Flu season's here. Do you worry about vaccinations?
Sep. 20, 2010 at 8:42 AM ET
By Mir Kamin
I happen to believe in vaccinations, and I'm a big believer in the flu shot. I like to tell the story this way: We never got flu shots until the year when the entire family was felled by flu, one by one. It took a full month to run through our home, by which time three of the four of us had experienced secondary infections. My dog will perform a variety of tricks for you if you have food in your hand; she'll sit, roll over, and do other standard pooch antics. She will also fall over and pretend to be dead if you ask her if she has swine flu. Maybe it was in poor taste to teach that one to her, but at the time -- during the height of the swine flu hysteria last year -- it seemed really funny to us. The flu is no laughing matter, of course. Last year's H1N1 outbreak met the criteria to be classified as a pandemic, even though it ultimately turned out to be no more dangerous than the "regular" seasonal flu strains. And there was a lot of talk about H1N1 being particularly dangerous for children, even those who were healthy prior to infection. In reality, a recent study
breaks down last year's flu stats and concludes: "We found that children were disproportionately affected by 2009 H1N1 infections, but the perceived severity of symptoms and risk of serious outcomes (pneumonia or hospital admissions) were not increased in children relative to seasonal influenza A viruses[.]" Now that everyone is back to school, thoughts seem to be turning to cooler weather... and flu vaccines. Last year there were two vaccines; the "regular" flu shot, and then the H1N1 shot, of which there was a chronic shortage during flu season. This year, the standard trivalent seasonal influenza vaccine covers H1N1, so only the one shot is recommended. And the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends
that all children over the age of 6 months be vaccinated this year. This represents a change to the prior guidelines, wherein only "at-risk" children were recommended for vaccination. I happen to believe in vaccinations, and I'm a big believer in the flu shot. I like to tell the story this way: We never got flu shots until the year when the entire family was felled by flu, one by one. It took a full month to run through our home, by which time three of the four of us had experienced secondary infections. (And yes, as the mom, I was the last to get sick, which meant I cared for sick kids for weeks before falling ill and needing to care for well kids while I could barely get out of bed. Ah, motherhood!) After that, we all got flu shots every year, but it was tricky -- my son and I qualified under the guidelines because we have asthma, but we often had to do a bit of campaigning to get a shot for my daughter/husband (they live with high-risk patients, though they aren't ones, themselves). My kids haven't had the flu since. I've had it only once more in the intervening eight or so years, though my doctor cheerfully reminded me that sometimes that happens. And last year, we never did get the H1N1 shot. It wasn't available, so we just got the regular shot and crossed our fingers. Luckily, we didn't have much of an outbreak around here, and we didn't get sick. After last year's panic and propaganda about how we should all be stockpiling Tamiflu and preparing for an epidemic of Plague proportions, I have a hard time getting too worked up about it all. Every year there's flu. Every year we get flu shots. I'm glad that this year there's only one shot, and it sounds like they're not anticipating a shortage. Getting vaccinated greatly reduces your chances of infection; that seems like a no-brainer to me.Talking About VaccinationsSwine Flu: What's a Good Mother to Do?Whooping Cough Is Back: How to Spot It, How to Treat ItTo Vaccinate or Not to Vaccinate, That Is the QuestionMy Child Has Autism and I Vaccinate"The 10 Biggest Mistakes Parents Make" -- Seriously?BlogHer Contributing Editor Mir is a charter member of the hand-washing police, and reminds you to stop touching your face, too. She blogs near-daily about issues parental and otherwise at Woulda Coulda Shoulda, and posts all day long about the joys of mindful retail therapy at Want Not.Reaching more than 20 million women each month, BlogHer is the leading participatory news, entertainment and information network for women online with a publishing network of more than 2,500 blogs. BlogHer adds unique voices of women bloggers to the TODAY community. Read more at www.blogher.com -- and sign up for our newsletters to get the best of BlogHer in your inbox.
Parents, is your family up to date with inoculations? Do you still have questions? Do you believe in a link between vaccinations and autism?
Dr. Nancy Snyderman sat down recently with Ann Curry to explain the basics and clear up some of the misconceptions. Watch the video and share your thoughts in the comments section below.