Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Flu Blues

This isn't meant to be controversial, but my husband and I aren't big believers in the flu shot.  I don't get one and neither does he, so now that James is in pre-school and around many children on a regular basis, we really thought long and hard about vaccinating our boys against the seasonal flu. 

I totally understand how vaccines work, and I believe in them completely.  I've also had the flu several times and lived to tell about it, and I've experienced the miraculous healing powers of Tamiflu.  Seriously, one yucky day in bed and then you are good as new.  I even had a doctor tell me one year that he never gets the flu shot, choosing instead to take Tamiflu at the first sign of symptoms.  But that's easier said than done these days.

Anyway, when Rhys had his 15-month checkup this week, we discussed this issue with our doctor and decided to vaccinate both boys for the first time.  According to him, Tamiflu isn't as effective for babies, and James was eligible for the nasal mist instead of the shot.  That seemed easy enough, and it felt like the right thing to do.

Until both boys got sick with fever, chills, and lots of yucky diapers, all of which are possible side effects of the flu vaccines.  Watching James lying on our cold tile floor after attempting to eat lunch, I realized that I didn't think this decision through carefully.  I have that awful mother guilt in the pit of my stomach, and while I chose to vaccinate them to protect them, I feel so guilty for making them sick.

Parenthood, while a shared occupation among so many of us, is really a lonely road to walk.  We all have to do what's right for our children and ourselves, and in this case, I honestly feel like I dropped the ball a little bit.  Plus, I'm supposed to drag both boys back to the doctor in a month's time for their second dose of the vaccine.  Just so they can get sick again.

I realize this is supposed to be for their own good, and to protect them from getting really sick; but let's face it, the seasonal flu is not the same as, say, Diptheria or Polio, and it will never, as I understand it, be eradicated.  So, is all this pain and suffering, just to avoid another short illness, really worth it in the end?

I think we're going to think just as long and hard about this issue next year, and maybe make a different decision.  Again, this is just my personal take on the matter and is not meant to stir up controversy.