Swine Flu: Will Your Kids Get the H1N1 Vaccine?

Filed under: In The News

To vaccinate or not to vaccinate. That is the question parents are asking this flu season.

Along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most family doctors are recommending that children and pregnant women, in particular, vaccinate against the potentially dangerous H1N1 virus. But today's Internet-savvy parents are far more informed and skeptical thanks to the ease with which alternative medical information travels. Add to that a growing mistrust of government and vaccines in general and you get the answer to why so many parents say they will not be vaccinating their family against this virus.
So what are the fears? They're mainly about how and where the vaccine is made. Many parents believe that mercury and other preservatives found in vaccines are responsible for the growing incidence of autism in children today. Others are concerned that the vaccine or parts of the vaccine are being manufactured in China or other places where standards of practices are lower.

As a general rule, I am skeptical about any vaccine (or drug) that is relatively new -- like this one that protects against swine flu -- or that is being pushed by the government. I've never once considered getting a flu shot. My philosophy has always been to feed my family nutritious meals, take vitamins and supplements, and should we get the flu, to ride it out the old-fashioned way by pushing fluids and getting plenty of rest.

When I first heard about the H1N1 vaccine, I had no intention of getting it. I happen to be pregnant and despite the current campaign to vaccinate pregnant women and the CDC's safety promises, my husband and I decided that we would not expose our developing baby to the vaccine. We also planned to ignore the CDC's push to vaccinate our children. Like most plugged-in parents, we've been doing our own research on the Web, as well as sifting through the many links and forwards on the subject that are making their way into our e-mail boxes and Facebook accounts. With so much conflicting information coming from so many people we love and trust, we decided to go with our gut, and forgo the vaccine.

But as luck would have it, beginning in early September, my 7-year-old son's asthma suddenly began to get worse for unknown reasons. Over the course of the last two months, we have taken him to the doctor as well as a homeopath in an attempt to bring his asthma back under control.

At the same time, the swine flu began to take hold in our town, especially in our schools. Our doctor informed us that this strain of flu was especially difficult on asthmatic children and that our little Jack's weak lungs meant he could possibly die from a bout of H1N1. After much painful deliberation, we decided that the risk of a respiratory complication outweighed our misgivings about the vaccine itself. Last week we vaccinated Jack. We are not vaccinating our four other children and my husband and I are not going to take it either.

It's a unique arrangement for a unique situation. But that is the point. Every family is different and medical decisions of this nature are among the most personal we can make. This was the right decision for our family. We continue to hope and pray that it is a good one in the long run. How is your family handling the decision?

Related: One Third of Parents Oppose Swine Flu Vaccine

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.