The Center for Disease Control (CDC) is trying to encourage people to get vaccinated to prevent the spread of the flu. You can check out that link for key facts about the flu shot as well as the nasal spray, including who is recommended to get it, and who is not eligible.
The choice about whether or not to vaccinate your children is one that every person should make on their own, but there are no proven risks associated with the vaccine. However, there are risks for those who contract the flu, especially in young children and the elderly:
- Influenza related deaths average 36,000 each year
- Hospitalizations average 200,000 each year
- 5 – 20% of the U.S. population are infected with the flu each year (which is 15 – 60 million people)
If you still are uncertain about vaccinating your child, or if your child is too young to be vaccinated, you can choose to help protect your child and others from the spread of the disease by getting vaccinated yourself. You should also inquire about teachers and other childcare workers who are caring for your infants and toddlers.
Last year Katrina at Callapidder Days wrote a lovely post about her eight-year-old choosing to get vaccinated to protect his infant brother. If you knew you could be saving your child’s or your elderly relative’s life, would that change your decision to skip the vaccine?
I have to be honest. My nine-year-old daughter opted out of the vaccine when she went to the doctor in November, and I haven’t been vaccinated either, but after participating in a conference call with the CDC, I’ve definitely reconsidered. When and where the flu season will be most severe is always somewhat of an educated guess, but the season often does not peak until January or February, and can last into May. The vaccine takes about two weeks to be fully effective, so it’s still not too late to protect yourself and those you love.
For more information, consult the Center for Disease Control website for more information on all aspects of the flu, including some great information on identifying symptoms and treatment if you do happen to get the flu, as well as a downloadable podcast which specifically addresses the vaccine and young children.