Wednesday, October 14, 2009
To Vaccinate or Not to Vaccinate? That's this season's question!
As if we parents don't have enough to stress about...
The buzz these days is all about the Swine Flu: in the media, on blogs and Twitter, in phone calls and emails to and from friends and family. Will you vaccinate your child or not? What's everyone doing? What's your pediatrician recommending?
The answer is complicated and at times, a mixed bag. The government recommends shots for kids aged 6 months to 24 years old, for pregnant women and adults under age 64 with chronic illnesses. I have a friend who is a healthcare worker for whom the H1N1 vaccination is mandatory. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends vaccinating too, for both H1N1 and the "regular" flu. (Click here to view their very helpful info page on the subject). But I know a number of parents who are unsure of the Swine Flu vaccine, since the vaccine being offered is new to the market.
For parents these days, it seems we have a lot to stress about. The modern world presents us with a myriad of problems to fuss over and freak out about, the Swine flu being just one of them.
I was voicing this complaint to my mother recently who agreed that there is a lot more information to process these days than when she was mothering a school-aged kid. The internet and t.v. provides so much news on various topics relating to kids that sometimes it's difficult to sort through the noise and find a voice to trust. However, she reminded me that the past wasn't without worry.
When she was a child, Polio was the great fear. She remembered that during one summer, all public swimming pools in Chicago were closed for fear of spreading the disease. Fortunately, a vaccine changed all that, but not until far too many children were affected by it. An older client of mine has difficultly walking as a result of his bout with the disease as a child. The visible scars and memories remain.
So where does that leave us today? It's up to each of us parents to make our own informed decisions about vaccinations and in some cases, to follow our instincts. For me and my husband: we're still trying to decide about the H1N1 vaccine for our child, though we're leaning toward it. We're currently trying hard to get her a regular flu vaccine, but have been told there's a shortage in our area for kids under age three, due to a manufacturer problem.
For a quick guide for parents, check out this PDF from the Centers for Disease Control. For a very comprehensive guide to the flu, take a look at the Centers for Disease Control web site, CDC.gov.