
BTW, the latest H1N1 death close to me was a 38 year old healthy Police officer. First responders (police and medical folks) are in that first wave of people eligible for the vaccine, but there has to be vaccine available. Here's hoping the production glitches will be corrected soon.
I am appalled that an "expert" of any kind, medical or non-medical, would advise someone to pass on the H1N1 vaccine "if they 'felt' they could survive the actual infection." What?? I'm sure that the 25 year old athlete that Portland lost on Wednesday and the young police officer that Lu mentioned would have scoffed at the thought that the flu might kill them.
Using your own judgment about how well you think you would fare with this flu as the reason for not vaccinating??? That's as brainless as saying "I don't think I could ever get cancer. I think I will play with benzene or dioxin."
I have decided to phone my GP on Monday to arrange to get it. I was having doubts, it was a completely personal thing, to with being vegetarian, however after lots of soul searching I have decided to go ahead.
One of my daughters and all of my Grandchildren are not on the priority list and will not be offered the vaccine any time soon. My other daughter is on that list and has made her appointment for next week.
It would be wrong of me not to get the vaccine when I have the chance to and risk catching the flu and passing it on to any of my family.
I also have been going through the "Mother of all relapses" and am now starting to recover, on a purely selfish note I do not want to go through that again if it is caused by something that I could have avoided.
Thanks again Quix, Lulu et al for all the good advice.
I have double checked an NHS website and this is the info I have come up with.
"While children are disproportionately affected by swine flu, the majority make a full recovery. Therefore the experts do not advise that children (other than those in at-risk groups) should be vaccinated initially"
Doesn't make a lot of sense to me, hopefully they will re-think and add children to the priority list.
It is true that the vast majority of people (including children) who get the flu recover completely. However here are the numbers for the US pediatric deaths (85) since the beginning of this flu season on Sept. 1st.
In the last week alone there have been 15 pediatric deaths.
98% of all reports of typed flu being reported are from H1N1
There have been 124 pediatric deaths from H1N1 since its appearance last summer.
There have been 85 US pediatric (0-18 years) deaths in the last 10 weeks. (Note that about 13 of these were Influenza A, but the subtype was not determined. Since 98% of known flu inflections currently are H1N1, then problably all the 10 were also).
I cannot understand that children are not on the priority list for the vaccine here in the UK.
When these lists were first being talked about I know that children were going to be a priority, I have no idea why this changed It seems quite ridiculous to me, I, as I said, will be having the vaccine but it doesn't feel good to know that I will be protected and my grandchildren will not. The only way I can look at it is that I will be one less person for them to risk catching it from.
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